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Restoring Planes: Metal and Wooden

  How I Clean Wooden Tools... by Ray Drake  

I was looking for a plane to clean but it seems I had already cleaned all of mine. Umm time to go hunting again. 

Anyway, this was the only dirty tool I had around.  It is an unnamed mortise gauge that is completely unremarkable.  It came from a yard sale with four others for a $1.75.  The principals are the same, no matter what the tool is.

Step one:

Disassemble completely. This allows you get all of the junk off and out from wherever it is.

Step Two:

Using a quality mechanics hand cleaner without pumice, clean well.  I prefer GOJO with lanoline, or wool fat.  If I want to just remove the accumulated gunk and wish to preserve as much ‘patina’ as possible, I use only my hands to rub it in.  In this case I wanted to get it bright so I used 0000 steel wool to scrub in the cleaner.  Rub with the grain.  Remember to rinse well with clean water.

Step Three:

Raising the figure with BLO.  The only tricky part and I don’t even know if its necessary. I use 1 part Boiled Linseed oil mixed with 2 parts Mineral spirits.  I always make sure that this is a least warm.  Be very careful heating it, it is flammable.  I use a microwave.  I cant say if it make a difference being hot but it seems to thin out very nicely and is absorbed quicker.  I applied this mix with a paper towel folded four times.  Wipe off as much as possible after ten minutes or so.  If this was a heavily figured piece of wood I would have done this several time over the course of a few days.  As I was in a rush I only did one coat.

Step Four:


I use a premixed Beeswax and carnauba wax with orange oil called Howard’s feed and wax.  Coating the gauge liberally, I rubbed it in with my hands and waited 10 minutes. 30 minutes was the proscribed time but it was Easter Sunday and my two adult children, SWMBO, 4 year old step daughter, SIL, and three grandsons where waiting I rushed it a bit.  If this was a heavily figured piece of wood I would have done this several time over the course of a few days.

The last two steps are the same I used for putting a finish on this Stair/ Dado saw I made. It is from a scrap piece of decking I picked up at work.

Ray Drake
April, 2006

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