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Adventures in Japanning

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Blog series by JayT updated 669 days ago 7 parts 17821 reads 50 comments total

Part 1: Background, research & supplies.

690 days ago by JayT | 12 comments »

OK, first attempt at a blog, so please bear with me. This blog series is my journey of trying to replicate the japanning process used on many tools, especially hand planes, that has been used for over a century. It will include some abject failures, as well as what was found to work for me. This blog is not a commentary on how someone else might choose to finish their planes when doing a restoration and I am not necessarily advocating japanning over any other finish. There are many pe...

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Part 2: Testing blends and first attempt

689 days ago by JayT | 4 comments »

The next step in trying to come up with an acceptable japanning recipe/method was to test some blends of finishes. Internet research turned up a few possible recipes, mostly involving powdered asphaltum/gilsonite dissolved in a combination of turpentine and BLO &/or spar varnish. The woodcentral link Mafe posted in the first installment has one and fellow LJ Derek Cohen has mentioned a similar recipe he uses. Well, the reason I went with the liquid asphaltum was that it takes care of t...

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Part 3: Let's welcome Mr. Murphy (and his law)

684 days ago by JayT | 5 comments »

When we left off, the first coat of Japanning had been applied and allowed to cure. The next day, here is what I had. Even given 24 hours in a very hot and dry Kansas summer, the finish was still a bit tacky. The few internet posts I had found said that you needed to either bake the finish or allow it to cure 30 days or so. A couple also mentioned applying two coats before doing either of those, so I pressed on with another light coat and let it set overnight. In order to try and...

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Part 4: Back at square one

684 days ago by JayT | 3 comments »

Several days away from the japanning project didn’t really help. There were too many times in those days that my mind returned to the problem and just wouldn’t leave it alone, but no solutions were forthcoming. Finally, it took walking out to the shop again, looking at everything on the bench and BAM . . . there it was! Remember this? The plane I used when testing the finish blends didn’t have any brush marks, and it was the same formula that I had first used tha...

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Part 5: Progress, finally!

683 days ago by JayT | 11 comments »

Now satisfied with how the first coat of japanning laid down, I needed to figure out how to get a better cure. Attempts to leave the plane out in direct sunlight on a hot summer day didn’t do quite a good enough job. Several websites had mentioned baking the plane, but there was no way I was going to use the kitchen stove—for one it was brand new this summer when we remodeled the kitchen and two, I would like to continue to sleep in the same bed as my wife, not the doghouse. ...

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Part 6: Completion!

676 days ago by JayT | 9 comments »

At the end of the last post, I had laid down a second layer of japanning on the test plane. The plane was again baked in my outdoor “oven” for a couple of hours at around 250 degrees F. The japanning was then scuffed up, this time with 220 grit. 400 just wasn’t cutting through that well. The nice part about the thickness of the japanning mixture is that it does a good job filling the casting marks. You can see in the picture above the low and high spots in the cas...

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Part 7: That's a wrap! (for now)

669 days ago by JayT | 6 comments »

Having tested, erred, retested, erred again and so on, I was finally happy with how the homemade japanning came out, so did several restores. We’ll try and do a summary of everything learned here in one blog post. Supplies needed:Asphaltum—available in powder form or liquid, which is what I used. Art supply stores seem to be the best source, as it is used in acid etching.Solvent—Xylol or turpentine should either work fine. Both are capable of suspending the heavy...

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