Blueing a Hand Plane

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Forum topic by nathanjackman posted 04-25-2011 05:30 PM 2865 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View nathanjackman's profile


23 posts in 2282 days

04-25-2011 05:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: handplane refinish

I’ve restored a few planes in the past somewhat halfhazardly but currently working on a #6 that I want to be a nice piece.

I’ve stripped down the plane and still lapping bottom/sides.

Big question – do I just try and polish of the lapped surfaces to the point where they’re mirror to avoid rust? I’ve also seen option online for “bluing” tools in order to avoid rust.

Any opinions?

13 replies so far

View Loren's profile


8163 posts in 3069 days

#1 posted 04-25-2011 05:32 PM

I just wax them. Seems to hold the oxidation back pretty well.

Seems to me bluing would undermine the collectible value of the
plane… as does lapping the antique patina off the sides for that

View nathanjackman's profile


23 posts in 2282 days

#2 posted 04-25-2011 06:01 PM

I have some wax sticks – rubbing them on seems to provide spotty coverage at best. Do you put the wax on and then melt it somehow?

View Loren's profile


8163 posts in 3069 days

#3 posted 04-25-2011 06:18 PM

I use paste wax. Comes in a can. It is very useful stuff for
woodworking. You smooth on a thin coat, let it dry for a couple
of minutes and then buff it with a soft cloth. Works great on
machine tops too, and as a topcoat for just about any furniture.

Hard wax is no good. You can make your own paste wax by melting
beeswax (and other kinds) in a double boiler and adding oils
and solvents to make it a gel consistency. I’ve done that a few

Paste wax is used in bowling alleys for the floors. It’s about $8 for
a 1-lb can and it will last you a long, long time.

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3519 days

#4 posted 04-25-2011 06:24 PM

I use paste wax as well…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

262 posts in 2018 days

#5 posted 04-26-2011 07:51 AM

Nathan, the usual gun bluing fluids like G96 etc don’t work nicely on cast iron. I wouldn’t think any blueing fluid will give good results because cast iron is porous and not smooth.
You are much better off with the finish left by say 220 to 320 grit silicon carbide paper for these planes (cast iron ones). There is nothing further to be gained by sanding cast iron as found in Stanley type planes to any finer grits other than (possibly) a “nice” appearance-which doesn’t last long if you use the plane .
The best way to avoid rust is to actually use the plane (;) and every now and again the occasional rev with industrial Scotch Brite of the Norton or 3M type will keep them looking good. Steel wool is also good on cast iron and imparts a nice burnished look after a while-takes away that virginal appearance (;). And the choice of rust busting oils and other tinctures is vast, but again in use if you use white parrafin wax (aka candle wax) on the sole this keeps it good. If the tool is to be stored or only used occasionally I like a lanolin oil such CRC Lanotec- non toxic and good for human skin. Or G96 if you want everything to smell nice (;)
Back to blueing: this is a nice touch on steel, but it again only gives good results if the surface is well sanded-at least 400 grit silicon carbide. I use it on some parts of my planes. I also like to put some colour onto polished steel by warming the parts until they turn blue-ish.
You can use one of those stove plate or chimney/fire box polishing pastes-they do impart some colouring . Use in conjunction with 0000 steel wool, or a fine brass wire wheel on your bench grinder.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2302 days

#6 posted 04-26-2011 09:17 PM

Sanding the sides to a mirror finish will not prevent the rust. I have restored a lot of my planes to a mirror like finish and I have had rust show up as quick as a few days after I was finished. I also use past wax for my planes but if you are going to be using the planes you will have to wax them every so often.

If you are using the plane your hands and fingers are going to cause the most damage as your hands will transfer different oils and dirt onto the metal parts of the plane. If those oils and dirt sit there long enough then the rust will start to form. This is why you will want to keep up on cleaning and waxing the metal.

You could also spray the whole metal body with a few coats of lacquer after its been polished. That would probably help seal it.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View dbray45's profile


3147 posts in 2198 days

#7 posted 04-26-2011 09:21 PM

I use a cleaner car wax.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Dave's profile


11394 posts in 2261 days

#8 posted 04-28-2011 01:17 AM

After each use I try to lightly rub them down with my honing oil or other light oil. I dont like to use wax on my smoothing plane because I go from it to finish. I am afraid the wax will cause problems with stain or dyeing. I will wax my coarse and medium planes for friction and rust prevention. HAs anyone tried bow shield and has it given problems with finish?

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

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 2488 days

#9 posted 04-28-2011 03:12 AM

I use Johnsons paste wax, works awesome and hasnt affected any finishes yet.

-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View gfadvm's profile


14929 posts in 2111 days

#10 posted 04-28-2011 04:11 AM

Chemical blueing will not prevent rust. Neither will browning [Parkerizing]. Heat blueing will change the temper of the steel so I would avoid all of these.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

262 posts in 2018 days

#11 posted 04-28-2011 06:46 AM

Gfadvm says “heat blueing will change the temper of the steel”.......
I referred to that process as applied to the mild steel and unhardened tool steel parts of planes I make. There are no such parts on Stanley type cast iron bodied planes worth treating anyway.
Heat blueing will not affect the temper of mild steel and have little effect if any on a common unhardened tool steel such as O1.

View dbray45's profile


3147 posts in 2198 days

#12 posted 04-28-2011 01:58 PM

If you use wax on the sole of a plane, wipe the wood off with mineral spirits before applying the finish. Mineral spirits dissolves the wax.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View wb8nbs's profile


162 posts in 2114 days

#13 posted 04-29-2011 04:01 AM

I’m a big fan of paste wax. My shop is in an unheated garage and I wax everything iron in the spring and again in the fall. These are the worst times of the year for condensation – when the outside air is warmer than the garage contents that cooled off overnight. I use Butchers Bowling Alley wax. Bought a can 5-6 years ago and just coming to the bottom of it now. Put it on thin and rub it off a minute later. Don’t use a lot or it will clump and transfer to the wood which will screw up your finish.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

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