I am always amazed when a vintage tool or an original tool from my apprenticeship (which makes it “nearly vintage”!), is the “go to” tool to do a job in my shop. When I needed to fit & trim a large cabinet door recently, I reached for my Bailey No 3 hand-plane. No big deal right? Except that it is well over 100 years old, – a 1909 vintage Bailey No 3 smooth plane – still totally relevant and ready to work in my 2017 workshop. I find that mind-blowing! (okay, I’m a bit of a tool geek)
I wish I knew the full history of this plane – I acquired it from a guy in 2015, who was cleaning out and selling his grandfather’s “junk” from the basement – the grandfather had been a carpenter of sorts and had a bin of mostly crappy and rusted tools – nothing too valuable, but my eye caught this little baby – I knew it was old, but I thought maybe 1920’s or 30’s at best. It was rusted, dirty, and the handle tote was broken. After some online investigation and a few hours of reading, I managed to date this tool to 1909 (from patent numbers, certain manufacturing quirks, and logos). I cleaned it, de-rusted the parts, carefully glued the tote back together, and re-finished the knob and tote with some tung oil. Then I sharpened the blade iron, re-flattened the sole, and re-assembled everything. To my surprise it can take a really fine shaving, and the blade seems to hold an edge fairly well. It is all original – no replacement parts. The tote handle and knob are made from very dense and beautiful rosewood – which was common back then for Stanley-Bailey planes. So… it’s got a spot in my tool cupboard, and it gets used on a regular basis!