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Hand Plane RefinishingA-13 Infill Hand Plane


Refinish or not to refinish?
That's The Question...

I lot of purists only use mineral sprits and fine steel wool and that's it, most of the planes I refinish the purists would not give a second look...

I hear often is how can ruin these old planes by removing it's 50 or 100 year old patina and that by refinishing the handel's and lapping the sole and cheeks with sand paper is just wrong..

I had ask Patrick Leech a few years back about a Type 15 bench plane and his reply was that bench planes are so very common and only Type 1s and 2s are rare, so on that note unless you have a bench plane is at least very good condition it not really that collectable.. My main focus is to make a inexpensive users plane anyway not to start a collection.. I must add though as many people that I heard say I am not a collector, I think everyone still likes their planes to be some what collectable..

That's why a plane with a hole drilled in the base for either hanging on the wall or mounting a fence sell for so little at eBay.. We all a collectors to some extent, whither we admit it or now..

When I first started buying planes I was looking for the least expensive and that's how I started refinishing them.. As I look back my method was flawed its better to pay an extra $10 or $20 and get something that's in good condition and not the bargain basement model that needs a lot of work..


At this point I must have refinished a good number of hand plane and considered by some an expert. I'll to write this tutorial so you can have confidence tackling even the worst looking planes. there is a few tools that will make your job a lot easier and if can master refinishing you can save your sell a lot of money as well as you will look at lightly rusted plane in a different perspective.. Once I called a plane mint and did not realize that I was thinking this plane cleaned up would be mint.. I was thinking it was not full of small tool box dents and light scratches, I was thinking it was a well cared for tool but stained and missing japanning and my mind was thinking "Mint" and I am sure no one else would have though this about the plane..


Methods I Use


Rough Looking BedrockInspection

First check over the plane and look for cracks and other damage and make sure it's worth the effort to save. The two most common places for cracks is the corners of the mouth and they run backwards and this is real common on low angle block planes.. The most common is cracked cheeks and they often happen at the humps.. The either run from the mouth up the side of along the sides where the frog seat meets the sides

Box for PartsDissemble

the plane and put all the parts in a shoe box, I like to use the plastic types you can buy at a dollar stores, most times the body will not fit but all the other parts will.. If you have some stuck screws use some penetration oil and let it sit for awhile and I'll use a pair of vise-grips on a screwdriver shaft and most times that will do it.. Don't use pliers on the brass adjuster most times just a rag on oil will do the trick if you take you time..

Rusted Screws? Aero Koil is the best rust buster its from KanoLabs.Com
Let this stuff sit for a few days and spray it a few times a day.. Dont strip the head, get a screwdrive that fits well..

That I use is a 1/4"ratchet with a screwdriver tip or vise grips in a screwdriver shaft..
A old Yankee right angle ratchet works but is really to much to use it all the time as the Yankee will fail in time.. Some times a cheap $1.00 right angle screwdrive they sell at the counter of a auto store I use some times..
PS and heat the plane in oven to 160º - 200º or a small torch.. On the Yoke Plate for the frog adjuster screw I hit back and forth side to side a few times and this looses it up most of the time..


Cleaning Method One

Check out my page on Electrolysis

I don't use this method unless the plane has heavy rust and I want to make sure it don't come back as it does some time just wire wheeling it away..



Cleaning Method Two

Cleaning Method Two

This is my many method for removing rust.. I use it for all the mall screws and lateral levers and I also try to get as much of the dept adjuster stuff as I can holding the yoke forward and back while I buff the opposite end..
I using a Harbor Freight buffer with a 8" stainless steel fine wire wheel (.010 -.014 wire size ) This is the first tool I would say to buy... Attention! Always is eye protection with wire wheels, a piece and break off and stick in your eye very easy..

Cleaning Method ThreeCleaning Method Three

I use Tal-Strip Paint Remover I get from Advanced auto.. This stuff works much better that the stuff pictured I bought at H-D I also use Lacqure Thinner to clean up the stripper.. I also use just lacqure thinner if I am out of stripper as it is not cheap... This is a take your time operation and let the stuff do the work for you.. I may add some type of stripper 2-4 times before I am happy with scrapping what is left off with a screwdrive...

