Cleaning planes with Camellia oleifera

Depending on the condition of a plane, it will either be cleaned, or restored. Generally planes to be restored will have a good amount of rust, or a finish that needs to be replaced. Planes in reasonable condition, I tend to clean until I have time to perform a deep cleaning, which normally includes polishing the brass and nickel parts of the plane. But how to clean and protect the finishes on a plane (or any tool for that matter)? One way is by using Camellia oleifera, or Camellia oil.

Camellia oil, also known as tea oil, is commonly used in Japan to inhibit rust on woodworking tools. Toshio Odate, describes Camellia oil as “not too heavy, and gives a beautiful shine to blades”. It is traditionally applied using an aburatsubo or oil pot which is made out of a section of bamboo and filled with a roll of cloth. It is odourless, and non-staining. Below are some before and after photographs from applying Camellia oil to a Union block plane.


Note that the oil has the effect of suppressing the light surface, or “flash” rust, and providing a gentle sheen to the japanning. I apply the oil to the plane, use a brush to work it in, and then let it sit for 1-2 hours. After this I just wipe off the excess, and hand-buff the surface.



One of the most common brands available in North America is Kurobara Camellia Oil. Oil is also made from other related species,  Camellia japonica (often used in skin-care products), and Camellia sinensis (tea).

New vintage powered toys!

Sorry, posts have slowed down… lots in the works, but they need research done on them and I have been backlogged with work, and the travel blog. Still, things should pick up a little into December.

A few months back I bought a couple of vintage machines from one of the myriad of conscientious machinery restorers whose work can be found on the forums of Canadian Woodworking magazine. They take pieces of our collective past and restore them to working order. I was lucky enough to obtain both a Canadian Blower & Forge No.15 bench-top drill press built in Ontario, and a Beaver JP-3800 6-inch jointer, built by Beaver Power Tools of Guelph, Ontario.


Now I do own new tools – I have a couple of Festool tracksaw, & vacuum, a Bosch tablesaw and a Matika planer… however finding just the right sized machines is a challenge. You see my machinery “workshop” is my backyard… the shed stores the major machines, and I usually only work on major stuff outside when there isn’t any of that white stuff floating about (although I am tempted to get one of those shelters that can be dismantled). The jointer will go in the shed, and the drill press I will find a way of squeezing into my basement workshop. I may have to clean out some of the excess hand-tools. These machines are built like tanks, and due to their external motors, can be easily fixed (or replaced) if something goes wrong. I’ll get some pictures of them up in the next week. Hoping for a nice day next week, so I can run the planer in the backyard.


Wooden spoon V2.0

We were at Salon des métiers d’art de Montréal last December. These shows are great because there is always someone crafting something interesting. Here are some spoons crafted by Joe la Cuillère. They are made of maple and extremely ergonomic, available in both left- and right-handed forms. They are available in different sizes, but what I like is the large surface area, and the fact that they have a straight edge, a cupped side, and a 90 degree corner to allow access into a pot’s corner or along the walls. The only thing to do with them before using them is give them three layers of oil – the suggested oil is walnut oil, which polymerizes into a hard solid film after exposure to air.

Spoons of Joe la Cuillère

The Record 102

The Record No.102 is a doppelgänger of the Stanley No.102. Manufactured from 1932 until 1974 it is a non-adjustable block plane. The blade is held in position by a nickel-plated knurled wheel, which sets is apart from its Stanley brethren, who often had a much flimsier mechanism. The Stanley 102 in comparison was a more poorly constructed plane, with japanning covering the entire plane save the sole. The body casting itself was very similar including the circular-depression (for the index finger) at the toe of the plane in lieu of a knob. The Record No. 0102 block plane is non-adjustable in either depth of cut or lateral movement.


