Plane lubrication

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Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
One question - three options;
What is the "best" plane sole lubrication?

1. I know some are going to say paraffin wax. (That is what Mike Davis taught me - and it makes a WORLD of difference!)
2. I have seen Mutton tallow - but is that only for wooden planes or does it work well for metal-bodied planes as well?
2a. what is your source for tallow? (Oh, and the HOA got particularity upset when I discussed buying lambs! :cool:)
3. Camellia oil - I understand Camellia oil DOES NOT lubricate the planes, but is simply a rust preventative, is that right?
4. Johnson's wax on a microfiber cloth
5. other options?
 
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Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I use paste wax on my metal plane sides and soles (same stuff I use on the cast iron table saw top).

As for tallow, tallow is normally consider beef or mutton fat. Lard is pork fat, so I would guess lard would work as well as tallow. The only wood bodied plane I have right now is one I made of purple heart, and I use paste wax on it the same as my metal planes.

Go
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
for metal planes, 3 in 1. Keep a rag with some on it and touch up every now and then during a session. IME, waxes wear off and need to be re-applied and buffed. 3 in 1 is much easier and IME is as good a rust preventer as anything else I've tried.
 

donald.woolley

New User
Donald
I used to go with Johnson's Wax (#4) but Beeswax blocks (#1a?) from the Farmer's Market have proven to be more convenient for planes, saws and screws.

Plus, it's what Roy uses
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
I used to go with Johnson's Wax (#4) but Beeswax blocks (#1a?) from the Farmer's Market have proven to be more convenient for planes, saws and screws.

Plus, it's what Roy uses
I thought Roy used tallow? (I guess on wood planes, maybe he uses Beeswax on metal bodied planes?

Now, beeswax versus paraffin, I think the paraffin wins out since it is a little harder and "sticks" to the plane sole (less reapplication...)

I am in the process of hunting for Paul sellers product that he wipes on during planing. (He has a can with a rag or rug and has some "product" on it that he will take a "swipe" when he feels the plane dragging....
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
I thought Roy used tallow? (I guess on wood planes, maybe he uses Beeswax on metal bodied planes?

Now, beeswax versus paraffin, I think the paraffin wins out since it is a little harder and "sticks" to the plane sole (less reapplication...)
I've always found beeswax to be much harder? YMMV

I am in the process of hunting for Paul sellers product that he wipes on during planing. (He has a can with a rag or rug and has some "product" on it that he will take a "swipe" when he feels the plane dragging....
It's 3 in 1 or some british version of light duty machine oil. That's where I first saw it.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
I've always found beeswax to be much harder? YMMV



It's 3 in 1 or some british version of light duty machine oil. That's where I first saw it.
YEP!
Here is Paul's article - and you can see 3 in 1 oil in one of the pictures.

https://paulsellers.com/2011/10/recycling-4oz-bean-or-tomato-tins/

What I don't understand is why that doesn't cause problems with his finish?????

I was thinking of using Camellia oil in my "can" but then realized that it is not a "Good" lubricant...

I wonder about canola oil - there was a post over on sawmill creek about that...
 

willarda

New User
Bill Anderson
I use "Old Patch Grease" from Dixie Gunworks. It comes in a can and is sold to flintlock rifle users. Over the years I have purchased so much patch grease (for metal and wooden planes) and sight blacking (to dull the shine of saw teeth when sharpening handsaws) that the Gunworks has assumed I am a major gun user. Consequently I am on every gun mailing list you can imagine. I also got a letter from the NRA asking if I was interested in being a representative of the Chapel Hill area (!!!). I would love to do that but they would not be interested in my very first proposition.

A tallow candle is a good thing to keep in your bench drawer or tool box as well.
 

Hmerkle

Hank
Corporate Member
I use "Old Patch Grease" from Dixie Gunworks. It comes in a can and is sold to flintlock rifle users. Over the years I have purchased so much patch grease (for metal and wooden planes) and sight blacking (to dull the shine of saw teeth when sharpening handsaws) that the Gunworks has assumed I am a major gun user. Consequently I am on every gun mailing list you can imagine. I also got a letter from the NRA asking if I was interested in being a representative of the Chapel Hill area (!!!). I would love to do that but they would not be interested in my very first proposition.

A tallow candle is a good thing to keep in your bench drawer or tool box as well.
Bill you are SUCH an enabler!

What is a tallow candle and where do I get one? (Winston-Salem I am guessing...???)
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
Geeze, Wimpy! Why do you need to lubricate the soles and bodies of your planes? Rust protection or I just can't push through it?

