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Millers Falls & Wards Master Planes

KiddervilleAcres's picture

Hi ALL,


 I just inherited 3 planes from my father.  2 Millers Falls Type 3 ( #9 & #075) and a Wards Master #5.  My father was by no means a finish carpenter and I certainly don't profess to be a professional, even though I've maintained a woodworking hobby for nearly 30+ years.   When I saw the Wards Master, I thought, oh boy, a Monkey Wards special from long ago.  When doing a Google, I found a guitar makers web site that uses this plane all the time!


Anyway, I plan on refurbishing these planes to working condition.  They were EXTREMELY DIRTY!  I disassembled them and scrubbed them with Simple Green and an old toohbrush, which cleaned them up quite nicely.


Next step will be to flatten the soles via the Scary Sharp method.  I have read David Charlesworth's Handplane Tune Up in FWW #172.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to approaches that I shuld consider?  One upgrade I was thinking of was replacing the blade.


Any and all thoughts would be greatly appreciated as this is the first time I have attempted this.


Regards,


 


Bob @ kidderville Acres

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

JeffHeath's picture

(post #103260, reply #1 of 25)

Bob


Obviously, you want the soles flat.  I flatten the soles of all my planes using sand paper on granite.  I use the self stick stuff from Woodcraft made by Porter Cable, but anything will do.  I color the area just before, and just after the mouth with a magic marker, and run a side to side "squiggle" with the marker from one end to the other.  Now, using a low grit, sand until all the marker is ground, and the markings left on the sole look uniform.  Work your way up to whatever level of shine you desire, but at least 340 grit.  Some guys polish their soles, althought I don't believe that is necessary.


When the sole is flat, you want to take a mill bastard file and create a bevel around the perimeter of the sole where it meets the front, back, and sides.  This is to eliminate sharp edges left from flattening, and aleviating the possibility of gouging your work surface.


Now, the flatter the mating surfaces where frog meets it's bed, the better performance and less chatter you will get with the plane.  And, with all my old Bedrocks, which are the only older planes I mess with, I always replace the blade and chipbreaker with a thicker one, usually from Hock.  They're reasonably priced, and perform very well.


When all of this is done, and your hands are bleeding (just kidding), you should be able to take those beautifully thin gossamer shavings.  Have a ball, and ask away if you have other questions.  There are quite a few plane-a-holics lurking in these waters.  I'm just one of them.


Jeff

A distinguished graduate of the School of Hard Knocks
Troy's picture

(post #103260, reply #2 of 25)

Theres a great website for millersfalls tools at http://www.public.coe.edu/~rroeder/main/bench/bench.htm
have fun I have a Millersfalls jointer plane that I am very happy with. Just remember if you have one hand plane soon you will want another and another ect.:)

Good luck

Troy

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #3 of 25)

Hi Tro/ALL,


Does anyone know why the Lever Cap on my #5 is in 2 sections, the end sort of hinges very slightly?  Not sure if I described this correctly, but the lever cap is not one solid piece.


 


Bob

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

Troy's picture

(post #103260, reply #5 of 25)

I think that the idea for style of cap lever was to put more presure on the blade. That Millersfalls website talks about that.

Troy

PADDYDAHAT's picture

(post #103260, reply #10 of 25)

I was lucky and picked up a MF#10 or a #4 1/2 in Stanley speak. It has the two part cap and after cleaning, truing up a bit and installing a Hock iron and his new chip breaker it hums along as good as my other Bailey style iron smoothers.


On the split cap, Troy was dead on, it is a variation of the geometry of the "stay-put"chip breaker that Record of England used to try to distance their planes from Stanley's. You can still buy the two part chip breaker made by Clifton-UK for their "Bed-Rocks" or for upgrades from Highland Hardware at,http://www.tools-for-woodworking.com/index.asp. I saw it for about $27 +S&H. All the best. Pat

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #11 of 25)

Hi Pat,


Thanks for your response.  I have tuned this plane and restored all the original parts following several of the Hand Plane Tune Up articles in FWW over the years, including David Charlesworth's in FWW #172.


