Yesterday I acquired a new jack plane, thus finally replacing the very first plane I ever purchased. The modern Stanley SB 4; it served me well. It was versatile when I needed it to be; covering functions of fore, jack, joiner, and smoother. I learned a lot with this plane, tho modern as it may be, how to dress stock. What sharp really is, and what dull really is. How wood has multiple directions. How plastic handles and metal bodies really are the pits in the winter. Most of all it taught me to loth the chip breaker.
Replacing this plane was hard; harder than I thought it would be. I tried others: a Stanley Bailey (the iron and chip breaker did not play nice no matter what I did, and the handle bolt broke.) a Sandusky pre WW II (the handle snapped and the iron is rough thus it now is my fore plane) but all of these could not fit the bill. When I moved I found new antique stores that carried far more tools than what I expected, thus my hunt began in a new light. I had so many choices. I could risk another Baily, go for a pre WW II Stanley already restored just in need of an iron tune up, I could have all manner of iron bodied jacks ranging in age from pre war to late sixties. With all this I took my time, realizing that I was a very luck woodworker for finding such a great variety. I assessed my work habits, the type of woodworking that I plan and make, and made my decision. I have fallen hard for wood bodied planes, the feel, the way they work the stock, and the adjustment methods. I found many wood bodied jacks, even thought of making my own, but realized that this was slightly out of my wheelhouse at the time. I then found a nice solid Scandinavian style jack. The iron was made by the Ohio Tool Co., Thistle Brand, made in the Auburn N.Y. forge. Realizing that the iron itself is dated pre WWII and with no pitting or terrible nicking I had found good quality iron. The body in excellent shape, no cracking and the sole was dead flat. So with all this consideration, solid research and facts to back me up I knew this was a sure thing. So it was off to rehab for this guy.
With the rehab complete I had found something fascinating when I worked on the body. This was a hand-made plane made by the user. there are still the layout lines the maker used to set the iron and when he made the wedge. This to me makes the plane that much better.