Restoring a Stanley No 7 Jointer Plane

Every time I see an article in a woodworking magazine about restoring an old plane, it’s usually a Stanley No 4 smooth plane. While a smooth plane is probably one of the most important planes to own, it certainly shouldn’t be the only plane you have in your arsenal of tools. A jointer plane is extremely handy for jointing the edges of boards straight as well as leveling the tops of wide panels flat. In fact I probably use my jointer just as much as I use a smoother.  So I decided to write a blog and show how easy it is to refurbish an old jointer and put it back to use.

The first thing I do when cleaning a plane is take it completely apart. Remove every single bolt and screw you can and lay them on the bench so you won’t lose them. Don’t worry about not knowing where each screw will go as the guts of a plane are quite simple and easy to put back together.

Next you need to get yourself a product called Evap-O-Rust. I buy it in a five gallon bucket as I clean a lot of tools but a couple of gallons at your local auto parts store should do you just fine. Fill a container with the Evap-O-Rust and submerge the parts in so that they are completely covered in the solution. If you don’t have the part completely covered, you will end up with an oxidized line on the part where the air and the solution meet. It’s also important to make sure that the parts of the plane are not lying on top of one another in the solution. You want to make sure that the Evap-O-Rust has the ability to penetrate the entire part. Let the parts sit in the solution overnight.

Once the parts have soaked overnight, take them out and wash them under the tap to remove any residue from the part. You’ll notice that the parts will be completely clean from rust but will have a dull finish to them. I like to take them over to a flap wheel sander and buff them to a nice satin shine.

After buffing the parts, wipe them with an oil protector called Kramer’s Antique Improver. I have been using this stuff for twenty years and have never come across anything that works better or is simpler to use than Kramers. It simply brings the metal and wood back to life. After wiping all the parts with Kramers, put the majority of the plane back together.

Now that the plane is clean, you’ll need to make it work. The first thing to do is grab something that is perfectly flat and place soaking wet 220, 320, 400, and 600 grit wet and dry sandpaper on top of it. I use an old marble window sill but the top of your table saw will probably work just fine. You will need to flatten the bottom of the plane so that it will be able to cut crisp clean shaving off. Start with 220 grit and work it over until you have uniform scratches upon the entire body. You actually don’t need to have the entire bed perfectly flat. Only the front of the bed, the front and back of the mouth and the back of the bed need to be co-planer with each other. If you happen to have a hollow area between the back of the mouth and the back of the bed, it’s perfectly fine. Once you have uniform scratch marks with 220 grit paper, switch to 320, then 400 and so forth until you have a nice clean bed with the 600 grit paper.

   

Next and most importantly, you need to sharpen the blade. I own a Tormek sharpener so I use my Tormek to grind a 25 degree bevel on my irons. After I sharpen and flatten the back of the iron with the fine grit of stone I switch over to my 4000 grit water stone and continue to sharpen the burr off. I then finalize the edge with my 8000 water stone. Sharpening to this magnification gives me an edge that stays sharper than simply using my Tormek alone.

  

Now it’s time to see the results of your work. Take a piece a wood and start planing it. You will need to adjust the position of the frog and depth of the blade in order to achieve a clean cut. Since you’re using a jointer plane the tolerances of mouth opening isn’t as critical as it would be for a smoother. You’re not trying to achieve .002″ thick shavings with a jointer. A jointer is a medium cut plane that is used to clean up joints and panels so that other planes can finish the job. A shaving of .005 to .010″ should work just fine.

With about an hours worth of work, you can a have a perfectly usable plane and save hundreds of dollars as opposed to going out and buying a brand new plane off the shelf.

**** Word to the wise: If you’re a beginning woodworker and are considering spending a few hundred bucks on a 6″ motorized jointer, pick up one of these hand jointers for $30.00 and learn to use it. I no longer even use my 6″ motorized jointer anymore.

UPDATE 4/17/17 — Forget about buying a Stanley No 7 for $30.00. Prices have gone way up since I wrote this post in 2011. If you buy one on eBay, you’ll pay $100 or more. If you’re lucky, you may find one at a flea market or antique show for less, but don’t count on it.

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18 Replies to “Restoring a Stanley No 7 Jointer Plane”

  1. As you mentioned, it’s nice to see a restoration on something other than a no4.

    I’ve got a no8 I picked up for 20 that I’m going to have a go at and will be referring to your post, especially about the citric acid.

  2. Thanks, just keep in mind that citric acid works harder than Evap-o-rust and tends to be more aggressive when taking off rust. I learned that the hard way one day. The solution ate too much of the metal on my lever cap and plane blade. I now only sit my parts in the citric acid solution for a couple of hours. Evap-o-rust I could leave overnight.

  3. Where can you get a $30 Stanley No 7? Everything I see on eBay is going for $175 and above. At those price i might as well get a new one!

  4. What’s the main ingredient of the Kramers stuff. Oil, lanolin, or wax. I’ll find the closest thing we have available in Australia. I just picked up a bargain no. 7 which will restore perfectly. Thanks for the blog entry.

  5. I enjoyed your posting and am attempting to use the same methods. Currently I am in the soaking mode with the Evapo-Rust and am looking forward to moving on. But I do not own a Tormek or the super fine 4000 and 8000 stones and must make do with some other methods. Thanks for writing. Very intuitive!

    1. I used Evaporust for years, but it became too expensive. I now use a cup of citric acid I can buy at the grocery store. The citric acid doesn’t stay as fresh as Evaporust, but it’s a whole lot cheaper.

      Thanks!

      1. You can buy a five gallon concentrate of Evaporust from Nebraska Hot Rod for about $60. You just have to add water to the bucket, which got me thinking about using citric acid instead.

  6. Thanks for the description of your # 7 restoration Mr. Flaim. My #7 is also one of my most used planes.

    Can I please ask if you have any suggestions for duplicating the timber finish on the handles and knobs of Stanley planes? I have been given many suggestions but have so far been unable to match the factory finish.

    1. Matching the color of the hardwood handles is tough. Stanley and Millers Falls used their own spray toners at the factory, so unless you know the recipe they used, it’ll be like trying to recreate the taste of Coca Cola.

      The best thing to do is remove all the finish off the handles and apply a new stain of your choice. I would use spray toners in a aerosol can because any wipe on stain would make the wood blotch.

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