Repairing a Stanley Plane Handle

Today, I eschew my usual verbosity in favor of a pictorial:

Stanley Handle 053
A plane handle in sore need of repair.
Stanley Handle 055
The horn must be repaired in two spots. I flatten the first break with a sharp, wide chisel and select a rosewood scrap for the repair.
Stanley Handle 056
Superglue is my glue of choice for rosewood totes. It forms a strong, invisible bond, and it hardens on rosewood within 5-10 seconds. Use plenty of glue – the excess will squeeze out and you can clean it off later.
Stanley Handle 057
Saw the excess off of the patch.
Stanley Handle 058
Shape it with the chisel.
Stanley Handle 059
Now to address the horn itself. Flatten as best you can with the chisel.
Stanley Handle 060
If need be, you can resort to a bit of sanding to flatten the break. Place some 180-grit on a flat surface, and carefully rub down until you get a clean, flat glue surface. Careful not to tip the the handle at all, or your surface will be less than flat.
Stanley Handle 061
More glue. More rosewood scrap.
Stanley Handle 062
Sketch out the shape of the horn, then saw away the excess.
Stanley Handle 065
A carving knife, a chisel, and a rasp shape the patch so that it blends smoothly with the original wood. You can see that my patch covered the old nut-hole. I’ll open that back up with a small drill bit and a rat-tail rasp.
Stanley Handle 066
A bit of sanding blends everything together and removes the old finish. Now, the lower break must be addressed.
Stanley Handle 067
This was a relatively clean break, so I simply glued it back in place after a firm cleaning with a wire brush on both surfaces. Any gaps at the edges can be filled with additional superglue and sanding dust.
Stanley Handle 069
The lower repair is invisible after sanding.
Stanley Handle 070
Finally, the whole tote gets sanded to 220-grit and oiled. When it dries, I’ll follow this up with a coat of shellac, which I’ll buff out to a nice polish.

Good to go for another century or so. Total elapsed time from start to finish? 30 minutes. Don’t be afraid of the broken totes, folks.

A few notes on the choice of glue for these repairs: I usually see people recommending epoxy for rosewood handle patches. I dislike epoxy for this purpose for two reasons: The slow setting time means that you must clamp the patch somehow, which is always awkward and prone to shift. Cyanoacrylate (superglue) sets up so fast that you can simply hold the piece in position until it hardens. Secondly, epoxy is basically impossible to remove, so if the repair ever fails, it’ll be more difficult than necessary to fix. Cyanoacrylate dissolves in acetone, so it is easily removable. Regarding the strength of superglue? In my opinion, the roughest handling this tote should ever face will be during the cutting, rasping, and sanding of the patches. If the glue holds up to that treatment, it should certainly hold up to normal use. I’ve had a Stanley No.4 with a repaired handle in constant use for the last decade with no signs of problems, so I’m quite confident in the longevity of this repair.

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