1. Good tricks:
    – aligning the template after boring the long hole;
    – planing the base side and bringing the other side parallel to make clamping possible;
    – shaping everything except the top which is done at the end;
    – plugging a small hole to be able to center a large bit to make a recess;
    – etc.
    very instructive

  2. Thanks. I’ve made two totes out of curly maple so far, but your approach will make future efforts easier. Hopefully I make couple knobs using the drill press or rasps (for later efforts). Downside to new totes is I have to retire the broken totes I re-glued and refinished.

    thanks for video.

  3. I have been waiting for this sooooo much! Thank you! The hyper-ugly plastic handles of my much too modern No. 5 are ultimately doomed. After many hours of fettling, the plane works very much to my satisfaction, but the handles are as nasty as ever. Will I have them incinerated at the local waste-to-energy plant? Will I burn them myself illegally, but full of joy? Will I hang them on the wall to remind me of how great it was to remove them forever? Time will tell. Let’s see, which branch of the dead apple tree in our garden am I going to cut into pieces?

  4. I have just completed making new knobs and totes for all of my Stanley planes with plastic handles –#4’s, #5’s, a #7, and two router planes. Each of these planes worked well, but I really disliked the plastic handles. They just looked and felt ‘wrong’ to me.

    I replaced them with bubinga and jatoba knobs and totes. I turned the knobs on my lathe, but I made the totes just as Paul has done here. The method is very sound. Not at all difficult. Just don’t hurry into it.

    Finally, I replaced all plastic or aluminum screw caps and adjustment knobs with their brass counterparts.

    Now, these planes are a pleasure to see, to feel, and to use — and I am gratified that they will be passed down to my grandchildren in due course.

    1. I forgot to say the most important thing. This was a very nice video and I enjoyed every minute of it. It took me right back into the shop — the sounds, the smells, the feel of the wood and the tools. All of it.

      Thank you, Paul!

    1. Hi Roberto,

      Paul says:
      I have done that but I found it quite tricky to align if the holes were off by too much. This way I get a straight hole and use the center of the hole at each end to measure from, to get the handle sides parallel, it works very quickly.

      Kind Regards,

  5. Very timely! Just this week I foolishly left a #4 precariously on the edge of my bench and knocked it off! As luck would have it, it landed on the tote, which snapped in the usual place.
    This video will be put to good use in my small garage-corner shop! THANK YOU!

      1. The best is to take a branch and use the part where grain runs in both directions for the bottom part. Birch is an excellent wood for totes. Nice moiré-effects (or curlyness), soft towards the hands for long planing sessions without blisters, and easy to carve. (yes, I carve my totes – twice as fast as Paul’s method, and gives a shiny, silky smooth surface with beuatiful facets – like a diamond).

    1. Hi Bruce,

      Paul says:
      That may be true for the main body of the handle, but not true for the horn or the front where the handle meets the sole which I suspect would crack very easily.

      Kind Regards,

  6. Yew looks very nice but it appears to be a challenge to get in the USA. Also a caution note to woodworkers that can obtain it is that it is a highly toxic wood from what I have read on it. All parts of the tree are poisonous. Do your research on it before working with it.

    Any recommendations on woods that could be substituted that are honey colored like that?

    Thanks for a great video. Love the project topic.

        1. For long planing sessions it is better to use somewhat softer wood. I use birch which is also easy to carve (carving a tote takes about half the time than rasping, filing, scraping and leaves a silky smooth surface).

    1. I’ve read the same thing about yew’s toxicity, but the local deer seem to love it, os I don’t know how toxic it could be. They’ve completely eaten a couple of yew bushes in my back yard. (They also ate a holly bush a few years ago, leaves and branches!)

    2. Pacific yew is very similar.

      I have used Plumb from my yard and it is also honey colored, but it can vary a lot. Hardness is similar.
      Commercially, , steamed plumb is a prized wood. It will be more reddish.

      Boxwood will darken to honey over time. It’s expensive near me and much harder, but is a traditional wood for chisels and fine planes.. I have some I harvested, but it isn’t ready yet.

      Apple is also a great choice. Disston used it on their better saws for a century and a half. Color varies. That’s why God invented dye stains :-).

      harvesting it yourself can be a lot of fun if you have the patience to cure it., and tools like chisels and totes is a great way to use smaller pieces. You can use crotch wood to great effect.

