One of the weaknesses of the so-called transitional handplanes is the way the tote attaches to the metal frame of the tool. The tote comes loose when you touch it, look at it or even think about it.
I’ve seen many of these tools with replacement totes , everything from a custom-made fancy doo-dad to a broomstick.
I own an early Stanley No. 32 jointer plane that is in good shape. The tote, however, is pathetic. Every time I pick up the plane I also need to pick up a screwdriver to tighten the bolt that kinda secures the tote.
This week I had a conversation about this tool with woodworker and collector Carl Bilderback (he’s reading “Handplane Essentials” right now and has been pointing out the typos and things he disagrees with). He has some rare and expensive transitional planes in his collection and so he wanted to tweak me a bit for saying these tools were “dirt cheap.”
Mine was $35. Several of the transitionals that have come through our shop were thoughtful gifts (read: foisted upon us). In general, I’ve found user-grade transitionals to be less expensive than their equivalent user-grade iron-bodied brothers.
In any case, Carl had a solution to suggest for my “wobbly tote problem” (which is still not listed in the DSM-IV). Here it is: Drive a screw through the base of the tote, through the metal frame and into the wooden stock.
“Stanley put a screw there on their metal planes,” Bilderback said. “So it should work.”
Well, duh. So this morning I did just that with a 1-1/2″-long pan-head screw. You probably don’t need instructions on screwing, but the steps are outlined in the photos below. So far it seems to be a good fix. I flattened a few boards with the tool and the tote stayed put.
Begin the hole by boring a pilot hole with a brad awl. Chase the hole, turning it into a clearance hole, with a 1/4″ bit.
Use a punch to make a divot in the metal frame of the tool. Bore a clearance hole with a 1/4″ bit. Go slow and stop as soon as you make it through the frame. Drill a standard pilot hole into the wooden stock.
Drive your screw.