This may be a waste of time but....

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Blog entry by sjdickey posted 05-10-2008 07:42 AM 876 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A co-worker gave me a couple of old, well used planes that used to belong to her father. I would like to clean them up and start using them. I realize this may be a colassal waste of time but I keep reading here about how much I will learn about the tool in the process.

I have no idea were to start. How do I go about getting the old rust, varnish, stain etc off the plates? Anyone have suggestions on where to start, etc?

Thanks in advance for all your input.

9 comments so far

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3132 days

#1 posted 05-10-2008 08:05 AM

Go to the search bar at the top of the screen and enter “plane restoration.” You’ll find some links with some blogs and how-to’s that some others have written within this site. HERE is a good one (first in a series of 4-5) by DAVID. Good luck, keep us posted.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3240 days

#2 posted 05-10-2008 12:40 PM

Restoring old planes is a wonderful way of getting to know your tools. I just recently restored my father’s #5 and #7 planes that had not been used in at least 40 years. I opted to replace both the plane and cap irons with ones from Hock, In my opinion these are the best plane irons going and will improve the plane’s performance.

Another suggestion I would have is to look into a sharpening routine. In his four part series, Douglas Bordner, posted a blog on his “scary sharp” process that began with Getting the irons sharpened is critical for them to work well.

Hope this helps and good luck.

By the way if you do decide to go ahead and restore them the process would make an interesting blog to post.

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

View Shopsmithtom's profile


787 posts in 3613 days

#3 posted 05-10-2008 02:20 PM

I agree that restoring & getting to know hand planing is a great thing to undertake. I’ve restored about 10 of my planes, as I bought them in rough condition. I’ve used the electrolytic rust removal process and the WD-40/ Scotch-brite pad method, and, quite honestly, I think the results are about the same either way for rusted planes.
Sharpening is critical, and don’t get frustrated if it takes a bit of time to get good at it. The results are worth it.

If you go ahead with restoration, please take some pics to show us the process. (I always forget to take “before” pics)
Good luck. -SST

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

View Jeff's profile


1011 posts in 3512 days

#4 posted 05-10-2008 02:56 PM

Hi sjdickey. Here is another plane restoration blog that gets a lot of traffic on the subject by WanyeC. I know there are other’s besides Wayne’s and David’s but theirs are pretty good. Wayne has some entries about cleaning with citric acid (part 19) which is a non-toxic, inexpensive, low-environmental impact approach that I have personally used. David’s blog and method is more aggressive but almost guaranteed to work. Be sure to read all the entries if you have time. It’s a long series and he documents more than one plane and there are valuable little nuggets all over.

In Wanye’s, part 2, he has commentary about dating your plane. Since you didn’t seek out your planes (knowing what you were after), I would give consideration to trying to identify your planes. You never know, you may have a really valuable item…

Here is another link I have found really useful for restoring, identifying and repair of Stanley Bailey planes. Be sure to check out the Type study. It has good pictures of key differences to help figure out what you have.
Hand Planes 101 - Woodworking at Rex Mill

Lastly, this is WanyeC’s reference material list/blog. Indispensable.
Again, be sure to review all the parts. Wanye is passionate about planes and has done a great deal of research.

Have fun! There is nothing like the sound of a plane removing a long thin shaving…

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View jimp's profile


208 posts in 3179 days

#5 posted 05-10-2008 04:24 PM

I’m in the process of restoring some old planes and I’m at removing rust stage. I’m using Evapo-rust and it works great. You can order it from the Rust Store, but I got it from AutoZone. My Autozone only sells it in the 32 oz bottle. You can get it in the one gallon bottle from the Rust Store.

Good Luck.

-- - Jim, Carroll, OH

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 3440 days

#6 posted 05-10-2008 04:36 PM

Have a look at this blog .Wayne spent a lot of time on it and it’s well done.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Chris 's profile


1877 posts in 3409 days

#7 posted 05-11-2008 06:26 AM

All of my planes, with the exception of my L&N, are old Stanley’s that I have restored. In doing so I became keenly aware of the qualities (good or bad) and use them on a regular basis.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View jcees's profile


1011 posts in 3217 days

#8 posted 05-11-2008 06:38 AM

Okay, if you don’t want to do the research then you’ll have to give us a bit more about your planes. What is the number? How many and what are the patent dates? A few pics including some closeups might help too.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4010 posts in 3482 days

#9 posted 05-11-2008 08:20 AM

If you decide to buy aftermarket replacement blades and chipbreakers, it’s worth your while to take one of Wayne C.’s best tips – buy your Hock parts through Craftsman Studio

Prices are lower here than at the Hock site, and the customer service is exemplary. I sent in a question, and the owner of the business replied within several minutes. Shipping was fast, and at the time, as well as currently (5/10/08) shipping was/is free. Of course Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen also make thicker, high quality irons with steel that is superior to the thin chrome vanadium steel that came with Stanley Bailey or Sargent bench planes.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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