Shop's Log #5: Sargent 3416 Restoration

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Blog entry by terryR posted 02-09-2014 04:24 PM 1818 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Hi everyone, just wanted to share some quick results from a recent product experiment…Turtle Wax Rubbing Compound.

Nearly everyone I know cleans vintage tools with some combination of BLO, soap, and spirits…or a secret solution containing one of the above.

However, recently, LJ buddy CFrye uncovered this article on The Best Things:

The author is mostly dealing with collectable tools, but admits any fine tool should be cared for properly. I agree. He preaches the use of dry cleaning agents, no oils, no steel wool, no water. He also mentions that a tool so badly rusted that it won’t respond to his methods, is usually passed along to another tool junkie. And, if you’re restoring a non-collector to user status, do whatever you want! LOL.

I have several vintage levels, braces, and planes in a pile ready for restoration, and really wanted to keep the old patina on them, so was waiting for info like this…

So, off to town I go for a $4 can of the red Turtle Wax Cleaner…actually, I was at the auto parts store for our Jeep…no way I’d drive 40 minutes to town for a $4 item.

My test subject was a Sargent 3416 Transitional plane, complete and in fairly good shape, just filthy. After disassembly, I noticed the smell of burned wood at the base of the tote, probably the same event the caused the heavy discoloration on the left side, too?

Since it’s below freezing in the shop, and SWMBO is at work, I had no trouble securing permission to set up a restoration area inside the house between the propane heater and the coffee pot.

My intentions were to use only the Turtle wax and scotchbrite pads for the entire process to see what happened…

I applied the cleaner directly to the green pads and started rubbing it in with the direction of the grain. Scrub 15 seconds, then wipe clean with a cotton rag…nice results immediately! The turtle wax leaves a slight film on the surface after cleaning which buffs to a nice satin finish.

I scratched off the film with dry scotchbrite, then applied more cleaner to the very grimy parts. A final coat of wax is intended once cleaning is done. I had to skip this step since my wax was across the frozen tundra in my shop, probably 1000 feet from the toasty, warmth of our home.

I also used the turtle wax on the painted surfaces with only minor improvements. Of course, someone has painted over the original japanning and rust, so these parts will require additional cleaning when I can un-thaw the shop. I sprayed a lil citrus degreaser on the nasty parts and scrubbed with plastic brush, and wiped clean with cotton rag.

Since this 3416 has a high probability of being a Type 1, I don’t want to re-paint it, or make it look new! It has both the horseshoe shaped lateral adjuster and Type 1 logo on the iron, so I hesitantly call it a Type 1. Still, after a few months of looking, I don’t see a pre-lateral Sargent transitional, and Heckel’s images of the Type 1 look just like this plane…

I had no luck at all cleaning around the iron’s logo with scotchbrite pads. Half of the logo is missing anyway, so I’ll probably leave it as is. Except for sharpening!

The completed plane looks much better IMO, but could use more cleaning on the metal parts…especially those that are un-painted.

Since this transitional is a user/collector for me…I’ve managed to obtain 75% of the trannies Sargent made…I really want it to look old, but cared for. I certainly will find a better method to clean the iron, but will avoid WD-40 and steel wool till the end on these pre-1901 parts!

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

8 comments so far

View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 1652 days

#1 posted 02-09-2014 04:40 PM

I was waiting for ya to throw a blog out about the turtle wax stuff, seems like it did a pretty decent job. Going for that “just cleaned, definitely not restored” look, it seems it’s a good $4 investment. Shame that someone had to paint over it but that’s a fine looking Sargent!

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View Mosquito's profile


9304 posts in 2289 days

#2 posted 02-09-2014 05:20 PM

I’d say it worked great! I like that look. Might use the turtle wax on saw totes, for a similar keep the patina, but clean it up, look.

Thanks for documenting it Terry.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#3 posted 02-09-2014 05:44 PM

I’d agree with the type 1 Terry. I think if a pre-lateral Sargent is found, it will be a prototype. I don’t think they ever went into production.

Excellent job on the #3416. I can’t wait for the family picture.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Tim's profile


3805 posts in 1958 days

#4 posted 02-09-2014 06:27 PM

That looks like it worked great. Am I reading this right that the pictures are a cleaned up but not oiled or waxed state because your wax is stuck in the tundra? I just put the red turtle rubbing compound on my shopping list after seeing Candy post that.

View ShaneA's profile


6929 posts in 2595 days

#5 posted 02-09-2014 06:30 PM

Looks really nice Terry.

View AnthonyReed's profile


9713 posts in 2436 days

#6 posted 02-09-2014 06:38 PM

Great results. Thank you Terry.

-- ~Tony

View CFrye's profile


10189 posts in 1836 days

#7 posted 02-09-2014 11:31 PM

Wow, Terry! That is how I want my restored/cleaned up tools to look. I have this stuff on my list of things to get. I just need to remember the list when I go to the store!
When I read ‘un-thaw’’ it made me think of John Wayne saying “Unloosen those gun belts” heeheehee!
Thanks for sharing your results.

-- God bless, Candy

View terryR's profile


7137 posts in 2305 days

#8 posted 02-10-2014 01:44 AM

Thanks, everyone. Really, Candy gets the credit for digging up this info! And, Candy, I suppose I’m old and Grizzly like John Wayne, but about 1/3 His size! LOL

Certain to change how I restore tools from now on…I imagine steel wool or pumice may yield different results for dirtier wood?

Tim, yes, no wax or oil at all. No, my wax isn’t really stuck in the tundra…I’m just too lazy to walk across the road to my shop some days…especially when it’s 20 degrees in the shop, and 60 in the house! :)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

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