I'd guess the small amount of lubrication on the sole is going to wear off very quickly in the first few passes so what's to be gained to begin with?

Just me being curious as usual. I don't use hand planes very often so enlighten me about the advantages of lubrication, etc.
 

Jim Wallace

jimwallacewoodturning.com
Jim
When I first started teaching woodturning, most tail centers were dead centers - no ball bearings. In spindle turning most woods would begin to squeal as the center burned into the end of the spindle and had to be tightened. A couple of our class members would bring in little tins of tallow which was sold as lip gloss. Nothing (wax, oil, etc.) worked as well to quiet the center. This thread reminded me of this and I looked on line to see where you could buy a tallow candle as Bill suggests, The first search results were about making tallow candles, not about buying them. Before I got to tallow candles for sale I was directed to Walmart which sells 1 oz cans of tallow through their pharmacy. You have to order it, but it's free shipping.

You can render your own from beef or sheep fat from the grocer, and apparently it will keep without refrigeration provided the container is air tight.
 

willarda

New User
Bill Anderson
You would be amazed at the difference between lubricating the sole and not. Also, lubrication is not a one time proposition. You do it every certain amount of time or strokes. Clearly the lubrication comes off with successive shavings. Thus it does not affect the resultant finish. One theory about corrugated soles that Stanley came out with was to have a place for tallow, etc. to reside in large amounts. As the sole warms up, the wax flows onto the works. (My theory is that they forgot to engineer planned obsolescence into their first planes and this improved design would attract a whole new spate of consumerism!). If you are struggling with some tight grained wood, or with wood possibly with reversing grain or other "imperfections" a little tallow will make things slip right along.

A mantra for hand plane users that I teach my students is to take the Buddhist approach to planning--"plane through not down, if you meet resistance, relax, slide over it and get it another time". Too often students will push hard down when they met resistance, thinking the shaving has got to go, when counter intuitively you really want to lighten up there. Tallow will help this process dramatically and make your life so much happier!
 

willarda

New User
Bill Anderson
I am pretty sure that Roy Underhill has a article in PW from a couple of years ago about making lamb tallow in the kitchen (which he does).
 

McRabbet

Rob
Corporate Member
I've always used Gulf Canning Wax, available in your grocery store's canning aisle. Works great and protects too.
 

Chris C

Chris
Senior User
I've always used Gulf Canning Wax, available in your grocery store's canning aisle. Works great and protects too.
+1.....I keep a chunk on my bench all the time. May not be the best choice but works and makes a huge difference. Plus it's cheap and easy to find.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Paraffin works great and is cheap. I have not found a reason to look for anything else.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
Geeze, Wimpy! Why do you need to lubricate the soles and bodies of your planes? Rust protection or I just can't push through it?

I'd guess the small amount of lubrication on the sole is going to wear off very quickly in the first few passes so what's to be gained to begin with?

Just me being curious as usual. I don't use hand planes very often so enlighten me about the advantages of lubrication, etc.
The bolded statement pretty much answers the question IMHO. If using planes for a large area of material removal, every little bit of drag wears on the one pushing the plane. Because the final work is the most tedious and needing the most control, wasted energy and lessened dexterity will show up at the least opportune time. Not a big thing with a block plane, but can be a major issue with a #6, 7, or 8.

For wood bottomed planes, friction also means wear and all that goes with recovering from it when it gets severe.

Go
 

TENdriver

New User
TENdriver
Paraffin is hard to beat.

Tallow candles were stored in a candle box so the resident critters wouldn't eat them.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
All this talk about rendering fat to get tallow makes me wonder if the final product, rubbed on the plane, would attract critters. i work in a barn and have to consider possums, raccoons, deer mice, foxes and coyotes. I used to keep sunflower seeds in a plastic bin until something decided to gnaw through it. Would my plane be nibbled on? Not the metal parts but the knob and tote. I'm sure to get the tallow on my hands and thence to the handles on the plane. I have always used paraffin wax mainly because I bought a box of the stuff years ago and it doesn't get used up very quickly.

Roy G
 

mkepke

Mark
Senior User
I would expect tallow and organic oils - like canola - will eventually go rancid, especially in our wonderful North Carolina heat.

I use SC Johnson paste wax. Comes in a can with a tight-fitting lid to prevent drying out. $6.50 for a hobbyist's lifetime supply.

-Mark
 
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