The elusive #5 ½ T11 finally finds a home

One snowy day, I found this while rummaging around a used tool store in downtown Denver.


I was so gold-fever blinded by my desire to fill the #5 ½ hole in my collection, that I overlooked the fact that it had lived a hard life. And the fact that it wasn’t a Type 11, my

The cold must have dulled my senses too, because when I got it home, I found this.


Cracks don’t work for me. So the plane went back. The owner’s “we only give in store credit” policy didn’t work for me either. So I’ll never do business with them again. You can keep your credit and I’ll chalk up the lost money to an expensive lesson of what happens when you don’t give a plane a really careful review.

Stanley #5 ½, take two
A year later, I had a flashback when I came across this #5 ½ in a flea market.

P1-Stanley No 5.5 Type 11-As found from antique store

Is it a type 11?

P4-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Three patent dates closeup P5-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-V-Logo P6-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Low-knob

Well yes. Parts all there? Yup. Everything adjusts as it should? You bet. Any cracks or other damage? Well, the tote was cracked clean through and it was missing its beaver tail. But I can work with that. And the price was reasonable.

Under the blaring lights of my shop, it was clear that this plane was a lot rustier and dirtier than I had thought.

P2-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Disassembled-as-found-from-antique-store P3-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Disassembled close up P7-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Some-rust-to-deal-with P8-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Barn-fresh-dirt-to-deal-with P13-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-shavings under frog

The chipbreaker, though, was properly set for a jackplane.


However, the iron was sloppily cambered and showed many nicks. The plane clearly hadn’t touched wood in, possibly, decades.

After a serious de-rusting, cleaning and oiling, her inner beauty began to emerge.

P15-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-FullView-AfterRehab P17-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-AfterRehabCollage P18-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Before-After-FrogDetail

That’s a spare, late-model tote you see in the pictures. It was on there so that I could tune it before turning my attention to repairing/restoring the original tote.

I sharpened the iron and put a mild camber to the edge. Then spent five minutes lapping the sole. Now normally, I wouldn’t bother doing that on a course-cutting plane like this. The need for flatness is not as stringent as it is for a smoother or jointer. However, I wanted to make sure that the sole didn’t have any twist. And the sanding scratch marks confirmed that all was good.

So too did test passes in some pine.

P23-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Nice-Shavings P24-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Nice-Shavings-Close P25-Stanley-No-5.5-Type-11-Nice-Shavings-Closeup

In the next post, I’ll detail three common repairs that I did to the ravaged tote.


© 2014, Brad Chittim, all rights reserved.


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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