Plane Restoration #1: Marsh M5 (Day 01)

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Blog entry by sansoo22 posted 08-05-2020 02:45 AM 1010 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Plane Restoration series Part 2: Marsh M5 (Day 02) »

After doing so many restorations lately I figured I’d take the time to create a blog series that hits the highlights of my process. The best way I can think of to do that is break it down by each day’s worth of work at a time and describe what was done that day.

So here we go. This plug ugly bastard is a Marsh M5 I got from ebay for a whopping $35 including shipping. If I’m any good at what I do it will look like its worth a lot more when I’m done.

I know everyone reading this is envious of this magnificent ebay treasure.

Step 1: Take it a apart
Seriously that’s all there is to step one. The only thing to remember is don’t force any parts with threads. If they won’t come off get some Kroil penetrating oil or P.B. Blaster. Don’t worry if it gets on the wood parts…those are disgusting already. For this particular ugly duckling the rear depth adjuster was gunked up with lots of grime. It took quite a bit of PB Blaster and working it back and forth before it came off cleanly. That’s still a better alternative than stripping the brass threads and trying to find a new adjuster knob on a Marsh.

Step 2: Clean your parts – No its not your bath time yet…we are cleaning plane parts
I use just regular old soap and water with a soft bristle nylon brush for this part. Yes they may flash rust but who cares they are going into a rust bath later anyway.

Looking a tiny bit better already.

Step: 3 Inspect your pars – not your parts…eyes up ya weirdo
What you’re looking for is anything bent or broken. Bent we can fix but broken you have to source. On this old dirty bastard the lateral adjuster is bent as well as the frog depth adjustment fork. I will address those in another entry once they are clean. Also I can’t quite make out the iron but it looks like a Miller Falls and not an H.C. Marsh. Once its clean we will find out for sure.

Step 4: Evaporust spa treatment
I don’t have a pic of this step because its just a tub with some Evaporust in it and the plane gets fully submerged in it. Let me say that again…FULLY SUBMERGED...unless you want the acids to etch lines in the side of the plane body for you. By the way those lines won’t ever come out…ask me how I know. Also if you have young kids or pets be responsible and get a tub with a latching lid. Big box stores have the knock off brand tubs stupid cheap.

Step 5: Sand the handles – We all love sanding right?
Not much to show on this step. The tote is going to suck to sand. If its an older style tote where they were more selective about grain patterns its going to be a bear to follow it. Most of the time it angles across the side and back but sometimes its crotch grain and the back side of the tote has a V shape in the grain. I always start with 120 grit and do two passes with it before I drop lower. Anything lower than 120 can leave scratches that are tough to take out. Sometimes its necessary if the finish is being a jerk.

I clean the tote with denatured alcohol between each sanding. One it helps break up any existing finish and it will remove any contaminants you don’t see that could show up in your finish later.

Here the tote is done up to 220 grit and you can see my make shift bolt and spacers for the knob. This is loaded into my cordless and used to sand the knob.

Here is the other side of the tote still at 220 and the knob taken to 400 grit. The tote has a chip we need to fix or I would have taken it to 400 as well.

Step 6: Fix handles
I try to stay away from things with broken handles because I’m lazy and don’t like dealing with it. If I was gluing a tote back together I would do that at step 5. But thankfully we just have a chip to fill on this tote.

This is a decent size chip but we will see how my super glue fill process looks once finish is applied

And here it is filled. Make sure to overfill any chips as the glue will shrink. With this size it will most likely take a second coat.

Now set that tote off somewhere away from dust and dirt to dry. If you used the glue in the pic don’t try huffing…it has no smell.

Step 7: Clean the iron
The acids in evaporust can attack the hardened part of the iron so I never let it sit overnight with the rest of the plane. And in the summer time with the humidity in the mid west its either finish it on day one or spray it with CRC 3-36 and finish it later. Today I opted to do it the same day.

After a quick once over with 220 grit we can clearly see it is indeed a Miller Falls iron.

Now we have a judgement call to make. Is the pitting in the iron enough to warrant dropping down to 100 grit or can we live with it? I chose to drop down to 100 to remove more of the pitting since this iron may get sold if I can find a suitable H.C. Marsh to replace it with.

So the process for the iron is pretty simple. Steel has a grain to it just like wood so make sure to check the direction of the grain. On this iron it is vertical, so I sand with 100 grit in as vertical of motion as possible, then double my initial grit and go to 200. I repeat the same vertical sanding and then double it again at 400 and finally finish it with 800.

Now the tricky part – Buffing the iron. For Stanley Irons I use jeweler’s rouge because it leaves more of a luster than a shine. For Miller Falls irons I like to use green compound to get a better shine. Miller Falls seem classier so I shine them up another degree.

If you have a buffer and aren’t sure how to use one I suggest a trip to YouTube since a picture won’t do it justice. Just be warned these irons can get a bit toasty. If you don’t have a buffer then I suggest converting an old bench grinder. My “buffer” is an old Delta 5” grinder but works wonders for me.

Step 8: – Wax anything metal you completed today
Mid-west humidity laughs at unprotected metal things so I have to wax anything I finish same day even in the winter time. I like to use a micro-crystalline wax that is petroleum based versus any carnuba based waxes. My wax of choice is Renaissance.

Here is a finished Miller Falls iron…look at it all nice and shiny

Step 9: Protect your parts – Put the jock strap down…i know its lumber jocks but we’re talking plane parts

I like these rubbermaid clear tubs. They are a tad pricey at around $12 each but they have nice seal to help keep out dust and a size 3 and 4 can fit in them body and all.

So that’s it for the first day of plane restoration work. The next entry will be hardware and the initial stripping of the japanning from the body and tote.

2 comments so far

View KYtoolsmith's profile


253 posts in 1312 days

#1 posted 08-07-2020 12:10 AM

Excellent write up and photos. I see so many “restorations” starting with a wire wheel. Good to see you disassemble right off. Good tip on keeping parts submerged in evaporust. Same applies for electrolysis rust removal.
Can’t wait to see the next installment!
Regards, The Kentucky Toolsmith!

-- "Good enough" is just another way of saying "it could be better"...

View sansoo22's profile


1978 posts in 1106 days

#2 posted 08-07-2020 04:58 AM

Thank you. I use wire brushes in two processes only. The first is steel bristle brushes if I’m stripping bad japanning off. The second is brass bristle brushes cleaning and shining the depth adjuster. I could do jobs like cleaning the lever cap faster with a wire brush but sand paper gives me much finer control.

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