A restored Stanley No. 4 plane cutting a shaving

Woodworking Hand Tools I Use

Unlike the other page I have about technical tools I use in my professional life as a software engineer, this page concerns some of the hand tools I’ve used for woodworking and other practical hobbies that I can recommend.

Many of these were recommended to me by The Internet (specifically experts such as Paul Sellers and Wranglerstar*) so I can’t take much credit for “discovering” them.

This list will grow over time.

Woodworking tools

Planes and similar

I have a restored Stanley No 4 plane and a Record No 5 plane (which barely needed any restoration) which I bought from eBay and followed Paul Sellers’ video on how to restore them.

I also bought a Stanley 71 router and a Stanley 78 rabbet/rebate plane, also from eBay, again following Paul Sellers’ advice. His Common Woodworking site has a lot of useful information on buying basic woodworking tools.

Chisels

Paul Sellers doesn’t seem to think much of Irwin “Marples” chisels, as far as I can tell mainly because they’re not the same as the Marples of old. I bought a set of five (6, 10, 13, 19 and 25mm) “M444” chisels (these are the ones with the solid plastic, not rubberised, handles) on Wranglerstar’s recommendation and they seem to work well. I happened to have an unused but old CK “Marples blue chip”-style 16mm chisel which came from my grandad (I suspect another flea market purchase) which fits nicely in the gap in my set and as far as I can tell the Irwin and the CK chisels perform just as well as each other.

My set of chisels in a wooden storage block
I made a wooden storage block for my chisels (in the style of a kitchen knife block) by cutting grooves and laminating a stack of 4×1 inch pieces of wood. It is now finished with Danish oil and hangs on my French cleat tool wall. The CK chisel is the middle one on the front row – it is hard to tell apart from the Irwin M444 set.

Sharpening

Here is one area where I deviate from Paul Sellers’ practice.

I sharpen my tools using oilstones. For chisels and narrow tools I have a grey manmade double-sided coarse/fine stone which I inherited from my maternal grandfather (he probably bought it at a flea market he frequented). No idea who made it. After cleaning it off with some white spirit it works fine – it is slightly dished, but as Paul points out, that isn’t a problem.

For plane irons, I wanted a wider stone. I contemplated buying the diamond plates that Paul (and many of his ‘followers’) use, but they are very expensive (over £200 for his full set of three) and by some reports don’t last too well. I bought a set of three (coarse/medium/fine) Norton India 8×3″ bench stones for £70 from Classic hand tools and they work great – for touching up I only use the fine stone and then strop. I’m taking care to use the stone evenly, and since these are double sided I can keep one side reserved for when I need a flat stone (flattening the backs of irons and chisels).

I lubricate the stones with baby oil. It’s cheap (around £1 for 300ml in supermarkets) highly refined mineral oil with just a bit of perfume (watch out though, some brands also contain other moisturisers, so avoid them – I’ve been using Asda’s own brand). And presumably it’s good for the skin since that’s what it is designed for. Alternatives like 3-in-1 oil seem much more expensive, and while Wranglerstar advocates diesel or kerosene, both stink and I don’t really fancy having them on my hands.

I created a Paul Sellers style strop which I use after the oilstones. I bought a bag of leather offcuts from eBay for a few pounds (from a place that makes leather furniture) and found a large enough piece for the strop. I started using Silverline green compound that Paul recommends, which worked well enough. A while later I bought a metal polishing kit for my bench grinder, which came with an assortment of other bars of compound, and I tried the white “stainless steel” compound on a strop and it seems to work much better (a shinier more mirror-like finish) than the green compound, so for now at least I’m going to switch to that. I may change my mind later.

Oiling

I made a Paul Sellers rag-in-a-can oiler (using a small sweetcorn can, so a little smaller than Paul’s baked bean/tomato can). I loaded it with baby oil (see above, much cheaper than 3-in-1) and it works well.

*Disclaimer: Wranglerstar is a prolific YouTuber. He makes many videos about tools, woodworking, DIY etc which are very informative and interesting. He also makes some videos about his religious, political and personal beliefs, many of which are significantly different to mine.

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