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I thought that I would do a general tutorial on how to refurbish a hand plane. However, before I start, I would like to thank @HandyDan for providing me with this outstanding Stanley Bailey #5-1/2, Type 11 hand plane. Dan recognized that I didn’t possess a #5-1/2 and graciously offered it to me. So, I thought that as long as I was going to clean the plane up TO USE, that, I would take you folks through my process(es), step by step. Before I start, I understand that some of you are probably familiar with how to do this, but there are others who are not and may like to clean up grandpa’s plane or that garage sale find, but don’t know where to start. I want to see input and alternate methods from the members as I go through this process. I will show how I do this, but it is not the only way to get to the end result. Let’s make this informative for everyone and share ideas. Most of this will be graphic in nature with very little text. I will provide information and clarifications as needed. However, if I don’t cover something in an adequate manner, please ask. I have several core philosophies; the standard …a picture is worth a thousand words, the story is no good without pictures, and there are NO stupid questions. I will break this up into stages. First, I don’t know how much continuous time I will have to complete the project, and it allows for discussions and Q & A between stages. So, I’m going to start out with a general overview of the plane itself. Understand that, this plane is a type 11. This dates it to 1910-1918, so it is about 100 years old. Whoever had and used this plane took very good care of it. There is evidence that the plane iron was properly flattened on the back side, nothing was rusted solid, the wood was dinged but nothing was broken. However, the plane was in a “crusty” condition. (Side note: I apologize for the quality of the photos. They are taken with my iPhone SE as I go through the process. They are not the best quality...sorry.) Here is what the plane looks like before anything is done to it: The next few pictures are of the individual subsystems as the plane was disassembled. Why so many pictures, you ask? Well when it is all done you will be able to go back and compare the before and after results. How to Refurbish a Hand Plane, Stage II Now that it is disassembled it is time to eliminate as much rust as possible. There are many ways to do this but here is what I did. First step is a good wire brushing of all the parts to remove as much loose scale and dirt as possible. I used a wire wheel on a bench grinder to de-rust the hardware, and the components. Since the sole is a corrugated one, I used a softer, drill mounted wire wheel to get into the grooves. Now comes the messy part. All of the major components will go into an electrolysis conversion bath. There is lots of information on how to do this so I won’t go into details. However, here is my set-up and process. Here is the key component. You don’t need an awful lot of the Washing Soda added to the water to get good results. This shows how the cap iron, plane iron, frog, and lever cap are suspended. Here is the nastiness that is the result of the process. All of that red scummy foam is the rust lifted off of the metal components. The next thing was the body of the plane. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of it in the bath. The #5’s don’t fit completely into the water, so there is about four inches that sticks above the water. I just do one side and then flip the body around and do the other half. After the parts come out of the bath, they are washed with clear water, and then dried. If I don’t have a chance to get to the parts right away I treat them with Boeshield T-9 to keep the surface rust from starting. When I finally get to the parts, they are wiped down with Mineral Spirits. They are then buffed on a pleated wheel with white rouge. I follow up with a loose linen wheel and the same white rouge. This usually gets the last of the crud off of the surface and puts a decent polish to the metal. Not everyone has a buffing wheel set-up, but, again, there are several ways to “skin the cat”. You can use something similar in a hand held drill or resort to elbow grease and handwork. The main issue here is to get rid of the deep down rust in any pits in the metal. Here are the parts de-rusted, buffed and ready to go. Once I am satisfied with the degree of polish, the part gets a good coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax. While I am buffing out the metal parts I, also, buff out the brass on the same buffing wheels. Remember those black handle nuts and the adjustment wheel. Well this is what they now look like. (Disclosure for the adjustment wheel a Dremel Tool is our friend. Wire wheels and little, tiny, itsy bitsy buffs and felt bobs) Once the brass is polished out you can either coat them with the Johnson’s Past Wax, or for a more permanent shine you can seal them with spray lacquer.
