refurbing the tote and front knob

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Forum topic by SawDustJack posted 02-19-2011 11:10 PM 1070 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 2895 days

02-19-2011 11:10 PM

what are you guys using to clean these on old planes ??

3 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3232 days

#1 posted 02-19-2011 11:35 PM

I do soapy water and a green scrubby on the plane body. Wood gets plain furniture wood cleaner like Murphy’s.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4452 days

#2 posted 02-20-2011 01:11 AM

On the ones I just did, I soaked all the small parts and screws in Simple Green, and used Dimple Green with a toothbrush for the main body. On the totes and knobs I wanted to get all the dings out, so I sanded them down all the way. Otherwise, I would have used Murphy’s like David suggested.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3074 days

#3 posted 02-20-2011 05:55 AM

How old of a plane. Metal body or wood? Are you going to make a user out of it or try and retain the collector value?
Check out Dennis's blog
Or take a look at mine
Here is some text from Vince Miller
Dept. of Theology
Georgetown University
Restoration Concerns

Much of what I’m about to say may sound extreme. To some extent it is.
However, until one knows enough about old tools to distinguish the dross
from the fine stuff, it’s best to err on the conservative side.

Even though most old tools are not extremely valuable from a financial
standpoint, they are part of a finite and dwindling pool of antique
artifacts. As such they should be treated with care and respect. Even
something as innocuous as the grunge coating a tool (called patina by
devotees) can reveal forgotten facts about the trades (e.g., what one did
with the second hand when using a ripsaw). These tools have often provided
incomes for 2 or more generations of artisans and their families, perhaps
before your grandparents were even born. Meditate on this a while before
breaking out the Comet.

The patina itself gives a lot of the value to the tool. This is especially
the case with wooden tools. Avoid stripping at all costs. Simple cleaning
is usually ok. Mineral spirits, rags and toothbrushes will accomplish a
lot. If you’re certain a tool is nothing special, mild abrasives such as
automobile rubbing compound can be used. Avoid wire brushes, especially
wire wheels! They remove material quickly, obscure detail, and leave a
matte finish that initiates can spot a mile away. I have a very nice
Mathieson infill smoother whose mouth was damaged by an idiot with a wire
wheel. It is functional and a wonderful plane, but it will never be what it
was and they don’t make em’ anymore.

Mild rust can be rubbed off with a cloth and mineral spirits. If it is
heavy, abrasives can be used. Chemical methods tend to leave an
unattractive surface so avoid Naval Jelly and Coke™ (same active
ingredient!). I have tried soaking a saw in vinegar; this dissolved the
rust, but also pitted the steel (I know because it etched the weave of the
wicking cloth I was using into the blade). Electrolysis is used in serious
conservation circles to remove corrosion. A discussion on this is archived
at the Electronic Neanderthal.

It’s best to try to maintain the original finish on the wooden portions of
old tools. This of course can have its fanatical extremes, but it’s worth
striving for. In general they were either left unfinished (most wooden
planes) or shellacked. French polishing is the best way to renew the
latter. The simplest and least destructive of refinishing methods is to
apply a decent coat of paste wax. The gravest sin is polyurethane. It can
make the rarest of planes pariahs. The ultimate rule is avoid irreversible
changes. Sometimes the surface of wooden tools has dried out leaving a
driftwood-grey appearance. In such cases, a little tung oil (the real
thing, not the many pre-mixed melanges) can renew the surface. Although
linseed is more historically proper, it will significantly darken beech.

Functional modifications should be avoided unless you really know what you
are doing. All of this may seem extreme, but until you familiarize yourself
with what is valuable and what is junk, there is a chance you will be
ruining a wonderful tool. Anyone who has searched for old tools for very
long has many stories of wonderful tools “fixed” by people who simply didn’t
know how to use them properly. I recently saw a wonderful 2” wide complex
moulding plane with its mouth whacked open. I guess the original tight mouth
did not allow the 1” thick shavings the user was producing to clear the
throat. ;-(

That said, there are times when an otherwise useless old junker can be
transformed into a useful working tool by means of radical surgery—such as
turning a handyman class smoother into a scrub, or an old wooden rabbet into
a sliding dovetail plane.

Most accounts of tuning old planes usually emphasize the importance of
flattening the sole. This is a somewhat controversial issue in old tooldom.
While a seriously non-planar sole is a problem, most are quite functional.
Wooden planes (with which so much of the greatest furniture was made) are
never terribly flat. I think it’s a genre issue. If you are writing an
article or book on restoring and tuning tools, you will want to include
everything. Article after article notes sole lapping and it becomes dogma.
But not all planes need this treatment. Nevertheless there are times when a
sole is so out of whack that it has to be flattened, and there’s no harm in
that. Note, however, that lapping the sole can enlarge the mouth harming
its performance. It will also lesson the plane’s appeal to collectors…so
don’t go lappin any #164’s.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

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