Adventures in Japanning #6: Completion!

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Blog entry by JayT posted 10-22-2012 12:49 AM 8964 reads 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Progress, finally! Part 6 of Adventures in Japanning series Part 7: That's a wrap! (for now) »

At the end of the last post, I had laid down a second layer of japanning on the test plane. The plane was again baked in my outdoor “oven” for a couple of hours at around 250 degrees F. The japanning was then scuffed up, this time with 220 grit. 400 just wasn’t cutting through that well. The nice part about the thickness of the japanning mixture is that it does a good job filling the casting marks.

You can see in the picture above the low and high spots in the cast iron (white/silver high spots of bare metal and the dark black being low spots not hit by the sandpaper). A third coat levelled these out nicely. This coat also got a bake after being allowed to dry overnight.

Here is the result on a 606.

I was very pleased with the color and sheen of the final product. My only real complaint is that I didn’t have a dust free room, so there are blemishes in the finish from dust landing on and sticking to the japanning while it was still tacky and before baking.

Since Don asked in an earlier blog post about comparing with the Duplicolor Ford Semi Gloss black engine enamel, I did the tail of a broken #7 for a comparison. Left to right is the 606 with three coats of my homemade japanning, an unrestored Type 11 #4 and the #7 with four coats of the Duplicolor spray paint.

It is tough to make out in the photo, but there is a very subtle difference in color. Personally, I think the homemade asphaltum japanning mix is a better match to the original Stanley, but it is very close. The spray enamel just seems to have a slight greenish gray tinge to the blackness of it. The sheen level of both finishes is very similar, with the japanning maybe a bit more glossy.

If presented with one plane by itself, I don’t think I would be able to tell if it was Duplicolor or my japanning recipe by the color alone. The one way that I would be able to tell the difference is that the japanning seems to fill the unevenness of the casting much better. That might be solved by heavier coats of spray paint, but I haven’t had a chance to try that. Maybe someone else who has used that method more often can chime in.

Well, that is the majority of the journey. There will be one more blog post summarizing the recipe, process and lessons learned.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

9 comments so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

20277 posts in 3899 days

#1 posted 10-22-2012 01:01 AM

This is a great series. Thanks for the work. Your convincing me I may have to try it myself.

I’ve added a few coats of the paint to fill voids, it does work.

I’ve noticed I have a hard time telling which I’ve repainted unless the japanning is not 100 percent.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 5135 days

#2 posted 10-22-2012 01:09 AM

I have had some success filling in the casting using a similar Duplicolor gloss black for the first 1-2 coats. The gloss seems to build faster without really requiring a heavier coat.

View SamuelP's profile


793 posts in 3978 days

#3 posted 10-22-2012 02:01 AM

This is a great blog series. Thank you.

I was talking to my dad about this and he knew an old timer who retired from Stanley and worked in the production side with the planes. He said that they had these stiff horse air brushes that they would use to knock the sheen off the brand new japanning and gave it the final finish.

Not sure where to get a stiff horse hair brush.

-- -Sam - FL- "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns somthing he can in no other way" -Mark Twain

View JayT's profile


6443 posts in 3543 days

#4 posted 10-22-2012 02:05 AM

Don, Arminium, thanks for the input.

Sam, I am going to try that. I have shoe shine brushes that are horsehair. I don’t know if any will be stiff enough, but it is worth a shot. Amazing what kind of input you can get from people. Thank your dad for me.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4690 days

#5 posted 10-22-2012 02:22 AM

Excellent series!! Thanks very much!! Like Don, I may have to give your method a try. I have a “few” planes that could stand some rejapanning.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View lysdexic's profile


5349 posts in 3954 days

#6 posted 10-22-2012 05:10 AM

Thanks JayT. Great info.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - nobodhi_here

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 5135 days

#7 posted 10-22-2012 01:12 PM

Really enjoying the series – I have done one small batch of japanning, and I liked the results. But I just don’t have the volume to justify the amount of work, nor the patience to build up a batch.

I suspect the asphaltum finish is somewhat tougher than the engine enamel as well, though I have never really tested that.

View mafe's profile


13651 posts in 4421 days

#8 posted 10-29-2012 06:24 PM

What a great blog, so informative and really well documented, thank you.
I hope to try this at one point.
Looks beautiful on the plane.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View ZED's profile


83 posts in 3690 days

#9 posted 12-30-2012 12:12 PM

Great Read, well documentted. Thanks

-- A good craftsman is able to make it work with the tools he has, I still need more tools

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