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Slater Bullnose Restoration

A few years ago I won a Slater bullnose plane on eBay. To be frank, I am not sure why I bid on it as I rarely use a plane such as this, and I did have a Stanley #90. I think that my interest was inspired by a friend who collects Slater planes, who loves his little bullnose, and this one was cheap. It duly arrived. I gave it a cursory glance as I was busy with other projects, and put it aside for when I had the time.

A couple of months went by before I pulled out the Slater. I was shocked.

Here is the plane in the original eBay photos … in which the Seller claimed it was in excellent condition … don’t believe all you read … and clearly I was not paying attention!

Can you spell “BUTCHERED”?

These pictures will speak for themselves. The bed has been ground away in the most horrible manner …

making it impossible for the mouth to close up. This is how much bed was removed …

The Slater came with a Sorby iron that clearly was not intended for the body as the shaft was far too narrow. To make it fit the previous owner had glued in wooden guides - not a bad idea, but here so crudely executed …

Finally, at some stage the wedge had been remade. It fitted quite well, but it was still a little strange in shape and of some nondescript wood. Here is an original Slater for comparison ..

In addition to the wedge, you can see the rear of the iron – its width fills the inside of the body.

So there we have it. Not even pretty enough for a paper weight. I tried to contact the Seller, but he ignored my emails. It was too late to use PayPal’s “Buyer Complain Policy”, so I tossed the plane into a drawer and tried to forget all about it.

The problem is that I hate unfinished business. This plane bugged me. I knew that I could sort it out but I did not want to waste the time doing so. So I tried to ignore the looks it gave me, pleading for help … “Derek, I promise to be a good little user ..” . And I remained stoic in my refusal, but did not forget.

This went on for a couple of years. I would walk past the little Slater with my fingers in my ears. But it wore me down .. and yesterday I gave in and did a little work, and today finished it.

The Restoration

First I pulled out the added infill. No, the plane did not look any better for this!

The mouth needed to be filed square.

Then I cut a new bed out of steel plate (scrap from the blade of a square) ..

This was fitted so …

The aim here was to flatten and raise the bed to support the blade and close the mouth. The steel plate was attached with epoxy.

The sole was slightly cambered, and this was flattened on my belt sander. This also gave me the opportunity to square the sole relative to the bed (i.e. remove one side of the sole until the iron exited the mouth evenly … of course it helps if you have an iron that has been prepared to its final format, so get this done first.

The sides of the body were then ground square to the sole on a disk sander. I quite liked the swirls created by the 80 grit, so decided to leave them in.

It made sense to add supports for the shaft of the blade, as the previous owner had done. Just a couple of lengths of Jarrah shaped to size …

Finally, I shaped a new wedge (in Jarrah) and added a rear strike button (made from a bolt).

The Outcome

The strike button …

The mouth and sole ..

The Wedge

The wedge is a little different from the original, as I shaped it to conform to the dimensions of the blade ..

Making Shavings

Of course all this would be in vane if the plane does not work well. Here are some shavings ..

The little plane sighed with relief, but was not finished .. “put me with the others .. please put me with the others” …

I know this one is going to be nothing but trouble!

Regards from Perth


February 2010