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Thread: Real Quick: Japanning on old Stanley Bailey Plane Bodies

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Keswick, Ontario, Canada

    Real Quick: Japanning on old Stanley Bailey Plane Bodies

    Hi Guys,

    Quick question for you.

    What would the approximate sheen of the japanning on a Stanley plane from the mid-20's be? Yes, it's black, but would it be gloss, semi-gloss, or satin? I've got a Bailey #6 that I have stripped down and am going to japan, but I want to keep it close to it's original appearance.

    Just a quick, brief answer if nothing else would be appreciated!

  2. If you are actually Japanning, what you end up with is correct. But I can guess that perhaps you are not actually Japanning?

    If using paint, a gloss paint knocked back with 0000 steel wool is close. So is semi-gloss. Neither is accurate in richness nor sheen.

    There are other formulations, some which are baked in an oven that come close. If maritial bliss is important, well, this may not be a good option. Other options are:

    The home page is:

    Take care, Mike

  3. #3
    Maybe one of the old hand plane experts can correct me but I think the Japanning on the Stanley planes was a type of asphalt that was baked onto the plane. From what I know, it's not paint.

    [Oops, looks like Mike W and I were typing at the same time.]

    Last edited by Mike Henderson; 08-23-2006 at 6:02 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Keswick, Ontario, Canada
    P. Michael Henderson,

    You are dead on right. The old japanning was not paint. I have an excellent user 6C that I am redoing. The plane is in excellent shape other than the japanning which was about 40%. I am refinishing the body with a high quality plastic enamel but just want to buy the right sheen the first time. Thanks to all for your responses. I will post pics after I am done. I realize some of you might not agree with this method but I just want a real good user plane.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Hudson Oaks, TX


    Japanning is more of a black varnish. It is made mainly from turpentine with asphaltum disolved it it. It drys so slowly that it is usually baked at successively higher temperatures through several heating and cooling cycles. The rexmill site listed above has a lot of information and links as I remember. The baking provides both significant hardening and a deep gloss finish.


  6. Japanning - Old recipe

    I have the whole book on japanning posted here:

    This is original recipe from 1913 by WILLIAM N. BROWN. There is also a PDF file of the book for those who like this kind of stuff to be handy.

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