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Cleaning Old Moulding Planes

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mancsteve1

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After lurking in the shadows for far to long i have finally joined and entered the light :) .
Having followed Jimi43 and his bootfair quests ,i bought a selection of Moulding Planes (15 for £5). But they need cleaning and this is where i ask the Forum's advice (jimi43 ?) ,what do i use, how much do i clean off and do you wax afterwards?.
I am very pleased with my 'bargain' and as its just for my personal pleasure i want to present them properly.

If you are still reading this and not got bored with my intro any help would be greatly appreciatted.
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi,

I tend to rub mine with wax and a scotch brite pad, enough to take the gunk off but not enough to remove the patina.

Pete
 

Cheshirechappie

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Hi Steve - welcome!

This method was suggested by AndyT several months ago, just before I was about to ask the same question - which I thought was most impressive :D . Use pure turpentine and a toothbrush to lift dirt and crud off - it'll even soften old paint to the point where it can be scraped off - then allow to dry and finish with linseed oil. Andy used boiled, because it dries quicker. I used raw linseed oil, and it worked fine; just leave it alone for a week after oiling.

I suspect the real secret is not being too vicious - no sanding down. Just a cleaning solvent (or wax), a mild abrasive or stiff-bristled nylon brush, and a bit of patience.

By the way, for anybody who may not yet be aware, Lost Art Press are in the process of publishing a book on the subject - 'Mouldings in Practice' by Matthew Sheldon Bickford. Classic Hand Tools are currently taking advance orders for UK and European customers - I gather there has been a lot of interest.
 

jimi43

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Hi Steve and welcome indeed!

I am well chuffed that I may have been in part instrumental in raising your status from lurker to poster...and that you got a major bargain there...33p each! That is serious bootfair haulmanship!!! :shock:

However...you have to post some pictures I'm afraid as...in keeping with time honoured tradition on the forum..I'm afraid...it didn't happen! :wink:

I have to point out however...that whilst I am honoured you have started on the woodie slope...I accept no responsibility whatever for the consequences.... :mrgreen: This is one steep and dangerous slope...WAY steeper than the infill slope...and the one I got only a few months back seems to have the same gene make-up as an hermaphrodite rabbit!

I also need to make it quite clear that I am by no means at all an expert on woodies...just a mere novice...and there are very large minefields in the restoration and subsequent preservation of these beauties.

My humble view as any restoration is to do as little as possible to enable it to be used unless it is a unique or near unique example in which case leave it in a presentable condition. To remove grime is in my opinion acceptable as long as it doesn't remove patination. Andy's method is as good as any...I use meths gently followed by immediately coating with boiled linseed oil. There is no need to soak at all...you are only replacing natural oils occasionally.

Waxing of any tools is fine especially for handles but again should be done with care..and I only use Renaissance Wax...as I've said before...the British Museum use it and if it's good enough for them it's good enough for me.

Overall...and to sum up...I am a firm believer that a tool should be used as such...bit like a vintage racing car should race..even if it is just at Goodwood... :mrgreen:

Here we see that the Nelson (to be confirmed!) grooving orphan I got at the bootfair this weekend for the huge sum of a quid (not 33p you see!)...



...which I think may prove to be by Messrs. Nelson....needed very little cleaning or polishing...just a wipe over with meths and a light oiling...proved very efficient in making grooves.....



I just lightly waxed the guide skate with candle wax...



I wish you much luck in your search for more of these wonderful tools mate. Welcome to the club! :mrgreen:

Jimi
 

mancsteve1

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Many thanks for your quick replies, i am in no rush to clean these planes up and will take on board everybodies comments.
Jimi43 i will post pics as soon as i have enough posts,have had a look at makers names,Mathieson,Bewley. J Watson,Cox & Duckman, King & Compy, Summers Varvill and a Varvill & Sons Block Plane. not bad?
A couple are missing cutting blades and wedges.

Only had a £2 coin in change and £5 £10 note in wallet i picked up two planes for £2 and called back 15mins later to look at another one that had caught my eye,there was 5 or 6 planes on the table top and the rest in a box on the floor .
after pondering for a few minutes as i was about to purchase the one i had returned for the stallholder said give us a fiver for the lot!.iI asked could i swop between the table and the box and he said it's a fiver for everything!!

