Wednesday 13 April 2016

Plane Rehab

The available time for woodworking I spent on plane rehab.

Now having a wooden plane I'm impatient to see it at work.

ECE Jack Plane

Before I started the rehab work on the ECE jack plane I bought last week I just wanted to confirm the model.
I found the stamp on the plane which is "103S48". That means it is the model 103S which is a jack plane with a double iron (cap iron) and a sole out of white Beech. The 48 stands for the blade width which is 48mm (1 7/8").

ECE jack plane with type stamp

I had a quick inquiry at ECE and they wrote me that the planes are clear coated when they leave the company. That in mind I guess it doesn't make sense to oil the body. I will reduce the work at the plane body to a minimum. Just sanding the sole and removing some paint marks.

First thing first. I have started to sand the blade. Once again I started with 120 grit. Seemed to be coarse enough. After a few minutes of sanding most of the rust was gone and the original stamp appeared. Now I'm sure that it is an original blade.

ECE stamp

The interesting point is that the back side of the iron was already dead flat. Good news I think.
I could remove most of the rust with sanding. Nevertheless some areas have got some pitting. I won't go nuts about it, because it is not (yet) in the cutting area.

Straight iron

The iron is not cambered but straight. And I will leave it as it is.

The cap iron was a bit more work to do. It was pretty rusty including the screw.
I have started with 80 and then switched to 120 grit.

Cap iron after sanding a while

Still a way to go, but good enough for a first try.

I've started to ground the bevel. Once again 80 grit sand paper.
Oh, what a surprise. The blade is magnetic. I don't like that. But how to get rid of that?

Iron filing

I remembered something I have learned in school, most probably in physics lessons.  You can remove magnetic from iron if you treat the material with a hammer.
So I treated my blade carefully with some hammer blows and the iron filing fell of.
It did not lost the magnetic completely, but I didn't want to hit the blade harder.

Ground bevel wit a bit of polishing

That done I brought the iron to the sharpening stones and established a 25° bevel. No micro bevel at the front so far.

After this all done I cared a bit about the body.
As mentioned it had got some paint marks at the sole and the sides. I wanted to get rid of this too.

Sole with paint marks

Side with paint marks

I have stuck some 320 grit sandpaper on a granite tile and rubbed the sole over the sandpaper a while.
Then I've switched to 400 grit and repeated the task.

Paint marks removed

So I could get rid of most of the marks and I have got a fine, flat sole now.

All that preparation work done I have reassembled the plane and gave it a first try.
The first setting was horrible and I haven't done shavings but was plowing through that board.
A few hammer taps here and there and I was able to get some shavings.

First shavings

I will be honest. That was not what I was expecting. I'm able to plane a board with the plane, yes.
But the produced shavings are far away from fine. 
That was a frustrating moment and I wanted to send it south. But then I remembered my first steps with a metal plane. That was not better.

So I tried to analyze what went wrong or which issues I maybe have.
  • The iron has to go back to the stones. I want to make sure that the sharpening process was completed and not be done in a hurry.
  • I think I will establish a 30° micro bevel.
  • The cap iron has to be better prepared. The surface should be polished. I recognized clogging while planing. I think the cap iron is the reason for this.
  • The second issue is that the cap iron is wandering while the plane is used. Means, I set the cap iron, inserted the blade into the plane, worked with it, removed the blade again and the cap iron was sliding upwards.
    Anybody some ideas regarding this? What am I doing wrong?
  • Finally I have to train to set the plane correctly.

Man, a lot of effort. Is it worth to care about it? I'm satisfied with my metal planes and meanwhile I can say I'm able to produce good results with it.
On the other hand I would like to know some traditional skills and these kind of planes are the traditional hand planes in German woodshops.
I think I will spent some more effort into it. From time to time. And maybe I get more familiar with it.
For the time being it will not be my go to tool.

Stay tuned!



  1. How tight is the iron in the mouth at the sole? That mouth looks to be tad large which no matter what you do it will be difficult to get fluffy shavings.
    Wooden planes respond to hammer taps differently. It doesn't take much to advance or retard the iron. Light taps are better than heavy ones. I had a couple of ECE primus planes but I sold them. I prefer metal of wood for bench planes.

    1. Hello Ralph,
      I will check the width of the mouth although it seemed "normal" to me. I will make a picture and post. My goal is not to get out fluffy shavings, at least it is a jack plane.
      Thanks for your advise.

  2. Hi Stefan,

    I have exactly the same problem. I do not get fine shavings out of my wooden planes although I try the same like you. When I take my metal sole planes (although 2nd hand ones) the results are much better.

    I think that it is mainly my lacking understanding and skills in tuning them properly. Looking forward to see your improvement on that. Maybe I can benefit from that.

    Greetings from Nuremberg,


    1. Hi Jasper,
      thanks for your comment. Your are one of the rare German readers. Cool.
      Stay tuned. I will give an update about all the hints I have received.
      Greeting from the Ruhrpott.

    2. Hi Stefan,

      thanks to the spring slowly comming I will be able to put into operation my garage workshop again. Since I got some mingle-mangle of wooden planes and other used hand woodworking-tools last fall on Ebay it will be enough possibilites to practice my skills in reworking and restoring old tools ;-). Hopefully I find enough time.

      BR, Jasper

  3. Begin by inserting the iron into the plane so that its entire width touches the board...but just barely. Then gently install the wedge with firm hand pressure only. Make certain that the iron still barely touches the board, but will not yet produce a shaving when you push the plane. Then, with the plane at the back edge of the board, lightly touch (not even a "tap") the back of the iron with the plane hammer, and test it to see if it shaves anything. Repeat. After a few tries, you will begin to feel slight resistance between the edge of the iron and the edge of the board, and the plane will then begin to produce the quality of shavings you are looking for. Lightly tap the wedge with your hammer to keep it there. Good luck, and let us all know if this helps.

    1. Hello Larry,
      thanks for all this advise. That's a pretty good description and just reading it tells me what I did wrong.
      I will follow your tips step by step and report about it in one of the next posts.

  4. Hallo Stefan,

    halt mal ein Lineal an die Sohle. Wahrscheinlich muss die abgerichtet werden.

    Liebe Grüße

    1. Hallo Pedder,
      wie konnte ich das übersehen?? Tatsächlich hat die Sohle eine kleine Wölbung. Würdest du das hobeln oder schleifen?

      Danke und Grüße


      Pedder asked me to check the sole flatness and I did it once again.
      He was right. The sole has got a slight hump. I guess I should plane that down.

    2. hallo Stefan

      hobeln oder lieber, weil man besser sieht, was man tut: mit der Ziehklinge arbeiten.

      Liebe Grüße

      I'd use the scraper, because I can see what I do and work concentrated on small areas .

  5. I've not used wooden planes yet, but I understand that there is a learning curve. I'm sure it will get better with more practice. I would love to find some wooden planes and try them out.

    1. Hi Matt,
      I guess you are right. There was a learning curve for the usage of metal planes too. I didn't worked right from the beginning.
      Hey, keep your eyes open at flea markets, garage sales, or however it will be called. You can find some for a small amount of money. I had looked around for a while.