You can check the fit of these surfaces by coating one set of them with Prussian blue artists oil and rubbing the surfaces together. See photo below.

This type of Prussian blue is available at auto parts stores.

If you have an even coat of blue on all mating surfaces you need do nothing more. However, if you have areas of poor contact, as seen by spots of dark blue, then you need to lap the surfaces.

To lap the mating surfaces of the base and the frog use automotive valve grinding compound as seen in the lower photo above. This compound is a powdered grit of either aluminum oxide or silicon carbide suspended in oil. It comes in various grits as designated by a letter on the can. With ďAĒ being the finest. Start with an 80 or 120 grit.

I have been using this brand for many years but Iím sure
any lapping compound will work.

Apply a dab of compound on each surface of the base and set the frog in place and with moderate downward pressure slide the frog as far as it will move in all directions in a random motion. You are done when there is an even dull gray finish on all of the mating surfaces.

Now it is time to do something with the knob and tote. This is not always a cosmetic thing. The originals on this plane were chipped and peeling. This made them feel uncomfortable in use.

So I stripped the original finish off using a strong gel stripper. Then I sanded them smooth to 220P. This set is made of hickory and it had turned gray from exposure to dampness so I stained the wood a dark brown. Use your favorite stain.

I like oil based gel stains because they are easy to use and very forgiving. When the stain was dry I applied 3 coats of fast drying wipe on polyurethane varnish.

My favorite for this use is shown in the top photo above. I like this in a satin sheen because it looks very good. Polyurethane will stand up to hard use better than anything else I have tried.

The photo below shows the finished set ready to go back to work.

The original knob and tote stripped and refinished.

Finally it is time to assemble the plane.

As you can see from the photos above the old #5 looks pretty good. But looks are not what is important. What is important is that all parts are clean, and rust free and fit together properly. And that all moving parts are lubricated and move smoothly and freely. Also, the sole is sufficiently flat to allow fine and full width shavings.

I have decided to save sharpening for the next part because this is a very important part of handplane basics. Part 3 will be entirely devoted to sharpening the old #5. If you havenít done so already familiarize yourself with this video so you will understand my methods of capiron preparation.

Bill Rittner
Hardwar City Tools
January, 2015