I have the bug now so roll on weekend :D
 

jimi43

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mancsteve1":gb1igttv said:
Many thanks for your quick replies, i am in no rush to clean these planes up and will take on board everybodies comments.
Jimi43 i will post pics as soon as i have enough posts,have had a look at makers names,Mathieson,Bewley. J Watson,Cox & Duckman, King & Compy, Summers Varvill and a Varvill & Sons Block Plane. not bad?
A couple are missing cutting blades and wedges.

Only had a £2 coin in change and £5 £10 note in wallet i picked up two planes for £2 and called back 15mins later to look at another one that had caught my eye,there was 5 or 6 planes on the table top and the rest in a box on the floor .
after pondering for a few minutes as i was about to purchase the one i had returned for the stallholder said give us a fiver for the lot!.iI asked could i swop between the table and the box and he said it's a fiver for everything!!

I have the bug now so roll on weekend :D
Fifteen no names would have been impressive but some of those are true gems!

Recently I gave up on THIS OLD VARVILL simply because it went for stupid silly but probably justified money!!!

I am so very glad I have specialized in just one maker...Gabriel....because with Varvill, Griffiths, Lund, Green, Mutter and many many more truly wonderful makers out there, I would be broke in a week! :oops:

The good news is that I am focussing my bootfair purchasing now that I know a few gems...these I will sell to buy more Gabriels...only about 60 to go now! :shock:

Jim
 

mancsteve1

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Think i will just buy what takes my eye for now ( of course if a Gabriel comes my way :) , is it true he's an ancestor of Peter Gabriel? ) it's just for a bit of fun at the moment but as you said it's a slippery slope!. i'm looking for shed space now to house the 'collection'.

Hopefully should have enough post's to upload photos.
 

t8hants

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It seems I live in the wrong part of the country every moulding plane over here seems to start at £15, as they are all valuable collectiors items. Or so I am told by the stall holders. B***dy EBay!

Gareth
 

jimi43

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mancsteve1":w3pfs7hv said:
Think i will just buy what takes my eye for now ( of course if a Gabriel comes my way :) , is it true he's an ancestor of Peter Gabriel? ) it's just for a bit of fun at the moment but as you said it's a slippery slope!. i'm looking for shed space now to house the 'collection'.

Hopefully should have enough post's to upload photos.
Apparently he is a distant relative yes.

Look out for embossed borders....



Can't really go wrong with these ones!

Jim
 

AndyT

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Some good advice there! :wink:

The one thing to stress is that many old planes don't need any cleaning at all - just dusting and sharpening.
If they've been stored in a filthy shed then you need to get the dirt off, but the worst thing to do is to mess up the surface.

The very worst thing to do is to use sandpaper. An old plane which ought to be a nice mature dark brown just looks wrong if abraded back to bare pale wood.

Some old planes will be very dark, which was apparently linked to the use of tallow as a lubricant. Sometimes there will be light patches which show you where your hands should go. These are part of the history of the tool and should be kept.

And please don't polish any brass bits! Just aim to get them in the state that a careful owner would have had them in, who needed to earn his living with them.
 

mancsteve1

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Yes Andy taking all the good advice offered before i do anything,i do not want to ruin what has taken years to acheive. Minimal cleaning i think will be the way forward,will post pics soon.
 

arnoldmason8

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Hi mancsteve1 My recommendation would be to have a go !!! Select a plane with a simple profile and a common maker (or a no namer) and rub with fine glass paper. Use a wooden block if it helps. Rub till you have removed the dirt but not too much. Aim to get an even colour all over. Contrary to what’s been said above I don’t think you can do much harm. The biggest danger is breaking the wedge when removing it. Try tapping the iron through or gripping it in a vice and tapping the plane body off the wedge.
Below are some photos of a Stokoe plane which I did today. As purchased it was a dark grey and unappealing but an hour’s work has transformed it to a nice brown colour and I used some Liberon wax to give it a nice shine. If you use linseed oil it attracts mould after a while and you get musty smells when the toolbox is opened.
Before-






After-







Do you intend to use the planes ? Or are they just for a collection? If you are n going to use them leave a post and I will give you some more tips.

