Rust covers all things given enough time. The first of two hand planes that I am refinishing had a pretty rough twenty years in a wet garage to contend with. However, rust can be dealt with in a variety of ways, and I decided that the best way to clear the residue of life from this tool would be to sand it down a layer to the bare metal. I might not do this with a fine tool that had merely been left outside for a wet morning, but in this case I felt that it could only improve the level of the sole and improve the feel of the body. I began an hour of sanding it against a fine paper taped to my workbench.
My initial response to the outcome was one of shock. While the process was messy, and I probably will have no anemia from a lack of iron for a while, the results were quite breathtaking. The sides of the plane became smooth and shiny. Pitting was minimal, and I found that I rather enjoyed the rhythmic process of sliding the heavy metal across the bench; it was like paddling a canoe through cool water.
The sole needs to be flat and smooth. The sole also proved more challenging that the sides insofar as it demanded careful motions to ensure that I flattened the iron evenly throughout the entire stroke. After a second hour, I decided to take a break. To push further at such an early stage, before I had repainted the body, seemed to be risky.
I expect there to be another hour left of levelling the sole to ensure absolute flatness. I also expect that to be a little easier to properly do once I have the knob and total installed. By the end of this session my hands were rather black and toxic from the rust and dirt coming off. I should have put soap under my fingernails to make for less clean-up, but who knew that there would be a heavy grime transferred to my hands? Still, the work felt good to do. I felt honest for my day’s work.
The tote handle came next. I felt like working. I was really enjoying the progress I was making, but wanted to shift gears a bit. As noted in the previous entry, the tote handle was to be taken out of a solid block of purple heartwood. In the earlier work session I cut the piece out and began to shape it with rough rasps. With an order made for an Auriou modeller’s rasp made to Lee Valley Hardware, I was surprised when it arrive the next day. I was able to begin carving out a less primitive handle with the fine rasp. With another hour at the bench, I was able to turn out a decent tote handle that felt pretty great in my hand. I ran it under the water to see what the wood looked like and to help adjust the handle when I screwed it onto the body.
To get a sense of how the project was coming along I decided to re-assemble the handles and new Veritas cap-iron and blade into the plane. For the front knob I went with a Lee Valley Hardware replacement for their own knobs. I should mention that I purchased two, and I am glad that I did. It appears that they make two different ones (one rosewood and the other bubinga), and for some reason they sent me one of each. The weirdness continues when you find out that neither of the screws fit, but that each knob fits a different plane. In the end, I think I put the bubinga knob onto the No.5 by using the old screw to torque it down.
The tote handle needed a bit more finesse. Once I figured out how to properly drill a hole through the body at the right angle I had to make sure the handle actually fit the spacing and platform for the tote. It too a bit of finagling, but with a bit of sanding I was able to better fit the base to the and the top of the handle was not touching the blade adjuster lever. With all of this done I felt pretty good about my progress. I feel like I have learned so much about the tools in my possession, and I have been able to overcome most of the obstacles put before me. The last stretch will include painting the body with Tremclad RustPaint, finishing the sole sanding to a smooth surface and coating the handle in Linseed Oil. I am not certain if I will fail at the last minute, but so far the experience has been all about the journey. The final step will happen in 48 hours….