New (old) Woodworker

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DavePinner

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Hi All, I've been a member on here for a few weeks following a recommendation from Mark Hancock, after I completed a beginners turning course with him. I'm still quite a way off getting a lathe but I am also very interested in general woodworking and thought the first step would be to set up a workbench. My father was a woodworker all of his working life but, of course, it is only when he passed away (about 4 years ago) that I started to take an interest myself. He started out as a Woodwork teacher, having completed his teaching qualification at Loughborough, retired from teaching at 50 and then set up his own workshop in Bewdley, Worcs. Much of his machinery was given to a local charity following his passing but there is still quite a lot left in his workshop, including a couple of benches. My original idea was to buy or build my own but when I realised there were a couple left in his workshop, I dismantled one (the other one is inaccessible at the moment) and then put it up in my garage this weekend (photo attached). There was also an old vice attached which I'll clean and reattach in the not too distant future. Also, as I was clearing the bench I realised that there were two boxes of old planes on the shelf so I rescued these as well with the intention of renovating them at some point. Most of the planes look like they were made by Routledges in Birmingham but there were a couple which I think he made himself.
I know the workbench has seen better days and seems to have been made up from whatever wood my father had lying around the workshop but it is more the sentimental attachment to me which is important, trying to put to use something which he had used for years. Any comments on how best to renovate the planes or improve the workbench would be useful. I'll post more as I progress but with everything else that is going on, this is likely to be fairly slow.
workbench.jpg
planes on workbench.jpg
planes.jpg
 

Stanleymonkey

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Please don't think you have to rush in and do anything drastic with sandpaper or wire wool. It's really tempting with old wooden tools.

I would brush them over with a dustpan and brush type soft brush and hoover out any crud free up the wedges and irons and try and keep them together!

For the plane bodies I've used a dry cloth with the lightest spray of warm soapy water so it is barely damp and and then wipe them all over and a lot of the crud will come off. You'll also get a good up close and personal look at the planes and put the ones that need more work off to one side.

I'm sure someone on here will have a special mix to recommend for the cleaning stage.
 

toolsntat

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Hello Dave and nice to see you're reusing the bench and rescuing a few of your Father's planes.
First off if you've ever been to one of Robert Jackson's Manor Farm open days over at Sevenhampton, we might have met. I collect and put on displays of old tools and Robert's event is a regular for me.
Unless thick with grime (yours don't look it) you don't need to do a lot to have the planes fit for purpose again. Quite often a wipe over with an old garage/workshop rag will do it. Unless the soles of the planes and warped just sharpen the blades and enjoy.
Apart from this, @AndyT has some of the very best instructions on the subject at the top of the list on the "handtool" part of the forum.

Cheers Andy
 

billw

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Welcome Dave and enjoy the forum.

Those planes look like they'll be serviceable but I'll share my experience of old benches. My mum has a workbench in the garage that was made by her father-in-law, it's very old and very well used and obviously has a lot of sentimental value to her. On the other side of the coin I think the amount of time I would spend trying to get it flat, sturdy, and serviceable would simply outweigh the benefits. I used it for a while, but it started to get to the point where anything I tried to do on it was a nuisance - especially heavy tasks like planing.

If you wanted to repurpose yours (and it does indeed look sturdy) I could suggest cleaning it up and using as the frame for a drawer/cupboard unit and then use it as a secondary bench for lighter tasks such as sharpening, finishing, or just dumping your tools on. I've bolted a tablesaw to it now and moved it down the workshop, it's got a large piece of ply on it as a "temporary" flat surface and now it's just used for things like glueing where I don't want to mess up my other work surfaces.
 

Peter Sefton

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Hi Dave, welcome to the forum. You had a great teacher in Mark, he spends a few days with my students each year getting them up tp speed with turning.

How nice to be using your fathers bench and old planes, one tradition cleaner is equal portions of vinegar, white spirit, meths and boiled linseed oil, wipe on leave for a couple of minutes and buff off. You could use a scotchbrite pad but this might be too abrasive and remove the patina of years of hand working.
 

DavePinner

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Thanks for all of the useful information and guidance guys, I'll progress with the plane renovation in the coming weeks and post the results when I get chance. I've noticed that there is a square hole at the far end of the bench, which I assume is for a plane stop so I might make one of these as well as fitting the vice.
 
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