      1. Here in the Pacific nw mulberry is used for wooden ware sold in galleries on the coast. It’s softer than yew if you think that’s important. It can be very pretty.

        American black walnut make a beautiful tote. I replaced an old rosewood tote on my 5 1/2 with it and I think I like it better than rosewood.

    1. If an old tool is really badly beaten up — or was really poorly made — replacing it may be all you can do. On the other hand…

      Paul has posted a couple of videos on how to tune up older planes; you may want to review those. And if you haven’t sharpened the blades recently you might be surprised by how much that alone would improve their usability. You’ll also see Paul sometimes lubricating the sole of his plane with an oil pad; he has a video on that too.

  7. Fantastic. Are you planning to make a video showing how to make the front knob? Also, what is the thickness of the wood block?

    Thanks you for your teachings 🙂 They are very much appreciated.

      1. Thank you for making a video showing how to do the front knob. I thought I could figure it out but Paul has techniques that I ignored, i.e. keeping the stock full length to clamp it in the vise and using a negative shape template. I made a handle by hand before seeing the video but I cut the stock to length first and I used a positive shape template… my next one will be better, faster and easier because of your video 🙂

      2. SOP – I just finished ripping some beech to about 1 1/2″ and didn’t see this detail in my earlier review. Gives me more room for adjustment…

        btw from curiosity, about how tall & long were the blanks Paul used? It looked like maybe 5 1/2″ high by 7″ long. I went with 6″ and a smidge tall – max on my bandsaw.

  8. Very helpful for future totes. I replaced one last year, and figured it out by trial and error. I couldn’t find a good youtube video as a guide. I do expect to see monetized woodworking channels now describe making a tote with Paul’s ideas!

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Yes I have studied the videos and sharpened the blade, removed rust, oiled, adjusted the frog etc. Since lockdown i have restored 3 saws (which all now work) and a set of chisels that now work brilliantly but I just can’t get the plane to work. I’m not saying somebody with more skill could not get them to work but I’m not there yet. 1 is an unbranded plane, the other an Anant. Hopefully a new one will give me a datum point to understand old ones better. So I’ve ordered a new Stanley No.4.


      1. James, both those planes aren’t worth much in the way of fixing and might not ever do well (even with gifted hands). A “new” Stanley won’t be much better, in my opinion. I would suggest any Stanley made between 1915 and 1950, they are easy to get up and running well. And as a side note, make sure the iron is installed correctly- bevel facing down, you would be surprised how often that is the problem, after all your restoring efforts.

        1. The new Stanley planes work just fine after you fettle them. I have a 4 1/2 and a 5 and after putting in some elbow grease, they’re fantastic planes and do the job just as well as any prewar tool does. I have vintage planes also but wasn’t about to spend the money on a vintage 4 1/2 and it still takes wispy shavings and smooths just like it should.

    1. Try some of this button shellac. https://www.shellac.net/button_shellac.html. You’ll need to make the shellac, but they sell the required behkol needed to dissolve the buttons. A $10.00 coffee grinder is a good investment if you get into making your own shellac.

      Shellac.net has a great set of very clear instructions. Button shellac is a lot harder than the typical flakes you can get from the big box stores. I find it to be very good stuff. It might help with the problem. A good coat of carnuba wax now and again will go a long way to help as well.

  9. Has anyone else found that using shellac for a tool handle does not provide enough protection to prevent the handles getting dirty from all the hand contact? I used shellac on my wood handle chisels and after some time, they are very dirty looking now from all the contact.

    1. Using hand lotion will cause that condition. I have shellac on everything and it is warm and friendly every time i pick it up. BUt then my hands dont sweat nor do i use hand lotion
      Tou could keep it waxed or poly it. Might keep it cleaner

  10. As usual an excellent instructional video. You mention that the viewer will receive a PDF of the plastic template at 17:03. Will you be adding this PDF for downloading eventually? If not then I presume that a trace around the original handle/tote would suffice to produce a similar template on plastic card? Also, it’s the first time I ever saw that circle and radius template that you pulled out at 26.31 to determine the radius of the arcs and therefore the drill bit size required. Are these still available to purchase anywhere now? It looks like some draughtman’s type template (that is useful to have) but may no longer be commonly available now?
    Thank you for another fascinating presentation.

