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My new friend Jack (stanley #5 hand plane nearly complete re-furbish)

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Blog entry by RobynHoodridge posted 09-04-2013 03:10 AM 992 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Oh the joy of taking something dirty, flimsy, worn, and stained and soaked with someone elses sweat, and turning it into a crisp tool you can fall in love with.
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I know that all a plane has to be is functional. But making something that has personality as well as meeting the bare minimum of function is perhaps similar to making fine furniture rather than banging together plywood. You can’t always, but you do the former wherever you can. Also, I’ve coveted a hand plane for so long that i’ve also had ages to dedicate a bit of my soul to the idea. So that treating my second hand Stanley Bailey # 5 (Jack) to a re-furbishing was a ritual for our union much like the rituals of realizing an imagined wedding scenario.
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The idea, the plan, was to accentuate the visual characteristics that already exist in the plane. So to keep all the natural qualities you expect like machined surfaces of the body facing outward, and the glossy smooth handles (totes), but tweaking these a bit, or over-do them to enhance the contrasts in the tool.
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The bright lapped faces of the soul and sides would contrast the inward facing sand moulded surfaces facing the body. The very smooth and reflective handles would flip this contrast again, trapping the rough surface between two highly finished surfaces. The handles would take a step further toward to clinical, cold, machinist feel by losing the brown colour or any impression that they’re made from organic wood. They’d be black for this reason, and also to harken to the traditional and expected colour of the japanning on the body. Except that the japanning itself wouldn’t actually be this expected colour. To keep the appearance of the cast surfaces rougher i’d let all the little pits be visible through clear coating over these surfaces. A thick clear coating would retain the heavily laquored flowing reflections from this surface, but allow the rough to show through that. (So no trapping of tonnes of dust in the pits, but they’re still visible.)

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What i did
I cleaned small parts in an ultrasonic cleaner. Scrubbed larger parts.
I scratched and sanded old finish from the wooden handles. Applied viscous CA glue with a small brush, or directly from the nozzle to fill cracks. Then sanded to a flowing form and spray painted a black layer followed by two thick clear coats.
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I removed the old enamel japanning by chemical means (paint stripper) and when this didn’t get every little spot off (even with scrubbing) i went to soda blasting (which is like this: – http://youtu.be/aQrU06w7LHY?t=30s ) to finish the removal. I didn’t want to have this surface too shiny though, so i did the blasting before the body had a go in the electrolytic rust converter bath. Where orangy rust is converted to black oxide.
The thick clear coating that i chose to use as japanning was CA glue again. I’m disappointed because i was too anxious to get to lapping the sole (a wet process) and the CA slightly whitened and matted because it wasn’t fully cured. Steel wool before further coats may solve this.
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I lapped the flats on abrasive paper glued to glass panels. I wanted perfect full facets polished to near mirror. But that is a LOT more labor than i was expecting. So for now at least i have to settle for far flatter (and squarer) than it came, but incomplete (though fully functional).
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(picture here staged – of course i did this with handles removed and wet sanding, etc.)
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Another little alteration that i did was to abrade the body’s very front and back ‘faces’ to way smoother than they came. Which completes the shinier perimeter of outward faces around the duller surfaces of the body.
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The blade had been repeatedly ‘sharpened’ only at the very edge. Call it a massive ‘secondary bevel’. So re-shaping the bevel was a lot of work with a honing guide, scary sharp style. But i got to this:
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The flat side of the blade had been addressed near the edge before. But only in spirit since the factory grinding marks were still all the way to the edge.
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So i did the minimum to this side of the blade to get a continuously smooth strip at the edge.
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I sanded away at the patches of electrolytically converted rust a little bit, but I didn’t remove material enough to get down to bare metal.
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. Some gratuitous shots from before and after. :
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So i haven’t yet achieved my shiny – dull – shiny aesthetic. But i’m on my way, I have a beautifully functioning Jack, and a deep satisfaction slash warm fuzzy attachment to the tool i helped make what it is.

-- Never is longer than forever.



4 comments so far

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12292 posts in 2782 days


#1 posted 09-04-2013 03:50 AM

Well done. What is next? :)

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View RobynHoodridge's profile

RobynHoodridge

126 posts in 1014 days


#2 posted 09-04-2013 02:07 PM

:)
Next for Jack, or for me?
I really want to know what Jack would look like wearing clear acrylic plastic handles. But this will probably never happen since it’s frivolous.
For me: Well i actuallly bought two similar planes. The other is a FootPrint. The plan was to sell one to pay for both, so i could keep one. And now i reall don’t want to sell Jack. So i guess next is going to be a re-run. Except that the footprint, well let’s just say it’s going to require more work getting a good (sale-able) plane out of it.
I also bought them because i’m working on a design for a sharpening system for plane irons. So that’s what’s next now that i have a tool to test with. Have you ever wanted to contribute to the world of hand tool use by putting a useful product out there? Are you keen to collaborate on this?

-- Never is longer than forever.

View CFrye's profile

CFrye

3296 posts in 524 days


#3 posted 09-07-2013 05:55 PM

Great job bringing Jack back from the brink Robyn! Appreciate the detailed blog. I have a Craftsman plane that is in need of the same treatment, however it is on the back burner right now. Just read through your shaving giraffe post as well (anything ‘giraffe’ gets my attention!). Really enjoy reading the thought process you put into your projects. Understand about wanting to give back as well. Please know you are already doing that through these posts. Thanks for sharing!

-- God bless, Candy

View RobynHoodridge's profile

RobynHoodridge

126 posts in 1014 days


#4 posted 09-07-2013 09:14 PM

Thank you for the supportive words Candy. It really makes me happy to hear. :)
I understand about cleaning up planes being on the back burner. Mine would be too if i didn’t have specific need.

-- Never is longer than forever.

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