The Block Plane is the first of the bench planes to be tuned up. I’m going to avoid the word “restore” as I have not stayed faithful to exact paint colours or wood finishes. This Record 0120 block plane was in quite a grim state. It was filthy, the sole was hollow and heavily scored as were the sides. The wooden knob was flaking and dirty, the blade was blunt and chipped and the plane actually smelt weird too! That said nothing was so bad that it couldn’t be bought back to life.
I flattened the sole and cleaned up the sides using abrasive paper with the blade retracted but under tension. I then disassembled, stripped the paint, masked the plane and applied a fresh coat of blue enamel paint similar to the original Record blue. The knob was sanded and instead of applying rosewood stain as it was originally I decided to keep the beech as nature intended it to look and treated it with a coat of boiled linseed oil. The bade was cleaned, chips ground out and then sharpened on an oil stone. It was quite a bit of work for such a basic tool, that said, I did, in the end draw some satisfaction for giving the old plane a new lease of life
As I have already stated it is far from a restoration and not original but I am nevertheless pleased with the outcome. The 0120 is on the large size for a block plane but is comfortable to use both one and two-handed depending on the task at hand. These low angle bevel up planes only became widespread once metal planes were introduced. The design of a very low angle blade with the bevel up was not really possible with old wooden planes. The bevel up low angle of the blade and the tight mouth allow easy trimming of both end and long grain with a slicing cut that nearly always avoids tear out. Block planes offer a very precise and controllable results and are ideally suited to smaller section joinery.
In addition to normal sharpening, taking the time to flatten the sole made a noticeable difference with very fine shavings being easy to produce . The trial cuts were made on European Oak which is similar in nature to American White Oak. Both long and end grain worked well with very fine shaving produced with minimal effort.
The next plane to be tackled is the classic No4 smoothing plane.