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trevtheturner

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I have recently inherited a considerable quantity of old hand tools. These include some three or four dozen moulding planes together with a number of wooden jack planes, a try plane, smoothing (coffin) planes, rebate and rabbet planes. Some, I believe, are up to 100 years old - I have a mallet which, when the handle is removed, shows 'new handle fitted 1923'

I want to keep them in good condition - any advice will be most welcome.

Can you help me, Jester?

Trevtheturner.
 

Argus

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Firstly congratulations. I hope you have a good stock of old kit to bring out of retirement.

Well, the first thing to do is to be realistic and assess what you have and make 2 piles. Good usable kit on one side and the rest which is fit for the pub wall. If you want to restore a quantity of good tools you will probably have a fair bit of work. I regularly buy and restore old tools purely for use and they are excellent if you get good ones, but for every good tool there are a dozen that are worn out or broken. The simple fact is that older tools are frequently better quality that their modern equivalents.

1. Dismantle all the planes and look at the irons (label and number them all up, including the wedges, so that they go back together in the tools they came from). A smart whack with a mallet on the back of the body will loosen most irons. On moulding planes you must drive the iron FORWARD through the mouth. Check for rust. Surface rust will come off, deep pitting is more serious. You need an area of good clear steel on the backs of the blades behind the cutting edge. Pitting on the front of the blade is not a problem if it is not too bad.
2. Look at the wooden parts
• Are the soles flat? Or flat enough to plane down.
• How wide is the throat? Does it need a new mouth?
• Any cracks or shakes etc?
• Is the moulding plane sole contour straight? If it is bent or curved along the length the plane is useless.
• Check if the boxing on the sole is loose in the moulding planes – if it is carefully take it out as you can re glue it. The boxing sections are usually cut across the grain and are delicate, so take care.

The final thing I find useful for all old wooden planes is, after you have cleaned the body, soak the whole thing in raw linseed oil for a few weeks (yes weeks!). The body will, in all probability, have dried out over the years. Keep the whole thing warm if you can and the oil will be absorbed and will nourish the wood and add extra weight. Most wooden plane bodies were quarter sawn beech cut at a slight angle to the grain so the contact surface of the base presented to the work is often end grain and the absorbed oil will continue to lubricate in use. You will, in all probability, have to flat the base after all this, so it is important that when you do you plane from the BACK of the base forward to avoid tear-out.

Please read the best book on the subject which will guide you through all you need to get started or mail me direct if you want any advice:

“Restoring and Using Classic Woodworking Tools”, by Michael Dunbar, Sterling Publishing, New York, 1989 ISBN 0-8069-6670-x. I think it is still in print.


Good luck
 
A

Anonymous

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Argus":3cym3y1u said:
The final thing I find useful for all old wooden planes is, after you have cleaned the body, soak the whole thing in raw linseed oil for a few weeks (yes weeks!).
Or then again, maybe not:
http://nika.frontier.iarc.uaf.edu:8080/ ... =1#message

Your best bet is to devote a few hours to the archives as above and search for "cleaning", "soaking" & c. There are lots of conflicting opinions on the "right" way, but generally you will find a consensus of what to do. "Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools" is very helpful, but be aware that the knowledge of old tools and how to look after them has evolved since it was written. If you have specific queries or problems, and you don't want to join the Old Tool List, then try the hand tool forum on Wood Central.
 

trevtheturner

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Hi Argus & Guest,

Most grateful to you both for answering my query and for the very useful information and advice you have given.

Most of the tools belonged to my late father-in-law who used them with much care and great skill over many years. Many are in good condition but obviously some, from your advice, will benefit from some restoration - so I shall have to stoke up the workshop stove and get on with them.

I hope to use them, going on from woodturning, in the future for furniture making. If I can develop half the skills that my father-in-law had I shall be happy.

Thanks again. Trev.
 
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