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    Julio T.

    I’m restoring a wooden plane, made from beech. It’s clean now, but I like to apply some finish to protect it during use. I’m thinking about boiled linseed oil or shellac, but I don’t know which of them is more adequate.

    What do you think?

    Thank you very much in advance.


    Hi Julio

    I use boiled linseed on my own planes and I am very happy with the way they look and feel.

    Larry Geib

    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:
    And another:

    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 1 year, 5 months ago by Larry Geib.
    Julio T.

    Thank you very much for fast answering.

    No, I don’t think the plane has a special hystoric value. It’s a 44 mm-wide blade smooting plane msde by the french maker Goldenberg. The rear part of the plane, where the palm of the hand is supposed to be when in use, has relatively sharp corners and it’s rather uncomfortable to use. But the plane is in cery good condition and the iron is of a very high quality, so I’m trying to take it back to active use.

    One more question: should I apply finish to sole?

    Thanks again.

    Larry Geib

    You can apply finish to the sole. I wouldn’t apply a wax where the iron and wedge bed, though I have a couple time to no ill effect.

    an old candle or canning paraffin rubbed on the sole before you use it will make it run easier. It doesn’t take much, just a squiggle same as you would a saw or metallic plane. Or you can use a little of the same wax concoction you choose.

    It won’t affect finishing your work.

    Paul’s oil can method might work, but thought I use it on metallic planes, I’ve never tried it on wood.

    And there is nothing wrong with making your plane comfortable. Lots of planes are rounded where you push them.

    Julio T.

    Well, the work is done. Ended. After a few modifications and a little tuning, I’m very happy with the results. Here you are some photos of before and after. I’ve applied BLO on body and wedge (they are darker now, but I like the look), and wax on the sole for smoother finish. It runs over the wood smooth like silk.

    As Doug Marcaida would say: “this, sir, will plane”.

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