Old tool restoration: Worth #3 smoothing plane.

Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works
Biddeford, Maine

This is the first of my occasional posts highlighting old tool restoration projects in the shop. All tools are restored with an eye towards making them good, solid, and attractive user tools, not restoring them to out of the box new, museum perfection. As such, these tools may still show signs of use and imperfections. This honors the history of the tool while still resulting in a great user tool that’s also aesthetically pleasing.

Worth #3 smoothing plane, restored

This project is a Worth #3 smoothing plane, pretty much a direct copy of the Stanley Bailey #3 smoothing plane. This particular example came from my family’s old farm, complete with well worn tote and knob, and a coating of surface rust.

The plane was disassembled and most of the bulk of the rust was removed mechanically and the parts were cleaned of any grease or oil. Next, I cleaned all of the metal parts thoroughly in a citric acid bath.

The wooden tote and knob had less than 10% of the original finish left on them and a lot of ground in dirt, so refinishing was in order. Since it would have been difficult to clean the tote and the knob enough to make a transparent finish look decent, and since we’re going for nice user grade and not museum, I opted to smooth the tote and the knob and coat them with a nice gloss black finish consisting of primer, black enamel, and a clearcoat for protection.

Finally, the cutting iron was sharpened on our sharpening system and honed to a razor edge on the 100+ year old super fine oil stone, also from the old family farm.

The end result is a good quality, good looking, excellent user plane that should last many many years!


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