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Restoring Plane Irons

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Forum topic by Bart Steed posted 06-05-2014 02:21 PM 933 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bart Steed

24 posts in 1104 days


06-05-2014 02:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: handplane restoration plane iron restoration buffing polishing refurbishing question

I’ve restored several old hand planes now and have all of the bodies, totes, knobs and caps looking awesome now. I have a fairly difficult time with the irons themselves though…

On the majority of these older planes, the original irons are thin, as you know. The ones I have, specifically are slightly distorted near the top (logo). Because of this, polishing on sandpaper steps is nearly impossible. It leaves dark spots where the valleys are…

What method do you use to bring out the original luster of the steel? I’m not referring to the cutting edge. Very familiar and proficient with scary-sharp. I’m referring more to the luster of the entire iron, prior to sharpening.

-- Bart Steed, Apprentice, Ohio USA


13 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

4788 posts in 1679 days


#1 posted 06-05-2014 02:25 PM

If the iron has rust, it gets an Evaporust bath &/or wire wheel on the grinder, nothing else. I don’t put a lot of effort into making the top of the iron look good. The cutting edge and where it mates with the chipbreaker are all that is important to me.

If you want it all bright and shiny, you might try either steel wool or the Scotch pads. Those would be flexible enough to get in all the low spots.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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Bart Steed

24 posts in 1104 days


#2 posted 06-05-2014 02:31 PM

I EvapoRust everything, already.

I’ve tried Steel Wool and Scotchbrights. No luck.

What wire wheel do you use? Are there any that you’d recommend? I really prefer to do everything without power tools but would be willing to leave my pride behind if it meant better looking planes overall.

-- Bart Steed, Apprentice, Ohio USA

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days


#3 posted 06-05-2014 06:05 PM

I agree with JayT. I use a course wire wheel and that’s as shiny as it gets. If you want shiny, you can use sandpaper, just use it loose in your hands and your fingers will follow the contours.

Edit:
Or use a loose buffing wheel.

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

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JayT

4788 posts in 1679 days


#4 posted 06-05-2014 06:17 PM

Like Don, I just have a basic coarse wire wheel on the grinder, one like you can find at any hardware store. I also have a fine wheel on another grinder for when I need to be more delicate or want a finer finish.

If you want to do it by hand, I suppose you could try one of the small wire brushes—they’re usually available with either brass or stainless steel bristles.

The only other thought I would have is that somewhere along the line, someone mentioned a moldable sanding substance (kind of like play-doh or silly putty with abrasives embedded) they were using and very happy with for cleaning up nooks and crannies on planes, but I don’t remember for sure who it was or where they found it.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days


#5 posted 06-05-2014 06:20 PM

http://www.pjtool.com/buffing-polishing-wheels.aspx?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=buffing%20wheels&utm_content=buffing+wheels&utm_campaign=polishing

I never bought these, just did a search and these were the first to pop up, but you get the idea.

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

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

14661 posts in 2151 days


#6 posted 06-05-2014 07:10 PM

About all I use to re-rust an iron is a wire cup brush in the drill press. As for the hammer damage at the top of the iron, I remove the big, hulting burr with a grinder, the hit it with the wire wheel/cup brush. I set the cup almost on the drill table, with barely enough room for the iron to slide through. Drill press is on top gear fast. Run the iron through slowly.

YMMV

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View ColonelTravis's profile

ColonelTravis

1196 posts in 1362 days


#7 posted 06-05-2014 07:25 PM

I’ve always used a brass wire wheel on the bench grinder because I’ve been afraid of scratching. The steel ones apparently don’t scratch, huh?

I’ve used the bench grinder cloth wheel for cap irons, not blades. It works.

View JayT's profile

JayT

4788 posts in 1679 days


#8 posted 06-05-2014 07:45 PM

I haven’t had any issues with it. I think the plane iron steel is quite a bit harder than the wire on the wheel.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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ColonelTravis

1196 posts in 1362 days


#9 posted 06-05-2014 07:49 PM

Well I need to stop being a pansy with the wire wheel and plane irons. Thanks.

View Don W's profile

Don W

17971 posts in 2035 days


#10 posted 06-05-2014 07:54 PM

I even use a fine wire wheel for brass, course wire wheel on metal.

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

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

14661 posts in 2151 days


#11 posted 06-05-2014 11:37 PM

I also buff out the iron parts, and the Brass ones with a wadding polish called Neverdull. Sold by a place called Eagle One. Stinks to high heaven, but a haze appears on the metal, just buff it out for a shine. Have to keep the lid ON the can, though..

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1429 days


#12 posted 06-05-2014 11:44 PM

I think Sandflex blocks are what you were thinking of JayT. They’re grit embedded in rubber so they work a bit like an eraser on a pencil. As far as I know they aren’t moldable like silly putty, but apparently you can carve them into a contour shape if you want. I’ve been looking for them locally, but Amazon has them:
http://www.amazon.com/Sandflex-Sanding-Block-3-Pack/dp/B000GACU1Q

Travis, they do scratch, but since they’re spinning pretty fast it’s a rather fine scratch pattern even for a relatively coarse wheel.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

7180 posts in 2045 days


#13 posted 06-05-2014 11:46 PM

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/27962

+1 for Tim and JayT

Get the coarse block, the medium and fine are okay but the
coarse block does the heavy lifting.

Finish with MAAS ;)

Here’s my combo square blade before/after, remarkable results.

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