Best finish for old wooden planes

//Best finish for old wooden planes
Best finish for old wooden planes 2015-06-11T14:28:39+00:00
  • Creator
    Topic
  • #1859616

    Tom Baker
    Participant
    Post count: 7

    I am in the process of restoring for use my old wooden planes; molding, fillister, shoulder, plow, smoothing bench, etc., and I wonder if it is really necessary to apply any finish to these after cleaning the dirt & grime off.

    I’ve read that some sources of information prefer BLO, in one case standing the end grain in it until it wicks up to the top. I’ve also read that “oil” doesn’t really benefit the wood, it just accentuates the grain.  What I’m attempting to determine is whether or not there is a real benefit to this, or any other finish.

    I’m not adverse to applying a finish that will help preserve the tool, but which one?

    So I would ask, what is your preferred finish when restoring wooden planes?, and why?

  • Author
    Replies
  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I think it would be best to try to match whatever was on it to begin with.  If it looks like it was oiled, then I would probably go with BLO.  If it looked like it finished with shellac, go with that.  I’m not sure that the whole oil immersion camp can make a case for longevity vs. any other finishing method.

    Thus, go with conservation.  If it’s old, keep it as close to original as possible while maintaining usability and period correctness.  Unless you just don’t care about conservation – then finish it however you like!

    The short version of the above is “It doesn’t matter – pick what you like.”

    That’s my two cents.  Many, I’m sure, will disagree.  Hopefully they’ll come here and respond!

    • Tom Baker
      Participant
      Post count: 7

      Thanks for the reply Bill, my investigation into this indicates your two cents worth are spot on.
      Ive decided no finish, just a good clean up to remove grime where necessary. My intention with these is to make users, not museum pieces.

  • Mike in TN
    Participant
    Post count: 253

    Plane finishes

    The reasons I have read for oil applications include adding weight to the plane (I tend to disregard that as significant), and to prevent humidity  from affecting the wood. I have also read that professional conservators say that BLO will degrade the wood over long periods of time and promote the use of quality paste waxes.

    Considering that my planes are users and not true collectables, I prefer to clean them, apply a little BLO just for appearance purposes and then apply a quality paste wax just to help keep humidity issues down. If you rework any of the planes so that you expose bare wood you should apply something for the reasons above and to help keep the surfaces cleaner. It has become trendy to use animal fats on the rubbing surfaces of the planes but I understand that it blackens wood over time. I just use paraffin to reduce friction. since it needs to be reapplied periodically during the work.

    • Tom Baker
      Participant
      Post count: 7

      Agree withall said Mike

      I agree with all you said Mike, decided no BLO, just some paste wax.
      Questin for you, in using paraffin for lubrication, did you have a problem with finish adhering to molding? Seems to me that paraffin may rub into the stock when cutting a profile.
      Thanks

      • Mike in TN
        Participant
        Post count: 253

        Paraffin

        I have heard of issues with paste wax containing silicone used on planes but not with paraffin used as a lubricant. What I use is a basically a  block of canning wax which is available at most grocery store for under five dollars for a box of several (four I believe) blocks. You can also buy it at most craft stores for candle making. I have some hard candles that I almost never have to use except to get at concave surfaces. To give you some idea of how little material is actually transferred, I have been using a single block about one half thick, and two by three inches. The block has been used for over two years now and all I have done is rub the corners of the block back. That is with all of my metal and wooden planes (around two hundred) and it makes a huge difference in the plane action. I logically know there had to be some transfer to the work but I have never seen any evidence of it. You really don’t rub the wax on in a layer just run a couple of rubs in a zigzag pattern along the surface. Between the one box and some yard sale candles I probably have enough wax to last me the rest of my life.

        I have tried beeswax and found it soft and sticky by comparison.

  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I, also, use parafin wax for the soles of my planes.  More often, however, I use a soup can with a t-shirt rolled up and stuffed inside which I have soaked with with 3 in 1 oil.  It works exceedingly well.  It’s technique popularized by Paul Sellers.  Either method – wax or oily rags – works.  You don’t have to worry about marring the finish.  There is so little oil transferred that it’s immaterial.

     

     

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