There’s nothing quite like stumbling upon a great old hand plane at a flea market, a garage sale or online. What’s even better is if that plane can fill a void in your collection.
And, that’s just what I recently found. While cruising the collectible woodworker’s tools category on eBay, I came across this great little scrub plane.
The description was exactly what I had been seeking to add to my collection:
Fresh from a recent barn sale here on Cape Cod a Stanley scrub #40 plane complete with an about full Sweetheart blade. Good wood no cracks or repairs just minor wear from use. Being sold as pictured & found uncleaned, please note there are a few minor rubs in iron bottom sole that could be buffed out if desired by new owner, not bad & clearly shown but needed to mention.
I put in a bid, and the seller accepted it. As I always do after buying something on eBay, I restlessly waited for the plane to arrive in my shop, counting the minutes until the UPS delivery guy showed up.
I really do need a hobby…
Wow. It was in great shape – exactly as described. What surprised me most once I had removed it from the box was the outstanding condition it was in. There was some minor rust down on the cap iron, but nothing a little buffing with steel wool couldn’t remove. The handles were in superb condition, and besides a wipe with some paint thinner to remove the dust, the plane was ready to roll.
It took the iron out and inspected it closely. Indeed, this was a 1930’s era Stanley Sweetheart plane with its distinctive mark. I was stunned to see the shape of the working end – it was definitely rounded. This is, of course, to help hogging off the wood in the roughing phase a whole lot easier.
The Japanning on the plane body is in outstanding shape, and the sole was very flat. Again, for a hard working plane such as a scrub, this one is in outstanding shape.
Once I had touched up the blade a bit (it still needs a more advanced sharpening) I was very surprised by how light and small the plane was. I had been hogging off waste from boards with a No. 5 jack plane, and this thing was nothing like the jack. Small, easy to grip, manuverable.
Then it dawned on me – what a clever idea to make it lighter… I was wearing out my shoulders and back hogging off the waste with a much heavier plane. The scrub would make quick work of the high spots without wearing me out. And, in a day when EVERYTHING was hand planed, well, lighter was better!
The cut on the scrub plane is definintely something you have to get used to. You are certainly not making whisper thin shavings. This is a rough tool for roughly surfacing a board, and does it ever leave a rough surface. I ran the scrub over this piece of birch to give you an idea of what the cut looks like.
Of course, you will need to use the heavier follow on planes to perfect the surface. But, with all of the grunt work done with the scrub plane, that smoothing process will be a lot faster – and a lot more pleasant.