Jointer clean-up #1: Cleaning up the bed

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Blog entry by charlton posted 03-25-2009 10:32 AM 13719 reads 5 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Jointer clean-up series Part 2: Teardown---sort of »

It seems that my woodworking career is getting off to a slow start. I’ve been meaning to build some Thien separators for my shopvac and dust collector before embarking on building various stands for tools in my tiny workshop. The other day, I had a friend come over to help me lug the SteelCity 14” bandsaw into the basement. We assembled it and had to buy a few extra tools in order to get everything assembled. Unfortunately, it seems as though the saw is suffering from very uncontrollable vibration. So SteelCity has agreed to take care of me but it means I’ll have to disassemble the saw and bring it back up again.

One of the tools I wasn’t originally set on buying but ended up getting was a jointer. I didn’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars on one so I went for the used route looking for something on the cheap. I checked out an old Rockwell/Delta 37-220 but decided not to go for it because the jointer needed a lot of work just to get it into serviceable shape. The cutterhead keyway was damaged, the motor pulley was warped, there was rust on the bed, etc. I ended up getting a used Delta X5 6” jointer instead but I didn’t exactly get it cheaply. But I bought it knowing that my heart was still set on getting a 37-220-type of jointer. The main reason for my preference (aside from wanting to own a piece of Canadian history) is that the fence assemblies of newer jointers takes up substantially more space than the quaint old jointer. My workshop is so small that I can’t afford to have the rack and pinion assembly eating up an extra 6-8” of width. So…I told myself that I would use the X5 in the garage for now to tide me over until I get myself a usable 37-220 and then sell it at a later date. Well, today, I decided to pick up the old 37-220 jointer that I initially decided to reject. I felt bad that the venerable jointer was “homeless” and longing for a new owner so I bought it and brought it home today.

I’ve never restored a machine before and I doubt I’ll have the ability to do a thorough enough job to warrant calling this process a “restoration” so I’ve dubbed this my jointer clean-up project. Fortunately, with the X5, it means I can take a bit of time to restore this little jointer. Nevertheless, this jointer project will further slow down my already slow start. But I guess, in the end, it’s all part of the learning process anyway.

I would love to get advice on restoring this little guy. I’m considering the electrolysis route to get rid of some of the rust but tonight I decided to do the scouring thing first to see how bad the rust really was. Here are the results.

I actually didn’t think about taking photos of the jointer until I had already sprayed RustOff on it. I quickly ran into the house to get the camera. In my haste to take a few snaps, I failed to realize that my camera was on manual focus and manual exposure so the quality of the first two shots aren’t great (not that the rest of the shots are any better).

Here’s a shot of the jointer with the rusty bed. You can see the X5 jointer in the background.

Here’s the jointer bed after cleaning with a scouring pad, steel wool, and sandpaper. Most of the time, I used WD40 as the lubricant:

I can’t get the black rust (I presume that’s what it is) out and I don’t want to be grinding the top needlessly so for now, I’ve left the stains:
I wish I could get the top as shiny bright as some of the restoration experts seem to be able to do. Will electrolysis do the trick for me?

Here’s another shot at the end of the session:

My next plan is to take the entire thing apart and clean all the individual components one by one. The handwheel for the infeed table is really stiff (yes, the table is unlocked). While I do that, I’m trying to find a machinist to take care of the pulleys or the cutterhead shaft for me. I may still go the electrolysis route to clean up all the rusted components (including the tables—-though I’m not sure it’s worth it. The tables are quite smooth now so going that one step further would be for cosmetic reasons, I think). Hopefully, once everything is cleaned and the waxed, things will adjust a little more freely.

8 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3851 days

#1 posted 03-25-2009 01:49 PM

Charlton, to answer your question about the electrolysis the process will not get the top shiny. The process will remove the rust and leave a grey/black residue on the surface. This can be removed with a scrubbing pad or wire brush.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2795 posts in 3466 days

#2 posted 03-25-2009 02:24 PM

nice job compared to what you started with. Automotive shops have navel jelly. It’s pink and thick and can be painted on with a brush. It’s not meant for soaking things in but for this type of thing. Let it set for awhile then you’ll have to wash it off so plenty of water needed. It’s not as good as Evaporust but it can be applied to an object.

For the other parts I highly, highly, recommend evaporust. Available online and at Autozone stores. Drop your parts in it and with an hour to a day.. all rust is off. All of it. Washes off in the sink and safe for hands, septic, and environment. And it is reusable to a point. But this stuff works the best of all of them. I’ve restored a lot of tools after a 30 year hiatus in woodworking. Evaporust just made it all possible otherwise I might have had to throw away the tools as small parts are hard to clean.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3702 days

#3 posted 03-25-2009 02:29 PM

1 word. Bearings. The cutter head bearings will be in bad shape, and not in an easy to detect way. Does the head spin for a really long time when you spin it? That’s bad, it means the grease is dried up and gone. Or the bearings could bind a tiny bit, probably feel able if you rotate things by hand. That means something in there isn’t smooth.

Since you’re tearing into it anyways stick new bearings in there now.

View charlton's profile


87 posts in 3438 days

#4 posted 03-25-2009 04:07 PM

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

Scott, would the electrolysis “loosen” up the black rust that’s on there and allow me to scrub it off?

Daniel, I’ll try to find some evaporust and soak the parts. Thanks. :)

Marc, someone else I talked to in person mentioned the exact same thing as you. I have to check it again but if memory serves me correctly, it seems like the bearings are actually in okay shape. As you say, though, it’s definitely something to check (and fix) while everything is disassembled anyway.

Thanks for the feedback, all!

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3702 days

#5 posted 03-25-2009 11:06 PM

Unless the previous owner has changed them (recently) they’re bad. sealed bearings have a life span of 20 years. After that the grease turns bad.

If they’re not sealed you can have a look at them, but in all seriousness they don’t cost that much and you already have it apart. It can be tricky to detect bad bearings, might be as subtle as a few .001 inch divots in the outer race caused by a shock load applied to the bearing that will tear it up over the course of a year.

View charlton's profile


87 posts in 3438 days

#6 posted 03-25-2009 11:09 PM

Thanks, Marc. I will heed your advice and have the bearings replaced.

View charlton's profile


87 posts in 3438 days

#7 posted 03-25-2009 11:12 PM

:) I just noticed your avatar on the OWWM forums and saw that it was you. :)

View LesB's profile


1750 posts in 3472 days

#8 posted 03-26-2009 07:07 AM

Oxalic acid will remove rust and some of the stains. It is the same stuff used to strip and refinish wood decking and clean up teak on boats. It comes in liquid and powder form. While not very strong it is a good idea to wear protective gloves and scrub in with synthetic brushes or scrub pads.
It looks like you have it pretty clean already.

-- Les B, Oregon

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