Old Froe and some Black Friday shopping

I’ve been watching the old Woodwright’s Shop episodes on DVD.  It’s great fun but the first few seasons can be a bit dated feeling, as he pushed the really hard core folk craft stuff.  One of the tools he uses quite often (still does in the newer episodes, but he doesn’t make as big of a deal about it) is the Froe.  It’s also something that Peter Follansbee uses in his work with the Plymouth Plantation while recreating the 17th century joined work.  I have no real interest in using a froe, have no real need for one, nor do I have much call for it since I rarely every see logs that I can work with.  But after watching five seasons of Roy carrying on about his Froe, and reading Peter’s blog I felt compelled to have one.  No idea why, but I couldn’t fight it.

This is Roy at a WIA conference splitting logs on an escalator. He sure is nuts for his Froe!  Photo used with permission (c) Peter Follansbee

Fast forward a little bit, we’re on the road (through the woods and over the hills to grandmothers house we go) for Thanksgiving and we stop in at a couple Antique store  along the way.  Of course what did I find?  An old beat up froe.  In fact there were two of them, but the second one was pretty bad.  I caved, I did I will admit it freely, I bought the froe  just to have it in my shop, as a sort of homage to Roy and all his work.  Plus, if I ever do run across a white oak straight grained log about six feet long, I’ll be set!  (The latter is very unlikely to happen out here on the West Coast in very urban Seattle, but you never know right?)

The Froe and a cute little oilcan I picked up for my oilstones.

On the way back, travelling on Black Friday towards home we stopped at a new Antique store in eastern Washington we’d discovered while stopping for gas and lunch.  It was a great store and my wife found some good stuff, and I got what I consider to be my best find so far.

In a dark corner, I found a pile of rusty junk  that contained a beat up Stanley Number 7 whichlooked like it might be salvageable.  As mentioned in a previous post I needed a new blade for my Number 7. so I thought I might be able to use it for parts at least.  As I carried it around for a while and in some better lighting I got a really good look at it and discovered the blade was in good shape and the rust wasn’t that bad.  The real kicker was the price tag, $25.  And I even got 10% off that just for asking.

Fast forward again to tonight when I got some time down in the garage to see what was under the rust and grime.  It was a veritable diamond in the rough because the rust was barely surface level and the grime scrubbed way to reveal a pretty solid user plane.  I hit it with some light machine oil, sand paper and a wire brush and this is what came out.

My new #7 plane, all cleaned up

I had to completely regrind the blade because it looks like someone had planed some nails with it and a quick run through my Coarse, Medium, Fine India stones followed by Translucent Arkansas and stropping I have a blade that could shave hairs off my arm and cut wispy thin shavings.  There was grime deep in the works, and I had to totally disassemble it and give it a thorough cleaning.  There was paint splatters in all sorts of places including a big old dollop on the front knob.  I sanded the knob on my lathe and cleaned up the tote handle by hand followed by a light coat of walnut oil.

Best $25 I’ve ever spent.


  1. Marilyn November 29, 2012

    Yeah! What a find!

    If you decided you want to bead blast and repaint, lemme know. I know a company that will do it for a case of coke if you mask it, I did that to mine because so much of the japaning was missing.

    BTW, we still need to schedule lunch. It’s been a crazy week and I forgot to get back to you on it.

  2. Badger November 29, 2012

    That sounds tempting. I might have to consider that.

    Yes, lunch! next week lets go! This week was crazy for me too.

  3. Derek Olson November 30, 2012

    Wow. This makes me want to pack a couple oak logs into the back of my truck and drive them ove the mountains to you.

    I’d trade you for a #7…. Even one without a blade.


  4. Badger November 30, 2012

    Well, I do have that other #7 I was working on. Other than the blade, which I did get into reasonable but not great shape, it’s a good user plane. I got it from Hyperkitten a while back. You’re more than short drive away from Seattle though, like quite a bit right?

  5. Joe McGlynn December 1, 2012

    Nice work on the plane! There is something so completely gratifying about tuning up / restoring an old plane. Mine make me happy every time I use them (as long as they are sharp).

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