Transitional restores #2: Transitional restore the dw way.

A transitional bench plane can be a pleasure to use and they just look really cool. I’ve restored several, and each one tends to bring on a new challenge. Its a restore of wood and metal parts. Its not that hard to transform these into fine performing tools that are pleasing to the eye.

Click for details
Click for details
Click for details

First thing I typically do is take everything apart and place the parts in a container. I will often be restoring more than one plane at a time, and it is easy to start forgetting what part goes with what plane.


Its not that uncommon to have the parts rusted together. I typically wire brush as much of the rust off as I can. Some parts, like the cap iron, can be wire brushed to completion. Other parts, such as the frog will often have moving parts that you don’t want to try to take apart (like the lateral adjustment) and dips and hollows hard to wire brush. These go into evapo-rust. (For more option for removing rust, see my blog on bench plane restores) Also, after some time in the evapo-rust, the parts should come apart easier.





The base will get the same treatment as the bench planes mentioned above. It is easier however to wire brush the base of a transitional without to much head ache. I will often wire brush them instead of setting up the sand blaster. I then paint the needed parts with Dupli-Color Engine Enamel DUPDE1635 Ford Semi Gloss Black spray paint.

Note: This assumes it needs stripping and painting. You need to decide, but if the japanning is in reasonable shape, it may be best to de-rust and oil, and leave it original.



All of the parts shown above are brushed with a course brush. When dealing with the brass parts, switch to a fine brush to avoid removing to much brass.


I also find the dremel brushes can help in these situations


I will the put a piece of rag over the piece and chuck it in the drill press. Depending on what is needed, I’ll sand the inside (inside only, and never if it has writing) up to 500 or 800 grit.



Give the iron and cap iron the same treatment as described in the bench plane blog buy ensuring a tight bond between the cap iron and the iron and polishing the chip breaking section. A cap iron blog is here.


After cleaning up the iron, give it a good sharpening.

Now off to the wood parts.

Restoring wood parts of a plane are the same as almost any wood restoration. If you have a favorite way, it probably can be incorporated.

I typically use a cabinet scraper on the bigger pieces first.


I then sand, some power, some hand sanding as needed.



Depending on the severity of the dryness, I will often soak the ends in BLO. I flip from end to end every so often and coat the entire plane. Once its removed, a complete wipe down to remove the excess.



Its not uncommon to need knob and tote repairs. Again, this is just typical wood restoration. I typically use Brownells Agraglass gel. I have used it in my gunsmithing hobby and know it works well. Any epoxy would work, and many just use glue, although I’ve seen glue not hold on the oily woods like rosewood. Also many times the break is old and hard to get really clean.


For a tip replacement, we’ll sand to get a good clean and flat surface.


then we’ll find a suitable piece. I typically don’t try to match. I’ve found it difficult to match the color and grain of such a wide variety of wood used.


Prepare it


Mix the epoxy. I like to add dye to color the mixture.


And typically with this type of epoxy, no clamping is required. Another big plus. Just be careful, when you walk away it will tend to slide if gravity has its way.


To sand the knob, (after repairs if needed) I have a bolt with the head ground enough to slide into the counter sunk hole, and will chuck it in the drill press.



Sand to 500 grit.

The knob gets the same treatment. I may soak them in BLO, or just coat, depending on condition.

And finally start the re-installation.


So the before and after shots of the 2 I restored for this blog.

An Upson #29











Sargent #3415. I don’t have a before pictures of the second. The reason. It looked so bad I didn’t think it was restorable. Yep, even I didn’t think it had possibilities. I planned to use the frog for another one of the High angle planes I planned to save as much of the base for future repair pieces. As I started scraping and sanding, this began to emerge.







The cap iron and iron are pitted so bad the iron will never be usable. I even tried the ruler trick but the pitting is to deep. I decided to paint the cap iron to hide some of the pitting. It will be a show piece until I stumble onto a new iron.


About Don
A tool nut, hand plane collector, restorer

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