I got an old and nice Plow Plane from my colleague Daniel Voina and my intention is to do some restoration work on it. It will be my fist restoration, so I have no big expectations. As can be seen in the pictures below, the plane is not in very fit condition: it’s full of woodworm holes, the wood has dents and cracks, metallic parts are rusted. Overall, a good candidate to experiment on, as it don’t have a great collector value, I suppose.
First of all, I need to establish a plan, which includes:
- Setting the purpose of this restoration process: will it be only a functional restoration that, simply, won’t consider the preserving of the “antique” value (like “patina”), will it be a collector-type restoration aimed mainly to preserve its antique value or will it be a mix of the two?
- Establishing the process steps that will be executed. These steps will depend on the type of restoration selected before.
- Getting the tools and other consumables required by the previously chosen steps.
Setting the purposet of the restoration
Despite its age and its nice look and build quality, as this plane has no marking or brand on it, I think it hasn’t a great collector value. So, I am not planning to do a very rigorous and scientific restoration. What I want to do is: to heal and treat the wooden and metallic parts making the plane usable again but still to preserve (and eventually improve) it’s nice look and patina. This means I won’t put the plane on the belt-sander. 🙂
Establishing the steps for the restoration process
As I already set the purpose of the restoration (I want to have a usable and nice looking plow plane, with some of the old patina preserved), I am able now to set the steps of this process:
Step #1 – Disassembling the plane: I hope all parts will come off nice and smoothly, without any damage. Because the plane is old and it was unused since a while I can expect that the things won’t go that easy. But, maybe I’m lucky this time!
Step #2 – Treating the wood for the Woodworm: The plane is severly attacked by the Woodworm (I guess it’s the Woodworm, because of the circular holes 1-2 mm wide spreaded all over the plane).
Step #3 – Polishing the brass knobs and washers: The depth-setting wooden guide on the right side of the plane is fastened with brass knobs and washers. They are completely covered by a thick oxide layer, but I think they will come out nice and shiny, after some polishing.
Step #4 – Cleaning the wooden parts of dirt.
Step #5 – Restoring the wooden parts for cracks and dents: Right now I don’t know how far will I go with this. Maybe, I’ll let some of the dents as they are (including the ones in the wooden screws) but, maybe, I’ll fill them with some epoxydic resin. I also didn’t know at this moment if I’ll let the Woodworm holes unfilled (as part of the “antique patina”) or I’ll fill them with resin or other wood-filler. Suggestions are welcome!
Step #6 – Depth cleaning and treating of the wooden parts: I planned to use some in-house prepared wood treatment: a mix of beeswax, linseed oil, turpentine, vinegar, etc.
Step #7 – Derusting the iron parts: The plane’s iron, the bottom iron guiding rail, the screws that hold the depth-setting guide. I will use either electrolysis or citric-acid bath or, maybe, both methods. Maybe the guiding rail will need to be flattened as well…
Step #8 – Sharpening the plane’s iron: I’ll use the “Scary Sharp” method. Maybe I’ll also apply some japaning coat on the iron. I’ll see…
Getting the tools and other consumables
Having the process steps defined, I can make a list with required tools and consumables.
- A Dremel style mini rotary tool (actually, I use one made by Einhell – a poor-man’s Dremel). I’ll use it for grinding/polishing of brass knobs and washers.
- A small and sharp chisel will be, probably, useful.
- A small brush for applying Woodworm Terminator solution.
- A sheet of glass (50×10 cm) that I’ll use for lapping the sole of the plane (using abrasive paper) and for sharpening the plane’s iron.
- A low-voltage DC generator for electrolysis. Anything between 6V and 12V and minimum 2 A should be enough. Higher the voltage, greater the speed (and aggressiveness) of the electrolysis process. I’ll use a Dell laptop charger (11.7V, 3.4A).
- Some lubricant solution for disassembling the plane. Maybe I wouldn’t need this at all, but if will be needed, I have at hand some WD40 lubricant in spray can form.
- I got some “Woodworm Terminator” solution from a local art store.
- For filling dents in wood I have some wood-filler and a solid form of epoxydic resin (bi-component type).
- Steel wool, 0000 grade (softest).
- Abrasive paper (P60, P100, P180, P400, P800, P2000)
- Some cotton rags made from an old T-shirt.
- Linseed oil (boiled)
- Washing-soda for electrolysis.
- Red polishing compound (the kind used for car polishing). I have this at hand and I used it already. Maybe other types work better but I haven’t try anything else yet.
- Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue
So, let’s start the play ….
Step #1 – Disassembling the plane
After I took some pictures with the plane in its original condition and after I sketched a plan, the first thing I have to do is to disassemble the plane.
