Oiling & Lubricating Plane Soles

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    Yet another topic from me, but I hope it helps raise questions and resolve queries/problems. 🙂

    I was surprised to find both Paul and I use a very similar means of lubricating plane soles during use via the use of a small tin/can stuffed with cloth saturated in mineral oil (I use 3 in 1).  Although it’s not new to either of us, it just goes to show how the same problems tend to be resolved using similar solutions, albeit half a country or half a world separation.

    I also periodically wax the tips of my plane irons, cap irons and find this helps reduce the risk of the plane mouth clogging during use on resinous timber.

    In need of a couple of new cans, I’m presently working my way through various options.  I prefer using lidded containers that are easily sealed during storage and opened during use.  I’m sick of the sight of canned tomato and sweetcorn, but tins of boiled sweets/candies are looking good 😉  Especially since they have lids and the contents soon disappear. 😀

    Ron Harper

    I use mutton tallow


    I use sticks of parafin wax used for canning food.  I just drag the stick across the sole of the plane or the side of my saw.



    I vary between candle wax (A simple white candle) and 3 in 1 oil.  I found mutton tallow can sometimes contain salt (Depending on source) and turns rancid if conditions aren’t ideal.


    I just purchased a Veritas carcass saw and was surprised to see in instructions a stern warning to not use beeswax (pdf: http://www.leevalley.com/US/html/05t0705ie.pdf). I’ve used it, not extensively but many times, with plane and also saws. On a shooting board wax tends to clump into harder patches, but my garage is ~2C currently so..

    But now I think I’ll go with the can solution. We don’t have 3 in 1 as a brand here (WD40 is available but I’ve seen it as spray only; it’s also not an oil..). I’m thinking about using a no-brand “general oil” that’s quite runny, recommended for locks, airguns and general oiling.

    Stupid is like stupid does, even here in rural Finland.


    If you need to wax a surface but find the wax clumps or won’t spread evenly, nip indoors and “borrow” a hair drier or use a hot air paint stripper to heat the wax.  You’ll soon find any problems soon melt away. 😉

    Depending on the brand, I think beeswax can sometimes gum up surfaces and know it tends to be a bit sticky when in block form.  Fine mineral oil is good and often available from pharmacists  Pasi 😉  Fine machine oil also works well too, but beware heavier oils. 🙂

    I found WD40 didn’t perform anywhere near as well as mineral/3 in 1 oil, as blades would still develop rust.  The old timers used to use vaseline/petroleum jelly as a means of rust proofing and lubricating tools. 🙂


    I find camellia oil works great on planes and saw’s, As a means of lubricating plane soles, or saw blades during use, and helping to stop rust after use. A quick wipe over job done. 🙂


    I’m using both Camellia oil and a White candle. The oil works great but only lasts a few strokes. The candle doesn’t lubricate as well but stays active longer. When I get a chance I’m gonna try parafin and see how that works.

    Regarding the 3-1 machine oil Paul uses – doesn’t it interfere with finishes? What oil should I go search for if I want to try it, what is it composed of?

    Located in Jönköping, Sweden.


    Hi. 3-in-1 oil isn’t available here in Norway, but reading through this thread it seems like vaseline oil could be an alternative. Anyone got any experience with this?

    David Perrott

    The easiest may be rubbing a candle on the sole. Not where the iron comes out though. I think I like the wax better than the oil. To me it seems to last longer. I had some candle laying around. No idea what type of wax it is but it seems to work fine.


    Paraffin wax aka canning wax used to can food. Grocery stores sell it. 3 in 1 oil is light machine oil which works great too and is what Paul uses in his bean can I believe. 3 in 1 is a brand name and not a description of the oil.


    Frank Joseph

    DONT use Vaseline gel. I don’t know a the reasons but its a big no no.or so I am told. I know it will clump dust and junk,
    Most wax and lite oils work well mineral oil works well. My can had s mix of hard wax and lite oil wet rag with oil wrap wax in rag works well. Paul says in a number of videos no to be concern the oils. will not hurt finish. I belive it is part because there is so little. Use what ever with care.

    In South Jersey the good part of New Jersey, USA.


    Thank you all for your advice! Think I’ll look for some light machine oil at the local hardware store. And I’ll try the candle method too 🙂


    Mineral oil is often sold in pharmacies and grocery stores. It is pure, food safe, and will not adversely affect your finishes in these small amounts used. It is non drying. But I vote for wax also.
    White canning wax (paraffin) is probably the most convenient- I don’t have to worry about spillage or worry about oil stains if I accidentally leave some of my wood lying on the oily cloth as project parts start piling up on my bench. Canning wax is very inexpensive- a package will likely last you for a few years. Just break off a couple of pieces and leave them at the point of use on the bench, next to your drills, etc. I leave some with the wood screws- a little scrape of wax makes a big difference when trying to drive screws.


    I have used both 3-in-1 and candle wax, and I have to say they are quite different. I find that the candle wax is harder to apply, but works in fairly well. It perhaps over-lubricates the plane though. I often find it sends the plane flying across surfaces unexpectedly, and makes it harder to balance a plane on a smaller surface. 3-in-1 has less of these problems, but it doesn’t seem to last as long.

    I haven’t settled on a preference yet.

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