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Stanley #7 Restoration #1: Getting Started

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Blog entry by dfdye posted 03-10-2010 08:44 PM 2532 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Stanley #7 Restoration series Part 2: Final stripping and paint »

A while back I posted a review of a cheap #4 Footprint plane I bought and tuned up. During the discussion, I mentioned that I was looking to buy a #7 plane, and WayneC generously offered to sell me one of his bargain finds. He warned me that it was pretty dirty, and that there were some minor defects, (but that is of course to be expected of a tool of this vintage) but that it was in good user condition, so I jumped at the opportunity and had him send it along.

A few days later, an extremely well packaged, disassembled, FILTHY plane arrived on my doorstep. After unpacking everything and making sure I had all of the parts, I realized that I had my work cut out for me!

All of the parts were coated with a crud of surface rust, aged on grease and oil, and a TON of dirt and grit.
As you can see from this picture, the Japanning is pretty much shot, so I am not even going to try and save any of it.

Fortunately, the sole looks like it is in pretty good shape (there are a couple of spots of minor pitting and a few scratches, but nothing that will impact performance), but it too is covered with the scaley crud and some rust. It will definitely need some work to get into shape.

One interesting thing I noticed while getting the pieces ready for cleaning was that the previous user appeared to have the blade mounted bevel up in the plane! Not sure what that was about, but the edge of this blade is in TERRIBLE condition and will definitely be getting replaced once the plane is in decent shape.

There are a few more “before” pictures in the photobucket folder, so feel free to look around a little more if you are interested (just click on any of the pictures and they are linked to the folder).

So, on to business! First things first, I degreased everything and tried to clean the surface dirt off of the plane. This was easier said that done, and I had to resort to dental picks for getting some of the junk out of the nicks and crannies of the frog. I tried using a scotchbrite pad for some of the thicker crud, and it wasn’t really going anywhere. So, I slapped on some paint stripper since I knew I was going to hit the Japanning with it anyway. After a good soak under some gel stripper, things wen much better. Most of the loose Japanning came off (only a couple of really tough spots are still left) and most of the grease-based crud came off too. Unfortunately, I noticed the beginning of some flash rusting, so I sprayed the plane down with WD-40 to keep things from going backwards.

Here is how things looked after an initial cleaning (before stripper)

It was at this point that I turned to cleaning the lever cap. I was able to get most of the surface crud off with scotchbrite and 220 grit sand paper, and I was about to proceed to the evapo-rust when I noticed how nicely the residual black in the field of the “Stanley” logo looked. I didn’t want to lose that look, but I figured if I wanted to get things shiny I would have to make a sacrifice. Then it finally hit me—this plane has EARNED it’s patina. There is a difference between cleaning the crud and crap that will inhibit the proper functioning and future well being of the plane, and trying to make it into a brand new plane. It simply IS NOT NEW!!! To try and make it look new would be rather silly!

After a rush of realization, I decided to clean everything possible by hand and keep some of the patina to acknowledge that this is, indeed an OLD PLANE!!! It has some blemishes, and it has earned them through the years! OK, now I know how this is going to end up! I got the lever cap cleaned up to the point that it looked like it should—clean but definitely well worn, and started in on the body of the plane. I used a bunch of WD-40 and 220 grit sand paper to knock off the scaling and brown discoloration to reveal a dull grey surface with a black patina. Exactly what steel of this age should look like!

This is where I left it: one side of the body cleaned with the patina I think it should have, and the other side as it looked after degreasing and light scrubbing with scotchbrite.

Once I get the sides of the plane cleaned up, I am going to finish getting the last few spots of the Japanning off, and repaint the body with rustoleum or an engine paint. I know it’s not authentic, and that I went through the whole nostalgia thing a paragraph ago, but it is going to be a user plane, and I am making an acknowledgement that this is a restored object as well as simply being old. I’m going to regrind the base of the plane to make it work better, and I am going to replace the blade and chip breaker. My PRIMARY concern is functionality, so though it may be neat to go through the asphalt application process, that particular aspect isn’t too appealing to me.

Well, considering I got this far in one session, I hope to have the plane operational in a few days if I can get back to it and have time to get into a machine shop to regrind the sole. I’ll have to wait on that until I get the frog, handles and blade in since I want the body flat when it is closest to operational conditions. It probably doesn’t matter, but call me paranoid.

