Tools

Pluses and Minuses

I almost never buy tools off eBay.  Not used ones, anyway.  I usually stick to the “New Old Stock” variety.  So it was particularly out of character for me to take a leap of faith on a random Stanley No. 4.

IMG_20171118_093626.jpg

I think it came out okay.

The tool in question is almost certainly a Type 17 from 1942-1945.  It has a hardwood knob/tote and a steel depth adjustment knob, plus a heavier casting.  Its heft feels more like a modern Bedrock copy than a vintage Stanley.  I’m willing to bet this plane helped defeat the Nazis.

IMG_20171118_071152.jpg

You can really see the thickness of the walls in this shot.

The tool was either (i) well-loved and cared for in its former life or (ii) used a little bit and then squirreled away.  My vote is for well-loved and cared for.  There was a hanging hole in the heel of the sole.  All the arrises were carefully broken with a file.  The lateral adjustment lever showed signs of re-peening.  The depth adjustment knob was caked with sawdust. All the signs of a craftsman’s tool.

My only reservation is that the iron seems off.  There is just so much steel left.  It could be a replacement iron.  And the shape of the cutting edge was strange, with a very slight hollow along the width.  Not a hollow grind on the bevel.  The cutting edge itself had the opposite shape of a smoothing plane camber.  If it had been sharp, you could have beaded with the plane when it arrived in the mail.  Perhaps the skilled craftsman was two owners ago.

IMG_20171118_093657.jpg

Easily fixed in the honing process, though.

Also a surprise: the sole was very flat to begin with.  It took less than 30 seconds with 120 grit on the granite slab to get it as flat as it ever needs to be.  This is not exaggeration.  20 or so passes and it was flatter than most new planes.  And the sides were very square to the sole.  Another 30 seconds on the granite slab with a squaring block and it was good to go for shooting.

IMG_20171118_063255.jpg

Strange place for a hollow.  But completely harmless on a smoothing plane.

I was pleasantly surprised at every turn.  In fact, tuning was going so well, I developed the intention of making this one of my main worker planes.  But then, after all the scrubbing and sanding and honing, I moved the frog forward and extended the blade to take a thin shaving and what did I see?  Wood.  Lots of it.

It was like looking under the hood of an old car and seeing asphalt.  My heart sank.

IMG_20171118_093709.jpg

Tearout will always be a problem with this plane.

On a hand plane, the blade, in its cutting motion, lifts under the wood fibers.  As I understand it, the leading edge of the mouth presses down on the fibers while the blade cuts.  The wider the mouth, the more likely the fibers will lift and split ahead of the blade edge.  This is called tearout.

On a smoothing plane, you want the narrowest mouth possible.  The opening between blade and sole should be barely wider than the shaving taken.  A perfectly tuned and set smoothing plane can take a tearout-free shaving in any direction on even the most figured or swirling grain because of this narrow opening.  That is, the leading edge of the mouth applies downward pressure so close to the cutting edge that there is no opportunity for fibers to lift and split as the cut progresses.  No opportunity for tearout.

But with a mouth this size, this particular plane would eat figured food.  Literally tear it up and spit it out.  So, with a heavy heart, I have put this plane in the reserve bin (i.e., my Craftsman Top Chest).  But I will name it James, Jr., for it has a mouth so big that it ruins everything it comes in contact with.

Perhaps it will one day find life as a scrub plane.  It certainly has the mouth for heavy shavings.

JPG

This One Goes to Eleven

No, not really.  It actually only goes to 15/16, but that’s okay.  I finished the moving fillister plane.  I’m super proud of the result.

IMG_20171104_161524.jpg

I have since added a coat of BLO and some furniture wax.

You may have noticed the black racing stripe.  In addition to texture for a better grip, the blank paint hides some nasty tearout from the grip recess.  Dammit, why do I always reveal my secrets?  At least no one will ever mistake my plane for theirs.

I should note that this version is in every way superior to my first attempt, unless you count a slightly too wide throat.  But with the skewed iron and a more refined escapement, it shouldn’t be a big deal.  After quite a few tests, regular shavings eject consistently, whether across- or with- the grain.  Fine, cross-grain shavings bind a little bit, but it’s nothing that can’t be cleared occasionally with a mechanical pencil.

IMG_20171104_113829.jpg

The angle is right, but it’s a little wide.

Other than the skew iron, there are a few improvements since the first iteration.  The scoring spur extends a bit further this time.  In fact, both the scoring spur and the iron are ever so slightly proud of the body.  This (I learned from Roy Underhill) is the key to a crisp and plumb shoulder on the rabbet.  The screws for the fence are also flush with the fence itself.

IMG_20171104_161359.jpg

I will eventually reinforce the slots with brass, like the version I copied.

I do not plan to add a depth stop to this plane.  I’ll just mark the depth and clean everything up with a router plane after.  That’s how I’ve been doing it for a while, and I find the traditional depth stop is not that reliable.  And a full-length depth stop may interfere with the escapement.