  11. Hi, in the video Paul refers to his handsaw as one of the best, inexpensive, new handsaws, and that he would recommend it. Can you let me know what saw it is? I need a handsaw…

  12. I mean for this comment to compliment those of the Paul Sellers staff who have lately been absent and forced you to “do-it-yourself”. Their production talent is missed. I appreciate the fact that you muddle on, but I hope you and your full staff are soon reunited and healthy. Thanks for being there.

  13. Great instruction video. I have a couple planes that I purchased with broken totes, and repaired them, thinking some day I would try to make replacements. Now that I have Paul’s video, I can start working on that project with confidence, not having to muddle my way through it with trial and error. Lots of little tricks that I had not thought about. Thanks again for this and all the other videos you have produced. This one is definitely a keeper.
    Jim Light, Ohio, USA

  14. Hello Mr Sellers,

    After centring the hole by cutting a taper on the sides, the bottom would no longer be square. Did you fix this or is it so small that it is not a worry?

    Many Thanks,

    1. Andy, look at the 8:17 mark of the video. At that point, Paul shows the face of the board to the camera and it looks like the grain is descending from right to left. At that point, Paul is holding the wood bottom-side up. And if I follow it correctly when he moves it around, the hole for the rod at the top of the tote is at bottom left at that 8:17 mark. When the tote is placed upright, that puts the grain slanting upwards from back to front of the tote, exactly the wrong orientation that some people recommend (like Lee Valley does in the tote templates they have for free on their website). Some people say it should be straight from back to front; that is, parallel to the bottom of the tote. But I suspect Paul isn’t worrying too much about it because it looks like the grain in the yew is swirling all over the place. That type of grain will probably help keep it together.

      1. Interesting observation. I’ve read in some places that the grain should run parallel to the bottom of the tote (I assume because there is constant lateral force placed on it, pressing against the screw). However, have you ever noticed how many broken totes are busted horizontally along the grain? I suspect Paul is more than aware/familiar with this frequent occurrence. I imagine some angle to the grain is perfectly acceptable if not somewhat desirable so that it is not necessarily “vulnerable” from either lateral or vertical stresses.

  15. Not the first time I see it done with hand tools, as I set myself to the task and somehow managed to get a ‘functional and visually acceptable’ result only using chisels, a block and 4 1/2 planes and sand paper (I had no rasp or gouge) …unsurprisingly, this is the first time I see it done PROPERLY done with hand tools only – thank you Paul once again. Your guidance is truly invaluable.

    I’ll upload images of mine to the gallery (please be kind on the comments) 😛

  16. I enjoyed this video and actually had decided recently that I will replace the tote, which is cracked and undersized for my hands, on my antique scrub plane. I’ll just have to counterbore the screw a little too compensate for the added height.
    I would like to point out gently, if I may, though, that using the word “radius” for “diameter” can be confusing and misleading, as the former is only half of the latter. This error was made numerous times in this video, and occasionally in others.
    Thanks for another excellent video, though!

  17. If there is a video that I’ve wanted to see Paul produce in the 4+ years I’ve been following him, THIS is it. I’ve downloaded the templates from Veritas (or Lee Neilson? Can’t recall!) and have made a few but getting the angle of hole and screw to line up, getting the screw hole for the jack plane…all of it. I am thrilled to see it done all by hand! I struggled using both a drill-press and a power router (yikes!) to get things bored and rounded correctly and it is still a huge challenge. Thank you Paul and team! Great video!

  18. In removing the finish on the tote of a recent gift of a #6 Stanley found that a large portion of the front left portion of the tote was probably sanded away in some manufacturing mishap. It had been back-filled with some form of filler that was unnoticeable until I tried to refinish it. Your video inspired me to attempt making my own tote rather than excepting it as it is. All this said I would be interested in seeing how you make the front knob using hand tools since I would like these parts to match.

