While meandering through an antique store, something toolish and vintage wooed me into a stall. It was a Stanley #26 transitional jack plane. Not that there’s anything remarkable about them. But what set this one apart was its just-came-off-the-assembly-line looks. Even the tote and knob were intact with but one chip to show for its long life. Here’s what I brought home, $20.00 the poorer for it.
It had no checks.
And the Stanley logo dates it c. 1909-1912.
So it fits right in with my favored 1910-1918 vintage tool time frame. You Stanley plane collectors will recognize that range as the type-11 period. I really like the retro styling and STANLEY lettering font.
At home the metal parts got dunked in Evaporust while the wood pieces slurped up a coat of BLO. The reassembled plane went into the vise upside down. Then a few light passes with a #8 trued up the sole. After sharpening the iron, I put the rehabbed jack to the test on some pine.
Stroke—clog. Clear clog. Stroke—clog…and so on. “What the…oh. That’s why.” The chip breaker wasn’t mating fully to the iron and shavings were getting trapped between them. After fixing that, I took a few more passes. And clogged the mouth big time. After an hour of fettling I gave up and it collected dust upon my home office tool display shelf. Every once in a while I’d see it there, mocking me, and be egged on to try again. Clog. Clog and clog were the results. Each time back to the shelf it went.
Then, I watched Shannon Rogers’ video “From Boat Anchor Junk to Fore Plane.”
And that got me to thinking. I already have three jack planes including this one. So why not configure it as a fore plane like Rogers does?
When I got to the step to open the throat, I scratched my head. I could have sworn that my previous fettling attempts included moving the frog backward. But as I inspected it, there was clearly room to spare. So I adjusted and tested it.
A few passes on some pine produced thick, clogless shavings. That was good, but I still had a third jack plane. In order to make this a fore plane, its iron needed a camber. Rogers puts an 8” radius on his jack. I wanted something a bit less pronounced and opted for an 11” radius.
With that done, I tested the camber by cross-planing a rough-sawn board. Open Sesame.
That did the trick. And I’m glad. Because now I have a woodie jack to fore plane with. “But Brad, what are you going to do with two fore planes?” Well, Grasshopper, I’m going to use the lighter #5 transitional for strenuous cross-grain flattening duties and the #6 along the grain to take out its predecessor’s track marks.
Thank you Shannon Rogers for helping me get the you-can’t-tune-a-transitional-plane monkey off my back. And for clearing space for another tool on my display shelf.