Stanley 248

I have recently discovered that planes might be of some use, even for a guy with modest skills like me. I asked a couple of questions here and reaped quite a crop of answers. :)
I also mentioned that I had unearthed a couple of more unusual planes in my Dad's garage. One was a Stanley 248, which was apparently specialized for weatherstripping work. Blood & Gore gave it quite a scathing writeup.
http://www.supertool.com/stanleybg/stan14.htm
I was knocking around in my own garage today and decided to tinker with it, just for fun. Here's my "review". Please excuse any novice ignorance and misuse of terms.
The tool was evidently built to plow grooves parallel to the edge of a piece. Looking at my test piece and relying on memory, I'd say the maximum distance from the edge of the work to the inside edge of the groove is maybe 1-1/4". That distance is set with a fence that rides on two rods that tighten down with thumbscrews. There are two other rods that tighten with set screws that I take to be "stops" for saving a repeatable "preset".
Although there isn't much play - the rods fit snugly in the holes in the fence - I think it is possible to (mistakenly) set the fence such that it is not perfectly parallel to the, well, what is the bottom of a plane called anyway? But this plane doesn't have a flat bottom plate, because it's "bottom" must fit into the groove it cuts.
The 248 has a very narrow bottom indeed, even slightly narrower than the 1/8" cutter. Possibly due to my inexperience, I found I had to concentrate on keeping the tool body plumb; it's easy to allow it to tilt from side to side.
The one I have does indeed say "248", which reportedly came with two cutters, but I found five, in sixteenths from 1/8" to 3/8". On some of them, but not all, the cutting edge flares out (is broader than the body of the cutter).
The cutter slides into a groove and is fastened with two screws, one on either side. It seems that the only way to adjust the aggressiveness of the cut is to loosen both screws and manually slide the cutter in or out a little bit. At first I invariably moved it too much, but I quickly learned to just tap it lightly.
I "invented" the term "aggressiveness" to distinguish the depth cut with each pass from the final depth of the groove. That final depth is set with an adjustable depth stop, a small metal plate that eventually rides along the face of the work when the set depth is reached.
As some may remember, my sharpening experience consists of a brief bout with a block plane a couple of weeks ago, plus a few tries in shop class back in 1972. I made only the most rudimentary attempt with each cutter today.
But it looks as though only one of them was ever used. You could tell that someone had sharpened it at least once. The rest look brand new. The 5/16" cutter was on the tool, so I tried that one first.
I took out a piece of 1x4 pine maybe a foot long. I set the fence for about a 1" gap from the edge and started in. I had seen a video online about a tongue-and-groove plane which showed that you should start near the far end of the work and work your way closer to the near end as you establish the groove. That seemed sensible to me for this plane also, so that's what I did.
My "aggressiveness of cut" was too great at first, and the walls of my first groove were not terribly clean. But it was surprisingly straight. I say surprisingly, because I hadn't been sure I had managed to keep the tool plumb and the fence against the work simultaneously.
I tinkered with the cutter depth until it felt better, flipped the wood around and plowed another groove. This one was much better, and I was impressed with how fairly easy it had been to cut the two parallel grooves. The depth stop did its job; by eye, at least, those two grooves look to be the same depth.
I moved on to the 3/16" next. That worked out nicely, partly due to the 11 or 12 minutes of experience I had built up with the tool. Next up, the 1/8". I guessed that such a narrow groove would be easier; less material to plow out.
That much was true, but it seemed to rub and bind and I did some damage to the face of the wood on one side of the groove. By now I had 4 closely spaced grooves on one side of my board. I thought about what might have caused the "binding" as I flipped the board over.
I'm not a terribly skilled woodworker, but I think I have a good head for geometry, and I had wondered about the possibility of the fence being slightly off parallel when I first tried to suss out how the tool was supposed to work. I had not made any attempt to set it except by "feel", and still have not. I imagine that this could be done with any sort of spacer, or calipers.
I loosened the thumbscrews that lock the fence on its rods and tried to adjust it so it "felt" straight. This seemed to make an improvement. There was less binding and the grooves were nice and clean.
I finally put in the 3/8" cutter and made one more groove. There was an inconvenient knot in the wood that only got worse as the groove got deeper, but that gave me an idea. Several of the kind fellows here (plus my own mounting experience) has taught me that you generally want to plane "uphill". It occurred to me that you could easily turn the piece around and reset the fence by putting the cutter in the existing groove and tightening the fence against the opposite edge.
And indeed you could, if the piece was narrow enough. Mine wasn't. But then I wondered if the cutter would follow the half-finished groove even without the fence. I removed the fence and tried it. It worked pretty decently, I thought, except that the knot was nearly as much of an impediment in that direction. [As I'm writing this I remember that the 3/8" was one of the cutters that did not "flare" out, which might help it follow the groove's walls better than the flared ones.]
And that (finishing the cut without the fence) has made me wonder if this "curiosity" might eventually find some useful work in my shop. My woodworking arsenal is pretty meager, but I do have a router. But I wonder if I might need to, say, progressively tweak the depth of a 5/16" groove someday to make something fit better. (that is already a level of commitment and skill I have seldom attempted, but hey, you never know). And I have some other ideas as well.
In brief (too late for that, I suppose), though I barely sharpened the cutters and have scant experience with even basic planes, this tool seemed to do its job, at least in the soft wood I tried it on. It was fun to fool around with. I may yet find a use for it.
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wrote:

