cleaning up old tools

Having just picked up and old plane, I'm curious what methods are recommended for cleaning up what appears to be a lot of grunge, surface rust and even a spot or two of paint splatter. Mostly I'd like to preserve the Japanning as best as possible, so I've been reluctant to hit it with steel wool. Or can I do that with say 4-0 or finer?
FWIW, plane is not collectible, just a nice classic bench plane which I will actually use. a
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I just ordered and received the issue of Canadian Woodworking that David Eisan has an article in about restoring hand planes. I even bought an old hand plane to use it on and emailed David with questions, which he answered very promptly. I highly recommend it.
In brief, use electrolysis to remove the rust and replate iron on the iron parts, buff the nickel-plated cap iron and other small metal parts, re-"japan" the plane (using a special kind of enamel paint), and true up the iron and chip-breaker, plane sole, etc. for optimal performance.
Here's a link to the article:
http://www.canadianwoodworking.com/issue.php?updateid '&displaymode=nooptio ns
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Or simply clean the sole by rubbing on sandpaper, sharpen the blade, adjust it and use it. It is only going to get rusty and painty again...
-Jack

the
steel
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If you like working with rusty tools, maybe you can do that. The plane I bought wouldn't really be usable without thorough cleaning, a lot of the blade adjustment parts aren't smooth, etc. Might as well clean it up properly. Honestly, the whole process is pretty easy and I can see why anyone wouldn't take the time to do it. As for letting your tools get rusty again, I think you're FOS.
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You can use an ultrasonic cleaner. It will, however, take off paint and plating if you leave the article in long enough.
On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 21:03:15 GMT, "Mike in Mystic"

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I suppose it depends on the amount of rust. If it is leaving red streaks on your work and hands then by all means clean it. However, not every old plane needs a complete restoration and new japanning to do good work. One mans rust is anothers patina. In my opinion, patina does not reduce the usefulness of the tool. Red rust or pitting is bad and should be remedied.
You are right, it is mostly tools which are not used that get rusty. Of course we hear here of any number of people whose table saw tops rust overnight, so obviously tools do get rusty on occasion.
-Jack "rust never sleeps"

preserve
which
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AMG wrote:

Start here -DAGS
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&safe=off&group=rec.woodworking
Some other sites for you
http://www.yesterdaystools.com/tuninga1.htm
http://www.popularwoodworking.com/features/fea.asp?id 20
http://www.geocities.com/plybench/flatten.html
Finish here
http://www.hocktools.com /
Kevin
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rust
the
steel
will
Thanks! Actually, I'd done a couple of searches, but mostly for 'restoring old tools' etc. All came up fairly thin, or pointed to books avail. a
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wrote:

Electrolysis to de-rust it. After a day, solvent or scrape any paint that remains, then electrolyse again.
It'll loosen japanning after a week or two, but only if it was already dodgy.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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AMG wrote:

If I ever come by such a plane, I'll probably say screw the japanning, whatever japanning even is. I have no idea. Some kind of black oxide proceses I'm guessing?
Anyway, I finally got around to trying the electrolysis thing as a last resort way to get a rusted up vise back into service. It takes a bucket of water, any of various cleaning products (I used Oxy-Clean, but there are other ways), a chunk of scrap iron and a battery charger. I used a 1 amp trickle charger, which was none too fast, but it did work eventually.
I was afraid to try it for a long time. Something about water + electricity put me off. It sure works though. I highly recommend it. I'll definitely do this again the next time I need to clean up something rusty.
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On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 22:20:19 -0500, Silvan

Paint.
It's called Japanning, because of the 18th century furniture trade. Western furniture in those days was shellaced or spirit varnished (bug juice in alcohol, or tree-sap in alcohol), not painted, because no-one had yet invented useful paints. With the far-East trade, particularly tea from China, lacquered furniture also started to show up. This was jet black, shiny, and like nothing else we'd seen in the West before.
Before long, there were attempts to copy this finish. One of the first was "Pontypool ware", iron trays with a shiny black stove-enamelled finish. Because it was an attempt to reproduce this "Japanese" style, it was known as japanning.
http://paranoia-towers.com/alchemy/pontypool.htm
I haven't seen retail paint on sale as "Japan" since the '60s, but it's still sometimes used as a term in obscure trades.
-- Die Gotterspammerung - Junkmail of the Gods
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Andy Dingley wrote:

Very interesting. I had no idea.
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I have no idea. Some kind of black oxide proceses I'm guessing?
The japanning used on metal tools was a paint with an asphaltum base. It was baked on and is a good rustproofing coating.
You can still get small containers of japanning for refinishing tools. If anyone is interested, send a message to the newsgroup, and I'll provide the address for a source.
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One of the wood working mags has an article about DIY electrolisis or something like that. According to the before and after pics, it seems to work pretty well.

was
the
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The latest ShopNotes (Issue #72).
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Larry C in Auburn, WA

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That's the one. And boy oh boy. I never knew those little chargers packed that much walllop!

It
provide
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They don't - but this time you've got wet hands, and they're wet with a conductive salt solution..
With a cut on each hand, and both hands across the two electrodes, there's a more-than-negligible chance of serious cardiac implications. Turn it off before you go near it !
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wrote:

Kerosene will remove light rust, dirt, and paint from metal parts, plus protect the tools from future rust. Kerosene is flammable, but kind to the skin and (in small amounts) non-toxic. Acetone is a bit more aggressive, but you need plenty of ventilation to use it. I use #000 steel wool on the wooden parts, apply Johnson wax (to the wooden parts), and buff.
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