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Best way to restore Millers Falls lever cap?

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Forum topic by ColonelTravis posted 317 days ago 864 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ColonelTravis

554 posts in 489 days


317 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: millers falls plane restore restoration hand plane

Just got sucked into the world of hand planes, never thought it would happen but it happened and there’s no turning back. I got a MF 9 in pretty good condition but I want to make it look spiffy again. I know some people don’t care about making planes spiffy again, but I do. This is the lever cap:

Were these chrome plated? Just curious. I’ve got wire wheels that can remove the rust and I could get back some of the luster if it is chrome but I don’t care about chrome shiny. But let’s say the wheels get into that red paint, which could very well happen. What would be the best way to repaint? I really like the red on MF planes. My thought is tape off around the logo, spray the red and then sand the letters?

The red paint I got, which is also for the frog, is Dupli-Color Engine Enamel – red. Not Ford red. Just red. I don’t know if there’s a better choice.


15 replies so far

View badcrayon's profile

badcrayon

33 posts in 416 days


#1 posted 317 days ago

Give it a wetsand with 1200 grit than Just brush the area red and let it dry. You don’t need to be carefull then buff the piece with a stiff muslin buffing wheel with some rouge.

-- Bad Crayon Studio

View Deycart's profile

Deycart

372 posts in 853 days


#2 posted 317 days ago

The SUPER easy way to do this would be to buy some automotive metal polish and rub the cap with aluminum foil. The stuff works like magic… And if you don’t like the results you haven’t damaged the cap at all. As far as the paint goes. You can go to HD and pick up a small pint of red enamel and use a small artist brush. Just wipe off the areas you didn’t want paint and you would be surprised how fast and easy this method is. I have restored well over 50 planes. And have tried all the methods. Your cap is very clean and just needs a quick rub down. You might have to clean it afterwards with a de-greaser to get the polish off and out of the letters.

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ColonelTravis

554 posts in 489 days


#3 posted 317 days ago

Yeah overall the plane is in good shape, can’t wait to start using it.

Thanks for the input.

View Don W's profile

Don W

14583 posts in 1163 days


#4 posted 317 days ago

Here is what I do. Hit the cap with a fine wire brush. If you’re careful around the letters you can usually do ok.

if I need to repaint between the letters, I mask around the outside and spray it. let it dry . scrape off as much paint as you easily can on the letters, then sand the rest with a fine paper on a block. Wet sanding will give a higher luster.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View A10GAC's profile

A10GAC

189 posts in 1673 days


#5 posted 317 days ago

If you’re in the automotive section and don’t feel like masking look for a touch-up pen that matches the red. Most of the newer automotive pens come with a roller ball pen style tip and an included brush. The pen part should be able to fill the space around the letters without making a mess.

Don’s advice is spot on for a spray application.

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

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ColonelTravis

554 posts in 489 days


#6 posted 317 days ago

Quick update, wasn’t getting far with sandpaper so I used a fine wire brush and the rust started to disappear fast. So did the chrome plating!

I think it’s chrome plating, I don’t know crap about metal – and you can see the result of that ignorance. At first it was just a little spot and I didn’t know what was going on, I thought it was a raised spot, which makes no sense, but I put it back on the wheel, took it off and looked at it and said – way to go moron.

Now I’m fine with it not being whatever-plated because you can buff up stainless to a certain shiny point. I cleaned up the sides of the sole with the wire wheel and they came out nice, gonna try to smooth them out a bit more with finer grain wet sandpaper.

So it now appears I need to take all of this stuff on the lever cap off? At the same time, I’m not pleased with myself because one of the things I like about MF is the chrome look.

Anyway, this is the first time I’ve tackled a hand plane refinishing. Also, this tool is for me to use, not to sell or stick on a curio shelf in the living room, so it is what it is. Guess I could buy another lever cap if I totally blow it.

Live and learn.

View WayneC's profile

WayneC

12246 posts in 2692 days


#7 posted 317 days ago

There are a couple on Ebay but they do not look too much better….

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR11.TRC1.A0.Xmillers+falls+lever+cap&_nkw=millers+falls+lever+cap&_sacat=0&_from=R40

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

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ColonelTravis

554 posts in 489 days


#8 posted 317 days ago

I’ve watched about 8 billion videos on YouTube about polishing stainless, I’ll salvage this thing.

View Ralph's profile

Ralph

5 posts in 680 days


#9 posted 317 days ago

The plating is nickel, much softer than chrome or stainless. I think Deycart has the right idea. There are a couple of very fine metal polishes the car restorers use, Simichrome is one. You can find it on Amazon, Woodcraft and possibly the big box stores. Use it with a very soft cloth.

I just picked up 2 #9s. Both are in the original boxes and one appears never to have been used.

View A10GAC's profile

A10GAC

189 posts in 1673 days


#10 posted 309 days ago

I cleaned & painted a Millers Falls Cap this weekend, the original red paint around the logo was completely gone. I grabbed one of my other MF planes with original paint and headed to the autoparts store to color match. It looks like Duplicolor’s GM Bright Red (Code 81, WA 8774) is a pretty fair match. I took a side by side pic for you guys to see. The shiny one is the rework, the other one is “as found”.

With camera flash:

Without flash:

The Duplicolor Scratch Fix All in 1 pen has a press to feed tip that was small enough to get into all the letters (including the “A” in Falls) without any mess. It actually worked better than I had hoped.

The best news is that this color is also available in their Perfect Match spray cans. This let me color match the frog to the letters, it was really, really close to the unrestored plane shade of red…but that’s a picture for another post.

Mother’s Mag & Aluminum polish is responsible for the shine. Good luck with your cap.

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

View Deycart's profile

Deycart

372 posts in 853 days


#11 posted 309 days ago

If the cap was from a T3 there might not be any paint or nickel on the cap. War production

View A10GAC's profile

A10GAC

189 posts in 1673 days


#12 posted 309 days ago

The lever cap I repainted is from a type 1, and was originally painted red. I should have been more clear; the dull one I posted is from a type 3 that was also originally painted, it has the recessed steel adjustment nut, and the so-so looking walnut toned hardwood. The type 3 was in great condition with only minimal fading of the paint so I used it to color match paint for the restoration of the type 1.

I’m not a fan of the furniture on the type 3, but, it’s in such good shape that it warranted a cleaning vs. full blow strip and restore. The type 1 was a basket case….full blown rust bucket with maybe 20% of the japanning left. I was actually surprised to see any of the nickel plating left when it came out of the Evapo-rust.

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

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1257 posts in 779 days


#13 posted 309 days ago

Earlier types of MF caps were nickel plated (minus the war years, as Deycart pointed out). Later ones were chrome. Chrome tends to look whitish/bluish, while nickel looks more greyish/yellowish. The chrome ones tend to flake off more than the nickel, in my experience.

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

View Deycart's profile

Deycart

372 posts in 853 days


#14 posted 309 days ago

Chrome was used on the 207 and early 900’s if i’m not mistaken I don’t think it was used on the premium line at any time.

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1257 posts in 779 days


#15 posted 309 days ago

Deycart: I’ve got premium MF planes with chrome lever caps. The oldtooheaven type study doesn’t indicate it, but they’re obviously chrome, not nickel.

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

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