Saving my sole...

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British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
As a few of you know, I have been trying recently to improve my ...rudimentary...carpentry skills..

I have learned the basics of using and sharpening planes, and do find them a really useful tool.

Anyway a couple of months back, my Mum decided her arthritis was now so bad she wouldn't be doing any more woodwork and she gave me her Stanley no. 4. Its certainly forty years old, possibly more. Unfortunately it had been in her garage and had acquired some surface rust.

Before, Side View by British Red, on Flickr

The plane iron was okay, but wanted the angle restoring to 25 degrees and a good sharpen

Before Plane Iron by British Red, on Flickr

I decided to try the method of improving the sole shown by the master Paul Sellers in his Youtube Videos.

A piece of glass resting on a non slip mat makes a completely flat surface

Glass on closed cell by British Red, on Flickr

Wet and dry can then be attached (or just laid flat) and glass cleaner used as lapping fluid.

Wet and Dry taped by British Red, on Flickr

I took out the iron, chip breaker etc. and rubbed all the rust off on 240 grit and then worked up to 600 grit. I put a slight bevel on each edge to avoid tram lines

Truing the sole by British Red, on Flickr Cleaning the sides by British Red, on Flickr

Then I used a coarse oilstone and jig to reset the bevel to 25 degrees

Re Setting 25 degree bevel by British Red, on Flickr

Then I put it on the waterstones to sharpen it

Sharpening Bevel by British Red, on Flickr

It came up really nice

Bevel After by British Red, on Flickr

Then I cleaned, oiled and reassembled

Cleaned Up 1 by British Red, on Flickr

Cleaned Up 2 by British Red, on Flickr

Cleaned Up 3 by British Red, on Flickr

I set the blade and the shavings just whispered off

In Use by British Red, on Flickr

When I compared it to my own modern No. 4 with its nasty plastic instead of rosewood and more blocky edges, its clear to me that they really don't "make 'em like they used to"

New and Old Stanley No. 4 Planes by British Red, on Flickr

In fairness to my Mum, there wasn't much wrong with this plane, just a tiny amount of surface rust and it had been set up properly before. Still nice to get it back into use though!

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A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
SE Wales
Excellent! A very nice tool indeed, you certainly can see the difference 'twixt the new and the old; it looks ready for a new career now for sure :)


Oct 22, 2006
Nice one, I restored a Stanley No.4 myself recently too. It's was my grandfathers and well used, but after some tlc it looks almost as good as yours. It kickstarted an interest in restoring old woodowrking tools (which, believe me, is addictive). Trawling car boot sales for old cabinet makers screwdrivers, chisels, old hand drill & brace sets. And on the plus side, you end up with a top notch set of tools, that doesn't cost the earth, and with a quality that you rarely see these days unless you spend an absolute fortune.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
Looks good, nice to clean up old planes and I also detest those placky totes and knobs on the new ones. For a start off the placky is brittle.
On some of those old Stanley plane irons they have laminated steel, you can see the difference when you hone them.
This one shows up as a darker zone near the cutting edge, it wasn't quite as prominent as I got to the finer grits but believe it or not this plane iron is all ground (on one of those four sided diamond hones from B&Q, NOT a dry grinder) to the same angle.
I think this photo was taken at the 200 grit stage so just getting it shaped right.

It looks like its got a microbevel but its just a different shade of steel.
That was off an old Stanley 4 1/2 I bought from a local secondhand shop for a lad I was working with, I kept the plane iron as it wasn't even close to being sharp and gave him another that I had previously sharpened and only after then did I sharpen that one up and discover it was laminated.
Might have had the Stanley Sweetheart logo on it, I can't quite remember now.
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Jan 23, 2004
Southampton, UK

I've acquired half a dozen planes from my Grandad's recently that need a clean up. You've given me the inspiration to start working on them.

tommy the cat

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Feb 6, 2007
Very nice BR.
I've got to 'restore' my dad's plane when it turns up amongst the other shed stuff....I'm going to have his old brace and bit too.
I've got a modern stanley and it's nothing like the old stanley although it's still a usable tool
I like Paul Sellers channel I found it like you (I'm guessing ) from Wranglestars channel


Oct 26, 2008
Nice job BR, I enjoy tidying up the tools I have inherited and get an extra sense of satisfaction when I get to use them at work. I also like dipping into Paul sellers vids from time to time, one of the great things about being a carpenter & joiner is we can keep learning new stuff and his teaching style is easy going.... but then I have never met a good woodworking mentor/instructor that needed to behave like Gordon Ramsey ;)



Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 15, 2010
Those are lovely planes. Got a couple of identicals to that that still see professional use. The same age Record smoothing plane just pips it for quality though.

For use on softwood where edges need to be keener, a stropping on a paddle strop really gives benefit.