I absolutely love these tools. Their design has been virtually unchanged for over a hundred years now. They're aesthetically pleasing, ergonomic, long lasting, and exceptionally good at what they do. All around, it's an amazing tool. So, how could i pass up the opportunity to restore one of these to their original glory?!
It's a pretty simple procedure that anyone can get into with very few tools/equip. Keep in mind that with any tool restoration, you get out of it exactly what you put into it. If you like the look of semi-oxidized metal then you don't have to buff it to a mirror shine; you can make the tool look as "antique" or as new as you want.
*YOU WILL BE USING VARIOUS CHEMICALS DURING THE RESTORATION PROCESS, SO PLEASE MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL OF THE SAFETY PROCEDURES FOUND ON THE PRODUCTS*
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
- scotch brite pads
- steel wool
- various grits of sandpaper (i went as low as 100 and as high as 2000 wet/dry)
- evapo rust or krud kutter (you can find this stuff at any lowes/home depot for about $10 a bottle)
- plenty of rags/paper towels
- machine oil
- boiled linseed oil
- buffing compound (i think i used mother's brand compound i bought at auto zone)
- drill press would be ideal, but if not a hand held drill works fine (that's all i had)
- all the elbow grease you can muster
Step 1: Assessing the Damage
Once you've got the tool, take it apart carefully (you don't want to strip any screwheads or crack any wood). Make sure the screw threads are in good shape, and that the wood is in tact.
Step 2: Time to De-rustify!
- soaking rusted parts in apple cider vinegar
- using a chemical remover like naval jelly, evapo rust, or krud kutter (this is what i used)
- wd-40 and scotch brite and steel wool (i used this technique as well, but it's hard to do on rounded or small parts)
After the chemical bath, i dried the pieces, and gave them a quick scrub with wd-40 and steel wool to clean off any leftover bits and pieces.
To soak the frog and the plane i just a gallon sized ziploc bag to accommodate for the size of the pieces
Step 3: De-rustification Part Duex
Step 4: Getting a Handle on Things
For the knob, i took a thin dowel, wrapped some tape around it until it was nice and snug in the hole for the screw and chucked the other end into my drill and voila! A mini lathe. This makes sanding the knob a breeze....just be sure to wear a dust mask (that stuff will get everywhere and you don't that in your lungs).
Now that you've sanded them down to a buttery smooth finish you can apply the oil. There are a few different finishes you can apply, or combine such as danish oil, tung oil, or shellac. I tried to avoid using any kind of varnish like polyurethane because it leaves the wood with a "plastic" look and feel, where as the oils tend to pop the grain and keep the wood feeling soft. This is great if you intend to use the tool...if you just want to display it, then a varnish, or oil-varnish blend might be the way to go.
Step 5: Make It Shiny!
I just wrapped some paper towel around the screws to protect the threads, chucked it into my drill and polished away! The lever cap was a bit tough because i had to polish it by hand. But i went through the same process as the video in the same order. I suppose if you have abrasive wheels or pads you can use your drill to to the polishing...next time i guess.
*Side note: many planes (like the one on the left in step one) have brass components. As you may or may not know, brass does not rust! So, you don't have to treat it chemically, you can actually skip right to this step after a light cleaning.
Step 6: Flat and Sharp
If, however you plan on putting this guy to use, then you're gonna need to lap both the back of the plane iron and the bottom of the plane bed. As this isn't a tutorial on sharpening hand tools (i could do an entire instructables on it), I won't go into too much detail for this. Basically you glue varying grits (roughly 80, 120, 220, 400) of sandpaper to a flat surface (plate glass, or piece of granite, etc) and run the plane bed over it repeatedly until you get an even scratch pattern. Make sure to check for square by putting a straight edge across the bottom and holding it up to a light source. If you see light peeking through you've got more flattening to do. If not, you're all set!
For the plane iron, you could use the same set up, but you're gonna need a set of water stones at much higher grits (1000, 4000, 8000) to really put a shaving sharp edge on it. First lap the back of the iron through all the grits to get it nice and flat. Then flip it over, put it into a honing guide set at your desired angle (typically between 25-30 degrees), and once again run your gambit of grits. To get that razor sharp micro bevel at the end, simply run your iron across the 8000 grit about ten times at a slightly higher angle than normal.
You should also smooth out the point of contact between the chip breaker and the plane iron, to reduce any possible chatter.
If you're interested in doing your own sharpening, this was my setup:
Step 7: Step Back and Admire!
Just like that you have a truly vintage tool ready for another 65 years of service.