Finish for Wooden Planes

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steve355

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Hi

Any thoughts on a good finish for wooden planes? I’m making a batch and I want to get it right.

Conventional wisdom is simply BLO. But I find my hands get dirty from sharpening and metalwork, and the planes get filthy in no time, which is a shame having just made them.

Old Street Tools use Minwax antique oil finish. I don’t know what’s in it exactly, apparently a mix of BLO and ”varnish”. I don’t know if I’d be able to wipe the planes clean, or if I can, whether it contains a plastic-based varnish - I’d rather stick to natural, traditional products if possible. I don’t know if there’s a similar UK product - seems primarily a US thing used for gun stocks.

Stavros Gakos (YouTube) uses BLO and button polish. That may be an option. They come out looking a bit like Donald Trump, but I guess I could use a less colourful shellac. But both are natural, traditional products with a finish that may allow the plane to stay clean.

I’ve read of tallow being used. I’ve also read of planes being left in BLO to soak.

Any ideas appreciated.

Thanks

Steve
 
not a plane maker, but have refurbed quite a few, ------ for a newly made plane - soak in blo, wipe down as much as poss, dry as much as poss, only then do your final wax, varnish blend or whatever. Tallow is great for reducing friction on the sole, and on other tools --- but it smells.
both tallow and blo can develop mildew if there's any damp around

what I tend to do with old, cleaned up planes is just 2 or 3 coats blo - making sure each one hardens well before applying next.
 
pure tung oil thinned out with turps, let it cure then hardwax, you could also use shellac.
 
Hi

Any thoughts on a good finish for wooden planes? I’m making a batch and I want to get it right.

Conventional wisdom is simply BLO. But I find my hands get dirty from sharpening and metalwork, and the planes get filthy in no time, which is a shame having just made them.

Old Street Tools use Minwax antique oil finish. I don’t know what’s in it exactly, apparently a mix of BLO and ”varnish”. I don’t know if I’d be able to wipe the planes clean, or if I can, whether it contains a plastic-based varnish - I’d rather stick to natural, traditional products if possible. I don’t know if there’s a similar UK product - seems primarily a US thing used for gun stocks.

Stavros Gakos (YouTube) uses BLO and button polish. That may be an option. They come out looking a bit like Donald Trump, but I guess I could use a less colourful shellac. But both are natural, traditional products with a finish that may allow the plane to stay clean.

I’ve read of tallow being used. I’ve also read of planes being left in BLO to soak.

Any ideas appreciated.

Thanks

Steve
wipe on linseed oil every now and then.
Wash hands after metal work?
 
Cheap BLO from the hardware store is a low quality product.

You could make your own linseed oil finish. In the old days linseed oil was washed to remove the fats that made it mold and delayed its curing time.
Steve Voight, a plane maker, has been blogging about and using linseed oil-based varnishes for his planes.

https://blackdogswoodshop.blogspot.com/2022/09/the-search-for-perfect-finish.html
I've never had a problem with linseed oil. I'd just go for it and use it.
Brush it on thin and wipe off excess.
If problem emerges use something else next time.
No magic recipes needed. Doesn't do to over-think these things or worry about imaginary problems!
If OP's dirty hands are a prob leave time for oil to dry - and/or wash hands? Keep it simple!
 
Last edited:
I've never had a problem with linseed oil. I'd just go for it and use it.
Brush it on thin and wipe off excess.
If problem emerges use something else next time.
No magic recipes needed. Doesn't do to over-think these things or worry about imaginary problems!
If OP's dirty hands are a prob leave time for oil to dry - and/or wash hands? Keep it simple!
Its the wiping off the excess that seems to count.Applying basic oil on the little and often principle is the way to go for new planes and what I have used on the old and dry planes I have been given from time to time.Once there is a bit of a build up of finish the regime becomes little and not very often.A wipe of candle wax on the sole is very helpful.
 

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