I'm still getting more than the acceptable chatter from the plane and am thinking of replacing the blade,as it is really thin.  I see you used a Hock replacement as I was thinking of Hock's or Lee Valley's replacement blades.  Do you have recommendations that would suggest one over the other.  I haveread several reviews and they both seem like excellent replacements.


Regards,


 


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

highfigh's picture

(post #103260, reply #12 of 25)

What bevel angle did you sharpen to? If you used 25 degrees, maybe 30 would help. The sole is waxed and the wood isn't too wet, is it? I assume the frog is flush with the rear of the mouth. Maybe the frog and rear edge need to be filed flatter to provide better support for the iron. The chip breaker has a good amount of arch to it and the lever cap is good and tight, right?

Not that I'm trying to ask too many questions, but what kind of wood is it and how much figure does it have?

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #15 of 25)

Hi Pat,


Thanks for the response.  I honed the blade @ 25 degrees, same as the original.  The wood is hard maple and is dry (8% MC).  I will double check the frog as when I was milling the surfaces of the plane body and the frog, where they meet, I did notice a very slight rocking.  I will also double check all parts alignment.


Incidentally, this is the first time I have attempted to restore an old plane.  I'm using the Scary Sharp method.  I followed David Charlesworth's Handplane Tune-up article in FWW #172.


Will let you know how I make out.


Thanks for your help,


 


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

highfigh's picture

(post #103260, reply #16 of 25)

Are you getting the chatter on the edge or the face of the boards? The only time I have noticed any chatter planing hard maple edges is when the iron needs to be honed again or when the grain is variable. Have you tried pushing the plane along with the iron skewed? It effectively lowers the cutting angle and can make it easier to cut cleanly.

Did you see the part about the hinged lever cap on the site about Millers Falls planes, where it's supposed to contact the chip breaker in three places, instead of two?

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #17 of 25)

highfigh,


I should have been more specific, I was using the Wards #5 plane.  Anyway, I checked the items hat you suggested and I think the problem was with the frog/seat on the body, or it could have been the angle of the bevel.


I went back and re-checked the frog/seat and noticed that there was a slight amount of rocking, which I thought I had resolved, guess not completely.  Following your lead, I re-honed the bevel to 30 degrees.  I use the scary sharp technique and went through the grits from 150 - 400.  I also put two thin coats of wax on the sole.


IT WORKED!  I'm not sure which mod. did the trick, but the plane cuts AWESOME.  I closed up the throat and adjusted the blade to take just a whiser of a shaving.  I them returned to the bench where Mr. Hard Maple was patiently waiting in my front vise.  I flipped him over to work on a fresh milled side and let her rip.  I got a paper thin shaving nearly the length of the board (3 ft.)!  I'm in heaven!


You'd think that after nearly 40 years working on computers I'd know better than to make several mods. when troubleshooting a problem.  Must be an age thing???????


Thanks for all your help.  Next up, the Millers Falls #9.  I'll go back to the WEB page as I missed the point about the MF lever cap.


Best Regards,


 


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

highfigh's picture

(post #103260, reply #18 of 25)

You go from 150-400 or is it 4000 grit? When I first cleaned up my Bailey #4 (original iron, non-laminated- nothing special), I bought a granite floor tile and flattened the sole first, then took out my honing guide and went to work on the iron. I started with 200 grit, then found 3M emery cloth sheets which are made for metal, anyway. That saved a lot of time and I progressed through 400, 600 and 1500 grits but still have 2500 grit, too. The difference between 400 and 600 was noticeable and 1500 is definitely better. 400 cut fairly well but when I went finer, the surface of the wood was almost like glass. I have since used citric acid to clean up most of the metal on the rest of my planes, except my #7 (which won't get much cleaner), my block plane (which doesn't need cleaning) and my #75 Stanley and the Millers Falls equivalent, which also don't need it. I have honed the #4 iron to 600 grit and need to finish honing to my finest grit, but now that it's cleaned up (citric acid really does a nice job), I think the difference will be more noticeable. I also bought the Lee sharpening book and it sheds a lot of light on the subject.

