Another Hand Plane Rehab #6: Put a Fork In It

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Blog entry by HokieKen posted 11-22-2021 02:58 PM 405 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Tote Repair Part 6 of Another Hand Plane Rehab series no next part

Well, a mere 6 months after starting this series, I’m finally ready to wrap it up…

So let’s dive right in! When last I left off, I had finished repairing the tote. So now it was time to finish the tote and knob. The tote had been sanded back so the original film finish was removed before I did the horn repair. I just sanded it up through some higher grits stopping at 400. The knob still had the film finish so I sanded it back. I still do knobs the same basic way I detailed in this old blog post except I have found that I prefer to work on it on my lathe rather than on the drill press. Better speed control and it’s just more comfortable.

I have also found that using a flanged tee-nut instead of hex nuts lets me chuck up right against the flat and have the knob closer to the chuck and therefore less runout making it easier to sand.

So I sanded it up through the same grits to 400 like the tote. In contrast to how I’ve always finished the knobs and totes on my planes, I was seduced by the shiny side via Sansoo22's finished pieces ;-) Until now, all of my planes have just had the wood oiled and waxed as shown in the blog post I linked earlier. However I decided to go a different route on these. Sansoo uses a poly and finish wax schedule. But I wanted something with a little less gloss but also something that enhanced the wood on this plane.

So after a little research, I decided to give it a go with a modified French Polishing schedule. I am very happy with how the finish ended up on these so I’m going to give the details below. Note that the below details how it was applied to the tote specifically. The schedule was the same for the knob but I applied the shellac on the lathe running at slow speed rather than rubbing it on.

  • Three coats of shellac at a 3# cut. Let cure overnight.
  • After third coat, wet sand with mineral spirits at 600 grit until finish feels smooth. It may look duller in some areas but that’s okay at this point. The goal here is fill the grain.
  • Apply 2 coats of 2# cut shellac and let cure overnight.
  • Wet sand with mineral spirits at 800 or 1000 grit. Sand lightly. Just enough to denib and level out the surface. Finish should feel smooth and appear even. If not, repeat 2# coats and wet sand until it is.
  • After sanding, blow clean with compressed air (or use tack cloth if you prefer) and wipe lightly with denatured alcohol.
  • Make a French Polishing pad with a wadding of wool the size of a large marble for the center and a clean, lint-free cotton cloth wrapped around it. Pad should be small enough to get into tight corners on the tote but as large as possible while doing so. When tightly wound, pad should make a ball of 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter. Apply 2# shellac to the wool center so it’s wet but not saturated. When banging pad on back of hand, only a trace amount of shellac should come through cotton outer layer onto hand. Put two drops of mineral or olive oil on pad, applied directly to outer layer, to reduce friction.
  • Rub shellac onto wood in tight circular motion moving quickly and never pausing. If you see application being less obvious, stop and add some shellac to the center wadding. If it starts to get harder to move the pad, add another drop of oil to the surface. Continue to apply to full surface until it looks even and has a deliberate “wet” look. This probably takes 5-10 passes over the whole part to complete.
  • Add 3 or 4 drops of DNA to the surface of the pad and wipe with the grain in fast, light passes. NEVER let the pad sit in a spot on the wood. It must be in continuous motion. This step is to remove any residual oil from the surface of the shellac and to even out any swirl marks from application. Repeat until finish looks smooth and streak free. Usually 1 or 2 passes over the part are sufficient. Let cure overnight.
  • Repeat previous step until finish builds and is streak free and even. Focus each coat on areas that appear duller. I ended up doing 5 coats as detailed using the 2# cut. Some instructions recommend upwards of 20 coats. Do what looks and feels right!
  • After final coat of 2# shellac applied as above let finish cure for 3 days then wet sand lightly with 1200 grit using mineral spirits. This is just to denib and lower any high areas of the finish. Don’t sand any more than necessary. Blow clean after sanding and wipe lightly with DNA with the grain.
  • Mix a 1# cut of shellac and put a new cotton cloth on your center wadding. Apply 1# cut same as before using the pad and oil to reduce friction. Do not wipe with DNA after this coat. Let cure overnight.
  • Before starting each subsequent coat of 1# shellac, rub down with a second pad containing only a few drops of DNA. This is after the previous coat has cured overnight and any entrained oil should have risen to the surface. The purpose is to remove residual oil. Wipe pad with the grain and in constant motion. NEVER let it sit in one spot.
  • Do 3 coats of 1# shellac and let the final coat cure for 3 days.
  • If it looks and feels good, you’re done! If not, wet sand lightly to even out any high spots and repeat 1# coats as many times as necessary.
  • To knock the sheen down slightly after shellac is fully cured, apply a coat of paste wax with 0000 steel wool.

