Looking for some help on polishing/cleaning hand tool parts

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Forum topic by FaTToaD posted 09-03-2013 02:29 PM 2412 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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394 posts in 3164 days

09-03-2013 02:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane stanley metal polish buff buffing wire wheel question hf restore

As I mentioned in a recent post, I have some Stanley hand planes (4C, 8C, block plane) I’m going to refurbish. Notice I didn’t say restoreā€¦ I plan on cleaning these up as user planes.

I’ve got the rust removal done using Evapo Rust but a lot of times it leaves the metal parts with a dull gray color.

What would be the best way to shine these up again?

I’ve seen mention of everything from wire wheels, to buffing wheels, to some expensive 3M deburring wheels. I’m got a few buffing wheels as part of a HF kit (comes with black, red, and white compound). I haven’t tried it out, but would it work? I also could pick up a wire wheel at Lowes or HD for pretty cheap. For brass I’ve used some brasso and some eblow grease the past with pretty good luck. However, I’m not sure how to approach the other parts such as the screws, frog, chip breaker, etc. I’m not trying to make them look brand new, just cleaned up enough that they don’t have the dull gray appearance.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

-- David

13 replies so far

View SRRieman's profile


65 posts in 2209 days

#1 posted 09-05-2013 03:39 AM


I’ve done quite a few of these so far pretty recently. Once I find one, I’m already finding another plane so I try to get them done pretty fast because I’ve been lapping just about all of em, and that takes enough time already.

I’ve had the best results with a wire wheel (fine) in the drill press. This is just to remove all the rust. Evaporust is too expensive and Electolallllalalasis or however you spell it takes too long and is too much to spend on stuff you can’t use all that much for woodworking. After the wire wheel, I go straight to a cotton wheel, cotton cone, or cotton buff. I personally like the cone best for most objects. I use automotive metal polishing compound and just about ANY should do the trick. Normally I stick to mother’s mag and aluminum polish, but I’ve had the best results using stuff specifically for motorcycles (high shine). I do the same with everything, from the brass screws to the plane bodies to the cap irons and chipbreakers. They all get the same treatment.

Now, as far as the frog and the frog seat, or anything that you’ll need a different approach. The previously mentioned above is just to stop the corrosion process, refresh, and make things look new again. So it doesn’t apply really to how the plane operates (other than cleaning up the screw threads). There’s a bunch of videos and info you can google on hand plane tune ups and you’ll get it down pretty fast after a couple. But it a nutshell, you basically lap every contact surface of the plane iron as much as possible. That means the frog seat, the bottom of the frog, the top of the frog, I back of the iron, the top of iron, and the leading edge of the chipbreaker. You can even do the cap iron as some see this as helping with chip removal. Rob cosman’s video hand plane revival is a really good source for any of this. LJ member Don W has a website (time tested tools) that has a bunch of info too.

-- Scott Rieman

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65 posts in 2209 days

#2 posted 09-05-2013 03:43 AM

Forgot to mention too, your other thread showing the couple of planes you picked up, you’re onto the right track. The older planes are easier to tune. Maybe more rusty, but they’ll work better as users. They have larger contract surface areas and you’ll get better results than the later plane types. So try and stick with those ones, I usually only buy stuff pre WW2 now. Check out rex mill’s plane type study for more info on that.

-- Scott Rieman

View VaOak's profile


6 posts in 2321 days

#3 posted 09-05-2013 06:42 AM

I have a WorkSharp 3000 sharpening device. One of the disks you can get for it is a round pad made from what appears to be a medium coarse 3M ScotchBrite material. I just used it to do exactly what you are trying to do. Worked Great! If you do not have (or have access to) a WorkSharp, perhaps you can acquire a piece of the 3M stuff (try different colors – I believe the light colors are softer/less coarse than the darker colors). Get a piece the diameter of your muslim (cotton cloth) polishing wheel and “co-mount” them on the arbor – the muslim wheel will provide a backing for the 3M pad. Them work your rusty pieces into/onto the 3M pad side to clean the rust & crud off.
Another product to try: The Dico Products Corp of Utica, NY make a product line called Nyalox. They are substitutes for the traditional wire wheel. I get mine at our local Ace “is the Place” Hardware store – between $5 & $10 each.
They come in 3 colors – grits: Gray – Extra coarse / Orange – Coarse / and Blue – Medium/Fine
They come as Wheel Brushes – 3 & 4 inch; Cup Brush – 2.5 inch; End Brush – 3/4 inch; and Flap Wheel – 4 inch.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3983 days

#4 posted 09-05-2013 01:23 PM

Uh, that’s MUSLIN, but good suggestions.


