Resurrecting a Sweet Little Chariot Plane


You might recall my purchase of a box lot at last summer’s Martin Donnelly Antique Tools, which include a couple of small chariot planes along with some infill planes (more about them later).  If I recall correctly, the entire lot went for $75, which divvied up means each plane was $10.71.


Recently while I was waiting for the glue to dry on some broken tortoiseshell and for a friend to come over and work on a project for his wife I took an hour to work on a nice little (5-3/4″) low-angle chariot plane (second from right in the top picture above).  I do not know if this is technically a block plane or a smoother or something else.  My own thinking is that if you do not know how to sharpen it well, it is a block plane.  If you can sharpen it well, it is a smoother.


This plane was so decrepit that the iron was rusted in place in the body, and took some solid whacks with a hammer to dislodge it.  Given that, it should not be a surprise that almost everything about the tapered laminated iron needed reworking.


In cases like this I outfit my granite lapping plate with a 60 grit belt and go to it.  Even working these surfaces on a 220 grit diamond stone would have taken for ever.  Using the 60 grit I was able to get the back cleaned and the bevel re-made in about fifteen minutes.


As soon as I was done with the iron I went after the surfaces of the body itself, which was just as corroded.  Both sides and the sole were in rough shape, but with careful attention I got enough of the corrosion and pitting removed to make it look like a plane.  But as you can see, the surfaces are not perfect.  Again, it took about fifteen minutes to get it into some semblance of acceptable.  Not Raney or Konrad acceptable, but way better than it started out.



For about a half hour I worked on the sharpening stones, first squaring the iron tip on the 220 diamond stone, then working the back and bevel with the same stone before making my way through the 1000, 8000 and 12000 water stones.

From taking the plane apart until producing gossamer shavings I spent and hour and seven minutes rescuing what was a derelict tool and transforming it into something that belongs in the inventory of planes above the planing beam.  Now it feels great in my hand and leaves the wood surface glistening, which is about all you can ask.