Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Emperor's New Clothes

It's summer - Sun is shining, the temperatures are rising and the flea market season is at its peak.
A couple of used and/or vintage tools found their way into my shop.
I will report about a couple of them. 
Let me start with a small wooden plane.

Since I have made over the wooden jack plane, I found a while ago, I'm using this plane more and more and I'm starting to love it. It is so much nicer to plane softwood with this plane. With this experience in mind I'm looking now for a corresponding wooden smoother all the time. The luck won't be with you twice ;-) But who knows.

During a visit in the pas few weeks I found two other wooden planes. Another wooden jack from Ulmia and a small wooden plane from ECE.
I don't know if there is a right name in English for the ECE model. Due to the ECE catalog it is a small jack or boys plane.
Why is that? The plane system of German wooden planes is slightly different from the system of metal planes.
You will start to handle a board with a scrub plane. That's similar I think. Next is a so called "Schlichthobel" which will be translated with jack plane. The difference is that a "Schlichthobel" has got a single iron. It is the second one which will touch a board and just removes the tracks from the scrub plane.
The above mentioned small jack is only 200mm long and the iron is just 39mm wide. That makes it easy to move the plane over the wood and through the grain. That's the reason why it is called "boy plane". It is easy to use for the young and/or inexperienced woodworker.
Coming back to the plane system, the next one you will use is what is called the jack or the smoother. I will come back on this topic in one of the next posts.

I'm not sure why I have bought it. I did not need it and after a second deeper look it was not in good condition. Maybe I could have used the iron for something else.
But then it came to my mind to bring it back to nicer conditions. I had nothing to loose.
So I have dismantled the plane and cleaned the parts.

Body, back handle, wedge, iron

The body has got a lot of dents, paint residues, the sole was hollow and the whole thing was dirty and not nice to touch. The wedge has got some deep dents and looks pretty used. The iron finally has got some rust and seems to be heavily used.

Without further ado I clamped the body into the vise, grabbed a scraper and started to scrape off the coating.

Scraping off the coating

I could not completely remove all dents, but the idea was not to bring it to factory conditions but to make it nice to touch and to work with.

More scraping

After scraping I have switched to sanding, starting with 120 grit and switching to 180.

That done the question came up, which finishing I should use to refinish the plane body. I've started some investigations but didn't find a clear answer. I have asked ECE a while ago. They confirmed that their plane bodies are receiving a clear coat when they are new. So I have thought that it would be a nice idea to give it a shellac coating. But all hints I could find were saying that this is completely unusual for plane bodies.
Finally I decided to use wax varnish and a final coat of paste wax. For me it worked well and feels good.

Plane body after scraping and sanding

Plane body after the finishing

The sole was flattened with a hand plane and a scraper. This time I remembered early enough about it (Checklist for plane make over). 

Next was the wedge. The original wedge worked but it was just used, worn and ugly. So why not trying to make one. Unfortunately I was so engrossed in the work that I forgot to make some pics.
But here is the result. Not bad for the first one.

The new (left) and the old (right) wedge

Plane body with new wedge

The last step was to maintain the iron. I have derusted the iron with citron acid and some sand paper, ground a bevel at 25° as good as possible without a grinder and established a 30° micro bevel.

The original blade after derusting

Watch this, nice shavings straight from the beginning...

The very first shaving with the overhauled plane

Here you find my little jack in his new clothes.

Plane after make over

I find it looks and feels much nicer now and did not lost its used character.

This make over was made to make some experiences with this kind of work. I wouldn't do that with every plane I will get into my hands. Doing this means that the plane isn't in its original state.
But if I would find a cheapo which will be in heavy used conditions and it shall become a daily user, then I would do it again.

I've got some other interesting finds I'll report about within the next weeks.

Stay tuned!


  1. Nice find and rehab Stefan. Way to go!
    It always please me when I see yet another tool rescued from neglect.

    Bob, adopting tool rescue's since 1992 :-)

    1. Hi Bob,
      I think that the idea of rescue this little plane was the reason to buy it.
      Maybe we should found a group like "The Hand Tool Saviors".

    2. All jokes aside, I like the idea. Set up as a NOT for profit group, rehabing and salvaging tools to be put back into users hands. That be kind of cool.
      Problem I see is how do you prevent greedy people from snatching our free labour to make a buck on our backs? I would like to see it as a way to put good tools into young hands to get a start into our hobby. Similar like Chris did to make free tool kits for beginner students.
      Heh, just thinking out loud... Need more coffee :-)


  2. The German name is "Knabenhobel" - plane for boys

    1. Hello Wolfram,
      thanks for the supplement.
      You are absolutely right. That's the German nick name for it. I've tried to explain above that it is so called due to its dimensions. Meanwhile it is listed as "Hobby Hobel" (hobby plane)in the German ECE catalog. In the English version of the catalog it is called a "German gent's plane".
      Best regards,

  3. Hallo Stefan,

    die Übersetzung Schlichthobel mit Jackplane halte ich für gezwungen. Das sind einfach unterschiedliche Systeme und sollten nicht verwaschen werden.

    Liebe Grüße

    1. Hallo Pedder,
      bin deiner Meinung. Es gibt scheinbar keinen äquivalenten Hobel im Metal Hobel System. Darum habe ich mich an den ECE Katalog gehalten und die übersetzen den Schlichthobel mit "Single Iron Jack Plane"

      Viele Grüße

  4. Hi all,
    there are some discussions about the right name for this type of plane.
    I suspected that this will happen. So my point of view.
    The type of the plane is a German "Schlichthobel". That is a single iron wooden plane which is used as second plane after the scrub plane. It seems that there is no equivalent in the metal plane system and I couldn't find another translation than "single iron jack plane" (due to the English version of the ECE catalog).
    This specific model is a smaller version of a "Schlichthobel". Due to its dimensions it is called "Knabenhobel" (boys plane). It was often used for educational purposes. Nowadays it is called "Hobbyhobel" (hobby plane) because it is one of the simplest and cheapest you can get and some hobbyist are buying that one for whatever purposes. In the English version of the ECE catalog it is called a gent's plane. I think that has got the same meaning as a gent's tool chest.

    Talk soon,

  5. Nice resurrection job on the plane. The shows a lot of use based on the hammer marks. Any plans to file them off?

    1. Thanks Ralph!
      I have tried to remove the dents in the body by scraping. Everything which won't went off I will leave it so the plane has still a used look.
      Regarding the iron I'm thinking about replacing it due to different reasons. I didn't got it square after half an hour of hand grinding, a lot of hammer marks and pretty sharp edges and it is already pretty short.

  6. Stefan,

    In English it is called a "Gents Plane". The thought was to make a plane for the "Gentleman" wood worker.

    I have one and it is one of my favorite smooth planes.

    Sorry for the repeat of your information, I started my reply before reading through all the replies. Whatever, it is a very good small smoother.


    1. Hi Ken,
      thanks for verification. :-)
      Interesting to hear that you are using it as a smoother.
      I will give that a try during the next weeks.