I'm restoring a batch of hand planes at the moment, and some are the Stanley's with plastic totes. Does anyone know the appropriate chemical to strip the lacquer from them so I can refinish, without dissolving the plastic itself?
I didn't think they where lacquered it's just the smoothness of the mould that gives the finish, they wouldn't save money by adding another process, they where making as cheaply as possible. So unless someone had lacquered later on I don't think you will be able to strip them.
You could try and polish the surface.
Which plastic? Stanley in England used at least two. Are the handles the swirly reddish-brown colour or are they jet black? The handles themselves and the two materials are utterly different, with the former being vastly superior (IMO the best handles ever once any mould lines are taken care of).