  19. A question to you Paul, if I may?
    On some of your blogs and frequently mentioned in some of your videos there is the mention to understanding the intricacies (and the beauty) of wood growth and grain ‘anatomy’, if not ‘presentation’…

    I have been giving a lot of thinking about ‘growing a tote’ – finding a hardwood tree branch which bends just the right way, angle, size and thickness (post bark removal). I’ll just lightly help the tote out of its branch-looking condition.

    With your understanding of knots, fibres and stress/resiliency of wood, do you think this would yield anything better/stronger than a tote made using your technique with a traditional piece of the same wood?

    (Sorry for the meandering long text to get to the question, I can only operate this way)

    Best regards,
    Paulo, from New Zealand

    1. I think at the end of the day this is just a plane tote, the rest is romance. As nice as it can be to find such wood to work, it might not be a feasible reality to chop such a tree and wait for it to dry by air for two years.

      I’ve been planning on doing one for a long time on my #5, which has a crappy machine shaped oversized tote from the 70s or something. My #3 and #4 are pre 40s and have nicely shaped rosewood — my poor native forests exploited by gringos — so I’m not doing anything to them. They are regular grained wood. For my #5, I got some regular European beech, which I’ve already used for a saw handle. I’d love to get something nicer, but it is what it is and it’s fine.

  20. Thanks Roberto, appreciate your view on it. Amen to wood exploitation (I’m from Brazil, where most of the Amazon used to be).

    Here in New Zealand there are some pretty hard non-commercially popular/viable wood which can be found fairly dry as firewood: Pōhutukawa (Metrocideros Excelsa)

    I have one such branch that my neighbor chopped down and donated me with, 1 year dry, soon to be cut before further drying then shaping

    I agree it’s ‘just romance’ and I have the passion and time to live this fling 😉 Easy projects are boring, unless you’re only doing it for the money.


  21. I’ve restored many planes in the few years I’ve been at it but I’ve yet to make a new tote. I’ve always repaired the original. However, I’ve always known that making a handle was in my future and I’ve been looking forward to it. This video has helped me be even better prepared – I’m counting the days till I can get started!

    Thank you Paul for all you do.

  22. Great video, watched several times now. I would like to ask two questions –
    1. Will you make a handsaw handle and show that?
    2. Where does Izzy get the habit of always closing with, “Kind Regards,” anyway?

    Kind Regards,

  23. Why did Paul wait until after he cut the shape out to make the sides parallel to the center hole? Why didn’t he make the side parallel while it was still a solid block of wood? Wouldn’t a solid block have been much easier to work with (i.e. plane or saw) than a complicated shape?

  24. This video is a godsend. A friend and I are restoring an old Stanley Bailey #7, which has all parts except the two handles and handle screws & nuts. We found the hardware on eBay (coming soon). We have a supply of cocobolo, and the know has already been turned. We are preparing to make the tote, with this video as a guide, and using your template for a #5 tote. I have found a couple of parts-source sites that say the totes for all the larger Stanley planes (4 1/2 and larger) are interchangeable. In the same vein, there is a July 10 2022 comment, above, by Vidar Sørvik, indicating that the #5 template was good for “…the no 5 (and up)”. So we figured it would be fine for the old #7.

    Imagine our surprise when we compared the tote for my old #6 (Type 15) to your template, and found substantial differences. The #6 tote is about 1/2 inch longer than the template. The #6 tote screw is 4 3/8 inches long (which agrees with what parts dealers are selling for #6 and #7 planes), and is clearly too long for the #5 template. The distance between the two holes on the bottom of the #6 tote is much greater than on your #5 template, and the angle of the tote-screw is precisely 65° (as in the template for the #4), not 60°.

    In making the tote for the #7, we will certainly follow the guidance of Paul’s video on the PROCESS, but we’ll almost certainly need to make our own template to match the tote on the #6.

    I an NOT saying that Paul’s #5 template isn’t correct for a #5 plane…I wouldn’t know. But I AM saying it doesn”t appear to be correct for an old #6 or #7.

    I also have one question about the process itself. While I understand the “drill-plug-redrill” technique to create the 2-step hole needed for the brass nut (on BOTH handles), I thought it might be easier to drill the larger hole FIRST, using either a Forstner bit or an auger, to create the 9/16-inch-deep flat-bottomed hole (for the nut), and THEN go to the long 1/4 inch bit, using the divot left by the auger or Forstner bit to center the bit for the through-hole. Can anyone tell me why that wouldn’t work? It would simplify the process, I think.

