Cleaning an Iron and Chipbreaker

Today, I attacked the rust and grime on the chipbreaker (“cap iron”) and iron (“blade”) of that Stanley #6. This is yet another new metal–high carbon steel. Thankfully, this stuff isn’t as hard as the chrome and nickel of the lever caps from yesterday, so I was very happy to be able to take most of the crap off with the mineral-spirit-doused wadding, very fine steel wool, and a razor scraper:

The chipbreaker is on the left, and the iron is on the right. The screw shown here attaches the iron to the chipbreaker. It was very hard to get a good “after” shot here, because the cleaned iron and chipbreaker are very light and somewhat reflective. So I converted that image to black and white to eliminate the weird color reflection.

The reason they reflect is not just because they are very clean, but also because I very lightly lapped them on 600-grit silicon carbide sandpaper. I was very impressed at what this did, but I had to be careful, because I will need to do a quality lapping of the iron when I hone it. Now that I’ve tried out sandpaper on a flat surface like this, it seems more likely than ever now that I will try out the so-called Scary Sharp method for honing blades.

The iron is not very straight, but it is straight where it counts–between the slot and the edge. I’ll lap that and maybe polish the rest, depending on how I feel. It’s definitely going to need quite a bit ground off for a new edge; it’s not straight there, and it’s even a little concave at the very end.

The Millers Falls smoothing plane’s iron and chipbreaker should be even easier than this one, because they’re a lot cleaner. But I still need to get some experience honing and lapping on the Stanley before I get to that plane. Good thing I’m not in a particular hurry.

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