Rescuing a $15 Infill Smoother, Finishing Up

With the necessary new parts fabricated and the performance determined, it was time to prettify the tool.

This was a pleasantly brief undertaking.  Since the wooden infills were already beat to death I sanded them down to bare wood, then ebonozed them with India ink slathered on and allowed to soak well in.  Even then the color is not like something painted black, it has the varieties of surface that are especially pleasing to me.  Following the ebonizing I brushed on a coat of Tru Oil cut 50/50 with naphtha and allowed that to sit for an hour or so, then would have wiped off any excess had there been any (there was not).  Once the surface was completely dry to the touch I applied a coat of full strength Tru Oil, and once that was dry I sanded out any nits and applied the final coat of Tru Oil.  A week or so later I buffed that with Liberon 0000 steel wool as I did not want a mirror finish on the wood in this case.

Once that new finish was cured I reversed the masking and gently scrubbed the steel body with FFFF pumice to remove the accreted gunk and brighten it up a bit, but not enough to make it look new.  One thing that remains undone at the moment is the heel of the plane, with both the metal and wood sections having been damaged by hammer abuse in the past.  Once my Round To-it arrives I will fashion a new brass plate to extend from the sole to the top of the heel to provide a better surface for adjusting the iron.

Giving the plane a test drive on a flat board is a joy.  Having never owned one before I was struck by how useful the mass of the plane is.  Though on the smallish side, it weighs a lot given the steel body and hardwood infills, thus reducing the vibration and chatter as it cuts though the wood fibers as an almost self-dampening feature.  With everything tuned up, and the iron nearly to the point I want it, it effortlessly spews gossamer shavings and leaves behind a surface that is unbelievably smooth.  Huh, maybe that’s why they call it a smoother.

Given the starting point and cost, I was not displeased with my first honest to goodness smoothing plane.