IMG_20171104_161349.jpg

So there you have it!

It’s still TBD whether I caught the planemaking bug.  I do have another 6 feet or so of quartersawn hard maple and I just picked up a bench grinder, so who knows what the future holds?

Rabbets.  The future holds rabbets.

JPG

After Further Review

A funny thing happened today when I woke up and went into the shop. Calipers in hand, ready to measure for the plug I was going to make, I decided to give it one more shot. I positioned the holdfast to the left over a scrap of wood, and whacked it with a sledge. Nothing.

Undeterred, I gave it another whack, this time holding the shaft steady as I drove it in. It felt like it seated a bit. After a third whack, it felt like it was grabbing. The fourth whack, it set tightly. Hmm.

wp-1485635194551.jpg

It’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

And it works pointed right as well.

wp-1485635198054.jpg

This is not a political metaphor (yet).

I guess the trick is to hold the shaft steady as you drive it in. So, much less sad than yesterday, I bought a corded drill and made a plumb jig to bore the remaining holes (seen above).

wp-1485635460638.jpg

Much like ‘Murica itself, this drill was assembled here with foreign components.

It’s always good to sleep on it.

JPG

Forging New Paths

New to me, at least.  I’m cleaning up a vintage saw.

wp-1463397729478.jpg

And ruining my nice ash table in the process.

This Simonds saw, a 12ppi crosscut panel saw, came to me through a family friend (a godparent, in fact).  The plate was lightly rusted, with little pitting (and none near the teeth).  Sandflex hand blocks and some elbow grease quickly led to a passable shine.  And the Etch even survived the rust removal process.  The plate was slightly breasted along the toothline: unclear to me if the breasting was OEM or a product of uneven filing over time.

wp-1463397737989.jpg

Made from 1901 to 1926, according to teh interwebs.

The handle is also in excellent shape, if slightly paint-caked around the plate.  There is some chipping around one of the saw nuts (probably my doing), but otherwise, the finish is consistent and no work was needed.  I may ease the top tongue on the handle to fit my hand better, but I’d like to see how it works before I do.

wp-1463397733639.jpg

No lamb’s tongue, but whatever.

The only real problem with the saw was the teeth.  One side of the plate, the were filed much smaller than other.  My best guess is the crosscut filing was consistently done out of horizontal and without flipping the saw around between sides.  So my choices were: (i) file the teeth completely away and start all over or (ii) reshape the saw into a 6+ tpi rip saw.  There is a great Paul Sellers tutorial on recutting saw teeth, but a 6+ tpi rip saw will fill a gap in my tool chest.

wp-1463397744561.jpg

Notice the sharp teeth on the left even after heavy jointing with a flat file

I’m not finished with it yet, but I think reshaping was the right choice.  I already own a 10 tpi rip pattern panel raw (which is great for all-around work, including cross-cutting to rough length), but my only other rip pattern panel saw is 4.5 tpi (too coarse in my experience for hardwoods).  This saw will almost split the difference and give me a more aggressive option for hardwoods and softwoods alike.

And worse comes to worst, I’ll file them flat and start all over again.  There is plenty of plate left.  Either way, I’m going to need a new 7″ slim file after this.

JPG

 

More on Shop-made Rebate Planes

Attaching the fence to the right-hand rebate plane wasn’t nearly as difficult as expected.  I approached it like I would a drawbore, by first drilling the pilot holes in the fence, then using the same brad-point bit to transfer those holes to the body of the plane.  After that, everything came together nicely.

P1000239

I did drill all the way through the backer board into the dining table, but that kind of thing happens once in a while.

The above photo shows the fixed fence at max extension (5/8 inch).  I am yet to elongate those holes to permit the fence to adjust to take a narrower cut, but that is just a question of marking and chopping out two slots in the fence.  After the fence is fitted, I’ll recess the scoring spur and the whole thing will be ready for a coat or two of Tung Oil.

I did take some quick test cuts with the fixed fence and was quite pleased.  I’m assuming the slight slope at the edge of the rabbet is due to my unfamiliarity with proper fillister plane technique.

P1000241

Product placement!

I hope to start work on the left-hand plane this weekend.

JPG

Warrington Pattern Hammer Recommendation

I don’t usually do tool recommendations, but I have been very pleased with my new Warrington Pattern Hammer.  It’s nothing special, just a $25 dollar amazon find, but it’s worked well so far.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VKXTGQ?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00

I may have lucked out, but the hammer is well handled and straight, and the balance of the 12oz head feels good in my hand.  If you’re looking for a relatively cheap woodworking hammer, you could do worse.

JPG

Making Replacement Wedges

When I deepened the recess on the set of poor man’s rebate planes to accept a 5/8 inch bench chisel, the initial 1/2 inch wedge for the right-hand version became useless.  This presented two issues: (a) the bed angle itself was sized against the old wedge, so the new wedge must be custom fit; and (b) there had to be an easier way to get the correct bevel than just starting from a four square blank and planing down.

