In order to help others who are just beginning this process I am
going to document the cleaning of several planes in varying states
of decay. I am going to describe and show pictures of how “I” go
The first subject will be a very late model Stanley No. 5C chosen
mostly for its condition, which is quite good with some light to
medium rust all over.
As the pictures show the plane is in very good overall condition
with about 95% of its’ japanning, a good knob and a good if not
great tote; all the parts are in good order and the blade is near
Now, this not being a real old plane it has not really developed a
“patina”, that wonderful brown combination of sweat and oil and
labor and iron, which some purists preserve for authenticity. I
myself prefer a tool that looks a little more clean and shiny.
These are a couple of my “users” and this is the condition or “look”
that I prefer.
Stanley Type 12 No.
Stanley Type 9 No. 4 1/2C
Enough showin’ off, back to the cleaning. My method for this plane
will be to give it a citric acid bath to remove the rust and then a
buff with a Scotch Bright pad. The bottom, which is corrugated, will
be a little more difficult than the flat sides but it can be done
relatively well. So off we go to the dip tank. Some others recommend
scraping the heavy rust off with a razor blade, but I always manage
to gouge the tools so I no longer scrape.
Another option is WD-40 and steel wool,
which I do use, but because the plane is corrugated I will dip. I
will recommend tools and other stuff I have found useful but by
no-means are my means the only ones you can use. One recommendation
I will make is; invest in a box of surgical gloves; they will save
your hands a lot of grief.