Remember you stand at the top of a very slippery slope and you can end up like this -







Cheers Arnold
 

mancsteve1

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Thanks for your reply Arnold
I have not started cleaning anything properly upto now just the ends with meths to veiw makers marks.
Having a bit of trouble resizing pics, but once solved will upload for everyone to see.
Although i have started collecting because i like the look and the history behind the tools i am hoping to use or try out some of them,so any tips etc is more than welcome ,you can never have enough knowledge.

Steve
 

AndyT

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Hi Arnold

I can see that we agree on some things - I have a similar enthusiasm for wooden planes and mine are all kept in ready for use condition too.
With the pictures, I can see that your very gentle use of sandpaper has stopped at the point of dirt removal and not ruined the plane. But we need to be ever so careful that what we write is correctly interpreted, so I think it's safer to advise against abrasives altogether.

I have several planes whose previous owner thought it was ok to use a rotary sander with the coarsest possible grit, and then apply a layer of polyurethane:



The sad thing is that this is an eighteenth century plane by William Madox!



On the subject of linseed oil, I have bought a few old planes which showed some traces of white mould around the escapement area, but surely this is only a problem if they are stored in damp conditions? I am lucky enough to have a basement workshop which is entirely reliably dry. I do like the way that use of linseed oil (as practised by many generations of previous owners) can transform something like this:



into this:



It keeps me sliding happily down the slope!
 

arnoldmason8

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Hi Steve - A few hints on getting your moulding planes working –
1 Choose carefully – Make sure that the plane is not warped – when buying sight down the profile to ensure that it is straight – If it’s not straight it won’t work and you will get very frustrated. Make sure that all the boxing is present and not loose. Check that the mouth is not
badly worn. Check that the wedge is the original (Fits properly and darker colour on top lines up with top of body). Check that the iron is present and is the correct one.
2 Sharpening the iron – start by rubbing the front face on an oilstone – don’t worry if you have to lift the iron slightly to achieve a polished surface –try to remove any pitting from the edge – fix the iron in a metalworking vice with the bevel up and horizontal and use slipstones or carborundum sticks to polish the cutting edge – be very careful not to destroy any square edges – the edge does not have to be very sharp – try the iron in the body with the wedge holding lightly and check that the profile protrudes by slight and even amount all round the profile – this is the difficult bit – you may have to adjust the profile to achieve the correct protrusion.
3 Check the wedge – it has an angled face where it emerges at the bottom of the slot – the point should be sharp and the point flush against the slot.
4 Try some shavings – use straight grained timber and keep the fence flush against the wood and the plane at a constant angle and take a few strokes. If the full profile fails to develop it is probably because some point on the blade is too low. If all goes well you should have a smooth polished profile on your length of moulding. Good luck !!!

Cheers Arnold
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi,

I bought a cheap set of dimond needle files form either Aldi of Lidl that work very well for reshaping the profile of old moulding plane blades, I find usualy the body has shrunk over the years or the previous user has not done a good job.
I sharpen with a 1000 grit then a 4000 grit water stones.

Pete
 

arnoldmason8

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Andy said -"On the subject of linseed oil, I have bought a few old planes which showed some traces of white mould around the escapement area, but surely this is only a problem if they are stored in damp conditions?"

Hi Andy Some of my planes are stored in a wooden tool chest which is kept in dry conditions but when the lid is opened a strrond whiff of mildew is apparent. It does not appear to damage the planes much as far as I can tell. Most of the rest of my planes are stored on open shelves again in the dry so the mildew does not seem to be such a problen. As you say linseed oil has a wonderful effect on the appearence of wooden planes not mention the nice smell. The problem with mildew is mentioed in Mark & Jane Rees' book "Toools - A guide for the collector" where the reccommendation of wax was made.

Enjoy your planes Arnold
 

arnoldmason8

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phil.p":dm71itdr said:
Hi, Arnold . Haven't heard from you for a while. No late night raves in Redruth, then?
Hi Phill Still here but sorry no rave ups. The nearest I get is a game of tennis in the evening.
Cheers ----- Arnold
 

bugbear

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arnoldmason8":1rojhepy said:
phil.p":1rojhepy said:
Hi, Arnold . Haven't heard from you for a while. No late night raves in Redruth, then?
Hi Phill Still here but sorry no rave ups. The nearest I get is a game of tennis in the evening.
Cheers ----- Arnold
With Joan Hunter Dunn?

BugBear
 

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