Another thing I did to make it easier to place the iron in the honing guide at the same point is scribe a line along the guide's edge where it meets the iron. I used black marker to darken the area being honed to see if the angle was right and after a couple of passes, the black was removed evenly.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
radish54's picture

(post #103260, reply #19 of 25)

Having read the preceeding posts, I think I am in the right place. I have a jointer plane passed down through my Dad (I think it must be his father's) marked as a No.7 It has Lakeside stamped in cursive on the top of the iron. Any ideas about the lineage of this old fellow? The iron is fairly thin, and someone along the way has drilled a hanging hole through the front of the sole, so I doubt that it has much value as a collector's piece. I wonder if it is worth tuning up much, or if it should just be a sentimental piece.


To be frank, I'm just learning how to use a plane for more than creating instant tearout. I have tuned up a Stanley bailey #5 and a #4 by lapping the sole and scary-sharpening the irons.


 

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #20 of 25)

Radish,


Give it a tune-up! 


I'm also new at tuning planes and started with a Millers Falls plane that my dad gave to me also.  It most likely was also my grandfathers too.  I have followed David Charlesworth's method featured in FWW #172, and I also use the scary sharp mehod.


Just spent many hours on a #5 Wards Master and got it working like a charm, with the help I got from several folks in here.  This plane was in pretty rough shape, but had the basics to work with, i.e. reasonably flat sole,  good condition plane iron and the frog was in good shape.  I had to start with 80 grit on the sole and went all the way up to 400, then extra fine emery paper.  It glows now!


I'm not sure who manufactured it, but there are lots of planaholics lurking in these forums and I'm sure one will know.  As a suggestion, I would post a new discussion focusing on your plane.  I started this one regarding Millers Falls & Wards Master planes and so your question might not get its due volume of responses from others.


Not trying to discourage you from posting in my discussion, just want you to get every chance for a response from the rest of the folks in here.  Also, there are some very good tips in this post as well.


By the way, there isn't one person in here that isn't eager to help.  Being in these forums is like being a member of a cult (family is actually more like it).


Good luck,


 


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #21 of 25)

highfigh,


I took your lead and went to the auto parts store and the finest I could get was 1,000; I bought 3 sheets and 3 sheets of 600.   I also picked up several sheets of extra fine emery.


Went home and honed some more w/ the 600, then the 1,000 and tried the plane again. WOW, what a difference.  The wood was definitely smoother, thoug not glassy as you got, but a definite improvement.  I don't have a honing guide, but am looking to get one to make life easier; most likely the Veritas MK-II. 


All sharpening to this point has been done by hand.  I find this difficult as several times I held the plane iron at the wrong angle.................  Made more work, but I have managed to get a really good micro-bevel though.


Thanks again and I'm still at it to get it better,


 


 


Bob @ Kidderville Acres


Use whatever tool needed to Git 'r Done!

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

highfigh's picture

(post #103260, reply #22 of 25)

I bought the cheap guide (light grey) at Woodcraft and it works great for wide (2-3/4") and narrow irons and chisels because it clamps them from the side edge. None of my irons were square across the cutting edge and this guide fixed that in a hurry. This particular guide won't let the iron or chisel rotate and go off of square and greatly increases the accuracy of the bevel, making everything more consistent. To return to the bevel angle(s), I scribe a fine line on the iron where the guide crosses.

Check your phone book for a place that sells autobody supplies- they'll definitely have finer grit paper. Also, Rockler has assortment packs with very fine paper that is pressure sensitive.

The Leonard Lee book on sharpening has photos from a microscope that show how different degrees of sharpness really look. 8000 looks like a nice, sharp edge and 400 looks like it was just broken off and pounded on the ground.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
PADDYDAHAT's picture

(post #103260, reply #13 of 25)

They are both very good, but Hock is just a little thicker and you must adjust your frog. Your mf #9 a #4 in stanley speak with a 2" iron


Regardless of who you pick, also get their new chip breaker. It will make a big difference.


Hock from craftsman studio in carbon steel $35.75-CB $18.35 free S&H


Hock from Hock carbon steel $37/22 or in A2 steel 44/22  +S&H


A stanley #4 from LN $35/$20  in A2 + S&H


No big differences, about $10


I would go with the Hock A2, edge lasts a little longer, thicker reduces chatter and the CB as a postive upgrade. Shop these at the internet suppliers. All the best, Pat

Troy's picture

(post #103260, reply #14 of 25)

I added a "samuri" brand of laminated steel blade that I got out of a clearance bin and a Hock chip breaker to my MillersFalls jointer plane and it was a definate step up from the original blade and breaker.

