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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I'm getting back into wood working and generally making "stuff", so I'm on the lookout for tools, as you'd expect.

Anyway, I stumbled across this No 4 plane. There's no makers mark on it, however the grain pattern on the sole plate is quite distinctive. also the casting on the lever cap makes me think that the plane is relatively old.

Does anybody recognise it?
 

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Yep, that definitely is a wood plane. As far as finding out who made it, I recommend you do a google search, using something like - how to tell who made an old wood plane - for your search phrase.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yep, that definitely is a wood plane. As far as finding out who made it, I recommend you do a google search, using something like - how to tell who made an old wood plane - for your search phrase.
Thanks JOAT, I had no idea that it would be such a "thing" ... :smile:
 

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I zoomed in on your plane looking at the adjusting wheel. im guessing its an old millers falls. it has more of a diamond pattern like this one.
as far as the wavy stuff I think someone did that to the sole and the sides. I don't know of any advantage to that except to identify it, maybe from a great distance haha. just a guess. all my planes are old Stanley/bailey. heres a site to look at that might help

welcome to the forum. I envy you living in new Zealand. we had an exchange student from gore south island live with us. the pictures I have seen of your country make it a place I want to visit someday. then of course being from Oklahoma I want to thank you for steven adams:smile:

Quickly Identify Your Hand Plane | TimeTestedTools
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I zoomed in on your plane looking at the adjusting wheel. im guessing its an old millers falls. it has more of a diamond pattern like this one.
as far as the wavy stuff I think someone did that to the sole and the sides. I don't know of any advantage to that except to identify it, maybe from a great distance haha. just a guess. all my planes are old Stanley/bailey. heres a site to look at that might help

welcome to the forum. I envy you living in new Zealand. we had an exchange student from gore south island live with us. the pictures I have seen of your country make it a place I want to visit someday. then of course being from Oklahoma I want to thank you for steven adams:smile:

...
Humm ... interesting. I zoomed in as tight as I could and there are definitely letters raised in the sole casting, just below the thumb wheel. After rotating the photo a couple of times, and sitting with my head on one side whilst squinting I think it says "made in the USA" ... dunno, however there area couple of other clues in the link, so thanks for that.

I agree with you when you say the the waves are decorative, but I did think that it might have been a company trademark.

Yep, I moved to NZ from the UK about 15 years ago, and yep there is some stunning scenery around the place, however there are a few things about the place that I wish I'd thought more about before moving over here. The problems are, in my opinion, related to NZ's "isolation", because until recently it took a long time to get anything here, and when it did arrive it was horrendously expensive. The other detractor is the tiny population, and amongst other things that also increases prices because the demand isn't great enough to generate competition in suppliers.

On the other hand, I've got more true friends in NZ than I ever had in the UK. I mean the type of friend where you can knock on their door with no money in your pocket, and they'll feed and clothe you without a second thought ... :)

As for Steven Adams, if you're looking for an Olympic Gold Medal winning female Shot Put, check out his little baby sister, Valerie ... :grin:

[edit] In the link, it makes reference to Miller Planes manufacturing planes for other companies to brand / sell, and I think that could explain a few things.

Anyway, if I can get the plane for sensible money, I'll grab it and see what we have, thanks [\edit]
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I zoomed in on your plane looking at the adjusting wheel. im guessing its an old millers falls. it has more of a diamond pattern like this one.
as far as the wavy stuff I think someone did that to the sole and the sides. I don't know of any advantage to that except to identify it, maybe from a great distance haha. just a guess. all my planes are old Stanley/bailey. heres a site to look at that might help

welcome to the forum. I envy you living in new Zealand. we had an exchange student from gore south island live with us. the pictures I have seen of your country make it a place I want to visit someday. then of course being from Oklahoma I want to thank you for steven adams:smile:
I think we have a winner ... :dance3:

The cleaned up plane is a Millers Falls No 9, and whilst I'm not convinced that the plane in question was originally branded as a Millers Falls tool I'm pretty certain that the two planes are extremely closely related ... :dance3:

That said, I'm still intrigued by the markings in the casting, and I'd love to hear any thoughts that people may have about that ... :grin:

Thanks guys
 

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she's got the look of a Stanley "Handyman" series hand plane. But without any branding on the level cap, it may have well been marketed via another brand.
 

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An old girlfriend of mine married a guy there who operated a stationary business. When she moved there, she lived in a big house on the West end of the Bay of Plenty. She had to jump through hoops to change her citizenship, they're not anxious apparently to have Americans spoil their paradise.

