Question for plane restorers

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 10-25-2012 10:37 PM 1333 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1100 posts in 2283 days

10-25-2012 10:37 PM

I bought a couple of planes as I only had a #7 Anant and a pretty nasty Sears block plane. So I bought a Millers Falls #14 and a Stanley #3.

The Millers Falls arrived today. My question is: If you are going to USE a plane. Not sell it, not display it, but just wnt it to be a nice user…. how crazy do you get with the cleaning?
Mine came in like this:

and after about 90 minutes it looks like this:

The japaning appears to be nearly perfect. None of the screws was seized. I took it completely apart and basicaly just scrubbed it with a salt/lemon juice mixture using crumpled aluminum foil as the scrubber. I did run the bottom and sides on some 320 and the 600 on flat granite. The bottom is really flat and didn’t seem to need much help. The chip breaker is very smooth at the “business end”. The iron is very discolored at the top where it was exposed, but very clean where it was covered by the chip breaker.
I took it completely apart, cleaned everything didn’t spend a lot of time on it, but right now I look at it and say I could work on sharpening the iron and USE it. :)

In truth I’ll probably take it apart again and clean it up. I thought I had a wire wheel I could chuck in the drill press but I can’t find it. I might try some electrolysis on it. But it appears to be real close to useful and I was wondering how far you go when you’re just going to use it.

17 replies so far

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3356 days

#1 posted 10-25-2012 10:42 PM

The only other things I would do would be to (a)take some valve gringing compund and put JUST A LITTLE where the frog seats to make sure its sitting properly. Use a Q-tip and put a dab on those areas, set the frog in place and slide it back and forth a couple times. If the marks are consistent, you’re good. Be careful, its real easy to go too far with this. The second thing would be to check and make sure the chip breaker is flush on the blade. You can check that by tightening it down and then checking to see if you can see light where they meet. Other than that, flatten/polish the back of the iron, sharpen the iron and start making shavings. I have a MF 14 that I just love.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2284 days

#2 posted 10-25-2012 10:44 PM

I’ve got about 25 planes that I use from time to time. I did take each one apart and clean the major surfaces and sharpened, but I didn’t do any detail work or repainting. I might do some mix and match for handles if it has a crack or is gnarly.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2949 days

#3 posted 10-25-2012 11:02 PM

Yeah, for a user, I just make sure everything works they way it is supposed to. I clean all the grime and crud off, but don’t spend much time making it “pretty”

Sounds like you did what you need to do, so have fun making some shavings!

-- Mike

View shampeon's profile


1775 posts in 2180 days

#4 posted 10-25-2012 11:08 PM

I lurv Millers Falls planes. Sometime I’ll have to post my family portraits. Looks like you’ve got a WWII-era plane, based on the beech knob/handle with the red frog.

Anyway, I agree with all the other posters here. Double-check the chipbreaker-blade connection is solid and the blade is sharp, and get to planing. These things were meant for work, as much as I love making ‘em look pretty.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View hutchinsonkw's profile


5 posts in 2130 days

#5 posted 10-26-2012 05:33 AM

I usually only clean up my planes as much as you did. Although I have just been using wd-40, a brass hand brush, and a rag. In addition to sand paper. I also add some wax to the metal surfaces to help it slide on wood and prevent any surface rust. My shop is in my basement so that is an occasional issue for me.

-- -Kevin

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3800 days

#6 posted 10-26-2012 11:44 AM

I tend not to try for a ‘factory finish’ unless the restoration requires some major work that will end up leaving that part of the plane looking brand new.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2283 days

#7 posted 10-26-2012 11:51 AM

Checked the chip breaker. It’s tight to the blade and no gaps that I can find. Started working on the iron last night. The angle LOOKED flat but when I actually started sharpening it I found it touching in the middle of the “flat” and not touching heel or edge. So I have a ways to go on the sharpening. Can’t find my coarse plates. I’m STARTING at 800 which is kinda slow (and maybe kinda dumb), but it will be ok. Progress is good at least. I work on it for 10 or 15 minutes and then go do something else heheheh. Not like I’m in a hurry. And I’d like to go out today and get a wire wheel I can chuck in the drill press and maybe set up an electrolysis tank just to give that a try. Or maybe I’ll actually get some work done on the 10 cabinet doors I have to build for the kitchen. I think THAT’s what the wife would prefer I be doin’.