At least that’s how I think I remember doing it… I kinda winged it. Here's a good write up on the French Polishing method in much better detail. Derive your own recipe from there :-) I will say that this finishing schedule wasn’t labor intensive but it was time intensive. It took me about 3 weeks with all of the coats and curing time. Is it worth it? I dunno. I’ll probably do it again but I’m still tempted to try Sansoo’s method with poly and see how it compares in looks and feel. I love the look and feel of the shellac but I also question how well it will stand the test of time.

Here are some in-process shots during the finishing stage.

Enough about the wood! Moving on to the lever cap… After making the wood glossy and the brass and steel all shiny, the lever cap just wasn’t going to do in its current condition:

So, I wire brushed it and polished it up:

But in the process, I lost the paint in the recess. So, I masked it up and shot some of the red paint I used for the frog on it covering the recess and the raised letters:

Then I masked it back up to prevent marring the polished surface and used some micro-mesh sanding sticks to remove the paint from the raised letters.

And done:

And that pretty much sums it up :-) I did work up the iron and chipbreaker but my method is unchanged from how I did it in this blog post so I won’t rehash it here.

So we went from the before:

To the after:

So she’s pretty but is she useful?

Well, not at first :-( I was getting this:

I initially thought my chipbreaker wasn’t doing its job properly and I needed to go back to work on it. But then when I removed the blade/chipbreaker the clog fell out. It wasn’t stuck on the chipbreaker but instead the mouth was too tight. Then I remembered that I put the frog on way back after painting so I wouldn’t misplace it but hadn’t actually set the position. It was set a bit too far forward. So, I moved it back so the blade bed was flush with the ramp at the back of the mouth and put the cutter assembly back in. After a few swipes and a couple of taps on the lateral lever, voila :-)

Full width shavings in short order. No, those aren’t the gossamer thin shavings you usually see when somebody is showing off their plane. But this big boy is no smoother and he don’t eat salad! I set it for about a .008” cut which is about how I like my jointers set. They aren’t scrubbing anything so they don’t need a real big bite. But I don’t want to take 100 passes before I get a face fully flattened either so it needs to take a big enough bite to do that efficiently. And it’ll get followed up with a smoother to do the final surfacing so a little tearout or edge tracks can be dealt with.

So there we are. This series ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated but at least I got my annual series done before Thanksgiving! My intention was to supplement my original series on rehabbing planes so hopefully these entries are helpful with some things that weren’t covered previously. Thanks for reading and comments and questions are always welcome. And I constantly learn new and better ways to do parts of of plane rehabs so by all means, if you have suggestions on how I can do something better or easier, let me know!

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

12 comments so far

View Notw's profile


1138 posts in 3035 days

#1 posted 11-22-2021 03:39 PM

Awesome job Ken that came out beautiful

View Brit's profile


8457 posts in 4124 days

#2 posted 11-22-2021 04:01 PM

That is droolworthy Kenny. Excellent rehab.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View OldBull's profile


541 posts in 577 days

#3 posted 11-22-2021 04:19 PM

That is awesome Ken !!!

View pottz's profile (online now)


21271 posts in 2266 days

#4 posted 11-22-2021 04:39 PM

a beautiful restoration kenny.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View HokieKen's profile


19813 posts in 2420 days

#5 posted 11-22-2021 06:15 PM

Thanks fellas. It’s always fun breathing a little more life into old tools :-) Doesn’t usually take 6 months but it’s always fun…

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View EarlS's profile


4801 posts in 3629 days

#6 posted 11-22-2021 06:47 PM

Now for the bad news. I’m sure that plane was worth WAY more in its original antique condition. All of your work ruined the value. It’s practically worthless in the shiny, like-new condition it is in now. I’d be willing to dispose of it for you. Just send it my way. ;+D

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View Peteybadboy's profile


4146 posts in 3231 days

#7 posted 11-22-2021 08:54 PM

Wow! that is beautiful!

-- Petey

View 489tad's profile


4080 posts in 4293 days

#8 posted 11-23-2021 01:04 AM

Great job Kenny. I like the look of the tote.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8792 posts in 1864 days

#9 posted 11-23-2021 02:42 AM

You made a pretty, Kenny! Nice work!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View DevinT's profile


2095 posts in 248 days

#10 posted 11-23-2021 12:51 PM

Oooo. Very nice work Kenny! Mmhmm, looks like my kind of user.

-- Devin, SF, CA

View HokieKen's profile


19813 posts in 2420 days

#11 posted 11-23-2021 01:19 PM

Thanks Lady and Gentlemen and Earl ;-)

I have several more that need this treatment to some degree or another. At the rate of one per year, I may have my user arsenal finished by the time I retire…

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View duckmilk's profile


4866 posts in 2606 days

#12 posted 11-23-2021 10:45 PM

Very nicely done Kenny! Beautiful Millers Falls rehab.

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

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