I've had to store some old planes (wooden) in the basement temporarily and
was rotating them to let air around the planes when I discovered some mold
growing on one. Can any of you recommend a good way to clean them without
taking away the patina. They were not in a box, but instead on a steel rack
shelf with plenty of air circulation and four feet from the floor. The
basement will be sealed and climate controlled to keep this from happening
again. Humidity is at 63% with a average temp of 74 degrees.
Thank you in advance for any and all advice.
Set them in the sun (on a dry day if possible) for a day, store them in
a drier location, and they should be fine. I spent a few months in the
rain forest in Belize, Central America, and with constant 90+% humidity
we had lots of mold problems. Clothes, luggage, books, almost
everything. The magic cure was to set stuff in direct sunlight and let
it air out. Of course bleach works great for killing anything and
everything, but probably wouldn't be good for your plane finish.
Unless the wood is getting soft, they'll probably be fine.
63% RH can easily grow mould if you're measuring it out in the open but
the planes are stashed in a box under a bench. I've measured a 40%
spread in RH in my workshop before now, between just inside the clear
roof and under the woodracks near the concrete floor.
No, but 63% on the gauge placed where you can see it is certainly alarm
bells time for "my storage in here could be going mouldy".
I've got something like 8 cheap air hygrometers dotted around the house
and workshop. They're only the couple-of-bucks sort, but they're all the
same model and once a year I line them up against a few proper readings
with known humidities (salt solutions) and a test against my swing
psychrometer, so they're reasonably consistent. It's interesting to get
a feeling for how humidity varies around my workshop and wood storage,
and in particular how some places are consistent and others show big
Sounds like it hasn't gone on long. Wipe off with a damp cloth from a
container of diluted Dettol or some such liquid kitchen/bathroom
cleaner. Wipe again with plain water-soaked cloth. Dry immediately
with another dry cloth. I've done it on planes I've obtained at yard
sales, and it worked for me just fine.
Patina damage might depend on depth of the mold, but from what you
imply that shouldn't be a problem.
Thank you for all the responses to my problem. Basements are not something
that I have any experience with but will learn. Some of these planes have
been well used and the history must live on, and now I am their steward and
must take care of them. Thanks again for the information and time to
address my problem.
In regards to the feedback concerning the relative humidity . . . I will
recheck the number, I quoted from memory.
"... mold is a function of temperature, relative humidity and time. In
a warm, moist environment mold appears rapidly. At 100 percent RH, 80
degrees Fahrenheit, mold starts within two days. However, lower the
relative humidity 25 percent and it will take 90 days for mold to
appear. Mold growth is optimum, appearing within 10 days, between 50
to 104 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 to 100 percent RH. According to IPI's
research, mold will not grow below 65 percent RH, below 30 degrees
Fahrenheit or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. "
Something that you might want to look into is what sort of "oil" was
used on the plane bodies.
Unfortunately, it is all to common to come across planes that have
been treated with organic substances that can lead to growths of
I understand your sensitivity to the patina and you might want to take
your items to a local museum conservator.
Lacking that, a gentle wipe with a very dilute bleach solution,
followed by a light coat of mineral oil, would be a way to go.
It would seem that you will no longer be storing these planes in the
basement, so we don't need to go into that.
Tom Watson - WoodDorker
Interesting threads concerning the humidity and possible reason of growth of
the mold. I just checked the device again and it is standing at 61% . . .
Hmmmm. Only one plane has any serious growth while the one next to it has
several sq inches worth. If mold cannot grow below 65% RH, I am going to
have to rethink this as the cause. I bought this very large box plane
several months ago and it is the only one out of many that has growth.
I just met a conservator as a matter of fact several weeks back who works
for a local museum, fascinating lady and work! I will run this by her and
report what I learned.
I truly want to preserve these tools and use them as they were intended and
not just for the visuals to hang on the wall, although some will be
conserved and shown off as art and history.
This points to something applied to the plane and thus the plot thickens.
Thanks for the direction and feed back from all who shared, and Tom . . .
I've learned a lot from reading you threads over the last few years . . .
If it is something applied to the plane, then you have to suffer the
collector's dilemma - lose the finish/patina and spoil antique value, or let
the piece be come more unsightly.
If you are going to use the planes, the desired patina is from usage, not
vegetative growth. You may well have to scrape, plane, or re-true the ones
you want to use. Hopefully they are also the unsightly ones, and will
benefit twice from your fettling.
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