HF Buffer $59.99

Magic Polishing Wheel

For polishing the the machined metal parts I use a 3M de burring wheel called some times called a magic wheel.. You can find them at MSC,in case the web page changes search for DeBurring Wheel , I use a A/O Fine Grit with a 7 Hardness althought eBay is a great place to fine these at bargain prices...
I use a fine grit but Medium also works OK and can be bought to fit most any grinder or buffer. I use this to polish all the screw heads and lever caps, lateral levers and sole and cheeks after sanding.. I also may belt sand a lever cap and body if it is pitted first before polishing with the de burring wheel..

HF Sand Blaster

HF Sand Blaster about $19.99

I like to sand blast most all the parts as it removes the rust where most every other method can't reach.. I use play sand from a hardware store and use a kitchen strainer to catch the less than 1% of sand that doesn't pass through.. If I don't I'll get a clog I'll have to clean every load or two..



After Sand BlastingAfter all Cleaning

I like to tape up the screws and lateral levers as you can see in the images.. I also run a piece of tape over the frog base.. All the other surfaces I like to use the wire wheel to remove the over spray.. I do tape up both sides of a Bedrock frog seat and I use a pocket knife and a flat head screw driver to scrape off the paint on the frog seats on the body.. I like this method better than tape and the scraping removes and rust and leaves a nice clean surface..

Rough Shape

Rough Shape

Here is a before image




Before Cleaning

Apart and Ready to Clean

Before shot with plane apart..




Shiny and FinishedAll Finished, Ready To Use

Here is a re-finished plane.. I don't call the restored because they are not, I would only clan then to call the restored..




Cleaned Parts

Parts Ready To Assemble

All Cleaned and ready japan or assemble..
Notice the nice mirror reflection on the sole..



Hand Plane RefinishingThis section still needs to be updated but has some of my secrets of plane refinishing .. Make sure you read up on the 3M (Magic) De burring Wheel ..

Hand Plane Iron Set UpMany people call the Iron the blade and the Cap Iron a Chip Breaker but I prefer to use the old terms and a chip breaker does really break chips.
I have a nice shot set up tutorial on how to adjust the lateral adjuster to get a even cut across the length of the blade..

Hand Plane Tune UpI have few methods in this guide is use will help you get the best performance out of your planes.. Also make sure you read the David Charleworth article at the bottom .
I hope to adding a lot more content to the topic soon..

Bench Plane Type StudyThis section will let you figure out how Old is your Bailey Plane?
This is a guide, it was made after Stanley made the plane, it was not what Stanley used to make the planes.. There are Anomalies that have different features from two types on one plane, you could also have parts that were switched. So use it but all of these guides are not etched in stone..

Handle Repair This section cover how to repair broken or chipped plane handles. I have two methods one is using a 1/4" steel pin with some masking tape which I think works best to like up pieces and another which using a threaded rod that I need to change the rod to a 1/2" and try that with some masking tape as a shim..

Handle RefinishingThis section covers how to refinish you plane handles.. Shellac is the the best finish I know to have you beauty of the rosewood show through. You can then use lacquer on top of the shellac but you must make sure you used De-Waxed Shellac and not plain shellac..

My Hand Plane CollectionI have a few of the planes in my collection listed here. I mainly collect Type 15 Sweetheart's ..

What's Japanning ?Here is some recipes and links to other folks pages on how Japan you plane..
The Japanning is the black finish that looks a lot like paint.. I have listed a Motor Paint that looks just like the japanning Stanley used and is very durable and is my choice for refinishing if your just getting started. Its cheap and almost fool proof..

Hand Plane Makers ShopsThis page is brand new is is pictures of the shops of hand plane makers I admire.. Everyone enjoys images of peoples shops and since I inspire to be a plane makers I love seeing others shops and thought I would add a page.. I will be adding more soon..
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do..

Wooden Hand PlanesLots of people I know swear that wood planes cut much better than metal based planes.. I have not really had to time to do any tests but hope to some day. Also I am friendly with Steve Knight from Knight Tool Works and he will give you 10% off the price of his planes if you tell him you read it here..

Rust PreventionFew Methods on how to stop rust for occurring on you planes..

ElectrolysisThis is a method to remove rust no make that kill rust.. It really does not do the job I thought it would after reading about it but on planes where the rust keeps coming back or was rusted badly from the start then is the method I use to give me peace of mind..

What Hand Plane Should I Buy ? Answers as to what planes are best to buy for a new woodworking just starting down the road of using hand planes....

Sharpening I have a whole sub section devoted to sharpening hand plane Irons.

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