The plane looks interesting. How is the iron? Thick or thin? Thinner is a trademark of cheapo or relabeled, mass produced planes. How much slop is there in the blade height adjustment, another tell on quality. There is nothing like a plane, nothing in the world, to paraphrase a lyric, they are such a satisfying tool to use. That Ssshhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssshhhh sound is far more soothing than the RrrrrrRRrrrrrrRRrrrrr of a motor.
 

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John; give this a try to get your metal parts rust free:
A trickle charger is perfect for the power supply, and any old piece of iron/steel (not stainless steel). A chunk of rebar works well. And a plastic pail.
Tons of You Tube vids on the electrolysis process.
 

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I know Sears marketed some tools made by Millers Falls. Montgomery Ward may have too. It wasn't uncommon for some plane makers not to put markings on their planes, why I don't know. It's the easiest way to advertise your product. I have a fairly nice #4 or 5 with a corrugated bottom that isn't marked. I have a nice dual spokeshave that isn't either. It has a straight and radiused cutter on it. I'd love to find out the history of both but most importantly they work well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
An old girlfriend of mine married a guy there who operated a stationary business. When she moved there, she lived in a big house on the West end of the Bay of Plenty. She had to jump through hoops to change her citizenship, they're not anxious apparently to have Americans spoil their paradise.

The plane looks interesting. How is the iron? Thick or thin? Thinner is a trademark of cheapo or relabeled, mass produced planes. How much slop is there in the blade height adjustment, another tell on quality. There is nothing like a plane, nothing in the world, to paraphrase a lyric, they are such a satisfying tool to use. That Ssshhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssssssshhhh sound is far more soothing than the RrrrrrRRrrrrrrRRrrrrr of a motor.
Your old girlfriend shouldn't take it to heart, they don't seem keen to let anybody in at the moment. I was trying to arrange for a girl to come over from the Philippines for a short holiday, but despite the fact the fact that she has already visited the US without incident (and you know how picky you guys have become recently), the Kiwi's seemed to think that she would abscond and stay as an illegal ... :mad:

I still haven't put my hand on the plane, but it's price is such that I won't shed a tear if it turns out to be a lump of junk, which neatly leads into ...

John; give this a try to get your metal parts rust free:
A trickle charger is perfect for the power supply, and any old piece of iron/steel (not stainless steel). A chunk of rebar works well. And a plastic pail.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfZlFFrgxQw
Tons of You Tube vids on the electrolysis process.
.. yup, I'm with you all the way. I've just picked up an old Stanley framing square (ground edges, not stamped), and the first thing I did was check it for "square" ... as far as I'm concerned, it was bang on at 24" ... :dance3:

The only issue was that it's not as clean as it could be, so I've finally found an "under bed" storage box that will take the 24" x 15" square for a quick "rejuvenation" with the magic of elastic-trickery ... :)

The plane can have also have a soak when it arrives ... :dance3:

I know Sears marketed some tools made by Millers Falls. Montgomery Ward may have too. It wasn't uncommon for some plane makers not to put markings on their planes, why I don't know. It's the easiest way to advertise your product. I have a fairly nice #4 or 5 with a corrugated bottom that isn't marked. I have a nice dual spokeshave that isn't either. It has a straight and radiused cutter on it. I'd love to find out the history of both but most importantly they work well.
Yes, I had read that Sears (amongst others) had sold tools made by Millers Falls, but as you say, it always surprises me when a manufacturer doesn't mark their product, it's almost as though they are saying they aren't particularly proud of their creation.

Anyway, as I've suggested, I'll see if I can get this plane for "sensible money", and see where it takes me, because even if it's a heap of junk, I can have some fun with the electrolysis, as I've got a few projects that would benefit from some treatment.

Once again, thanks for all the comments, they are all giving me a few more things to think about ... and if anybody can shed any light on the "wave" pattern, that intrigues me too. Looking at the photo's more closely, it looks like the "wave" effect is achieved by varying the depth of the "valleys" which seem to be running parallel to the edges / sides ... this detective work is definitely a bit of fun ... :dance3:
 

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According to most of what I've read about old planes they are for the most part based on Stanley designs and most still are. Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen, the two best western style plane makers today took those designs and analyzed them and made improvements on the weak points. Some of those old planes will work very well when sharpened properly and when set up properly. There was a time when they could be had fairly cheaply, I think because many had been handed down to someone who couldn't sharpen or set them, but it's getting harder to find good deals on them now that they are back in vogue.

BTW, here's a video by Garret Hack who regularly contributes to Fine Woodworking on how to take that plane and set it up when you get it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
According to most of what I've read about old planes they are for the most part based on Stanley designs and most still are. Lee Valley and Lie Nielsen, the two best western style plane makers today took those designs and analyzed them and made improvements on the weak points. Some of those old planes will work very well when sharpened properly and when set up properly. There was a time when they could be had fairly cheaply, I think because many had been handed down to someone who couldn't sharpen or set them, but it's getting harder to find good deals on them now that they are back in vogue.