Had an old mitrebox, garage sale item. It is a folding type from GEM. You unfold it at the jobsite, screw it down or just a couple clamps. Was starting to look a bit worn out. May have been used a bit too long? Decided to replace the old sides with some new pine. Took one of the old ones off as a pattern Pine was some 1x3 stuff. Made a matched set. Drilled the holes for screws to be used as mounting hardware, drilled for the brass rod that keeps the sides from folding up on the user ( need to make a new one), and rounded over one edge. Router bit wasn't quite enough roundover, so, a block plane and a strip of sanding belt to get it better. Needed some pilot holes on the end grain for the pivot screws, set the pair into the vise, marked the locations And I think I have just the right drill for the holes, and cordless one single speed stanley 602, I think... Test fits showed one side was about spot one But the other was a hair too tight. Block plane to adjust. Folded it up to check things out Then added some of that SMELLY BLO to the new wood, and unfolded it to dry Adda backsaw and we are ready to go to work. need to transfer the art work to the new wood, though. Haven't figured that out just yet. Not a bad afternoon project?
Of the three newest planes from the Meet & Greet. LONG plane, sometimes called a jointer plane, sometimes a Try plane. This one took almost the full day in the shop. It did have a few "issues" to deal with, not the least was this thing where a handle should be. It is attached by a dowel down into the old handle's base. UGLY thing. Awaiting to find a pattern to make the correct handle. The iron needed a few items done. Flatten the iron itself. as it had a bend to it. Needed the back flattened and the top ground to remove a "mushroomed " edge. Iron was a hair too wide, since the wood body had shrunk. Chipbreaker needed tuned up. Wedge needed a little clean up. Put them back together, and set of a test track......not too good, as soon as the mouth got past the start of the board, it quit cutting. Take it apart, survey the sole... Well for one thing, the mouth wasn't even square to the body, and had a curve to it, to boot Chisels, rasps, and a file with 60 grit sandpaper wrapped around it. Worked until the opening was square, and the bed was flatter. Much better. Next, laid a straightedge along the sole itself......there is a hump right behind the mouth opening, and the heel had one too. Grabbed a few planes, and worked the sole flat and smooth. Checked to make sure it wasn't twisted, and was at least close to square to the sides. Kept checking with the good straight edge until the sole was almost like new and I even took a block plane and cut a small champfer along the edges, to ease the sharp corners a bit. Time to try this set up again, so set up a new test track of pine I think that will do nicely. Now, I need to get that thing off the back off the plane. Need to find a pattern for a tote/handle. REAL SOON.
That came out of Southern Cal. Seems about five block planes were hiding in there... with a very OLD Stanley 9-1/2 leading the way. Took a few days to refurbish all five of these, two days actually. Things as simple as removing all the rust and grime. Have a H-F drill press set up for this sort of thing along with a few other brass wire brushes. Paint brush with a wee bit of 3in1 Oil on it, to scrub away the grime. Sharpened all but ONE iron. It was just too short to do. Set up a test track of White Oak. The old 9-1/2 decided not to do a test drive. Pin to advance the short iron was too worn down, anyway, next, the "other" 9-1/2 Quite a bit newer, and it did make a shaving or two. Next, a Stanley 9-1/4 Stanley made this to look like the 9-1/2s but these did not have the adjustable mouth. I use a 1" x 30" beltsander to get an edge close to sharp, then an oil stone, then some 2500 grit to polish. Next was a Stanley #220 These used a screw to advance/retract the sharp edge. These are also about an inch longer than the 9s were. Finally in this line up. This is a Buck Brothers #110 wannabe. The sides were painted a gray colour. Went to remove the paint on the belt sander......found pot metal! Ok, ground the sole flat as well, and gave the sides and sole a good, mirror like polish. Sharpen the iron up, and test drive it a bit I guess SHARP is everything. Sides aren't too hateful, either And now the "after shot" of the Parade Not too bad? Well, stay tuned, as there are a few more planes in that LARGE box of goodies...