Cheap Used Hand Planes: Are they worth your time and effort to refurbish?

Ah, spring brings the startup of flea markets, tag and garage sales. It’s the time for searching for old but useful bench top tools of all kinds. Unidilla, New York, a local town for me, has a town wide street tag sale where we visit every year. One of the items I look for are hand planes, especially Stanley or their equivalent. I came across this no-name plane and usually would ignore it but this one was priced right ($10) and in good condition. I grabbed it, in hoping I could get it to work, maybe even calling it a “go-to-user” plane.

It didn’t have a maker name anywhere on it. MADE IN USA was on the sole. Did that mean it was a quality built and designed tool? With some time and effort I decided it could be worth finding out.

This is what my $10 tag sale tool looked like when I got it home. It looked totally original to me:

Hand Plane With No Name -1

Taking it apart I realized it was in great shape with only surface rust. The tote and knob had minor wear with no cracks. To my surprise the mounting shafts were capped with brass nuts. Unfortunately the iron adjuster wasn’t brass like my larger Stanleys. That’s alright… as long as it functioned as it should. The tip of the lateral adjuster was bent in a butterfly shape, also different than the Stanleys I have. The iron is .075″ thick x 1.75″ wide x 7.125″ long and looked like it wouldn’t take much to get it sharpened. Overall length of the sole is 9-1/4″. The plane in my hand feels like my Stanley #3, maybe a little lighter in weight.

After a bit of research I found out that this plane was actually made by Stanley. It was geared towards farmers from the late 1920s into the 1950s. You can read more about the Stanley Defiance line of tools here.

Hand Plane With No Name -3

Most of the japanning was intact but seemed like it was originally applied thinly. The lever cap was in excellent shape. Iron and it’s chip breaker would need a little work to mate them up tightly.

Further time was spent cleaning plus some light steel wool scrubbing of the bare metal. I painted gloss black over the existing japanning and flattened the sole. The tote and handle was stripped of the finish and stained a darker color using thinned burnt umber oil paint. Final finish was brushed lacquer.

Hand Plane With No Name -2

Final sharpening of the iron and overall tuning turned this Stanley Defiance hand plane into a gem of a user.




If you happen to see one of these at a bargain price in your antique tool rust hunting, grab one. Clean, sharpen and tune it up. You’ll be glad you did.