View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#5 posted 09-05-2013 01:52 PM

A wire wheel works great for rust removal. But if you are using Evapo Rust, and just want to get rid of that ugly dull gray color (which I hate, by the way), sandpaper or a sanding sponge will work just fine.

I use a lot of sandpaper in plane restoration. Just like with wood, you can choose what your final finish looks like by deciding how fine a grit you want to work down to.

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

View FaTToaD's profile


394 posts in 3164 days

#6 posted 09-05-2013 04:03 PM

Thanks for the responses! I tried a little sandpaper the other night and it seemed to work pretty good as Charlie mentioned. I think I started too hight (~1000) so I’ll go back and start with a lower grit. I’ve got a Dunlap with plastic handles that I’m using as a “test” plane before I do too much on my Stanley’s.

VaOak, I actually just got a worksharp last week. I’ll look for the those 3M pads your talking about, those could be useful for all sorts of stuff.

Scott, I do have some of that Mothers Mag & Alum polish, I’ll give it shot this weekend.

Thanks again!

-- David

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3101 days

#7 posted 09-06-2013 12:18 AM

I’ve been using Evapo-rust for years…a green scotch-brite takes the black oxide right off and then depending on the roughness of the casting I’ll start with 220 grit sand paper and work my way up to the level of shine I’m interested in. I usually stop around 600-800 and then wax it…any higher and the steel really starts to polish up nice.

That sounds like a good thing until you look at it from across the shop and realize there’s a finger print on your nice shiny tool. Now you have to stop what you’re doing, walk across the shop, wipe the finger prints off the tool, gently place it back in the rack…oh nuts…there’s another finger print….wipe the finger prints off the tool, gently place it back in the rack…oh nuts…hmmm..never mind…maybe it’s just me.

+1 on the Mothers Mag & Alum, it’s good stuff.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2590 days

#8 posted 09-06-2013 12:29 AM

I use a wire wheel. I’ve got course and a fine set up permanently.

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

View Benvolio's profile


148 posts in 1954 days

#9 posted 09-06-2013 01:00 AM

If you’ve got some autosol or other automotive metal polish that can be a quick way to shiney metal once rust removal is done.

-- Ben, England.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


609 posts in 1960 days

#10 posted 10-09-2016 05:33 AM

I know deburring wheels.discovered them a few years ago.

Video is here…

Ya I know to purchase new is expensive, but typically the folks who buy used grinding wheels are few and far between, and them what might want to buy a used grinding wheel will undoubtedly check it for “ring” (don’t ring’ magbe have cracks. Not so with debuffing wheels. So at garage sales, if the used grinding wheels don;t rin, check for the rubbery feel. Chances are it is a deburring wheel. (still, stand back when you first spiin it up!).

I have several obtained this way. some of them have 3” holes in the centre. so yer left asking what do do, just buy a 3” drum sander and use the arbour.I have most of mine set up for use in drill press…so much more convenient that dedicated grinders. and obviously so much better than the drill i used fir the video…..

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View TheFridge's profile


9606 posts in 1509 days

#11 posted 10-09-2016 05:43 AM

I’d Fine wire wheel (I have one from LV) all parts before after and during evopprust till satisfied. I use about a 1” cup wire wheel in the drill press to get hard to reach places and that’s about it for me.

I’ll put the brass nuts on the and put it in a cordless drill and use scraps of sandpaper up to 2000 and polish with a small piece of leather charged with green compound.

The brass is the only thing I polish.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View BurlyBob's profile


5549 posts in 2288 days

#12 posted 10-09-2016 02:02 PM

I’m working on several planes at this time. I’ve really appreciated how that Evaporust works. It’s amazing. I use a brash wire wheel on my grinder and does a real nice job on things. I’ll often have to use an old pair of pliers to hold things, cussing helps when things slip and fly across the shop. I’ve been using SemiChrome paste to polish the brass screw and adjuster. I’ve got several of those fleet polisher bit for my dremel. You can get a virtual mirror finish.

View oldnovice's profile


6896 posts in 3391 days

#13 posted 10-09-2016 05:02 PM

Scotchbrite is used in a lot of machine shops for cleaning machined parts and tools.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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