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  • Flattening cast iron surface?

    First of all, I am not a machinist in any way. I am a woodworker, so please bear with me since I know nothing about machining metal.
    I have several beautiful old hand planes. Unfortunately the soles of the planes have been bitten by rust pitting. I would like to somehow grind a layer of metal away to get to a good surface.
    I have done this on one plane by just using my sharpening water stones and a ton of elbow grease, but I am out of elbow grease since it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to do one surface by hand. Had to take a bunch of pain killers after that.
    So, here comes the question: is there a way to gently grind (sand?) a surface without distorting it out of being flat too badly?
    I certainly do not need high precision. I can correct somewhat out of flat sole by hand on a stone. But what would be the easiest way to take off the bulk? I am talking about taking off approximately 0.01-0.03 inches off a cast iron surface approx. 2"x16".
    I cannot afford and I do not want to buy a mill or a surface grinder. I only have woodworking tools, but among them I do have a disk sander. Will that work? Any other ideas?

  • #2
    Head-grind?

    The simplest solution might be to get an opinion and a price/quote from a shop that re-conditions/grinds automotive engine heads etc.

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    • #3
      You could use a good, flat piece of steel or iron and wrap it with 320 grit wet/dry then use WD-40 to lube it and sand the bottom of the planes with that. Or get a small surface plate and put a bit sheet of 320 and the WD-40. Go up to 400, then 600 and see if that's smooth enough.
      Chris
      Merkel, Tx
      http://raceabilene.com/kelly/hotrod

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      • #4
        Get a thick glass plate. Support it well on a flat surface. Check it for flatness using a straightedge. Use spray glue to attach ~100 grit zirconia sanding belt. Weight your plane with about 30 pounds of whatever you can find and start sanding it flat. After a few minutes the abrasive will dull - sharpen it by going over it with the end of an old file. Once you have it removed the pits, ~15 minutes if the plane is worth saving, go to finer grits until you are happy with the finish. On the finer grits, lubrication with oil helps remove swarf.

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        • #5
          Tennis elbow?

          Originally posted by denger

          .................................................. ....
          I have several beautiful old hand planes. Unfortunately the soles of the planes have been bitten by rust pitting. I would like to somehow grind a layer of metal away to get to a good surface.
          I have done this on one plane by just using my sharpening water stones and a ton of elbow grease, but I am out of elbow grease since it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes to do one surface by hand. Had to take a bunch of pain killers after that.
          ..............................................
          ..............................................

          But what would be the easiest way to take off the bulk? I am talking about taking off approximately 0.01-0.03 inches off a cast iron surface approx. 2"x16".
          I cannot afford and I do not want to buy a mill or a surface grinder. I only have woodworking tools, but among them I do have a disk sander. Will that work? Any other ideas?
          As there are "several planes" (not just one or two), I'd have thought that the "being out of elbow grease" and the need for pain-killers would or should have eliminated anything repetitive or strenuous.

          "Tennis elbow" and the like can be a real PITA and is not cured by a couple of pain-killers. I've seen a bad case with a Carpenter who was using a common manual screw-driver to drive a lot of "difficult" and "big" wood-screws. He had his arm in a sling for weeks and lots of trips to his Doctor. He was very wary of it ever since. He was NOT a "newbie" - far from it.

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          • #6
            You don't say what country you are from ..


            if you live in the UK ..you will be able to pick up a surface grinder for hopefully under £200 (less than the cost of a decent electric drill)

            like so

            http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/JONES-SHIPMAN-...3A1%7C294%3A50

            one of the above will help you sharpen a lot of your woodworking tools including planer knives of up to 18 inches long



            if in the USA ..its hard luck you pay through the nose for one of these second hand.

            all the best.markj

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            • #7
              I know nothing about the requirements of woodworking tools, but could these planes be hand scraped? Would a hand scraped surface on these tools be a plus or minus, just a thought?

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              • #8
                Almost any job shop machine shop could flycut the surface for you. It would be faster than setting up a surface grinder and just as accurate for what you want. Have you priced having it done at a machine shop?

                The only problem would be holding them so they may have to make a fixture but it would be required for surface grinding too.
                It's only ink and paper

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                • #9
                  Do you have a bench type belt sander? That would do it. I wouldn't use a disk sander as you may put gouges in it.

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                  • #10
                    In the days before I had a combo disk/belt sander I used to mount my B&D hand held belt sander in the big vise bottom side up to do stuff like that. As a woodworker, you must have one of those.
                    Ernie (VE7ERN)

                    May the wind be always at your back

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                    • #11
                      I am working on a couple of stanley # 6 planes ,notbeen used ,
                      looked terrible and work terribly as the finish(ex factory ) is a very course belt sand .
                      the soles also are quite warped.

                      if they needed a lot of metal removed i would have stuck them on the vertical mill and cleaned up the bottomm and sides with whatever small end mill was in the mill. i would not use a large diameter cutter .

                      I just started on theplane with a biax scraper, and went over it until i had got the bottom of the grinding marks , i then spotted the bottom with blue and worked off the high spots , repeat ect until i was happy.

                      how far to go? blue the bottom of one of your best working planes and go about that far.

                      a wood plane doesnt need to be perfectly flat,just good enough.


                      now you probably dont have a biax, you can make a carbide scraper, and buy a cheap granite plate and accomplish the same thing fairly cheaply

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                      • #12
                        first off, I completely agree scraping is the way to go, they are such a treat to use after being scraped...less stiction if that’s word. Its what I’d to do a new or old plane, and consider it a significant upgrade. i would never go at with a belt sander though, no control.

                        Originally posted by thistle
                        Ihow far to go? blue the bottom of one of your best working planes and go about that far.

                        a wood plane doesnt need to be perfectly flat,just good enough.
                        perfect doesn't exist...but i would go for better than existing planes. they are notoriously for being out - everyone's rushing product out the door and a casting that shape is expensive season when they think woodworkers will never notice. now splitting tenths doesn't matter, we don’t need it perfect but should shoot for pretty damn good. Frankly, when scrapping, whether you get it to tenths or thou's is just a function of how flat the reference is not how much work it takes

                        why does it matter? most i think underestimate how sensitive a touch us humans have; most can distinguish a thou when given two gauge blocks a thou apart. Its an incredible thing that experience can let us grab a plane and create just by feel and observation a very flat and square board. As skills progress you need the square and ruler less to achieve this. My theory is in developing this tactic ability with a plane, having the sole out 3 or 5 or 10 thou will make a big difference, like trying to learn to race cars but the steering is out of alignment and the suspension mushy; you just don’t' get the feedback and feel you need to progress.

                        point is i guess a super experienced hand tool craftsman would probably scoff at the notion of the plane being within a thou, but for the rest of us trying to develop the tactile feel, removing error for that source can help....and the reduced stiction is in of itself a good reason to scrape them....and afterall we’re metal workers so of course think in terms of much more accuracy than woodworkers are accustom to

                        .

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                        • #13
                          2 planes scraped and ready for duty.

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                          • #14
                            thank goodness you posted that, i thought i was the only one silly enough to be scraping planes as the sweat dripped off my nose earlier...

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                            • #15
                              Scraping is a good way to go if you have lots of time and the proper tools. The easiest way is to take it to a machine shop and have them mill it flat.

                              Sanding flat with a belt sander will leave a roll off near the edges.

                              A small machine shop would probably do them for $20-30 a piece.
                              Lost

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