Refurbishing/Restoration of old tools

For a long time, I’ve had this desire to refurbish/restore old tools back to life again and put them to work and I don’t mean a light scrub here and there but a complete work over.  What I want is to make it shine once more as it once did, 4 years on and I’m still pondering over that idea.  Sure I have made miniature steps here and there but those steps are only minute, they are not the ideal steps that I have envisaged.  I am not interested in collecting tools but to use them and also sell them but I’m equally aware that some tools should not be restored because of their historical value while other tools are just not worth the effort but are great to practice on.  What I want to achieve is beyond my wildest dreams.  Like in my clocks and furniture I build I aim for perfection which doesn’t always play out that way.

I have this affinity with the past, I don’t know where it’s come from but I do know I have passed this gene to my little son.  He loves antiques of all kinds while I on the other hand prefer mostly hand tools for woodworking.  When I look at an old tool there’s so much character and charisma to it. Take a look at this beautiful restored singer sewing machine.  It’s not a woodworking tool but a tool machinist needs.


Compare it to a modern sewing machine it clearly shows they took pride in their work, that they had artistic flare.  The components used were better than todays, they were better built all round which is why they have survived for as long as they have.

Here is a fine example just to give you a better idea at the level I’m trying to achieve which will also explain why I have been pondering on this idea for as long as I have.

This is a 1923 crescent Universal woodworking machine.  This is the before shot


Here is the after shot.






This truly is amazing restoration work by Shane Whitlock who happens to be a wildlife photographer who must be on a very good pay packet.

Here is one last fine example of great restoration work.


This beautiful hand drill would purr in my shop while others probably would be scared to use it in fear that they would damage it.  Let’s face it who can blame them in this condition which is truly mint unlike some antique dealers who classify G+ as mint isn’t pocket change and in 100 years from now would fetch some serious dollars.

The difficulties I am facing right now is with pitting, when metal rusts it begins to pit even with new blades it’s just something we all learn to live with but when you want to restore an item to factory conditions well the only option I see is to use metal working machinery.  You see many old planes sanded but the pits remain, it doesn’t affect the plane but it would look a lot nicer without it.  To get rid of pits one would have to mill a layer off the plane which I’m not inclined to do.  That Universal machine up above shows a considerable amount of rust and the results of his workmanship and I assume he did it is mind boggling.  I want to know how he did it yet he makes no mention of how he did which is understandable who needs competition.  Then there’s the issue of nickel plating how can that be achieved.  There is a lot more to restoring than meets the eye, YouTube is full of everyone restoring hand planes and chisels for everyday use but the real restoration work like from that tv series “American Restorations” is another kettle of fish that’s beyond the home enthusiasts yet I still don’t want to give up on that idea.

Here is a Record no.4 plane I plan on restoring, it is anywhere from 1931-1964 if someone can tell what year it actually is I would be forever grateful.




After I’m done I hope to give this plane back it’s dignity and it will make beautiful shavings once more.

Finally, here are my no.4 and 5 ½ LN planes.







I spent all day today about 8 hours cleaning it up and that’s only the no.4, yesterday I spent a few hours on the 5 ½ as I did buy it only last year so not much was needed to be done to it.  However, the no.4 I’ve had it for several years and it was tarnished all over.  Now this being brass it doesn’t rust but it does tarnish very quickly.  It was quite difficult to remove but I finally did it.  It is a mirror finish and not only a beautiful tool to look at but also to work with and I would like to add that this tool did not come looking like this out of the box when I first got it.



I have a lot of hand tools scattered everywhere throughout the shop and continue to add more tools as I go along even though I have no more room for them yet I keep stock piling them, my obsession with tools is beyond normality but there isn’t a tool in my shop that I don’t use so that’s one positive for me.  All I know is that I need a bigger shop or I need to learn about interior decorating to create more space.



4 thoughts on “Refurbishing/Restoration of old tools

    1. Sorry for the late reply I just found it in the spam box, I didn’t even know that WordPress has aksimet which filters what it considers as spam. It’s actually done a pretty good no so far but I found it by fluke.

      That link I actually have been using to date that version I have Bukit isn’t specific so my version is anywhere between 1931-1964 and I believe it’s must be somewhere in the 60’s. I’m looking for in getting back to finish off the restoration of it.


  1. Awesome post Salko. While I share your affinity and appreciation for “old” tools, I don’t share in your desire to restore them. I think it’s great that you want to bring them back to like new though. For myself, I’m happy to just bring them back to a working state.

    I do long for the days when manufacturers went the extra distance to make even the mundane work-a-day items “beautiful”. The strange thing is, that with modern technology it should actually be far easier and less expensive too add these touches today than in the past. These things tend to cyclical, so maybe, just maybe, we will see a swing back to the stylish ways of the past. I’m not holding my breath though.


  2. Thanks Greg, I’ve just learned a new word “cyclical” never heard it before.
    I too long for that day and also am not holding my breath but my venture into this new and exciting world as an addition to my normal everyday woodworking is a huge step on my part. I don’t expect at first to get to the level of that restored Universal machine but like yourself turn them from rust buckets into a functional work horse with the added details of japanning and so forth. Depending on the planes cleanliness to start with will yield different results. The wooden jointer you saw in the background isn’t a pretty plane at all but I did some work to it and I can say it’s on par with my LN jointer and the best part is I never need to lubricate the sole. One even bigger perk is hogging off larger chunks seems to be easy with the wooden plane than a metal plane. Not sure why though.


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