Few tools are as simple and utilitarian as an apron plane. I had a $100 Lie-Neilson Apron Plane years ago, and it disappeared in my co-operative shop. Chamfering, trimming tenons and cleaning up tear-out are just three of the myriad uses for this little tool. I always wanted to replace it, but just never got around to it.
Wandering Main Street with my daughter after a Fourth of July parade, we ended up in an antique store. I found this little gem, and at only $10.00, I couldn’t pass it up. A little elbow grease and it will be as useful to me as the guy (or gal) who used it 60 years ago. Stanley sold tons of these things, so this wasn’t an antique restoration, but rather a tool restoration. It didn’t need to be beautiful, just functional.
First, I needed to ‘lap’ or flatten the sole of the plane, as the bottom of the plane was gouged and a little rusted. I taped a piece of 80-grit sandpaper to my table saw top and began lapping the plane. On a larger plane, this job might take an hour or more, but with a little plane like the Stanley #102, it only took 5 minutes. I went through three sheets of 80 grit and 2 sheets of 180 before the surface was flat.
The blade in the antique plane was also badly pitted and chipped. Rather than try and salvage this one, I decided to replace it. I had two options; first was to find another Stanley blade on Ebay or Craigslist, or second, buy an aftermarket blade designed for this plane. IBC/Pinnacle makes beautiful, thick replacement blades for antique Stanley planes that are far superior to the ones originally sold. Function is my primary motive for this plane, so I went for the replacement blade.
Set up on this apron plane is easy. Slide in the new blade and tighten the thumb-screw. Once set up, the new plane works perfectly. While I never used this plane new, the refurbished one works like a champ. The Pinnacle blade, which is cryogenically treated C2 tool steel (and razor sharp I might add!) will out last me. For around $30.00, I have a tool that performs like one 3 times the price. That deal is tough to beat!
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Pinnacle Replacement Blade for Stanley #102 Block Plane, Item #150593, $21.00 Woodcraft www.woodcraft.com