One of the beauties of beech is that the wear surfaces will burnish nicely.
The traditional finish varied depending on which side of the pond you lived.
In England, Tallow was the usual application, mutton tallow being thought the best. bee’s wax was sometimes used but was considered too expensive for general use. Over time, the tallow turned black if it wasn’t regularly refreshed. Some people find the odor unpleasant.
Roy underhill has a recipe that combines five parts tallow to one part bee’s wax.
In the New world, bee’s wax was less expensive and was regularly used. The wax was often thinned with turpentine and/or linseed oil for easier application. Linseed oil will darken the beech over time.
I have a sensitivity to the driers in hardware store BLO, so I have to use artists varieties found in art supply stores. It’s rather expensive, but you don’t need much.
Here is one recipe:
You can thin either finish with mineral spirits. Use he Odorless kind ( not to be confused with the low odor kind which stinks).
If the plane you are restoring has historic value, any finish other than wax will decrease it’s value to collectors.
I would avoid finishes like shellac or varnish. Any finish that keeps the wood from reaching equilibrium quickly can warp the plane.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 7 months ago by Larry Geib.