Stanley Planes

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Restoring Planes: Metal and Wooden

  Rehabbing Old Metal Planes by Bob Smalser 1 of 6  

I was in the market for a large framing chisel on eBay and...


... wound up with a package deal for 30 bucks… an old Stanley 5C Type 16… the Lakeside 2” Framing Chisel I wanted… a beater chisel with a mangled socket… and an old cooper’s shaping chisel:

This article will deal with the Stanley 5C…the cooper’s chisel was usable as is with some cleaning and sharpening, and the chisels I’ve covered in another article, although I’ll rehabilitate them together.  These will be put back to work as users, like all my tools… conservation/restoration of collector items is another subject.

For this article, I’ll purposely use only the minimum tools and techniques necessary for a first-class job… and all the work done in a crude, temporary 12’ by 12’ shop.  My intent is to provide a model for newcomers to the craft who will benefit greatly from acquiring older but high-quality tools in need of a hug for very little money… and putting them back into service without a lot of machines and fancy gizmos you don’t have yet. Moreover, with enough practice rehabbing old tools, making new ones like in other articles I’ve written, and doing traditional joinery for your workbenches and other shop necessities… by the time you create for yourself a nice workshop, you may find you no longer feel a need for all the trendy doodads being shelled at you weekly.  I’m not saying that all those expensive tools and jigs aren’t useful or don’t have a place, I’m merely trying to provide you something to help set those purchase priorities.

I use a large; 8” gunsmith’s pedestal buffer-grinder for most of my grinding and polishing chores, but a smaller 6” bench grinder will also work fine. I’d have used a smaller bench grinder for the pictures… but I don’t own one.

I use a soft steel wire wheel to clean all metal parts thoroughly… the cooper’s tool has been cleaned in the shot above.

Then I treat them with a phosphoric acid solution (above) available at home improvement chains to kill any remaining rust.  This is the functional equivalent of using an electrolysis solution for those not so inclined.  The phosphoric acid is allowed to sit over night to work.  The next day, the black oxide rust residue is removed with the wire wheel in preparation for buffing and finish later… we need to do the blade and chip breaker, and some frog, sole and bearing surface inspection, first.

It’s impossible to get all the phosphoric acid’s oxide residue out of mortises and screw holes, but I don’t worry about it and will simply oil over top of it later.  The phosphate surface imparted in those deep recesses will deter future rust much better than simple electrolysis rust removal, and that’s important to me in a wet climate and unheated shop.  It also seeps into any chips in the japanning, and prevents future rust deterioration there.

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