BTW, here's a video by Garret Hack who regularly contributes to Fine Woodworking on how to take that plane and set it up when you get it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzDygUaWGj0
First things first, yes the plane is on its way to me, and hopefully I'll have it before the end of the week ... :grin:

As for your comments about prices, the guy that I got the plane from was also listing a Stanley No 4 (sorry, I don't remember the other details), but he was asking double the price that I paid for this plane. The Stanley was US$ 31, but didn't sell, but from what I've seen on Ebay in the US people are asking significantly more for older tools.

Thanks for the YT link, I'll go through it a couple of times to make sure I follow (understand) the directions.

Many thanks

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, the mystery has been solved ... :)

The plane was in my letterbox when I checked this morning, and I do find it a little odd as it's Sunday here in NZ.

Anyway, I couldn't see any makers marks on the plane, but I could see quite clearly that the plane wasn't a top drawer item. The lever for lateral adjustment is bent plate, rather than being made up of two parts, the depth adjusting nut is steel rather than brass, and a couple of other things too.

So I did the obvious thing, and pulled it apart, but there were still no obvious makers marks, but I decided to hit the iron with a bit of wet + dry and sure enough, the iron was marked.

The plane is a Mohawk-Shelburne No 900, an economy plane made by Millers Falls.

However, the biggest disappointment for me was that the "wave" pattern in the body of the plane wasn't anywhere near as attractive as it appeared to be in the listing. That said, I do think it's worth a try to restore the thing, if for no other reason than to have a practice run for restoring another plane in the future ... :dirol:

As I've already said, thanks to everyone who's contributed to this little thread, as a noob, it's reassuring that everyone has been so helpful ... :smile:
 

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Sometimes the problem with cheap planes was that production was far from perfection but in some cases those issues can be fixed with a generous amount of TLC. For the price you paid it's worth a try and as you said, at the least it will be a good learning experience.
 
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It probably is not, but, the first thing that I thought of when I saw the wavy lines is that it looked like damascus steel. I have no idea why they would use it for a plane body, but it was the first thing that I thought of.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It probably is not, but, the first thing that I thought of ...
Yep, I can see where you're coming from, though my expectations were nowhere near Damascus quality, but I did think that if someone was wanting to spend the time and probably a few dollars on the appearance, then maybe the plane itself might at least be "interesting".

However, after pulling the thing apart, the overall quality of the thing isn't anything particularly special.

As I've said, the price I paid hasn't made much of a dent in the "beer & skittles" fund, so I'll try to clean it up and sort it out, and at the very least it'll give me some practice at restoring such things, I'll also take a few pictures as I go, so that you guys can come along for the ride ... :smile:
 

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@JGC

A Damascus steel hand plane sure would be something special!! Kinda like carving the body of a hand plane, doesn't really add anything to the functionality but damn, sure looks nice.
I think your spot on with just going ahead and cleaning this old boy up. What do you have to loose. At the very least, you gain some hands on experience and quite possibly a solid shop user...
 
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I picked up a Stanley jr jack plane, a 5 1/4, very cheap and made a scrub plane out of it. you widen the mouth of it on the bottom and round the cutting iron at the edges. this lets you take a bigger bite when theres a lot to take off before you go to a #4 smoothing plane. works great.

 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
@JGC

A Damascus steel hand plane sure would be something special!! Kinda like carving the body of a hand plane, doesn't really add anything to the functionality but damn, sure looks nice.
I think your spot on with just going ahead and cleaning this old boy up. What do you have to loose. At the very least, you gain some hands on experience and quite possibly a solid shop user...
I did say earlier that it's definitely NOT Damascus steel, but yeah, the look of the thing is what attracted me to it in the first place.

Like you say, the pattern doesn't improve the functionality, but it definitely turns it into a talking point, if nothing else. However, as I've said, the surface finish really puzzles me, because someone has gone to a lot of time and trouble to get, what is at the end of the day, give a modest little plane a "wow" factor.

I'd love to hear if anyone else has seen this kind of surface treatment, and whether it was a factory option, or whether it's something that was applied later ... :grin:

I picked up a Stanley jr jack plane, a 5 1/4, very cheap and made a scrub plane out of it. you widen the mouth of it on the bottom and round the cutting iron at the edges. this lets you take a bigger bite when theres a lot to take off before you go to a #4 smoothing plane. works great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XN5QSTaVzRQ
Thanks, I'll check it out later.

I've watched a few of Paul's videos, and I really like his style of presentation, he's obviously from the North of England, same as me, so listening to him is a bit like being back in the woodwork class at school ... :grin:

Cheers

John
 
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