It is not often you come across a 18th Century hand plane that has not been used. These types of plane were often sold as unfinished castings to journeyman carpenters, who would finish them to their own requirements and style.
This one never quite got finished for some reason. Not so much a restoration, it’s more like completing a job that never got finished!
The base casting is in very good condition. The sole is flat, but a little corroded and shows signs of the metal cooling during the casting pour, this shows as a pattern, a little like Damascus Steel. It’s not going to affect how the plane performs though.
The first stage is a bath in white vinegar for 12 hours to clean off all the corrosion.
The blade is by a manufacturer called Hardy and is a perfect fit, although it’s very unlikely that this was sold with the plane originally. The plane is a low angle bevel up block plane, designed to handle end grain. The blade had never been sharpened but had a 25 degree bevel shaped in manufacture, so I sharpened the blade to that angle.
I needed to do some research on the shape of the wedge. They either had short fat pad style wedges or long curved wedges. The shape is based on personal preference as the wedge provides the hand grip as well as holding the blade in place.
I went with the pad style for comfort. This is made from Wenge. This is a very hard wood so it will hold up to the work it needs to do. It was cut to shape using hand saws and then refined with a rasp. Final finishing was with various increasing grits of sandpaper until I was happy with it.
I saw a lot of these planes had some finishing details added, a common theme was a Cupids Bow on the tip of the wedge, so I rasped that into shape then coated it in boiled linseed oil.
Once the wedge was in place it was time to test fit the blade. I had to do some work to widen the mouth to fit the blade squarely. The rear shoulder of the plane was slightly off square which tilted the blade to one side, this was fixed with a metal file.
Flattening the sole was the final stage, some fine grade sand paper was stuck to a piece of MDF and the plane was flat and true in no time.
Some test passes to see how she cuts
A final coat of gun makers stock finish to give it a shine and protect it.
Apply these finishes with a clean lint free cloth in light passes. Keep adding layers until you have the finish you want. Five or six light coats brings a brilliant hard finish.