Plane Restoration #6: Marsh M5 (Day 06)

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Blog entry by sansoo22 posted 08-14-2020 07:51 PM 916 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Marsh M5 (Day 05) Part 6 of Plane Restoration series no next part

The final day of getting the plane ready to go. For starters let’s do a review of the day 1 image as to remember what this rusty bastard looked like before we started.

This is a sad plane

And with a little bit of work we make a happy plane

Step 1: Wax on Wax off
Once the handles have had time to dry I like to give them a good coat of wax. For rosewood and other dark wood handles I prefer MinWax Special dark

Look at it shine…

We do the same with the tote but unfortunately it still has a few tiny blemishes in the tip of the horn. First is the 120 grit choice for sanding the fill spot. That was too rough and left some white marks. The second is some very small areas that would not take the finish. I have no idea what causes this but I get one tote or knob out of a dozen or so that just has a problem. I chalk it up to being 100 yrs old and not knowing what all gunk has gotten on them over that time span.

Still looks better than what we started with so I call it a win

Step 2: Testing
Normally I wouldn’t do this step because we are all clean and shiny right now. This testing is going to require cleaning the sole and waxing it again. However fellow LJ HookieKen brought to my attention an issue he had where lapping without assembling the plane did warp the sole once it was all back together. I believe the culprit in his case was the leading edge of the frog not being machined parallel with the sole. So where they made contact left uneven pressure.

So to test I thoroughly cleaned my surface plate and laid down a new sheet of 320 grit paper. Next we mark the mouth of the plane with a couple black lines on both sides.

You should take the iron out for this but I decided to go full boar and leave it in but fully retracted. This has the plane fully tensioned as it would be in use.

No irons were harmed in this testing

Finally I run the plane diagonally across my 320 grit for a total of a dozen passes with it fully assembled and using the tote and knob just as I would if I was making curls.

And here is our result

A tiny black bar in front of the mouth. This says to me that i missed this when I was first lapping the sole. I can’t think of any pressure being put on the plane when its fully assembled that would cause any warping in front of the mouth.

If this was a smoother instead of a jack I would break out some lower grit paper and take that hollow out. Being a jack plane I’m honestly not to worried about that. If it causes me issue when taking shavings I will address it then.

Step 3: Sharpen the iron
I’m not going to go into detail here. There are literally TONS of videos and blogs out there about rehabbing and sharpening plane irons. I have my own method that is a mix of the Cosman and Sellers sharpening techniques. What works best for one person may not work for the next. It seems every hand tool user has their own way of handling irons that works best for them. I say do some research from well known craftsman and come up with a method that works best for you.

Step 4: Make some curls
The first thing I do is find a nice board to take some edge passes with. This lets me get a feel for the plane as well as get the iron dialed in nice and straight. Paul Sellers has a great video on this but basically you want to take a pass on the left and right side of the iron. If they aren’t even move the lateral adjuster toward the side that took a heavier shaving and repeat. Once both sides are even you know you are nice and straight.

Here is our board

And here are the resulting shavings.

With the oak having that heavy of grain lines I think that’s the best we will get. The edge is straight, square, and glass smooth. Its fun to get those transparent shavings but in my experience not all wood will do that for you.

Now that we have our iron square and its taking nice shavings lets do the face

And here are the shavings from the face

That long shaving right in front of the knob is nearly full length of the test board and getting close to full width. I am satisfied she is dialed in.

Now it’s time to play!

Or get carried away as I often do with a new plane

Take note of the strop in this pic. I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this horse butt strop from Tools for Working Wood. I use the rough side and it works so well I can use it to touch up an iron before heading back to the stones. That is a pretty big time saver and extends my working time with an iron by a good 30 to 40 precent.

So there you have it my process for restoring a rusty old plane. I want to give a special thanks to HookieKen and KYToolSmith for giving me some pointers I can incorporate into my process for the next plane I restore. As with all things in life continuously searching for ways to make improvements will almost certainly lead to better results and a more enjoyable experience.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. Thanks for those that made it this far. I hope I was able to share some information you may not have seen before.

4 comments so far

View HokieKen's profile


21686 posts in 2591 days

#1 posted 08-14-2020 07:58 PM

Great series Sansoo. I’ve always went for understated knobs and totes. I sand em back, oil em, wax em and go. But now you make me wonder if shiny wood is the way to go :-) Excellent result! Thanks for sharing.

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

View sansoo22's profile


1978 posts in 1106 days

#2 posted 08-14-2020 10:21 PM

Thanks Ken. I used to do satin or at most semi gloss on my handles until I got a buffer. Once the metal bits got shiny it was a natural progression for handles to get shiny.

I think it also depends on how the tool feels in your hand. Some folks like the feel of the wood grain. I prefer the silky smooth high polish with a nice wax. It just makes the tool feel premium to me. Kind of like the difference between an Empire combination square versus a Starrett. There is no reason the Starrett has to look awesome while outperforming the Empire. I just like that it does.

View Jamie Bush's profile

Jamie Bush

29 posts in 2224 days

#3 posted 08-15-2020 01:49 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed your blog on this , thanks for sharing your experience.

-- A practicing woodworker sounds a lot better than a practicing MD

View Jeff's profile


321 posts in 837 days

#4 posted 12-07-2020 03:52 AM

Finally took the time for this read. Well presented, thanks.

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