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Old Hand Planes


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I had asked for advice in removing rust from old hand planes (full size).  Bill Robertson asked to see what I have and here they are:




The most interesting one, to me is the 1st one on the far left with a beautiful wooden handle.  It is marked BAILEY No 3.




The second and 3rd from left are unmarked.  


The last on the right is marked STANLEY No 110.




I am guessing that these could be as old as from the late 1800s and as recent as 1950.  Any advice for cleaning them up would be appreciated.

Martha in Louisiana



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I would take them apart and get a box or single edge razor blades and some steel wool. Start on the flat surfaces with the blades by trying to "cut" the rust off… it is hard to describe but basically you get under the rust and kind of make a motion back and forth advancing a little at a time… you'll know when it's working right and you'll know when the blade starts to get dull. After you have the rust off steel wool them…. you can also use sandpaper, like the 320 wet or dry type. These should clean up nicely.


There a bunch of youtube videos and sites that tell all about how to true up (the word they use for adjusting. or just truing) a hand plane….. this one is over a hour long!!!!!!



There are a lot that are much shorter……. good luck and lets see some tiny shavings when you are done.

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  • 2 years later...

Martha, I just found an article in Shop Notes magazine on restoring hand planes... I'll bring it with me to Masterworks if you want to see it.  Sometimes I can watch YouTube and can follow, but I like paper and printed words! I'm know my husband has passed on planes that have required restoration; clearly for the collector in him this provides new options for expanding the hand plane collection.

Husband mentioned that Shop Notes also had an article on removing rust with electrolysis... I wonder if anyone in the forum has tried this... Referencing Antiques Roadshow you are not supposed to refinish wood.... but I'm sure rust is not good for metal, so it must be acceptable to remove the rust from metal tools???  I have several old metal rulers with darkened lines... I don't want to use sandpaper as I don't want to sand the lines off for the measurements... so it continues to be one of my metals mysteries, how I can get that blasted blackened metal reacting with air line off my little ruler... Now that I analyze, I realize that I solve problems by misplacing tools - freudian?

The squirrel tail plane is a beauty!  But I would practice on the other ones first, or maybe practice on some other rusty planes that aren't from the family...?




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I've had very good success in removing rust by soaking an article in vinegar, and for a day or two, then taking steel wool to finish the stripping.  I'd remove any wooden handles first, however.

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