shellac on steel bodied hand planes

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Forum topic by MNWOODWORKER posted 10-10-2009 09:58 PM 2013 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 3782 days

10-10-2009 09:58 PM

I was wondering what is the reason for putting shellac on steel bodied hand planes, is it just to protect the Japanning or is there more to it or a different reason all together? I was also wondering how long it lasts under normal use-I don’t want to be reapplying it every month. I have always just waxed mine but have recently seen a few different blogs that have talked about this but not the reason why. I have a Stanley #4 that was not taken care of that I picked up at a garage sale for fifty cents, after a lot of elbow grease it works like a champ, but most of the Japanning is gone. I came across a site that I am providing the link for below as I was researching before I bought my #78, and if the job was done better (he states that he did a quick job and was going to redo it later anyway) I think it would look pretty cool. With the Japanning gone on this plane anyway it would be a good experiment plus I have another #4 that the Japanning is about 90% plus it has a lot of sentemental value as well. I like the bronze look that the shellac gives, to me it looks pretty classy. Any info or heads up would be great. Here is the link I was talking about that shows the coloring on the steel-
Thanks so much for all the help you guys and gals.

5 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3909 days

#1 posted 07-08-2010 05:03 AM

I wasn’t aware they shellaced steel planes. I hope that if you’ve found out since you posted this that you could pass along the info…now that you have me wondering LOL!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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18387 posts in 3873 days

#2 posted 07-08-2010 07:45 AM

Have another picture, your link closed up in March:-(

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3326 days

#3 posted 07-08-2010 08:36 PM

Do they lacquer them or shellac them?

View swirt's profile


3411 posts in 3169 days

#4 posted 07-08-2010 09:28 PM

I think some people shellac them because it offers a bit of protection but can easily be reversed with some alcohol without damaging the original japanning. The solvents for lacquer might be damaging to the japan.

-- Galootish log blog,

View MNWOODWORKER's profile


105 posts in 3782 days

#5 posted 07-25-2010 05:22 PM

I will gladly post a few pics as soon as I get our PC working right. From the research I did I only found one place that really talked about shellac on steel planes and it was for protection against rust, this was a choosen method because there was no chance of it staining the wood like some oils used in the older days. I did mine a while ago and it has had a lot of use since then and the shellac still looks as good as the day I put it on. To be honest the main reason I did it was to make it look nicer, it works great and looks it as well-in my opinion!

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