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Restoring old rusty planes

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Emstuv

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Just a quick question.

In order to save time and elbow grease, can "gentle" sandblasting be used to remove grime and rust from old planes? I realise that gentle and sandblasting don't really go hand in hand. I have access to a smaller sandblasting cabinet that is used to refurbish smaller items.

Plane would be disassembled and of course the iron would not be included in the blasting.

Possible? Can it potentially damage the plane components?
 

D_W

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Emstuv":16kdchpu said:
Just a quick question.

In order to save time and elbow grease, can "gentle" sandblasting be used to remove grime and rust from old planes? I realise that gentle and sandblasting don't really go hand in hand. I have access to a smaller sandblasting cabinet that is used to refurbish smaller items.

Plane would be disassembled and of course the iron would not be included in the blasting.

Possible? Can it potentially damage the plane components?

Sandblasting and bead blasting are common in the US. They'll take away the patina, but if you're using the plane and not collecting it, that's no worry.

If you're worried about it, buy some broken junk and try it out. plug threaded holes, of course, and remove all plastic bits and the only real issue is that you'll be dealing with a fresh surface that will be very susceptible to corrosion, and you'll be refurbishing with some kind of high solids durable paint (probably) that won't be as durable as japanning.

A lot of the vintage tool sellers here in the states will take a very rusty plane or saw and just blast them with a deburring wheel (like gray scotchbrite). The result doesn't look good, but it's purposeful and as much as many will say "you've ruined the appearance of that plane", the deburred plane will actually sell pretty easily to someone just looking for a user.

You can try gentler media if your cabinet gives you options (walnut hulls, corn cob media, beads, etc).
 

Bod

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It would very much depend on the blasting medium.
Carbide grit would be dangerous, walnut shell would polish it!
Glass beads, used carefully, avoiding the sole and sides, would strip off any rust and paint.

Bod.
 

Nigel Burden

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I used electrolysis on a rusty Woden W78 rebate plane. There wasn't much paint left anyway, so that wasn't an issue. but it did leave the Woden logo in tact. The plane hasn't been painted since, only waxed to prevent further rust.

Nigel.
 

Chisteve

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I use frosts rust remover (there are other manufacturers) to get rid of the rust on planes, would not shot blast as a bit harsh on the metal

Leave plane parts overnight or longer to soak then wash off with water works well
 

MikeG.

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I can't imagine a plane rusty enough that sandblasting would be the easiest solution. I certainly wouldn't do it. At the very worst, I'd be soaking it in vinegar, but planes are so small that abrasive paper deals with almost all rust issues in no time flat.
 

Sideways

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Another new convert to electrolysis here. A plastic container, an old laptop power supply (anything 12 to 20 volts DC), a couple of scoops of washing sode £1 from the supermarket, and some scraps of wire and junk steel are all you need. It works great for converting the rust and helping flake off any loose paint.
 

Rorschach

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Bicarb works well for rust removal with very little collateral damage. Cheap too and if you have moving parts it can be washed off so no gritty bits.
 

D_W

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Here in the states where there was a burst of people who didn't want to do anything other than buy and "restore" planes, electrolysis and citric acid were probably the two most popular methods.

Phosphoric acid is also easy (sold as concrete etch here) and inexpensive. I've used electrolysis and phosphoric acid.

All of them etch a plane to dull gray, and the collector's market for stanley planes here (which pretty much treasures an original looking plane with original box and no manipulation at all) hates it, but for all but the most primo unused stuff, users have taken over the market.

People do bead blast planes, but it's less common because it's much easier to get a plastic tub and acid or a battery charger to do electrolysis.
 

Emstuv

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Thanks for all the advice.

I will check what kind of medium the blaster uses, but perhaps the use of acids (citric / vinegar) might be a better option.

If I can find a dirt cheap plane, and I mean dirt cheap (not easy in Norway) I can give it a go.
 

Inspector

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In the mean time you can test the different processes on rusty stuff you have at hand. Shovels, old wrenches, hammers or axes. You can't tell me you or you friends don't have rusty stuff that doesn't need a bit of cleaning. ;)

Pete
 

D_W

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If you're considering electrolysis, then it may be a good time to track down a sacrificial anode made of mild steel or cast iron. It's easy to find junk laying around, but as I recall, the junk should be relatively similar in length to the planes themselves and I had less stuff to sacrifice a decade and a half ago when I wanted to try that method. Battery charger, tub, washing soda - all easy to get a hold of. Something mild steel or iron of some size that you want to destroy as an anode was less easy and I ended up scrounging used lawn mower blades on a visit to my parents (if you never throw anything away, it'll be a lot easier to find something).

The beauty of electrolysis is that if you're going to do a bunch of it, it costs very little to do. Citric acid is available as a food stock here (and less stinky than vinegar and more aggressive) - that and electrolysis do better with outright basket cases than vinegar.
 

TheTiddles

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Evaporust is expensive (relatively), but is really good, just as good as the marketing hype and review videos say

Aidan
 

AJB Temple

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It drives me bonkers when people "restore" planes. I just bought an old Record O77A chisel/bullnose plane off eBay and prior to sending it to me the seller "cleaned it up" for me (unasked). I bought it to use, and he has made such a bodge of it (you can see the marks and the numerous bits he missed) that for peace of mind I will now have to deal with it properly. :roll:

He also sharpened it. His idea of sharpening and mine are knives apart. Or is that knaves?

I would not sandblast. It is harsh and unnecessary. People who do this usually end up overdoing it - so the flat surfaces are pitted because they struggle to get into the crevices.
 
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