Hand Planes #2: First Round Cleaning

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Blog entry by ryno101 posted 08-19-2008 02:06 AM 3968 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Ebay Planes... Part 2 of Hand Planes series Part 3: Surprisingly easy to flatten and clean up... »

Figured since I started, might as well share my ongoing project to get these two cheapo planes into serviceable condition!

After perusing the various blogs about plane restoration here on LJ’s, I decided a simple first step would be to get ‘em taken apart and do a first round cleaning.

I looked at David's blog, and though I was intrigued by electrolysis as a rust-removal process, I thought to myself “Isn’t that just really an electroplating going on? Is it really getting rid of the rust, or is it putting a new layer of steel on top?” I may be wrong, but that outlines exactly how electroplating is done, in this case using rebar instead of Nickel, chrome or gold.

I did, however, figure that I’d give the Kaboom a try, and wow. Instantly years of grime just melted off these planes. I took them apart, and put them into a plastic bucket lid, sprayed the heck out of them with the Kaboom, and gave them both a quick once over with a toothbrush, wiped them down with a paper towel, and wow, I was impressed with the cleaning power of Kaboom!

Here’s the larger of the two:

And the smaller of the two:

I was shocked to find red paint on the logo, and frog, and a metal colored lever cap!

I’m beginning to think that the smaller one was in a fire or something… the front knob is all charred:

and the handle in the back looks like something melted into the finish:

I had luck using the method that grumpycarp recommended when I flattened the sole of my little plane, so I’ll probably use that again, and since we’re not talking serious heirlooms or valuable planes, I’ll likely just use the old “elbow grease, Steel Wool, Sandpaper and WD-40” method for getting the rust and such off.

I might end up “re-jappanning” them, probably again using grumpycarp’s recommendation, and I do have a chunk of rosewood that I need to make into something, so I’ll probably turn a new knob for the little one, and I might just try my hand at carving a new handle too… it’s a bit sloppy in the fit, and it would be a fun project.

I’ll post progress along the way

-- Ryno

6 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3674 days

#1 posted 08-19-2008 04:17 AM

Nice job on the cleaning process – I’m impressed myself with the power of Kaboom… it looked like they would need more than just that… one step closer to having these workable!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4221 days

#2 posted 08-19-2008 04:53 AM

It’s always nice to see someone bring back an old tool… way to go.
I’ve also had great success with a gray scotchbrite pad, or steelwool and WD-40. I put on a pair of nitrile or latex gloves, spray down the parts, and scrub. A wire wheel on a bench grinder will add a nice luster after that. I’ve also used the electrolytic method, and it does appear to dissolve the iron oxide, but it takes a long time, and I found I could be all done using the WD-40 method in less time than the electrolytic way. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3940 days

#3 posted 08-19-2008 06:10 AM

Cool, but what is kaboom? I get that it’s a bathroom cleaner of some sort but what is in it? We don’t have this here in NZ, so just wondering what the make up of it was, to know if there was a substitute – preferably a non-toxic one.

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 3664 days

#4 posted 08-19-2008 06:39 AM

I’ve given up on all the other methods and go straight to the bead blaster.

Kaboom is a 10% glycolic acid cleaning solution. Barkeepers friend is another good product with a citric acid solution, both leave the metal bright.

Phosphoric acid solutions have similiar cleaning properties, but tend to turn the metal a grey as they undergo a conversion process or phosphorizing. The phosphated surface is great for some mild corrosion inhibiting, but isn’t as brite gleaming as the citric finish. Going to the extreme, other acids ( Selenic) will push more of a gun blue finish, but you plan to use these, so scratches will show immediately when you use it.

I’ve used Coca Cola to clean some other tool parts, It’s a milder solution, but watching it eat a corroded penny will make you think about what it really does in your body…

None of these will help save that handymans fire schorched wood.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View ryno101's profile


388 posts in 3690 days

#5 posted 08-19-2008 09:07 PM

Thanks all for your helpful advice…

SST – That’s just about my plan… I wish I had a bench grinder, it would make everything easier! Sharpening, cleaning, etc… It’s on my tools wish list.

Quixote – I’ve been taking a look at most of the posts about refurbishing planes, and have noticed that you certainly know your stuff! As I go along with this, would love to hear more insights from you. (And I love your “tag-line” even got a chuckle out of my wife when I forced her to read this!)

And, you’re right… there’s not much that will help the scorched wood other than making new parts (which, to be honest, I’m kind of excited to do!)

-- Ryno

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4164 days

#6 posted 08-19-2008 09:21 PM

Ryno -

Rehabbing a plane is a lot of fun. Looks like you are off to a great start! Electrolysis is not the same as electroplating. Take a look at the diagram and you will see the current runs in the opposite direction of electroplating. If you get an old plane with some stubborn rust give it a try. It works really well and you won’t be disappointed.

Good luck with your rehab . . . looking forward to seeing the completed plane back in service making nice thin shavings!

The Folding Rule


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