The Record No.102


Manufactured: 1932-1974
Patent No.: -
Length: 5½”
Width: 1-5/8″ in the centre (tapered to either end)
Blade: 1-3/8″, tungsten steel
Blade angle:
 7/8 pounds
Construction: cast iron
Finish: blue enamel (inside plane body)
Trimmings: blue enamel (lever cap)
Adjustable mouth: No
Depth adjustment: No
Lateral adjustment: No
Lever cap set: knurled wheel, and cross-bar


Views of the Record No.102

The block planes of Record.

When one thinks of metal planes from the U.K., it is hard to ignore those made by Record. The British company C. & J. Hampton Ltd. registered the trademark “Record” in 1909, but it wasn’t until 1931 that the company began manufacturing planes, based on the the patterns of Stanley. As such, there is nothing inherently innovative about these block planes – their main selling point may have been the “TUNGSTEN STEEL cutting irons” (high-speed steel). These blades made of tungsten carbide were supposedly harder, more resistant to wear, and produced a keener cutting edge. The Tungsten also prevented grain growth in the steel, producing a small grain size, and making the steel more resistant to shock.



One of the interesting things about Record planes is their colour – painted surfaces on the body or lever cap are usually blue. The blue used in the original colour specification was known as “BS110 Roundel Blue”, yet it apparently varied in shade over the years, from a dark blue pre-war to light blue in later years. Record produced a number of block plane models, like many other plane manufacturers of the same era. This is quite astounding considering the smaller British market. Conversely Millers Falls, who started manufacturing planes a little earlier than Record, had a much larger repertoire. The numbering of the Record block planes suggests a direct correlation with the Stanley numbering system. There are some slight differences in the mechanisms used on some planes, but the planes are doppelgängers.

No.09½ – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″ (1934-2004)
No.015 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 7″ (1934-1943)
No.016 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″ (1934-1943)
No.017 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 7″, nickel-plated lever cap (1934-1943)
No.018 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″, nickel-plated lever cap (1934-1967)
No.019 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 7″, nickel-plated lever cap (1934-1943)
No.0101 – non-adjustable, 3½” (1935-1943)
No.0102 – non-adjustable, 5½” (1932-1974)
No.0110 – non-adjustable, 7″ (1931-1994)
No.0120 - adjustable (depth), 7″ (1931-1982)
No.0130 – double-end non-adjustable, 8″ (1931-1982)
No.0220 – adjustable (depth), 7″ (1931-1994)
No.0230 – adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″, nickel-plated lever cap (1932-1943)


The initial four block planes increased to 13 by the late 1930’s, but wartime restrictions saw six of those models disappear (although some appeared in catalogs up until 1962). By the mid-1980’s there were three block planes left, augmented by the addition of a fourth:

No.60½ adjustable (lateral, depth), 6″, low-angle (1982-2004)


Tools of the Trades – Fall 2014 show roundup

There was excitement in the air, as usually precedes a tool show – but I have to say I was somewhat disappointed this show. It was probably because I didn’t exactly find anything truly bizarre or something that made me go “WOW”. I cruised   around the stalls for a couple of hours but ended up with a few block planes and a MF hand drill. Like always there were some tools in abundance – but seems like few were selling. This time I noticed quite a few vises – including vintage Record woodworking vises, and an abundance of Millers Falls hand drills. There were some reasonably nice infills, and a few Victor block planes that I had my eye on – but didn’t end up buying any. For the starter-collector/user there is always a lot of stuff.

Here are some snap-shots of the show.

ToT14_pics1 ToT14_pics2

I ended up buying four block planes: a Record 220, a Birmingham Plane Co. plane, a Keen Kutter K120, and a Stanley 120 (in excellent condition).


Stanley 120, Keen Kutter K120, Record 220, and Birmingham Plane Co. block planes

.. and a yet to be determined model Millers Falls hand drill. Oh and a very rusty Stanley 102 which was basically free when I bought the Keen Kutter – it will become fodder for the de-rusting experiments (which will progress soon).


The MF hand drill.