Restoring a wooden smoother

Restoring a wooden smoother

This wooden smoothing plane was bit of a mess. Someone had closed the mouth by fitting an insert which had come loose and had then been fixed using a screw, which is not ideal.

The adhesive used to fix the insert in place appears to be have the consistency of grout. Possibly someone used whatever they had to hand to repair it?

Showing wooden plane with mouth insert taken out

The iron was fairly rusty but luckily the rust was mostly not near the cutting edge although there was a little light pitting near the cutting edge (hard to see in the photos).

Rusty iron with some light pitting near cutting edge

Initially, the plan to restore it was to replace the mouth insert. Unfortunately, one of the edges of the mortise was damaged while trying to clear the old adhesive out. So, instead of replacing the mouth insert, the entire front section was cut out and a new piece of beech glued in its place.

The edge of the insert is angled to give the mouth a wear bevel which slows how quickly the mouth opens after each flattening of the sole.

The end grain was smoothed with a No. 4 bench plane which left a nice and smooth finish which blends in quite well.

To remove the rust from the iron it was soaked in Evapo-rust. There was some fine pitting near the cutting edge which took about an hour grind out although it’s not too bad when listening to a Podcast. It is times like this I which I had machine to do the work.

There is still an area of deep pitting left but there’s about 25 mm (1 inch) of iron good before the deep pitting and another 5 mm (1/4 inch) after it so overall not too bad.

To help prevent future rusting, the iron was given a coat of homemade paste wax. I find this works really well at preventing rust.

The final step is to clean the plane. Normally, I only use IPA, BLO or tung oil with wire wool to clean a plane. In this case, the dirt was so solid I decided to use some sand paper after trying other methods.

Surprisingly, the sandpaper revealed the maker of the plane:

Makers mark on wooden plane showing Ross & Alexander
Makers mark is fairly faint but much clearer on photos

It says “Ross & Alexander Bishopsgate St EC” which dates it to 1880-1920 making this an antique.

Wooden plane after restoration

That’s it, this plane is now ready to go back to work!


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