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Technical - Workshop Notes
2022-04  April.


2022-04 April

Restoring and Identifying a BAILEY Transition PLANE

Gary Pope, Life Member of KDWC, was recently given a self inflicted challenge when a neighbour offered him a Bailey's Transition Plane.   After an initial chat, it was learnt that the owner was the neighbours grandfather, born 1889, a carpenter.   Further enquiries discovered the great great grandson was a budding carpenter in his current teenage years, and so, a restoration and re-gifting exercise began.

A lot was learnt from the exercise, finding resourses to date the manufacture of the plane, along with techniques to restore the unit.  Some help was sought from former Club Member: Phil Spencer who is indeed knowledgeable on things like restorations and history of all things woodworking.    The process of restoring the unit and making it functional again, was a great opportunity to find out more about the mechansims of this otherwise humble and oft used tool.

Leonard Bailey patented many of the mechanisms of a Plane, in particular the plane blades and lever caps Dec 24, 1867 at  and earlier, the device for adjusting the plane cap irons, on  June 22, 1858:  see:

A couple of really useful research sites that explain the many models initially made by Bailey, before becoming part of Stanley Rule and Level Co (Est'd earlier, 1857) are: by Patrick A. Leach

and   by Mark Nickel who's life story is a nice read too, at

Terminology was a nice learning curve too.   The base, the frog (top mechanism), the various adjustment levers, knobs and Y-adjusters, holding screws, handles, knobs, again, all explained in the patents and websites mentioned.


Tackling the job of rust removal, and deciding on how to cleanup the timberwork were the initial challenges, prior to discovering the absence of a vital part: The Y-Adjusting lever for the blade!

Phil's suggestion of soaking the metal blades and curl-lever in lemon juice sorted the rust nicely.   Pure squeezed lemons from the neighbour's own tree just sounded the right thing for the project.  6 big fresh lemons squeezed into a cake baking tray, and left for 2 days,  sorted the rust nicely.

A plane that's 120 years old and seen some good jobs in its life,  was the deciding factor in trying to keep the woodwork in 'as is condition', to show off the fact it's done some work.    Yes, some paint spots from other jobs may have added to the blemishes - but leaving them there too, was the decision.  So some boiled raw linseed oil with drying agent, proved a nice solution for cleaning up and glossing up the nice beech timber of the base of the transition plane.


Missing Parts and How Things Work!

And so to the missing  Y-Adjusting lever for the blade!

Referring to the resources mentioned, it was alleged that nearly all Bailey/Stanley planes (except the very first #1) use a common Y-adjusting lever.  So a #4 was found at a disposal store on eBay that was thought to be a solution.   But alas, the size of the round bars was a larger than the brass wheel pulley section to fit, so some hand filing was in order.  Getting that gap about half way down each side of the "Y" proved the tricky bit.   There needs to be about a 1mm gap either side to allow angled movement within the brass pulley section of the winder wheel.

Ever wonder why plane blades are a two-part mechansim held by a screw?   Well, after many attempts to fit the mechanism back together, the blade was always falling short of the mouth, until the realisation of why there is a two blade shuffle mechanism.   Putting the Y-lever into a comfortable position on the pulley, allowing for about a 2mm movement in/out of the mouth, identifies where the sharp end of the blade needs to sit.  Adjusting the shuffle plates and tightening that screw, allows the blade to sit in the right place, regardless of the age and wearing of the blade.  Hadn't realised the significance of that smart adjustment approach until now!      At first it was thought the old plane had run out of useful blade until that adjustment feature was fully understood.   

Finally an overdue sharpening on a flat stone, brought the blade back to life.  After a chat with KDWC Project's Officer, Andre Cook, the importance of a steady hand at the right angle, and in one direction only, proved to be the practice for sharpening the blade with a good burr, and a proper angle without rounding!   


A couple of turns of the brass wheel on the retrofitted Y-adjuster, and the blade was ready for action, and plenty of nice shavings were coming off the plane again!    Job done.

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