    In any event, we had no idea how to ensure the proper centering of the hole through the tote until we saw this video. Again, it’s a godsend.

  25. The idea that totes from #4 1/2 on up are interchangeable is a bit of a myth. My experience is that the tote bolts are set on the plane at several different angles. My 4 1/2 bedrock type 6a is about a degree different than my 5 1/2 type 11 Bailey, and the 5 1/2 doesn’t Match my sweetheart #6 or my type 9 #7, as examples.
    A 1° difference is quite noticeable .

    And the old pattern Bailey 5 1/2’s ( 2 1/4” blade width) are notoriously different from the wider #5 1/2 planes that are 2 3/8” in width.
    I only have one number 6 plane, but my understanding is that there are at least two different patterns for that size plane as well. You have to remember that Stanley built these planes for 150 years or so in various versions and consistency over that time span was probably low priority. If they found a quicker way of building a tote and it requires a change in the bolt angle, they probably did it.
    Stanley changed a lot of things as they found ways to “improve” the plane for either More efficient production or cost saving reasons. And don’t forget that planes were made in the USA, Canada, and England over that 150 year span and each location did things their own way.

    So you need to measure the angle the bolt is set at and build around that. I find it easiest to drill the long hole in the tote blank and set the cutting pattern in relation to the hole I have drilled later. The hole for the small screw can wait until the end. As I have taken some planes apart I have found that what are probably replacement totes were a bit off and the bolt is kinked to correct this. Consider making the smaller diameter bit a wee bit oversized.

    How you drill the tote holes is up to you and what feels comfortable. I personally drill the larger diameter and then the smaller diameter inside if it. I do use a fixture to hold the tote in place in a drill press/(pillar drill) and don’t move it between bit changes.
    I do this step first, even befor final thicknessing of the blank, just in case my setup is a little off. To my mind getting the hole right is the fussiest part of the build.

    Here is a site that offers different pattern setups for the same number plane of different vintages.
    Note the two #6 patterns. You may find one fits your #7 better.

  26. Thank you, Larry, for your very detailed (and very prompt) response. I appreciate your observations about the inconsistency of totes from model to model, year to year, and among the various manufacturing sites. Looking at our various #3s and #4s, we can see the slight and subtle differences from type to type. We hadn’t noticed them previously. We have checked out some of the tote templates on the TimeTestedTools site you suggested, and will probably wind up tweaking their Stanley #6 template to fit the #7 plane — we will definitely take your advice to measure the exact angle of the screw in the #7 base, and design the pattern to fit that angle.

    I had to read one of your passages three times – “I find it easiest to drill the long hole in the tote blank and set the cutting pattern in relation to the hole I have drilled later”. If I understand you aright, you mean you start with a blank large enough to be able to draw the outline anywhere you want, so you just go ahead and drill the long hole, making sure to get it centered…and once that’s done, you THEN draw the pattern to fit the finished hole. Makes sense to me.

    I was interested to hear that you use the process I described, first drilling the larger diameter hole to the proper depth, and then the smaller through-hole. However, on rethinking, It appeared to me that there would be a problem with this method — since you’d be drilling the larger hole BEFORE making the cut that determines the top of the tote, you’d have to guess how deep to make the larger hole…unless the template is placed so that the top of the tote is right on one edge of the blank. I think our blanks are big enough to do that…. We’ll think about it before we dive into the project.

    Once again, thanks for your guidance and advice.

  27. Jim-
    When I said drill the larger hole to proper depth, I should have said deep enough or slightly over. Then I insert the bolt with its cap (allow a turn ot two for adjustment) in the hole to get the top of the tote and set the template to that, leaving enough wood for a final sanding to flush it out.
    The other measurements follow from the template itself, making sure the tote angle is correct for your tote bolt.
    And again, I drill the bolt hole slightly oversized.

    Then it’s just a lot of cutting and rasping and sanding. I find the older planes I have are more oval in cross section and have more of a swan neck shape than newer planes and I find those fit to hand better. Have a look at planes from 1900-1920 to see what I mean. My 1905 #4 and #7 totes are works of art and those are what I try to follow.

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