Bench Plane Restoration Guide. Part 2

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This is part two of two of a series on how to restore a Bench Plane

Part 1 of the Bench Plane Restoration Guide

By: Don Wilwol

If you need a Knob repair because the base is blown out , check here

Now for the wood. I chuck the knob in the drill press.

I use a bolt with a 1/4” Philips head that’s been ground down slightly so it fits inside the knob where the brass nut goes. Tighten it down with a washer and chuck it in the drill press. Only chuck it hand tight so you don’t trash the threads.

Sand it with 60 grit if it still has a varnish or hard finish. then up through 2000 grit.

Note: I keep a small container under this when sanding rosewood to catch the dust for making crack repairs.

Catching sawdust

Here is what I use to hold it. Grind the end of a 1/4” bolt so it will slide into the top hole.


If it had an oil finish I’ll start wheel with 220 grit. First few coats of BLO goes on with steel wool while in the drill press. If the existing finish is hard, it is usually easier to scrape it first.

For the tote, I haven’t found an easier way than scraping it if its a hard finish, and sanding as you would any other piece of wood.

Finish the wood with the finish of your liking. I often just us wax for rosewood. I will sometimes stain with the red mahogany stain to even out some of the lighter woods, especially if i can’t get all of the previous stain removed, which is typically the case.

Edit: 2-2016

I recently started using spray lacquer. Its quicker and easier and brings it back to original. Most totes came from the factory with a lacquer finish. So far I have found the Rust-Oleum brand works the best.

If its for myself I use tru-oil, but it takes longer, but has a more quite sheen. Add a coat, let it dry, do that 3 times then sand it back. Repeat until you get the desired look.

End edit

If you need to make a new tote click here.
If you need to fix a broken tote click here

For the adjustment knob, I first soak it in lemon juice (edit 01-2022, I stopped soaking in lemon juice. It will not hurt, but it just takes time and doesn’t seem to have any real advantage. Just clean it and then follow the rest. The lemon acid loosens the crud and help the tarnish come off if it is extremely bad. I use a wire brush or use a fine wire wheel on the outside. I use a fine brush first, if its bad enough you’ll need to start with the course, just be careful, you can take the ridges off. A nylon brush may be enough, especially if you use some polishing compound. You typically won’t need the course after you’ve soaked it.


Then I chuck it in the drill press. I will add a piece of paper towel or rag between the jaws and the knob to protect it. Just tighten it hand tight. I then rip some pieces of sand paper  about 1/4” by 1” and sand the inside. If it’s bad I’ll start with 120 grit up to 2000 grit.


The brass nuts that holds the knob and tote on will go straight to the buffing wheel


Cap Irons get wire brushed. I usually leave it with the brushed look. This Millers Falls was chromed, but it was shot, so I took it right off and left it. I painted this one on a Solar hand plane.

To get the red background, I will mask the outside outline, paint it, let it dray and sand it with a sanding block. 220 grit, 320 grit, and 500 grit works for me.

Next flatten the sole.  I’m still doing it here on the table saw top. If it proves to be real bad, I’ll start it on the belt sander (I have an old Craftsman with an unusually flat cast iron table), but I always finish it on the flatter surface of the table saw. Turn the plane front and push in all directions to keep it flat and even.

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I wire wheel all the remaining screws and washers. I typically add a little axle grease before putting the screws back in.

As I’m putting everything together I give it a coat of Fluid Film  to keep the rust away.

Or Wax it

And a few more “After” pictures.



Here is the Millers Falls #10 completed

Bench Plane Restoration Guide Part 1 is here.

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