The Stanley #3 should be here today. Makes me wonder if I’ll be able to keep focused on the doors hehehe

View knotscott's profile


8012 posts in 3373 days

#8 posted 10-26-2012 12:01 PM

It’s yours, do as much to it as you like….I happen to think you’ve got that one looking great as it sits.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View chrisstef's profile


17382 posts in 3003 days

#9 posted 10-26-2012 12:18 PM

For an iron thats way out of whack i start on a used 80 grit belt cut open. I proceed until i get even scratch marks across both the back and the bevel. From there i move to the worksharp. If i get an iron thats in pretty good shape i start with 220 grit. 800 grit is going to take a while to remove any substantial amount of metal.

Im starting to get pretty interested in the MF planes , looks like you have a nice example there. Good luck and make some shavings.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2283 days

#10 posted 10-26-2012 04:18 PM

OK, I found some of my other plates. Started over at 180, then 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1600.
It went MUCH faster than sitting there on 800 trying to get the bevel right. I can almost hear this old girl thankin’ me. All she wants to do is make curls…

And this one arrived while I was out back in the shop. Stanley #3

It’s really clean, but the chip breaker isn’t touching the iron at one corner like it has a little twist in it and the iron needs sharpening, but it’s got a good bevel on it at least. And it’s sharp enough to make shavings, but I’m going to try to straighten out the chip breaker and give that iron a good sharpening. BOTH of these feel really good in the hand and the MF 14 is almost effortless to use. Looking forward to getting these in nice shape. I think they’ll be good users.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7757 posts in 2911 days

#11 posted 10-26-2012 04:29 PM

I used electrolysis on mine. Since the base is so good, don’t bother, however the blade, chip breaker, & cap would have gone much easier on you. Maybe you just liked all that sanding, I don’t. I’m sure you already know this, but electrolysis preserves all the existing metal. You just sanded off significant amounts. IMO, electrolysis minimizes how much you will need to sand.

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

View Mosquito's profile


9304 posts in 2289 days

#12 posted 10-26-2012 04:53 PM

I use lemon juice and baking soda and let the rusty parts take a bath in that for a little while (around an hour or two if it’s bad) I’ve only ever stripped the japanning and repainted one plane out of around 23-24, and that’s because it had probably less than 10% japanning left when I got it. Otherwise I just clean it up, get rid of the rust, and then oil it down to prevent new rust, tune it and use it. What you have there looks great. Nice work on it :-)

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View hhhopks's profile


651 posts in 2374 days

#13 posted 10-26-2012 05:26 PM

If you want to the lever cap to look closer toward orgial, here’s how I do it.

I prefer hand paint rather then spraying. You can use tape to mask off the surrounding area, but I don’t think that is necessary. Hand paint the sunken area of the sunken area is easier. Just avoid painting upper sureface.
If you get it there, no big deal. Two to three coats. let the paint dry for couple of days. You can either gentley scrape it off with a exactor knife or gentley sand it off with a block backing. Since the sunken area is where you want the paint. You should be good to go.

Red for Millers Falls.
Pumkin Orange, Yellow and I have seen Red for Stanley.

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

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

18711 posts in 2565 days

#14 posted 10-26-2012 06:20 PM

nice job Charlie. I love the looks of that MFs

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

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2283 days

#15 posted 10-26-2012 06:28 PM

The Stanley really didn’t need much by way of cleaning. I still took it all apart and cleaned, oiled, inspected stuff, but overall it had been cleaned up pretty nicely. The chip breaker needed some work and I could probably do more on it, but I spent some time on the iron and got it sharpened and wow, does this thing make nice fluffy stuff. I have to put a bit of camber on the iron. Whoever cleaned it looks like they used some kind of rotary sharpening thing as the bevel had some scratches that were definitely segments of a circle. The bevel was nice and flat, but…. no camber at all. I’ll get it cambered a little at a time as I sharpen it.

All in all, this is kind of fun! Nice to see the old planes making shavings again. I do have a dumb question…
How tight do you make the lever cap? I had it too tight I think. The blade could still be adjusted for depth, but I couldn’t adjust lateral. I had to loosen it just a tad to get the lateral adjuster working.

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