Here ya go: http://goo.gl/nyvA6

See "grain".

Good. A coat of Johnson's paste wax on the metal and wood bits will help relieve more of the drag, making it easier to use.

A mallet and chisel can help with the squirrely knots and grain twists that you sometimes find in wood.

Good!
Wait'll you try it on hardwood. It's even easier to use.
Good review, Greg. You'll become a Galoot yet! I wonder if Spokie has any more of the patches...
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
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On 9/11/2011 8:51 AM, Larry Jaques wrote:

Thanks. I'll have to try that; I've got a can in the garage. Do you do that with common planes as well?
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wrote:

Yes, irons and bodies (soles/cheeks.)
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
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On 9/11/2011 12:08 PM, Larry Jaques wrote:

I did a little more fiddling with it today.
I had gone over to my parents' house to replace a light fixture. It was the typical "15 minute job that took 3 hours" due to the age of the house and the questionable skills of the last electrical handyman to work on it. Tiny ancient box, frayed wires with no slack and (the icing on the cake) flatly incorrect wiring that caused the hot and neutral to be reversed in a nearby outlet. But I digress...
I found two more cutters for the 248 while I was there. One was 5/32, which seemed to nicely match the thickness of some small pieces of plywood I had saved from some IKEA storage boxes. I took out a piece of scrap Oak 1 x 2 and gave myself the task of cutting a groove in the edge that would accept the thin ply. Maybe I'll turn it into a small picture frame, just for practice.
Someone mentioned that hardwood could actually be easier to work. I'm not sure that's the right word, but it did seem to "machine" more precisely, once I finally got the depth of cut set. That, I found, needed to be set much more precisely for the tougher wood. Either I'd cut nothing at all or it would immediately jam. The lack of an actual adjusting control makes this kind of a chore, at least for a beginner like me.
I find myself imagining a less hit-and-miss method. The next time I try it, I think I'll set the sole flat on a hard surface and put the cutter in so it just touches the surface also. Presumably this would be the limit of the "no-cut" depth. Then I'll give it the slightest "tap" deeper before tightening it up.
Anyway, after only 20 or so adjustments <grin> , it felt pretty good and was quite easy to get a neat groove. I could almost imagine this being efficient for making a very narrow groove like this. I made the groove maybe 1/4" deep, and it did tend to bind as it got deeper, but less this time. I had set the fence using one of the other cutters as a convenient spacer in order to get it parallel to the sole.
I remembered the paste wax tip about then. I wiped maybe a little more than necessary on any surfaces that would contact the wood, and then wiped the excess off. It did make a noticeable improvement in the smoothness of the operation. Thanks. Is there any chance that the wax residue would prevent a stain from taking if this were a real project? Would I need to remove it from the wood?
The groove sort of impressed me in the end, but the scrap wood looked as if it had gotten weathered at some point in the past. The surfaces were rough to the touch. I don't (yet) have a proper plane to smooth such a surface down, but I decided to try it anyway.
I took out the Stanley #15 block plane that I recently acquired and gave a few passes to the narrow edge that I had put the groove in. It cleaned up the roughness noticeably. I went on to the other narrow edge, and then to one of the wider sides. That was a tad trickier, as the side was about as wide as the plane. Still, in just a minute or two I had a much nicer looking piece. Maybe quicker than sanding too, at least when the wood starts out this rough.
I guess now I'll have to take another look around for the missing piece (lever cap) to my Dad's #3.
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wrote:

Oy vay! Probably a homeowner "fix" there.

