The Transformation of a Stanley/Bailey No.4 Type 11
with a Cracked Bottom
to a
No.4 Scraper Plane
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The original plane that I received as a "user" from my friend Sandy Moss had an innocuous-loking depression just behind its mouth. But when I started to lap the bottom to remove the light rust that coated it ("user" - remember ?) it became clear that the right rear of the mouth (as we see it in the upper right hand image of the composite) has been pushed down, meaning that the bottom of the plane was broken out, making the plane un-"usable." So Sandy and I renegotiated, and I started wondering how to salvage a second career for this plane. Oh; that's not an ink line outlining the part to be removed in the upper right-hand image at left. That's the kerf my jewelers saw made. Only the thread of cast arn at the lower right-hand corner of the mouth as seen there is still holding the cut-out piece. And the fragments in my fingers were made with the lightest of pressure between thumb and two fingers in order to break the remiainder of metal holding the cut-out piece together. The piece is 0.025 inch thick at the site of the break.

At first, I wanted to make it into a low-angle smoother by re-shaping the frog receiver into a Bed Rock style slope around twelve degrees, opening up the mouth (as above) and then installing a closure plate in the front half of the mouth so as to be able to set the plane to work gnarly wood. But I also thought of taking advantage of the wide-open mouth by placing a tilting frog in there and making the plane into a scraper like the No.212 or No.112 Stanley classics. I discussed the alternatives with Sandy and he picked the scraper as being more versatile.

So, here we go !

Here's the new rear of the mouth freshly filed to shape.

And another view, this time from above.

Then I used my restored 7" So.Bend shaper (all the bearing surfaces hand scraped to better-than-new fits & alignments - a matter of necessity, as it was worn out) to plane the top of the frog receiver to provide a stable surface for the new center post. Those are hold-downs clamping the bed of the plane into the shaper's vise. I never clamped the bed directly, as it could collapse the cheeks of the plane. The hold-downs are shaped to pinch the workpiece as well as force it downwards as the jaws of the vise are tightened. This pair was given to me by John Jobes, the foreman of the machine shop at U.S. Steel's Fundamental Research Lab. after I told him about restoring the shaper. The hold-downs clamped the bed of the plane by only the bottom 1/16th inch, so there was no bending of the cheeks of the plane at all.

The next step was to open up the brace that forms a dam across the front of the mouth of the plane and which would have trapped the scraper's chips because of the tilt of the frog. The image shows that task about half done. The stroke of the shaper was set to something like 3/4 inch so that the single-point tool wouldn't come anywhere near the frog receiver, which is higher than the new bottom of the brace. You can also see the new shape of the frog receiver, now the center-post receiver.

The three modifications described above (opened-up mouth, planed frog receiver, and opened-up cross brace) are the only changes needed to convert the defunct No.4 smoother into the No.4 scraper plane. Of course, there are holes drilled in the cheeks (which was the most tense part of the whole job, as the accuracy of the cutter adjustment depends on preceise placement of those holes) to hold the taper pins on which the frog tilts. I later filed the cheeks to form a rabbet mouth as seen in the description of the completed plane.

I then made the accessory parts, such as the tilting frog, center post, tilted front knob (to clear the tilting frog) and two forms of the tilted/tilting tote. The first try at the tilted tote utilizes a pair of wedges, each with a fifteen degree angle, which together make either a thirty degree wedge or cancel each other's angles entirely. The wedges are simply swapped end-for-end to make the switch to enable the tote to lean to the left by thirty degrees, to the right by the same amount, or stand straight up. However, I could not work out a tote screw that would hold the tote in all three of these positions, and so I had to make three tote screws, two of which are lying next to the plane in the upper image. Now I was stuck with the task of stowing the two odd men out. Not only that; the switch-over was awkward and slow, and I would be cursing my lack of ingenuity for many years to come, I feared.

That led to the second version of the tilting tote, as shown (pre-rabbet-mouth) in the lower image at left. This arrangement has a few more parts, but the tote swings continuously from left to right and can be securely clamped with the brass knob at its top.

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