In my first blog of this series I talked about removing the rust using Evapo-Rust. The following picture shows my Stanley #4 after it was soaked over night in Evapo-Rust and washed and scrubbed clean.
I have polished and sanded the sides a number of different ways. I have done all by hand with folded up sand paper and sanding blocks, I have used my dremmel tool with different attachments and I have used my drill press with wire brush. I find all of these to be way to time consuming. I find it fastest and easiest to lap the sides of the body the same way you would lap the sole. Lapping the sides wont necessarily effect the use but I now do it on all the planes I restore. I usually start with 180 grit paper attached to some plate glass. I will lap it with this grit for a min or two and then check to see where it is at. If it looks to be touching on most of the sides then I continue with this grit and work up to 800 or 1000 grit. You don’t have to polish it to a real high grit, in most cases 400 grit will be just fine. It just depends on how shiny you want it to be. You can go higher then 1000 if you want to as well.
If the plane is in rough shape I may move down to 120 grit. I don’t stay on one grit for long. I try and move back and forth so that I don’t end up with deep scratch patterns from the lower grits. As far as the paper goes I was using all automotive paper but I recently found that the 3M purple sandpaper that Home Depot sells works great for the lower grits. I move to wet/dry paper once I am at 400 grit. I do most of this work with dry paper. I may get the last few grits a little damp with some water or mineral spirits. The following is the plane side after 400 grit.
And then after 800
You will have some areas that are low and just are not hitting the paper. I just hit these areas by hand with paper or sanding block. I also use a sanding block and paper on the top edge of the sides and around the front of the sole edge. Wear gloves and mask unless you want black hands and a nose full of metal dust.. It leaves a really bad taste in the back of your throat when you breath to much of it in.
The frog of the plane gets the same treatment however I try and get the face of the frog pretty flat. I remove the york adjustment thing to do this.
Once I am done with the lapping and sanding I go over it with some polish. I have used a few different types of polish and they have all worked well. I do this by hand. I would assume a buffing wheel would work better but I don’t own one. The polish I have in the picture I had bought for an Aluminum project but it said on the label that it worked on all metals. I tried it out and it worked really well so I have been using it on the planes. Check the automotive store and I am sure they will have a large selection of metal polish in all different price ranges.
Just keep buffing/polishing until you reach the point that you want to reach. Some pits, scratches and dings will be to deep to completely sand and buff out.
This does not take much time, even if the plane is in bad shape. It is messy though. I hope I covered enough. Pretty simple really.
Here is before and after of the Stanley #4
-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"