A few years ago, I bought a used Sargent jointer plane from Lynn Dowd, a used tool dealer in Garland, TX. The tote was broken, so I got it for a good price, figuring I could repair the tote easily enough.
It was an old break in an otherwise fine rosewood tote, which was held together by the tote screw and a lot of masking tape. There was no gluing the break back together. I would have to saw it out.
I stuck a chopstick through the screw hole to keep everything aligned. Then I eyeballed two parallel cuts with a back saw. It was critical that the cuts were parallel, otherwise the replacement wood wouldn’t line up with the rest.
The question was, what wood to use as filler? I had no extra rosewood on hand, and no wood that I could easily make imitate rosewood. I decided that if I couldn’t match the colors, I would go for broke on contrast.
I decided on hard maple. I knew I could sand the maple almost as smooth as the rosewood. This repair had to be easy on my hands, whatever my eyes said.
I dug out a block of hard maple, planed each side down, and glued the block to the bottom of the tote. Regular wood glues don’t work very well on rosewood because of the high oil content, so I used JB Weld epoxy. Yes, it left a thin, gray line, but the tote won’t come apart.
Once the glue set, I used a bit brace to bore a new hole through the maple block, using the original hole as a guide. This will allow me to clamp the top on using the screw itself. If you have ever tried to clamp a broken tote back together, you know why this is important. Enough clamping pressure to make a good glue joint can be enough to snap the horn off.
The spacer block was actually a little thicker than what I sawed out, so the tote is now a hair higher than it was originally. However, it fits under the lateral adjuster, and the screw engages, so there’s no problem.
I got everything lined up and tested the fit, of course. I put masking tape on the screw, so as to keep any squeezed-out glue from sticking to it. (I guess I could have just waxed it, come to think of it.) I put glue on each surface, tightened down the screw, and let it set up overnight.
Shaping the spacer block was the really fun part.
I used a coping saw to knock off the corners of the spacer block, and then used a rasp and file to refine the shape. It didn’t take long at all.
I sanded down the entire tote, removing the original finish. I rubbed on a couple coats of Danish oil, and let it dry.
At first the contrast looked funny to my eye, almost as if the tote were still held together by masking tape. But I’ve become accustomed to it. I just call it a racing stripe now.
Several years, the repair is still solid.