Stanley no 78

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I just a got a new ( second hand) no 78. I was pretty nervous about buying a plane unseen after my experience with three different planes which all had significant issues. Even the workshop heaven plane is not as advertised, it’s definitely not accurately machined. Anyway I have hit the jackpot with this, the sole and the side are really nice and flat, it’s a tool which will be a source of pleasure as opposed to the constant irritation caused by some of my crappy tools which are beyond modification. I can use this for my next project, a six board chest. However I realise I need a bench I can’t do the work I want on a workmate, maybe it’s possible to make a bench at the space. I don’t think it will be easy getting even five foot boards accurately dimensioned at the space though. So, I am building two saw benches, these will give me some ability to work the wood for a bench. There is a concrete table tennis table five minutes walk, I use it as a bench sometimes, it’s solid as a rock and flatter than the benches at the space.
The blade needs a little work, ( on closer inspection it needed a lot of work ) but that’s easy now I have a trend diamond stone; it’s professional quality and truly flat. I backed off a blade with it the other day. Something which I had never dreamed of doing with my cheap diamond plates. Quality tools seem to be more than the sum of their parts, they work accurately and predictably. Can’t believe my luck getting such a good example, the nicker is fully intact too. Result.


I have given this plane a detailed look. I am very happy. I realised this was a marriage when I saw the photos. I couldn’t care less, I am not a collector, I am going to use this, it’s a functional tool not an ornament. IMO cutting rabbets by hand with these planes yields good results most of the time. I don’t feel the same about plough planes cutting grooves, forget it, a router does a much more accurate job. If Paul Sellers smokes, do you think he lights up with a steel and a piece of flint? I digress, I am purchasing a penny washer m5x 15mm; the one included is the wrong size. Cost £1.50 for ten. I am also buying a new blade, ( £10)the included blade is a very old record and it’s not flat right in the corner where it matters. There was a time when I would have spent a few hours lapping the blade flat, I gave it a go. I recently lapped my 3 in 1 blade until perfect so, I can say with confidence the 78 blade is at least an hour or two away from flat, at least ( it doesn’t look like much in the photo). I am just going to buy a new Stanley blade. If it’s a banana behind the edge I will send it back. I really am feeling very lucky, if you got ten of these, how many would have super flat soles? Possibly not even one or two, they can be super sketchy. It’s my number one consideration with most planes, if this was concave it would bite deeper at the start and end of each cut and convex is just a total lottery and incredibly labour intensive to fix.
Can’t wait to use it, with my record three in one, I should be able to get decent rabbets, peacefully and with satisfaction .

nice find! My grandad had one of these which is sitting at my parents house but its been completely neglected and is super rusty. Its on the very long list of little projects I could do but its a shame its not closer to being serviceable like this one!

Well you might like to know that they make two or three spares kits which are available in uk with the exception of the nicker replacement kit. So, you will be able to get any parts you may need. I would be interested to know the state of the sole on your example? I just wasted an hour or so lapping the back of the blade. Unfortunately the edge of the blade is very slightly chamfered and would require another couple of hours lapping. Two of my fingers actually started to bleed, I managed to lap the end of two fingers. That’s a first and I have remedied a lot of banana blades. I am calling it quits and buying a Stanley. It actually seems wrong to me having a record blade in what is a decently made Stanley plane. I think the plane will be more at ease knowing I made the effort to bring it home. It’s at this stage I feel I may need an intervention and psychiatric help…ha ha ha

Ha! Buying a new one sounds like a good option here!

When I’m home over Xmas I’ll get a couple of photos. Would be interested in your opinion in effort to salvage. I’ve done some work on Granda’s rusty 5 (didn’t manage to get it that flat after several hours lapping, its not a very nice example either, one of the plastic handled later models) and the 3 is up next. The 78 is not happening imminently based on my guess at the time needed!

As per an older conversation my saw files should be arriving any day and I’m looking forward to having a rip cut saw. Cant believe how bad crosscut is at ripping! Has really slowed progress on my mini bench

Another cool thing are the thumb screws on my version, people prefer them over the knurled machine screws and the thread is some weird imperial type, Stanley thumb screw replacements can cost silly money. There is a guy selling a generic version on eBay for 5 quid. I can’t make up my mind about this plane, it’s been repainted but the thumb screws make me think it could be original except for the blade and the fence rod.

How are you finding the Japanese saw?

love it for small adjustments, trimming ends etc and have got on well crosscutting so have used it a decent amount. The super thin kerf is super cool, cuts look like a laser vs the chainsaw-like kerf of a western equivalent. However, I’m not sure its been up to the task of ripping 44mm beech. Slow going and it seems to wander off at some point (bad technique I’m sure) and I have no idea how to get it back on line unlike with a western saw. The spear and jackson crosscut panel is good but CANNOT rip. Haven’t used the tenon much yet as the mini bench I’m working on doesn’t have much joinery but also have a file for it on the way to make it rip.

