I have been recieving some questions on plane restorations, so I figure I will put together a start to finish on one of the planes I just did.
Initially I just cleaned it up and put it to work. This gave me a chance to test drive prior to investing much time or money. I would recommend testing a plane prior to a full restore if it is in a state that allows it.
Okay, now tear it down and strip it to bare metal. I used a combination of Aircraft paint removers. After a couple of application and rinse cycles you get to something that will likely look like this.
Next up is rust removal. There are several ways of going about this. Brute force method is to just take a wire wheel to it. Electrolysis is better option, but it is messy and requires hot wires in an open tub of water. Electrolysis is probably the most economical method if you plan on doing a lot of planes. Then there are the chemical chealators. Naval Jelly is just nasty stuff, but it will convert rust.
My preferred method is Evapo-Rust. Non-toxic, no offensive oddor, no worries of a chemical burn. It removes rust and creates a protective barrier against flash rusting.
After a couple of soak and rinse cycles you end up with a part that looks like this.
Some rust staining will remain, but the bulk of it will scrub off with a soft wire brush. So scrub it. After you are satisfied with the surface do a dip in the evapo-rust and let the part air dry. This will leave a protective film that lasts up to 2 weeks. I let the parts air dry overnight before proceeding.
Up next masking and painting. I stuff paper towel wads into the screw holes and mask the sides. I oil the frog pads so enamel won’t bond. Pretty simple. For paint I was recommended Duplicolor Engine Enamel. After using it a couple of times I agree that it is the way to go for a finish that mimics the original japanning, but is much easier to apply and readily available at places like Autozone. You will need to apply 4-6 coats in short sessions. Give about 10 minutes between coats. Here is what you will be looking like.
Allow 20-30 minutes after the last coat, but not enough time for the enamel to fully cure. Then remove all masking and plugs from the screw holes. Take care not to touch the wet enamel as it will leave marks in the finish. Allow the finish to cure overnight. You should now have something like this.
Now it is time to remove the enamel from the areas that it doesn’t belong. To remove it from the front, back, and top of the cheeks I just use some 120g sand paper. This is mainly just to restore the plane to an original aesthetic. You could leave the enamel on those areas if it doesn’t bother you.
Next prep the frog to sole interface. A light sanding to remove any enamel overspray may be all that is required. On the other hand some light machining may be in order. Several of my planes have had rocking at the interface. Use a file or machinist scraper to remove metal from the sole or the frog high points until the rocking is removed. Oil everything and reassemble.
I installed a Hock iron and chip breaker. I am really a fan of these. The added mass does make a significant difference in cut quality. I also like the clean interface that the machined chip breaker provides compared to the stock sheet metal version. I still have the stock iron and breaker, maybe I will camber them and use that set for roughing.
I used aftermarket replacement tote and knob on this plane. Since the originals were Beech painted black they weren’t worth restoring. I think I will put up a seperate blog to discuss refinishing of handles and cleaning/polishing of brass hardware.
-- Doug, woodworking in Alabama