A Problem-child Stanley Transitional #26 Jack Plane


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.

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It had no checks.

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And the Stanley logo dates it c. 1909-1912.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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With that done, I tested the camber by cross-planing a rough-sawn board. Open Sesame.

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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.

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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.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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7 Responses to A Problem-child Stanley Transitional #26 Jack Plane

  1. orepass says:

    I have a similar 26 and love using it. It always amazes me when you come across a plane like this that requires patience to make it work. I wonder how many prior owners struggled and failed? Nice blog.

  2. Sylvain says:

    According to a blog of Paul sellers, long metal planes flex much more than wooden ones. Because of that a metal plane needs more skill to flatten boards than with a (straigth) wooden planes.
    If he is right, it might have been better to keep the transitional for flattening along the grain and use the metal one as fore plane.
    http://paulsellers.com/2013/04/question-on-wood-versus-wooden-planes/

    Sylvain

  3. I’m intrigued by this multi-Fore plane approach. I would think that a tighter radius would make it less strenuous to push since you take a narrower scoop yet a deeper cut. My only empirical evidence for this is using my Scrub vs Fore plane but due to the mass difference it isn’t a good experiment. What radius are you using on your other Fore and have you found that one is easier to push over the other yet still quickly removes stock? I have another beat up transition plane on a shelf that is begging to get in the game and perhaps this is an option.

    • Hi Shannon, actually, I think that I will use the #26 tranny as a dedicated foreplane. I looked at my hand-ground camber on my #6 and decided that it’s far too aggressive. So I’m going to regrind the profile to have a “mild” camber (1/32″?) and use it as a try plane to flatten the boards I use on the smaller projects I build (e.g. boxes.) If/when I am dimensioning boards for larger projects, I’ll enlist either my #7 or #8 as a try plane. Till then, my #7 will continue in service as my jointer.

      So my dimensioning plan will be:
      –Repurposed jack configured as a fore plane (a la Rogers!), to surface board faces.
      –followed by my #6 configured as a try plane, to bring board surfaces to flat.
      –followed by my #4 smooth plane (very slight camber) to prepare the surface for finishing.

      Does that make sense?

  4. Thank you Sylvain. Interesting stuff to be sure.
    I like the longer length of my #6 for flattening. Combine that with the smaller camber of its iron and you have a good configuration to clean up after my #26, 11″-cambered “foreplane.” I’m not married to these roles. I’ll try them for a while and base my opinions on how they perform for me.

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