In addition, there was the problem of not having any 5/8 stock, but I fortunately had enough remaining quarter-sawn red oak to resaw some wedge blanks.  Plus, the waste from the resaw, at just over 1/2 thick, is probably usable for something else.

Taking my time, as there is little margin for error.

Taking my time, as there is little margin for error.

The initial recess was marked against a 1:4.5 angled wedge (as recommended in the Paul Seller’s video), but after all the trimming and refinement of the bed, I think it’s now closer to 1:4.  Also, I tried marking the actual bevel angle directly on the blank and rip down along that bevel.  This gave me matching right and left wedges (for the matching right-hand and left-hand planes) that need less work overall in refining the fit.

Perfect fit!

Perfect fit!  Now to make the fence.

I’m excited to finish up the fence and put the right-hand plane to work (after I figure out the best way to attach the scoring spur).  I might even buy a second 5/8 inch Narex chisel so I don’t need to swap back and forth once the left-hand plane is done, but we’ll see.  Here’s hoping using quarter-sawn hardwood will increase the longevity of the planes.

All in all, it’s been a good exercise, and very enjoyable learning basic plane-making.  I’m certain the left-hand version will come out even better than the right.

JPG

Home-made Rebate Plane

I, like most woodworkers, have a Lee Valley/Veritas wish list.  For some time now, just sitting in the “Purchase Later” section of my shopping cart, has been a skew rabbet plane.  In fact, it is next on my list of impulse purchases.  Or at least it was, until today.  Because I’ve decided to make my own rebate plane instead.

Well, two, technically.

Well, two, actually.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend creating a free account at Paul Sellers’ Woodworking Masterclasses.  There are paid project videos, but there are also free-to-watch how-to videos on a wide range of topics.  One installment in the “Poor Man’s” woodworking tools series is a rebate plane that uses a chisel for a plane iron.

I had some lovely quarter-sawn red oak scraps laying around the shop, so I decided to try my hand at planemaking.

Actually quarter-sawn

Actually quarter-sawn.

The first rebate plane came out so well that I decided to make both right and left versions.  The right version originally used a 1/2 inch Narex bevel-edged chisel, but I decided to increase to 5/8 (for both aesthetic and practical reasons), so I need to make a new wedge.

Both versions will have an adjustable fence.  The right version will also have a nicker (or “scoring spur”) made from a re-purposed (read: chipped) wheel marking gauge cutter, for cross-grain rabbeting.

Suffice to say, I now have a Lie-Nielsen wishlist that includes a set of planemaker’s floats.

JPG

The Essential Tool Kit, Redux!

Over the weekend, I was asked by my mother to clean up some poorly-mitered baseboard moulding. Not knowing what the moulding was made of (MDF, by the way), I packed up a small toolbox with enough woodworking handtools to tackle any task. I’ve been down this road before, but I took the chance to think through the essential handtool woodworking kit once again.

More than anything, I was confined by what I could fit in or on the toolbox, which is about 16″ long and has been with me since the beginning.

Seen here

Seen here, mostly empty.

Here is what I came up with:

  • Tool roll, with chisels from 1/4″ to 1″, plus 1/2″ mortise chisel, birdcage awl and 18 oz mallet
  • Tape measure, 12″ combination square, sliding bevel and marking knife
  • 14″ rip cut tenon saw and 22″ rip cut panel saw
  • No. 5 1/2 jack plane and small chisel plane
  • 600 and 1200 grit diamond plates, saw file roll and plane adjustment hammer
  • Some screwdrivers and mechanical pencils

And that’s it.

Looking back, I had room for a small router plane and a couple clamps. Maybe a dovetail saw, spokeshave and Shinto rasp if feeling fancy. A hammer and cut nails too. Plus a 200 grit diamond plate and honing guide for grinding.

And that, along with a small cordless power drill, would be enough to get started making anything, I think.  Just don’t forget the glue and blue tape.

JPG

Doing the Unthinkable

I haven’t used a power router for anything other than chamfers/roundovers and the occasional flush trim in a very long time.  However, for the floor of the medium tool chest, it might be time to bust out the rabbeting bit for cutting some ship-lap joints.  I don’t own a fillister plane and I only need to cut a few rabbets, so why not?

P1000149

Hello, old friend.

I’ve always liked the concept for a rabbeting bit, even after I switched to hand-tools.  Much like the flush trim bit, you still need to joint a square, straight edge on a board to run the bearing along.  Although a bit messy for apartment woodworking, but with only four rabbets to cut (as the tool chest floor will consist of three boards total), I’m pretty sure the cleanup after rabbeting by power router will be manageable.

I’ll put a simple chamfer on the tongues of the ship-laps with a radius plane (a tool I don’t use nearly enough) to finish the joint.

Hello, other old friend.

Hello, other old friend.

JPG