Regardless, I can say at this point that I will definitely have put more time and energy into getting this plane working than my Footprint, but the build quality is indeed far superior, and despite its age, I think it will end up being a more effective “user” than the cheap Footprint. Obviously no data to back that up yet, but hopefully soon!

-- David from Indiana --



10 comments so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11349 posts in 1730 days


#1 posted 03-10-2010 09:08 PM

Nice work! I have a few very early Stanley planes that i aquired when my grandfather passed away a few years back. My family and I have been thinking that they were my great-grandfathers planes. I have an early #4 1/2 stanley black plane and a #18 Stanley block plane with the forked cap on it. I’ll be posting pictures soon adn refer back to your blog here when restoration has started. Thanks for the great look into refurbishing the old planes!

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12300 posts in 2821 days


#2 posted 03-10-2010 09:52 PM

Looks like your off to a good start. : ^ )

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

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 2451 days


#3 posted 03-10-2010 11:41 PM

this looks a lot like my #7, but mine is corrugated. I wish it had the smooth sole though. Even then, I think it’s my favorite of all my planes.

View bigike's profile

bigike

4033 posts in 2012 days


#4 posted 03-11-2010 12:51 AM

i really don’t use my #7 much i just pull it out and use it to say i used it other than that the highest i go is either to my #5-1/2 or my #6 but not really. anyway i want to see how your gonna take the paint off?

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1760 days


#5 posted 03-11-2010 04:47 AM

Hey Ike,

I’m not sure what most folks use, but I used a pretty aggressive gel paint stripper, and it did a pretty good job loosening the japanning (which is more of a baked on asphalt than a paint). The first round of stripper got most of it with minimal wiping, but I am going to hit it with a brass brush during the next round of stripping, which should commence in about 10 minutes! :)

I’ll post the brand of the stripper later on since you asked.

-- David from Indiana --

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12300 posts in 2821 days


#6 posted 03-11-2010 04:50 AM

Are you going to rejappan it? Any thoughts on method if you are?

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

View bigike's profile

bigike

4033 posts in 2012 days


#7 posted 03-11-2010 05:19 AM

cool cuz i have a plane i need to do over i know how to put the japaning back on but i have a recored plane the japaning is blue so i just got some paint to match it but i want something real good at taking off the japaning in one or two shots.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://www.icombadaniels@yahoo.com

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1760 days


#8 posted 03-11-2010 06:21 AM

Wayne,

I thought about it and looked into it, but none of the methods made much sense in terms of time and $$$ for reclaiming a user. I am going with rustoleum semigloss to prevent the plane rusting and to make it look better (and since I can easily strip it if things turn out terribly), but I was intrigued by the idea of using a car under-body rubberized protective spray coating to simulate that thick, plastic feel of the japanning. I still might do that as an overcoat, but I wanted something with really good rust protection directly on the metal.

There was a TON of rust underneath the japanning when I finally got it all off (more details and pictures of tonight’s progress hopefully before I go to bed, but no promises! :)

Ike, I completely forgot to get the name of the stripper when I was out in the garage. I promise I will get it when I put the second coat on in a few minutes!

-- David from Indiana --

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12300 posts in 2821 days


#9 posted 03-11-2010 06:28 AM

I’ve use schallac to prevent further rust over the top of the japanning. It is another option and is easy to remove if you so desire. Looking forward to seeing the photos.

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

View dfdye's profile

dfdye

372 posts in 1760 days


#10 posted 03-11-2010 06:46 AM

Ike, it is Zinsser Strip Fast Power Stripper. I went into Menards and asked what the most aggressive stripper they had was, and they pointed me at this. The product I linked to doesn’t seem exactly like what I’m using, but I am sure it is pretty close.

Fair warning, though, this stuff is NASTY! I got a tiny spot on my arm and didn’t notice for a few minutes and thought I was going to burn a hole in my self! My arm itched like CRAZY and I scrubbed like heck to get it off. No actual burning, but it was not pleasant, that is for sure! Also, it seemed to pretty aggressively soften my normal thin nitrile gloves, but my latex gloves seemed to hold up better. Be sure to wear something thick while working with this stuff!

Good luck with stripping and re-japanning!

-- David from Indiana --

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