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I recently picked up a Stanley #1 plane. Apparently, a previous owner dropped, and a small chunk broke off from a corner of the sole.

Can this area be filled in with weld metal and resurfaced (flattened) to the point that the repair is not visible?

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    Is this to fix the way it looks or the way it works?
    – gnicko
    Jan 22 at 3:22
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    First off, congrats! Nice find! I'm uncomfortable with the nature of this Q however. I presume you're well aware of the very high prices no. 1s command on the collector market and this Q could be about hiding that damage has occurred, to increase the selling price.
    – Graphus
    Jan 22 at 4:12
  • No, just curious. I am a woodworker and this very small defect will not effect performance. I'm also aware that trying a patch job would probably have more of an effect on the collector's market than leaving it as is. At any rate, as a person, I would never, ever try to sell something like this having attempted to hide it, it's just not in me. But along the same line, What about touching up the jappaning? I would of course note this to a potential buyer. Also, how about polishing sole and sides with 320 grit paper to remove discoloration?
    – Dale Krech
    Jan 25 at 21:39

2 Answers 2

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Can this area be filled in with weld metal and resurfaced (flattened) to the point that the repair is not visible?

No.

There are a number of issues.

The weld
The weld itself is always visible (on cast iron more than some other materials) even to the non-expert viewer1. This is no matter what weld material is chosen or the welding method.

Potential warping
Traditional practice when welding cast iron is to pre-heat the whole part. Even on beefy parts like old engine blocks this can cause slight movement in the casting, with plane bodies which are so thin the warping can be a big issue and people have lost planes when this was attempted.

Modern welding materials can safely weld cast iron without pre-heating, however the welding itself will locally heat the metal, which can also lead to warping on a thin casting. More on the heat aspect in the last point.

The resurfacing
First off, best of luck finding someone who can do this. Fixturing an odd-shaped item like a plane body casting is a challenge, even more so here because of the diminutive size of the no. 1.

Second, the cost of surface grinding is often far higher than one would expect, unless you have a friend who can do it for 'mates rates'.

Also visualise the number of places that need to be addressed if a corner is filled with weld2.

Note that collector value takes a hit if you disturb the patina on any part, and here it involves interfering with it on at least four bare-metal surfaces.

Note also that welding creates a characteristic colour bloom (from oxide formation on the iron or steel) which extends far beyond the site of the weld.

The japanning
Welding involves significant heat being put into the welded part, either locally (very high heat) or over the whole casting as mentioned previously (high to very high heat).

Japanning doesn't survive extremely high temps, so at minimum you will lose some japanning in a rough quarter circle around the site of the weld. And obviously with pre-heating (which is considered safest practice when welding cast iron by many experts) you could lose all of it.


1 Since both the colour and texture are usually noticeably different; this is even without any tiny voids being left within or to the side of the weld. These are hard to entirely avoid and stand out as black pinholes.

2 It's not just the two major flat surfaces which come most easily to mind. A corner repair involves the junction between the cheek and the sole, so both sides of both and their edges.

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In theory yes. Someone who knows welding and the materials should be able to do an excellent job filling it in. Even I could probably manage to make it work. the quality of the patch and the likelihood of it staying will vary.

If it's steel (vs. cast iron) it will require a different level of knowledge. I believe cast iron takes a lot more knowledge to get right, and sometimes it still fails. At that point you might want to fill it in with JB Weld and call it good.

How 'invisible' do you want the repair or is just making it 'useful' again enough? JB Weld would certainly do the trick, probably with less overall mess. It can be shaped well and then filed to clean it up.

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  • "How 'invisible' do you want the repair or is just making it 'useful' again enough?" The Q specifically asks about doing this repair invisibly.
    – Graphus
    Jan 23 at 10:11
  • @Graphus so it does. Ya, that's not going to happen.
    – bowlturner
    Jan 24 at 13:06

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