Reconditioning hand planes

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Forum topic by Malekin posted 08-25-2009 12:27 PM 6258 views 3 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Malekin's profile


19 posts in 2625 days

08-25-2009 12:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane

I have some hand planes that I got out of a friends basement and a few from a yard sale and they are coated in a thin layer of rust and bird poop. what I would like to know is if anyone out there has reconditioned or knows how to recondition and tune up these puppies . Some are simple block planes but 2 are much larger and complex. I’m still scratching my head as to the best method of derustifying and tuning them.

-- "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein

27 replies so far

View Waldschrat's profile


505 posts in 2859 days

#1 posted 08-25-2009 01:02 PM

I have heard with iron planes, that you can use a sacrifical piece of metal and a set of electrodes (battery charger, not sure though on that) and a bucket with I believe a salt solution and de rust it that way… I have read about in a book, but never tried it my self. unfortunately I have that book packed away, or I could look it up for you. I know it works that though, very well for things like that. Maybe someone else here could say for sure how you do this.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

View roadrunner0925's profile


43 posts in 3045 days

#2 posted 08-25-2009 01:03 PM

i have seen a where someone took naval jelly, put it in a plastic bag, and then put the old plane in the bag. he claimed to have gotten great results. i have used naval jelly and it works well.

-- wm, brandon,ms

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2861 days

#3 posted 08-25-2009 01:45 PM

Done this, been there, searched online, asked on LJ’s and there are a few threads here relating to this. Lots of methods work but save yourself some time and effort and go online or to Autozone (a car store parts chain) and get some Evaporust. No discussion necessary, place your plane parts in it and in a few hrs they will be as rust free as you will ever get them. Rinse them off under the faucet after. Always works. Non toxic and reusable up to a point. Amazing, amazing stuff.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3246 days

#4 posted 08-25-2009 01:49 PM

One note I would add to Nicholas’ comment is that while salt would work it will give off chlorine gas which is highly toxic and corrosive. Use baking soda instead of table salt. The only problem I have with the electrolysis method is that, while it removes the rust, it leaves a black deposit on the surface of the iron.

Another method that works pretty well is Evaporust. It can be bought at any automotive store or in gallon quantities from for $21.00 per gallon plus shipping. It works pretty well at rust removal and there have been reviews posted here.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 2726 days

#5 posted 08-25-2009 01:50 PM

Wow, I had never heard about Evaporust! It looks like a great product. I’ll keep that one in mind for future use. Thanks guys.

Here is a LJ blog on handplane restoration:

View MedicKen's profile


1610 posts in 2886 days

#6 posted 08-25-2009 02:40 PM

The best method I have found for rust removal is by using electrolysis. You will need a plastic container large enough for the piece being cleaned to be suspended and submerged, a 12V battery charger, and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda(calcium carbonate). The soda is a little difficult to find sometimes. You will also need a metal rod or 2 to be a sacrificial anode.

Suspend the part in the bucket, use wire, bare copper I have found works well. Mix the washing soda to about 1 tablespoon/gallon of water. Place the sacrificial anode in the solution as well but NOT touching the part to be cleaned and clamp it to the sides of the bucket. It is better to have multiple anodes as the process only works by “line of sight”. Attach the battery charger. Very important here, if you get this wrong it wont work and you will add rust to the part being cleaned. The POS cable gets connected to the anode and NEG to the part being cleaned. Plug in the charger and go have a beer, wait a few hours, its a slow process. It will usually take 12-24 hrs to complete depending on how much rust there is to remove. Once you start the process within a few minutes you will see small bubbles appear in the solution. The chemical reaction has begun.

When all of the rust has been removed the reaction will stop by its self. Its kinda cool. There may be a black film on the parts which is normal. A good stiff wire brush works well at removing it. Just a side note, DO NOT use stainless steel as the anode material, it will create a toxic solution in the chemical reaction. Rebar works well, is cheap and readily available.

