I've been interested in increasing my hand planing skills but don't have any really good planes. There's a junk store near me that I check from time to time, and they just got in a couple of #5 Bailey planes. They are rusty, will need to be fixed up and one needs a blade. One has a completely flat sole while the other has a ridged sole. Should I get these, and fix them up over the winter, and if so, what should I offer this guy for them?
Go for them !!
The one with the ridged sole was supposed to help on resinous woods such as pine to help overcome friction. I don't think it was successful as it hasn't been manufactured for a while.
Wiley's the man on refurbishing Hand Planes.
But it so basically simple.
Totes and Knobs can be made or bought if they are cracked or missing, Check the archives to learn about rust removal from TDHofstetter or just get busy with the abrasive paper.
If it were me I just double check the castings by taking a wetted rag of Mineral spirit rub over and then remove the excess.
Any cracks in the castings should be easily visible even through the rust.
I would give the old juju with the mineral spirit, downplay the corrugated sole plane as being relatively useless, offer him $10 a piece and be prepared to go up to $20 top whack.
Others on the forum may give you better guidance on price if I'm way out of kilter.
If they are constructionally sound i.e. no cracks in the body of the plane then they can and will be easy to return to their pristine glory.
Don't let Limey sandbag you, he's as knowledgeable as they come about handplanes. Especially old iron. To his excellent advice, I will add just a coupla things. You're right on the mark going for an old Stanley--they were professional tools in their heyday (as opposed to now), and in going for a number 5. No. 5's were always very useful and versatile, and therefore there were a lot of them made, and therefore they're plentiful now and priced accordingly. So you're on the right track.
I'd carefully compare the ones at the junk store with the ones on Ebay--Ebay is your best alternative to flea markets and antique stores. If you haven't already, go to http://www.ebay.com, and do a search on "stanley bailey plane". The third item down is a No. 5 in beautiful shape where they want $28 for openers and no bids yet. There are probably other No. 5's coming up--I didn't look at all three pages of planes. After you look at what's coming up and available, go up to the top of the page and click on "View Completed Items". This will give you the actual closing prices and pictures of planes that have sold. By and large, you will find that Stanley Bailey No. 5's have been going for between $10 and $40, with beaters at the low end and primo items at the high end. Ebay has an endless stream of No. 5's, and it's a buyers' market. You don't have to settle for a beater, because I regularly see nice ones go for $30 or so.
What to look for. Limey has already mentioned cracked castings. He's right--that's the most serious thing, but you can usually see it right away if you know what you're looking for. Look on each side to see if there's a weld line. If so, the casting is probably not true, and you should reject it. Secondly, the wood doesn't lie. You should see very nicely grained rosewood on handle and front knob. If the handle has a cracked horn on top, I'd reject it outright cause it's ugly and probably abused. Another famous problem is cracked handles--they will crack laterally across, right in the middle. Look to see if there's a glue line there where a prior owner repaired it. This isn' t a killer issue, because if the plane is in otherwise good shape, a reglued handle is OK. But if the wood shows abuse, the plane has probably been abused in other ways, like dropped off a scaffold, or maybe stripped threads in the frog holddown or the handle or knob. The wood should show nice grain even if it's dirty: if it's all blacked over something's being hidden.
Is the handle loose? If so, the long screw which holds it down, or the threaded casting, may be stripped. Or it may be a replacement screw which doesn't quite fit.
Check for chipped corners on the blade, cap iron, and lever cap--these are signs of abuse. If you move the lateral adjust sideways, does the blade shift side to side accordingly? Does the blade depth adjuster knob move the blade properly?
One thing I would check, if you think you might buy, is to ask the dealer to remove the lever cap and blade assembly--right under the blade assembly you should see two frog screws in place and tight. Frog screws are sometimes scavenged. That plane without a blade is particularly suspect because it has already become a "donor" or parts plane, witness the missing iron. I wouldn't trust it, because it may have been scavenged in other ways.
Bob, from the clues you've given--rust and missing blade--I think what the junk store has is a "parts plane" and a beater. $10 for both (you may need both to get one good plane out of the deal--tell the guy that) and it will be a learning experience. If he doesn't take that deal, get a nice clean No. 5 for $30 from Ebay. Hope this helps. Wiley Horne
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