Have fun

Troy

highfigh's picture

(post #103260, reply #4 of 25)

One thing about the #75 bull nose plane, the leading edge is not supposed to be flush with the sole of the plane. If the sole doesn't need much surfacing, you should be OK. If it needs a lot, make sure to remove a similar amount from the bottom of the nose. Also, you can determine the difference between the sole and nose by the tightness of the top screw. You may not need a new iron for this one, just a cleanup should do. Remember the bevel goes on top for this one.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
KiddervilleAcres's picture

(post #103260, reply #6 of 25)

highfigh,


Dpn't mean to be a jerk, but the Millers Falls #75 plane that I have looks more like a large (7"L x 2"W) block plane.  It is definitely not a bull nose plane.


Bob @ Kidderville Acres

Bob @ Kidderville Acres

A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!

highfigh's picture

(post #103260, reply #7 of 25)

You're not being a jerk for correcting me. For some reason, I thought Millers Falls used similar numbering to Stanley.

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."

"I cut this piece four times and it's still too short."
JsHerbel's picture

(post #103260, reply #8 of 25)

I have a Monkey Wards #5 and it is my most frequently used metal bench plane. They were made by Stanley as an exact copy of their Bailey pattern. The only difference I see between the Stanley and the Wards is the lateral adjuster which is twisted on the Wards and it is crimped over on the Stanley. Nothing wrong with this plane other than it is not as "collectable" as the Stanley name, but who cares.

wdrite's picture

(post #103260, reply #9 of 25)

Miller Falls is a good tool.  I believe Stanley is a little better.  I stay away from their Handyman series.  The old Stanleys are all good.

notjoshing's picture

Millers Falls versus Stanley (post #103260, reply #23 of 25)

Mechanically, Stanley Baileys and Millers Falls planes are similar.  Over time, Stanley shaved material off of the frog design to save money, to the point where there wasn't much metal supporting the cutter.  Millers Falls, even on their economy models, had much more solidly built frogs.  That makes a significant difference in their performance and durability.

9619's picture

Bob, Just wanted to say Hi, (post #103260, reply #24 of 25)

Bob,

Just wanted to say Hi, and welcome back.  Good to see you here again.  I don't want to get into the fettling discussion.  You are already getting more feedback than most people can handle.    I have fettled about a dozen old Stanleys, Millers Falls, Craftsman, etc metal hand planes and a lot of wooden ones.   I have come to the conclusion that while they work fine after fettling them, they just aren't as good as my LNs, so I don't use them much.   I did learn a lot by doing the fettling.  Yours are from your dad, so that makes them special.   

Oh well, gotta get back to the shop, and finish putting some aniline dye stain on a child's glider chair that I made out of curly maple.   I made two of them.  I'll post some photos in a week or so.      

What are you making these days?

Mel

PS  - I miss having Charles around.  Of course, he is probably still around but just using names that I don't recognize.  :-)

Measure your output in smiles per board foot. 

Handrubbed's picture

Observations on Millers Falls (post #103260, reply #25 of 25)

Observations on Millers Falls planes

Millers Fall Co. made very good tools right up until their demise.  Tool-for-tool, better quality than Stanley....with some exceptions. MF paid a lot of attention to the appearance of their tools and they were shiney and eye-catching with their signature red enamelled accents.. In  hand planes, the Millers Fall had heavy, thick castings, with a high level of fit and finish.  In my opinion, the handles and totes were not as comfortable as Stanley's.  MF irons are often marginally thinner than Stanley's.  The japanning was very heavy and long-lasting on MF planes, as was the nickel plating.  One area of weakness was the tang or tab on the depth adjuster that interlocked with the hole in the chip breaker to move the iron in or out.  The MF tabs were stamped steel and the Stanleys, iron, so that MF adjusters would sometimes not readily allow fine depth adjustments.   Today, Millers Falls planes make excellent user tools and are relatively easy to restore to use both mechanically and aesthetically.