Oh good, I very rarely use my Japanese saws now. I like my mini crosscut and they work well in mdf but that’s about it. Because there is so little kerf in Japanese saws you can steer the saw by laying the wood down and dropping the saw to around 20 degrees to the surface. Then you can literally bend the blade towards whichever direction you have to travel. The problem with this is that it is an incredibly slow way to cut when ripping. I can cut fairly effortlessly and accurately with a European rip saw, effortlessly with a European crosscut panel saw and very much so with European back saws and dovetail saws. With Japanese saws that has absolutely never been my experience, I have to micro manage every rip cut made with a Japanese saw. Personally I think the Japanese saw craze is the result of clever marketing. So what if the kerf is narrow, it actually makes things more difficult. I am just as critical of the current obsession with thin European saw plates with a single micron of set each side. It’s a completely spurious consideration, the kerf is there for functional reasons, not to mention the practical consideration, a half mm saw plate is much more likely to be damaged or bent. I watched rob cosman cutting with his super expensive dovetail saw with so little set it would require an electron microscope to witness. The saw jammed in the cut repeatedly.

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Yeah that sounds similar to my experience so far. Interestingly I’d seen in a few videos a suggestion that taking out some set was a good thing and I was considering doing this as there is a lot of set on the new spear and jacksons but I’m not committed to it. Putting set back in would be a lot more faff!

I have a saw set, I have only used it once so far. The saw is going to tell it’s story loud and clear when the set is insufficient, it will be interesting to see how many sharpenings I carry out before my saws start binding. Ripping for example is much more likely to wander so I have more set on my rip saw, you can’t counter drift with a few microns of set. Crosscuts saw where they are put generally so can have less set.
Tell me, do you expect to be buying any proper timber for a reasonably sized project anytime soon? I need timber for my bench, I got a 120 pounds delivery quote today. I imagined spacers would be purchasing timber and doing proper joinery, making solid wood furniture; I thought I would be able to tag along when people purchased their timber. If there are any woodworkers doing such they are keeping very quiet. Bloody lightweights, I am sure they make beautiful plywood and pocket screw furniture.

Once I’ve finished this mini bench, next on the list is probably a tool chest. Weighing up either a dutch or english and am getting the anarchists tool chest for xmas for some inspiration. So when that comes round, depending on design I’ll need a medium amount but I wont be in a place to decide until some time in the new year. If you’re still looking then and know somewhere that would get me what I need I’d be happy to work something out.

Okay cool, I am going over to Tottenham Hale in the next few days to check they are still trading, they are the best value timber supplier in London as far as I know and I have searched a lot. I really hope they are open , they sell tulip wood or poplar ( perfect for a utility item like a tool chest, when I get round to a tool chest I will be using poplar) and American walnut, maple, oak southern yellow pine etc it’s American species mainly but the prices are just on a different level to anything else I have found in London ( furniture grade timber four times cheaper than the average London supplier, I know for a fact they supply professional furniture makers doing quality solid work )It’s a definite maybe which is the best offer I have had so far . Thanks

Yep I have a 78 I sourced earlier this year, mainly for helping with alignment (with an alignment board) for dovetails I also got a winner, just needed the nicker sharpened.

The bullnose option came in very handy easing a frame for a garden gate I made and fitted earlier this year.

Need to say I do disagree with some comments, I am looking for a good router plane and a No50 plough plane.

The plough plane does one thing that a powered router alone cannot do… tongue and groove!

Ok with a router table and a lot of setting up it can be done but with a plough plane you could have the floor of a tool chest cut and slotted and fitted with the satisfaction it has been done by hand.

Japanese saws… absolutely love them!
I would just like to give people my take on them, personally they are heads above western saws in most ways! They just need a different technique.
As with all tools you should let the tool do the work, but especially with Japanese saws.
If it is a good one the weight of the saw is almost enough to perform the cut. As for wandering off line I find Japanese saws require one thing… start the cut accurately! It will follow the line perfectly.
Agreed Western saws have the blade thickness to allow you to change course to compensate for poor technique.

Clever marketing? In my experience Japanese saws are more accurate, easier to use especially for beginners. (I have been teaching my partner to cut dovetails and her first attempt came out better than mine did when I first started doing them with western saws, and that was with me being a fairly experienced woodworker and Lisa never having picked up a saw in her life)

My advice to anyone thinking of buying one, try to use one first. Do not (repeat do not!) buy Lidl £6.99 Japanese saw it is not only the worst Japanese saw I have used, it is the worst saw I have ever used.

I buy about one western saw per job I do (kitchen fitting) and then for the next job they are relegated to cutting cement board and other saw eating materials.

The western saw I recommend for hobby woodworkers on a budget this 13” Irwin saw from screwfix. Small enough to fit in a toolbox. Super sharp , fine kerf, leaves an excellent finish and cheap. My go to saw for site work.

But anything else… give me a Japanese saw (or 3) anyway


Regarding timber, Tottenham Hale timber are still going strong providing quality hardwood at significantly cheaper prices than anyone else in London

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