The plane body consists of tree large wooden parts: the main body, the depth setting guide on the right side of the plane (fastened with brass knobs) and the lateral adjustable fence on the left side (fastened with two pairs of wooden nuts).
I had luck and everything comes out easy using only a fraction of my hands power. Luck for me, but unluck for this post which gets shorter… Anyway, if the things wooden’t go out that symple, I was prepared with a spray can containing WD-40 lubricant and a large reserve of muscle power. Yet, the power should be applyed with care, as the wooden screw can be easily damaged.
From left to right and top to bottom: iron cap, the two wooden nuts for adjusting the fence, the fence, depth-setting guide, main body with metallic bolts on the right side and large wooden screws on the left side and the two wooden nuts used for fastening the fence against the the other two wooden nuts pictured at the left of the image.
And the small parts pictured together:
Step #2 – Treating the wood for the Woodworm
As can be seen, every single piece of wood of this plane has woodworm holes in it. So I bought some woodworm killer solution from a local art shop. This solution is produced by the italian company named “Fidea” and the solution is called Antitarlo Terminator. It is priced around 15 EUR per liter. It contains some active substance (poison fo woodworm) in a Naphta (Petroleum) base.
I applied the “Terminator” using a small brush on all wooden parts. I also have used a 5ml seringe to inject small amounts of substance inside the worm holes. I don’t know if this was really necessary, but it’s good for the peace of mind! After applying the solution, I’ve put the wooden parts in a plastic bag. Then I closed the bag and store it for some days to let the solution work. I was advised to do so by the art store crew. I can’t find such instructions anywhere on the Terminator can but, again, it’s good for the mind.
Step #3 – Polishing the brass knobs and washers
In the meantime, I’ll work a little on the brass knobs and washers. Here they are, as they come out of the plane:
Unfortunately, only the knobs are made in brass. The washers are plain iron, very common, so I’ll trow them away and search the hardware store for similar size brass washers. Fortunatelly (again!) I found two sizes of brass washers: one size a little smaller than the originals and the other size a little more larger. I’ll prepare one paar of each size and I’ll decide at the end which ones I’ll use.
The preparation I mean is to have knobs and washers polished shiny. I think I will keep some of the patina (oxide) on the knobs. Maybe a little at the base.
For this, I’ll use the rotary tool (Dremel style) in conjunction with abrasive discs for grinding the relatively thick layer of oxide (P180, P400, P800 and P2000). Then I’ll use the buffing wheel with some red polishing compound. That’s the plan!
I start grinding with P180 abrasive discs, then I go to P400, P800 and P2000 (the finest I can get). I made the disks myself from regular sheets of abrasive paper. After that, I’ll put the red compound on the buffing wheel and start polishing. That’s what I get:
The new washers I bought don’t need any grinding, so I only polished them with the same red compound on the buffing wheel. Here there are all the brass items:
They are not perfect; I think I can do a better job! But, for the first time, I think it is enough! Let’s go on!
Step #4 – Cleaning the wooden parts of dirt
There will be no rocket science at this step. I’ll only clean the wooden parts with turpentine using a cotton rag made from an old T-shirt. I’ll think that denatured alcohol (ethanol) or white spirit will work as well. But DON’T use water or other water-based cleaning solution. This cleaning is a preparation for the following two steps.
Step #5 – Restoring the wooden parts for cracks and dents
Step #6 – Depth cleaning and treating of the wooden parts
I’ll use a in-house prepared wood treatment: a mix of beeswax, linseed oil, turpentine, vinegar. This liquid solution will be rubbed on the wooden parts using a cotton rag or steel wool (if the dirt is thick and hard) .The goal is to rub that hard so the wax won’t build up. At the end, all the excess wax should be completely removed from the wooden surfaces. The following kind of results are expected:
After the first and easy success on cleaning of the above part using a cotton rag, the job on the other wooden parts was a lot more harder. The dirt was very thick and sticky. Probably it was a accumulation of wax, hand oil and dirt and this was, indeed, very hard to remove. I had to use steel wool (grades 00 and 0) and the same, in-house prepared, potion. But, after an insistent rubbing, all the dirt came off letting the wood shone again.
…TODO… more images
Step #7 – Derusting the iron parts
The only iron items on this plane are: the plane’s cutting blade, the two bolts on the right side of the main wooden body (Whitworth type) and the bottom guiding rail. I wasn’t able to get out of the plane the two iron bolts and the rail. Yet, I didn’t tried too hard because I don’t want to damage something. Maybe I’ll try later.
The cutting blade is very rusty and this is a sign that the plane wasn’t used since a long time. Here is another view of it (bevel side down):
Step #8 – Sharpening the plane’s iron