Stanley #80 paint job

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    Tyler Walters

    Anyone have an opinion for what paint to use to repaint a #80 stanley cabinet scraper?
    I recently bought one on good ‘ol eBay to restore. I’ve got her up and running now but the previous owner stripped off all the paint. I would like it to look as close to “factory original” as possible but this is also a working tool so something that will hold up to use would be nice.


    In Paul’s Blog ( he repaints a Record 151 Spokeshave with VALSPAR Fast-Dry Project Enamel, using a foam brush. B&Q stock it in small pots here in the UK.

    I’m fairly sure the No.80’s were not Japanned, but if you are ever trying to replicate Japanning, you’ll struggle to repeat that process, even if you could discover their secret recipe and method.

    There is a special type of extra-tough enamel for Engines, sold in motor-accessory stores. Probably best reserved for Vices, Garden Tools, or Plane Bodies. If regular enamel lasted 70 years, I’d stay with that.

    Some restorers gently bake enamel to harden it. I did this once on steel Meccano parts. Increasing oven temperature in half-hour increments and cooling slowly. This will darken most colours. It creates quite a stink and was not really worth the hassle.

    I don’t like the idea of cooking any tools. Certainly not Cast Iron.

    I’m going with standard Black Enamel on mine, without an undercoat.
    Smooth off the old paint, wipe with spirits, mask clean areas, and spray.

    Larry Geib

    Depending on the age, The original old finish is paint (newer) or hot bitumin cured in an oven. You can’t duplicate japanning, but you can get respectably close.

    Three paths:

    Go to an auto store and look for “ford engine black” enamel.

    Put it on pretty thick in several coats In semigloss, it’s perhaps a bit too glossy, but wait a month until it hardens and then use some OOOO steel wool on it, then wax it and it will look a lot like the original jappaning.

    Alternatively, you can make your own cold jappaning by mixing roofing cement( bituminous) with equal parts turps and spar varnish (NOT POLY VARNISH). The roofing cement should be put in a muslin sack and steeped in the turpentine for a couple weeks to make a dark tea. Then add the varnish before you use the concoction. It looks exactly like Japanning.
    It will be runny, so do the painting in sections oriented horizontally and in several coats so it doesn’t run. If you are diligent, you can do all the coats in one day if you do it in sun and wind.

    Do the jappaning outside and don’t bring the scraper inside for a few days. It stinks

    Lastly, you can buy cold jappaning premixed.
    not cheap.

    Here’s a Wentworth saw vise painted with method 2 and still curing. When it sets another month I’ll buf and wax it.


    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.

    Have you tried the Ford Engine Enamel yourself, Larry?
    It was quite pricey in the shop I went to, so I quickly put it back on the shelf!
    You make me feel as though I’m cutting corners now. LOL.

    Larry Geib

    Haha. We’re talking lifetime tools, remember?

    I figure any reasonable expense pays for itself in the long run.

    Since you are starting with raw metal, it will be quite durable after it cures hard, with which most paints takes a few weeks for all the solvents to dissipate. But the paint dries hard enough to use in a day or two.

    And yes, I have used it. It was my go-to finish for a while. The japaning is more recent, and maybe not worth the trouble for all tools. I use japanning when I’m too lazy to strip the old japanning but just feather it out. The paint needs a full stripping.

    Here’s a Bedrock 605 with the engine black next to the Wentworth vise that’s japanned. The plane was in real rough shape out of a barn, so the pitting shows through, but otherwise the paint has held up fine.

    The paint is several years old and the plane is my regular jack plane, so it has the wear test and is a little dusty right now. It gives you an idea how the paint looks over time. Some people say that if you put the paint on really thick in one coat, it will hide more imperfections. I may add some paint if I do another overhaul.
    But if you do the thick coat, what you paint needs to be horizontal so it doesn’t run.

    That plane has a little history. I purchased it in the late 60’s or early 70’s at an estate sale from the Studebaker carriage maker family in Pennsylvania. Part of the family moved West to found the Studebaker car company.
    I think I gave about $7 for it. That was a fair amount of money for me back then. You could get old planes for half that.

    Studebaker made Conestoga and Chuck wagons and stage coaches that settled the old West.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by Larry Geib.

    If you really want to try to japan it again, that link is about the best reference I know of on it.

    Tuscloosa, Alabama
    Lung T'an Hu Huesh Kung-fu Woodshop

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