Plane Restoration #4: Marsh M5 (Day 04)

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Blog entry by sansoo22 posted 08-11-2020 02:04 PM 893 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Marsh M5 (Day 03) Part 4 of Plane Restoration series Part 5: Marsh M5 (Day 05) »

I have quite a bit more work done on the Marsh I just haven’t had a chance to post it all yet. I’m doing my best to try and keep track of each days worth of work. My old boxer passed away on Saturday and it kind of upended my life for a few days. That old man was with me for 13 yrs. At age 40 that’s nearly a third of my life. His demeanor was always one of caring and patience. It was a constant in my life I came to rely on and once its gone it leaves a very large hole.

I believe the last entry left off with getting the first coat of finish on the handles and getting the cast iron parts back into the rust bath.

Step 1: More finish on the handles
I like to start each day/session by working on the finish for the handles since those take a full day in the summer humidity to dry. I use 0000 steal wool after each coat as necessary to remove nibs off the finish. Here is a pic of the first coat after being wiped with the steal wool.

You can see we have some uneven finish here. I attribute this to the drying effect of the denatured alcohol used to clean the handles between sanding. Nothing to worry about. Just means another wipe on coat of poly is needed. I put that on now and set my handles off somewhere safe to dry

Step 2: Clean your parts – So much cleaning
I don’t have an image for this step because its been covered but remove plane parts from rust bath and clean with soap and water.

Step 3: Flatten the body
I don’t do anything fancy here. I’ve seen people use granite tiles, glass plates, even glass plates with precision machined aluminum surfaces on top that were 3 ft long before. I use just a simple large granite surface plate I bought on sale at Wood Craft.

My initial setup is a single sheet of 60 grit paper and a small clamp to hold it down. A number 5 size plane can be worked diagonally on a single sheet.

For a bit of controversial lapping I don’t load the frog back into the body. I’ve heard it explained that the frog tensions the plane and prevents an warping but I don’t see how and no one besides a physicist who is also a metallurgist is going to be able to convince me otherwise. The frog is held in by 2 screws that are only torqued down tight enough to keep it from moving. On Stanley’s, type 9 and earlier, the front of the frog didnt even make contact with the mouth. So in my opinion loading the frog back in the body does nothing but make lapping a giant pain in the ass.

In order to check the sole I first use a Milwaukee Inkzall marker. I used to keep Sharpies around but they dont like metal dust or dirt. On a corrugated plane like the M5 I mark big thick black lines on both sides of the mouth and then a few arcs at the toe and heel

Here is how I grip the body when lapping. I try to use my palm to keep pressure over the mouth. I’m not using a ton of force here either. I start with a coarse grit so that it does all the work.

Now remember I’m actually going to sand at a diagonal. It was just hard to get a pic at that angle.

After around 8 to 12 passes on the coarse paper I will recheck where the marker lines.

We can see the marker lines are completely gone from around the mouth but we didn’t even touch the toe or heel. This means we have a bit of a belly to smooth out. On a number 5 it probably doesn’t matter but we can get flatter so why not go for it.

Now I change my setup to remove the belly from the plane. I switch to using two sheets of paper with some painters tape to hold them down. I know there are lots of things you can use like roles of paper but this method works well for me. You just have to make sure the two sheets are aligned correctly with no bumps at the joint. A slight gap wont hurt at all but an overlap would be very bad.

Now you have some work to do. It can take a while to get the sole flat. I will work it from both directions. Mouth towards me and mouth away from me keeping two hands on the body at all times. If you want it to look its best when completed you want as straight of strokes as possible.

And after about 10 or 15 minutes worth of work we have a bed that is shiny from almost head to toe.

Here is a close up of the toe. You can see it’s not perfect but that last tiny bit isn’t going to hurt anything. I have yet to come across a situation where I’m trying to register my plane on a piece of lumber using only the first 1/4” of the sole.

And the heel came out nearly perfect with just a tiny dark spot left at the edge

Now that we have done the sole its on to the sides. When doing these I have a specific grip I like to use. I hold onto the cheek with one finger pointing forward and keep my elbow tucked and in line with my shoulder. Much like using a hand saw. This keeps even pressure and prevents getting out of square.

The other advantage to this grip is if the sides aren’t square I can just lean pressure of my hand to one side of the other to take heavier passes where needed to square it up.

After you get your grip down sand away and make sure to check for square OFTEN. I use a Starrett tool makers square to get as accurate as possible but any good small square will do.

After I’ve established flat and square on 60 grit, I step up to 120, 220, and finally 400. You may end up with a few low spots on the cheeks after using the surface plate. Every plane is different and if I get low spots I will touch those up by hand.

Here is the M5 taken up to 400. Still some dirt and grime to remove but we can do that later.

Now would be a good time to go wash up because your hands probably look like this

Step 4: Fettle the frog
This frog actually doesn’t need any work. Some restorers go thru the hassle of removing tool marks from the frog just because they don’t like the look. To me the frog is the most important part of the plane so I don’t mess with it if I don’t have to.

What I like to do is load it in my bench vise face up. If you have a small straight edge you can check if for flat that way. What I use is a spare iron that registers very flat on my surface plate. I place that on top of the frog and tap all for corner and both sides around the center point. If there is any rock in the iron I know the frog isn’t flat and I know where to address that.

Step 5: Clean your parts AGAIN!
This is the final cleaning before we paint. I was battling severe humidity the day I did this so I got flash rusting on the surface of the plane and frog. Might not have happened if I wasn’t stopping every 10 minutes for pics but hey I can deal with it. So first part of final cleaning is WD40 and a wire brush to get the flash rusting off.

Following this I use brake parts cleaner until no more brown, grey, green, or really any ugly color comes off on my blue shop towel. It can take awhile but the cleaner it is the better.

Step 6: Protect your parts
After everything is super clean I like to wax the sole and cheeks of the bed just to protect them during painting. I don’t need anything try to rust under the painters tape. I’ve only had it happen one time but it sucked so this is a precaution I take. No pics of this step. I just apply a light coat of Renaissance wax.

Step 7: Tape your parts
Now that everything is clean we need to tape off the areas we don’t want painted. The body and yoke are easy but the frog will suck. Don’t be surprised if you go through a couple razor blades taping the frog. Rough cast iron and sharp don’t mix.


Frog and Yoke

One thing I didn’t get a pic of is adding some scrap hardware to all the bolt holes, except the frog depth adjuster hole, in the body. The last thing you want is paint in the mounting holes.

Step 8: Final cleaning – HOORAY!!!
I can never get the hang of doing fine detailed taping with gloves on so I know I touched some surfaces I want paint on at some point during the taping step. Since we don’t want any finger oils on those soon to be painted parts I glove up and wipe all my parts down with acetone. Avoid your paint because acetone eats adhesive.

Step 9: Paint your parts
I don’t have any pics of this step. My lighting in my paint area is not very good and images always come out bad. If you have ever spray painted anything before with some success you will be fine. The color I use for planes is Dupli-Color Ceramic Ford Semi-Gloss Engine enamel. The Dupli-Color paint code is DE1635.

Just remember to start with light coats and build up gradually. You can always add more paint but taking any off means taking it all off and starting this process from Strip Your parts. I’ve been there before and trust me its not fun.

1 comment so far

View Redoak49's profile


5417 posts in 3271 days

#1 posted 08-11-2020 10:00 PM

Very thorough job and blog.

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