I purchased this cast-off wooden plow plane with the thought of restoring it and bringing it back to service. I enjoy restoring antique tools as I feel it is my contribution to maintaining a woodworking hand tool tradition. What better way than to make a vintage, abandoned tool useful again! This particular plane dates from the 1850's. I dated it from the plane manufacturer (Greenfield) stamped on the wood body. Removing rust and cleaning, polishing the iron also unearthed more clues. The markings indicate that the maker (Dwights French) of the iron was only in business for a few years in the middle 1800's, specifically 1845-1855. Plow planes are used to create grooves in wood. The iron determines the width of the groove, in this case 7/16 in. wide. The depth adjustment screw at the side also indicates an earlier plow plane in that date range of the mid 1800's. The plane also has a boxwood insert on the fence (to reduce wear) and screw arms. The screw nuts are also boxwood, a very smooth but strong wood.
The actual restoration involved disassembling the plane completely. There were (2) minor cracks on the main body that would need to be repaired. The fence post was cracked and had to be reglued together. A couple of screws holding the skates to the body snapped. Removing these screws is hit and miss and many people will say to leave them alone. I wanted to remove the rusty skates and properly clean and polish the metal. I worked around the broken screws and replaced them after some judicious drilling out of the old screws. The cleaning and repair sequence took a few hours. All told, a good 12-hour day was invested in the restoration.
After cleaning the wood of some paint splatter and grunge, I applied light oil to the surface. Re-shaped the wooden wedge holding the iron in as it was beaten up from considerable use (to be expected of a 170-year-old hand plane). I also sharpened and honed the iron to a nice, flat bevel at a standard 30d angle. After lubricating some moving parts, I re-assembled the plow plane not knowing if it would function correctly afterwards. I set the iron for a very light cut to test the plow plane and it performed wonderfully. I then proceeded to dial in the iron adjustment (depth) and created a series of longer grooves in some scrap wood. It continued to perform very well. I am pleasantly surprised at how well it works and how much I enjoy the process of creating handmade grooves in wood! I created a short video of using the plow plane at my YouTube channel.