Plane Iron Rehab – The Magic Stick

I am not a tool collector per se.  I am a tool acquisitor, but that is a whole different mindset.  I own fewer than a dozen collectible tools – my Robert Towell and Raney Nelson planes, a Chris Laarmans finger plane, a Laarmans router plane, a set of Otner-Botner luthier’s planes, perhaps a couple others — but my inventory of acquired tools is always in flux.  I am always on the lookout at flea markets and tailgating events to find tools that I can rehabilitate and find them a new home to someone who needs one of them.  Sometimes the refurbished tools go to family, some go into the wooden box marked “tools for Lil’T”, and some go to friends or even friends I’ve never met.  Such was the case a couple years ago when I was able to send several boxes of tools to Rob Hanson in the aftermath of his shop and all its contents turning to ashes in the Paradise Fire in California.  I counted it as joy to send them even though we had never met, because it was the right thing to do.

One of my very favorite things is to buy boxes of old block planes to tune up and give away to new woodworkers. One sharp tool can make a difference in charting someone’s passion for woodworking.

I often purchase wooden body planes even if they have no iron, and often purchase irons even if they have no plane.  As long as they are basically in good shape I can eventually make something of them, combining an iron from my drawer full of irons with a body who needs one.  Then I can find some body who needs the finished tool.

NB — for guidance on restoring all manner of iron planes and other woodworking tools, Ralph Baumenot’s Accidental Woodworker is the reference, a must read for me on a near daily basis.

I am currently rehabbing a series of wooden body plane irons, good projects in that they can be worked on a few minutes here, a few minutes there.

When working on an iron that is in really rough shape, or even sometimes brand new, I find my most valuable tool to be “The Magic Stick,” two versions of which are illustrated above.

You’ll find out the Why and How next time, along with a cut list.