I Got A New Plane
OK, it's not new.
New to me, but not new. It's actually relatively old.
I haven't worked on the house much lately. I really wanted to get the porch complete but I ran out of good weather to slap a final coat of paint on everything. I had a very, very small window of opportunity to at least get the lattice up and painted, but work demands closed that window before I got around to painting it and now it looks like it'll be too cold to paint for the next few months so...it is what it is. If I do happen to get a random day where the temps rise above 50°F, I'll get it done.
Due to historic district guidelines, I have to skirt the underside of the porch with lattice in a horizontal and vertical pattern, which is fine. I opted for plastic lattice because I know from experience how much of a nightmare wood lattice is once it starts to fall apart. Unfortunately, I let the rolled up lattice sit for months in the boxes you see under the porch and when it was finally time to cut it the stuff didn't really want to unroll. Long story short, I did manage to get the frame built and all 4 pieces of lattice cut to fit; now it's all disassembled and staying dry in the basement. And, I've got the lattice laying flat and sandwiched between sheets of plywood to flatten it out. The next time the weather cooperates - which won't be any time soon - I'll fire up the sprayer, paint the lattice and wood frame the same color as the posts, and get it all installed.
More recently, I got all the Christmas stuff up which is always a bit of an adventure. This year I opted for stringing lighted garland along the cast iron fence and setting up a giant tree inside the house. The pic doesn't do it justice, but the tree I bought - and drug into the house, which is a young man's game - was 12' tall. Trees that big and heavy just aren't a lot of fun to wrestle with but because the house has 11' ceilings I refuse to buy a smaller tree. Sometimes my stubbornness lies in direct conflict with rationality.
Back to the plane.
My only living grandparent recently moved into an assisted living facility and the family is in the process of cleaning out his house so it can be sold. Some day I may dedicate a blog post or two to grandpa but for now, as it pertains to the plane, grandpa was always a bit of a "collector" and in recent years the collecting had started to border on hoarding.
Any items the family members don't claim will get donated, or thrown out, or sold at an estate sale. My dad has the main floor of the house pretty well sorted, packaged up, and cleaned, but my interests are down in the basement which is still a total catastrophe.
The basement was where grandpa had his office, and his little workshop, and his bathroom. Aside from the laundry area, the basement was sort of his territory. At one time, many, many years ago, I knew where grandpa kept all his cool stuff in the basement but now it's all buried under mountains of paper and random junk.
Grandpa was always a bit of an artist and maker, the kinda guy that could sorta make anything out of anything, and without the aid of any big fancy tools. I'm sure that a childhood spent in an orphanage and not having a whole lot is where that resourcefulness and skillset began to develop.
I didn't really go through much in the basement because without a dumpster on site it just doesn't make any sense to create more of a mess than the space already is. But I kinda rummaged through what remains of grandpa's workshop area and found the plane. At first I was happy to find it just because it was grandpa's; I didn't care how old or what brand it was. And even if I did care, I'm not enough of a bench plane aficionado to know what's what when it comes to what's desirable and what isn't.
Once I had the plane in my hands, I instantly saw that it was a Stanley. I know enough to know that certain eras of old Stanley planes are sought after items, so that was kinda cool. There were a lot of other markings on the plane that caught my eye, even though I didn't know what they meant.
So I went home with the plane and did some homework.
As it turns out, I believe the plane is a Stanley 603c bedrock series "sweetheart" era smoothing plane and was made in either 1929 or 1930. I don't know that there's any way to discern which year exactly, but when I tell the story I'll go with 1930 -- that was the year grandpa was born.
It's a pretty cool find. The bedrock series of Stanley planes were apparently more robust and easier to dial in that the regular Stanley planes, and the "c" in 603c indicates that it has a corrugated bottom, which may or may not make for more effective planing than a completely smooth-bottomed plane. Either way, I think the corrugation adds to its uniqueness.
It's not perfect. The lever cap is broken, but I think I can find a period-correct replacement without a whole lot of trouble. And the rosewood handle is cracked, but that can be fixed and really, all the crack means is that the tool got used (or dropped) quite a bit. I'm OK with that. Any "builder" with tools that are all shiny and new is very, very suspect in my book.
The old tools that I've accumulated over the years, in old car terms, are NOT trailer queens. They get used. The hand saw that once belonged to a great-grandpa, it gets used. My other grandpa, his hand tools that are now in my possession, they get used. This plane, it'll get used as well, once it's back in good working condition.
The best part about having these old tools isn't that they may have some sort of monetary value or that they work a particular way, it's that they will forever serve as a reminder of the people that used them previously and provide a physical connection to them that I'm not eloquent enough to accurately put into words. But it's a super rad little plane, and every time I use it I'll think of grandpa.
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