Reliable way to remove all japanning?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 02-05-2012 05:28 AM 12639 views 2 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2706 days

02-05-2012 05:28 AM

What is a reliable way to remove all japanning from a plane?

I have a #6 that has only about #20 japanning remaining. I’ve used a citric acid bath to remove rust and paint stripper to remove some of the japaning, but there’s still about 10% left, mostly in hard-to-reach areas.

Can anyone recommend a solvent that will remove all the japanning without requiring a lot of scraping and sanding in nooks and crannies? I know sandblasting would work, but I don’t want to invest in the equipment.

(BTW, I’m planning to repaint or re-japan, which is why I’d like to remove all the old stuff first.)

-- More tools, fewer machines.

13 replies so far

View hhhopks's profile


651 posts in 2401 days

#1 posted 02-06-2012 09:04 PM

Isn’t the whole purpose of japaning is to restand all the harsh chemicals?

I would suggest using a wire brush or a dremel. You may try various type (disk, brush….etc). You should able to pick up some kind of rotatary tool pretty cheap (HF).

Sand blast will do it too but may remove too much and leave the tool pitted. I used to do that at work but have lost access since I changed job.

Personnally, I don’t like using chemical. Not a very enviornment friendly option. That is just my preference.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View BigYin's profile


418 posts in 2440 days

#2 posted 02-06-2012 09:08 PM

dont sandblast, find someone locally who will blast with “Crushed walnut shell” or Crushed corn cob”
wont hurt the metal at all.

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3766 days

#3 posted 02-06-2012 09:14 PM

Ditto on blasting -
Because it is a convenient small part – TONS of companies out there have a blasting cabinet and could even powder coat for you, which would be even nicer than typical japanning or use of Krylon to finish.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2938 days

#4 posted 02-06-2012 09:21 PM

Electrolysis works great at removing all japanning WITHOUT doing any harm to the underlying metal. All it takes is a 2-10amp car battery charger, some copper wire, a couple of scrap pieces of steel plate (or the like), a 5gal bucket of large shallow plastic tub, and some some Washing Soda (local grocery store item—cheap).

Here is one I did with electrolysis:

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Zulu55's profile


72 posts in 2340 days

#5 posted 02-06-2012 09:27 PM

Wow, great link HorizontalMike! Thanks for sharing!

-- Adam - Langley, British Columbia (Canada)

View bigkev's profile


198 posts in 2652 days

#6 posted 02-06-2012 09:37 PM

I’ve done several planes and found that blasting with the walnut shells works best if you have access to it. Takes 5 minutes, no damage and super clean.

-- Kevin, South Carolina

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2975 days

#7 posted 02-06-2012 10:54 PM

I use electrolysis on planes that I restore and only a couple of them had all of the jappaning removed from the process. There was some left informers are such and I used a dental pick to get it out. Painted over them all with regular old spray paint. If you use this process, I suggest you use baking soda with the water. Arm and Hammer is what I use.

-- Mike

View Bill1225's profile


125 posts in 2423 days

#8 posted 02-06-2012 11:09 PM

I have had luck asking my local mechanic to blast things he uses a synthic walnut shell like product and also has a ultra sonic cleaner which cleans beyond belief just be careful to get some oil on it asap to stop flash rust. normally he has one of the shop kids do it and takes about 10 min and i tip the kid 5-10 bucks

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2938 days

#9 posted 02-07-2012 02:39 AM

What I found works best is kicking the charger up to 10amps overnight to get any tough japanning off (I left everything OUTSIDE for good ventilation). At the 2amp setting, not much progress was noted.

Black automotive semi-gloss is the best to use for replacing the japanning if you are not going with the original asphalt japanning. Three to four coats about 5min apart, just long enough that you do not run. You want a very thick final coating, enough that you have a hard time reading any stamps (Sargent, Stanley, Record, etc.) while the paint is wet. The paint will shrink as it dries over the next 7 days and you will end up with a very nice coating.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#10 posted 02-07-2012 02:44 AM

some info here.

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

View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2706 days

#11 posted 02-08-2012 03:38 AM

I don’t have much experience removing paint from metal objects and then repainting them. If I remove all the japanning I can from my plane and the remaining japanning feels smooth and won’t come off even with sandpaper, is it safe to paint over? If I use paint, should I use a base coat first? If I do true jappaning, can I put the new coat(s) right over the old stuff? I don’t mind coating over the old bits of japanning, as long as the new coat (paint or japanning) will adhere to it as well as to the bare metal.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View ShaneA's profile


6955 posts in 2622 days

#12 posted 02-08-2012 03:46 AM

I have had good results using the “hammered” paints, if your surface isnt super smooth, this type paint can help cure that. If the loose stuff is scraped off, cleaned, and smoothed out best you can, should be able to paint at that point.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2591 days

#13 posted 02-08-2012 03:59 AM

I have painted over some left over paint. If you are sure its solid and have sanded over it. I have used the hammer paint and it worked well, but I still like the Dupli-Color Engine Enamel DUPDE1635 Ford Semi Gloss Black spray paint better. You can coat every 10-15 minutes, so you can build it up fast. This is important if your going over existing because you’ll want to add a few more coats so it evens out.

Just one note if you use it, if you let it sit for more than an hour between coats, you will need to wait 7 days before recoating. So don’t forget what your doing in the middle. It will bubble, and its a bitch to get off (which if you think about it, is a good thing).

I’ve never used real japanning. Its quit a process for very little gain.

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

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