There ya go!

Me. Softwood tears out too easily. I much prefer to use Normite tools on it.

For your next tool purchase, consider a plane adjusting hammer. I bought a little 6oz Warrington for that purpose years ago. Later, I found a Lee Valley brass plane hammer for $17 (now $29.50!) I've also used an 8oz bronze mallet ($15 way back when.) Experiment to find out which works best for you.
http://www.grizzly.com/outlet/Jeweler-s-Brass-Hammer/H5921 (kinda light)
http://www.grizzly.com/products/4-oz-Cross-Peen-Hammer/H0563 (iron) http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p2052&cat=1,53193 "
http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?pF540&cat=1,41182 http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p0263&cat=1,41504,43688

You haven't bought your copy of Garrett Hack's _The Handplane Book_ yet, have you? ;)

It gets better once you've practiced it a few dozen more times, especially if you use the proper tool.

I've never had a problem with that, but I avoid stain like the plague. Additionally, I use lacquer thinner to wipe down every inch of every piece of every project before putting on my clearcoat. I also have been known to rub a coat on before working with the wood. That keeps the glue off the inner parts and oils/contaminants off the outer parts. If I do that, I usually use mineral spirits to clean it before a topcoat (or several more hand rubbed coats) goes on.

Got a cabinetmaker's scraper yet? They're cheap and highly addictive. Throw away your sandpaper. ;)

Yes, it is. Ditto with a scraper.

The old Satanleys are wonderful to work with. I think they have as much or more magic as a brand new, very expensive, Lie Nielsen or Bridge City or Veritas plane.
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
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On 9/12/2011 8:18 AM, Larry Jaques wrote:

Not in the last 50 years, anyway. My Dad was a lawyer (still, actually) and a "pretty decent hobby carpenter", as he describes it. Electricity is a mystery to him. The wire nuts I found were of a relatively new style, so it was probably someone they hired at some point.

I felt sheepish looking that up. Normite means "electric"? As in, "I'm gonna feed this rough log into my Elizabethan Chair machine, but you viewers can do the same thing with hand tools at home"?

Can I assume you mean you can hit the cutter even after it's tightened? In any case, the cutter is in a clumsy place for a hammer. I tapped the back of it with the blade of a screwdriver.

That is among the long and growing list of things I haven't gotten around to yet, yes.

I can't claim much skill yet, but I am heartened to see improvement already in something I had always assumed was the exclusive province of serious craftsmen.

I'm going to be deliberately sloppy with the wax the next time and try staining my test project.

I really do have a hankerin' to try that out. I'll put it on my list. :)

Satanleys?
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wrote:

Someone who -said- they had electrical knowledge, obviously.

Precisely. Norm must have $150k worth of tools in that shop.

That or the body. See if you can find the Kingshott handplane videos in your local library system. They're truly wonderful treasure troves of crafstman knowledge.

Are you on your second 2-column, double-sided page of list yet? ;)

Woodworking skills are seldom picked up overnight. Think of them as lifelong goals.

"Good. The sooner you stop using stain, the better." he thought.

Top o' the list, sir. They're absolutely amazing.

Devilishly fun tools. (OK, Stanley. You're no fun.)
-- The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -- George Bernard Shaw
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You could also shim up one end of the plane with a thin piece of cardboard, like a matchbook cover, let the cutter touch the bench and then tighten it. Different shims, different settings.
R
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On 9/12/2011 8:31 AM, RicodJour wrote:

Excellent idea. I'll try it.
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When plowing a groove with a difficult knot, I might have used a paring (or similar) chisel to work/cut the knot material away, so that the plane doesn't encounter the knot material. Prior to each depth of plowing, pare just the amount of knot away for the plane to not to encounter the knot material. Otherwise, the cutter should be sharp enough to cut the knot easily and/or don't plow so deep a cut at a time.
I suppose the 'being plumb', relative to the stock, issue may have played a part, too, as well as the alignment of the blade, it was set within the plane, that may have caused some of your difficulty.
Sometimes you have to improvise, the tool or method, to get the best results, and experience teaches you the different scenarios requiring improvisation. You can't always expect the tool, alone, to do all the work. You seem to be doing that, including by asking your questions to resolve your issues.
Sonny
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Nice write up. If you call them Stanley will send free reprints of some of their old tool literature. They sent me the instructions for the 55. They might do the same thing for your 248.
BTW, you're doomed. The first plane is free - after that you pay. Bwahahaha! ;)
R
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