I have an older Bailey #3 along with a few others that I inherited from
a friend of mines grandfather. I am attempting to restore it and I
have a question about cleaning it up. I disassembled it and cleaned
all of the grease and grime off of it (he was a mechanic all of his
life) and them lapped the sole and sides. The problem is that there
was alot of surface rust on the body and the frog. lapping it with 80
smoothed it out, but there is still alot of staining and pitting on the
sides and on the machined surfaces of the frog. I was wondering if it
would hurt anything to use a air powered die grinder with 3M
scotchbrite pads to clean the machined surfaces> I use it to clean the
machined surfaces on engine blocks without any problem, and I think it
should work with the plane as well. I figure clean it with the griner
and then lap the sole, sides, and frog using the same process as
before. I really want to get this plane in good usable condition both
to be able to use and also in honor of "Pop", but I do not want to ruin
it either. Any feedback or alternate suggestions would be appreciated.
Staining and pitting on the sides of the plane will not effect the
performance. In fact, what you call staining, most collectors/users of
old tools call patina, and gives the tool some character. Pitting on
the sole might be a problem, if there is a lot of it. A little is not
going to hurt performance. As long as the sole is reasonably flat
(especially that the toe, heel and around the mouth are in the same
plane) that is good enough, imho. Remember, too much lapping may also
open the mouth, which for a smoothing plane is not a good thing. Also,
you might want to protect the newly lapped parts of the plane with some
As for the frog, as long as it provides support for the entire blade,
it is good. You can use a file to flatten the high spots on the frog.
If it were me, I would concentrate on sharpening the blade, making sure
the chip breaker and cap are nice and tight, and start planing.
I've restored a few planes and I try to make them look like they came
out of the tool box of a mechanic who used and cared for his tools.
Shiney, showroom new isn't really approriate. On rusted surfaces, I
use a solid rubber block with grit embedded, Sandflex is the name from
Woodcraft (and others)
(http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyids29 ). I can control
just how much "patina" I want to see. It doesn't leave black mess like
sandpaper. You can look up electrolysis, but it is messy process, and
leaves you with a gray steel. It does cut the red rust, not the black
To work properly, the mating surfaces on the frog and body need to be
resonably smooth. The top of the frog needs to be reasonably smooth so
that the cutter blade will slide smoothly when adjusted. Once you've
done that, any further smoothing is for aesthetics.
So, to answer your question, the scotchbrite won't hurt anything, but
be sure that you will be happy with the appearance of the surface it
leaves. After cutting down to fresh steel, I would definately protect
the metal with paste wax. I use Johnson's.
And, if the black paint "japanning" on the inside of the body is a bit
rough, you can make it look a bit better by waxing the first coat with
liquid black shoe polish.
Do clean up the wood handles too, when that rosewood is finished and
shining--looks great. Wax helps them too.
To use the plane, the blade must be razor sharp at the proper angle.
Again you can find help on this courtesy of Google.
Thanks for all of the information. I really want this to be nice when
it is finished. I have posted some pictures of before and after the
initial cleaning. This was a quick first pass at it. A friend of mine
is coming into town this weekend and he is going to show me how to tune
it up and get it in good shape.
Here is a link to the pictures
I tried the Die grinder last night. It did not do much for the body of
the plane, but it really made a big difference in the lever cap and
chip breaker. They were completely covered with surface rust that I
had not been able to clean off. The die grinder removed all of that
and it now looks great.
I use the 3M wheels on car bodies all of the time. It won't hurt the plane
a bit. It might not take all of the rust off - especially if it's pitted
badly, but if the pits aren't real deep it probably will. If you use it
with a die grinder, turn your air pressure down to around 90psi or so. You
can really eat up those 3M wheels fast with a die grinder and most of that
is wear that is not benefiting you, if the air pressure is too high. At
$7.00 a pop, that gets expensive. Good luck - let us know how it turns out.
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