Evaporust, which has been mentioned here, works well but is expensive. I have used it and the parts come out clean but are etched. The parts are even sticky and just dont look right. The elevtrolysis leaves the “patina” and will even remove paint if left in long enough.

Good luck and if ya need any more info send me a PM.

The video is not mine and I am not endorsing it in anyway. I found it as a reference to help guide.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View MedicKen's profile


1610 posts in 2886 days

#7 posted 08-25-2009 02:50 PM

Here are a few pics of a recent table saw top that I cleaned using electrolysis.

And after…...

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 08-25-2009 03:06 PM

I just restored a #6 (large) hand plane, and chose against electrolysis. too complicated for such small items – I didn’t really find it necessary.

I used evaporust, and blogged it here

after (after a couple of hours):

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 3152 days

#9 posted 08-25-2009 03:22 PM

It was said above, but this should be highlighted. Washing soda is different from baaking soda (although both are often made by arm and hammer). The electrolysis works well, especially for larger items. A gallon of eaporust will cost you $20. a box of washing soda (enough to derust a car) will cost you $2. with evaporust, you need to completely submerge the items. Finding an appropriately sized container to fit a #8 without too much wasted space (which would require more evaporust) isn’t always easy. Just some ideas to help you make your descision. I’ve been really happy with the results from both, but they really have different pros and cons. let us know what you decide and how it works.

View MedicKen's profile


1610 posts in 2886 days

#10 posted 08-25-2009 03:24 PM

Purp…...Did you find that the evaporust made the metal “sticky”? I dodnt like what it did to the color of the metal either. I will continue to use it for smaller parts, nuts, bolts, washers etc

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#11 posted 08-25-2009 03:31 PM

Hokie – a custom fit container for a #8 can be made from Aluminum foil which will minimize the amount of evaporust needed – true, it still costs more than washing soda. but not everyone have a battery charger, cables, and clips which can up the costs.

Ken – I did not find the parts to be sticky at all. I did wash them with soap and water after the evaporust, and sprayed them with WD40 to prevent flash-rust (which you’d do either way even with electrolysis). but after that, they feel just like any other brand new (clean) plane/metal. the results are quite amazing to say the least.

I just checked the link to Davids’ (from the folding ruler show) restoration of the plane (linked above) where he used electrolysis, and the results are far from what I’ve seen in my process using evaporust which seems (at least to me) to be much better.

I would use electrolysis for really big parts for which evaporust just wouldn’t make sense to use – such as Ken’s Table top. but for smaller stuff, it’s just not worth the trouble (to me).

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 3066 days

#12 posted 08-25-2009 03:32 PM

Somewhere on here I made a post about using molasses in a 3 to 1 ratio with water(3 parts water to one part molasses) its cheap, it works well and it doesnt destroy the japanning if there is any on the items. But it takes a bit longer than the evaporust. When your done though get rid of the solution cause it gets a nasty funk kind of moldy after a few weeks…

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View MedicKen's profile


1610 posts in 2886 days

#13 posted 08-25-2009 03:41 PM

I am kinda lucky. I dont have to worry too much about flash rust. Our humidity is in the low teens most of the time. Its hot and thank god not humid, I dont see how you east coast guys do it.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View Derrek LeRouax's profile

Derrek LeRouax

129 posts in 2718 days

#14 posted 08-25-2009 06:51 PM

Ken – Forget the East Coast. Try woodworking with a cast iron table top in an open garage in Houston Texas. Today it is 97 degrees with a 93% relative humidity, bringing the heat index to a slightly cool 104 degrees. Also keep in mind, today is the coolest day we have had in the last week.

I have to sand, and re-wax my table saw table top every month. I’m a pro at it now, but it still takes 2 hours to do right…

-- Derrek L.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4408 posts in 3384 days

#15 posted 08-26-2009 01:21 AM

You didn’t say what kind of planes they are. If they are possible collector jobbies I would be careful to hand clean.


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