My Presentation

This past Saturday I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Cincinnati Woodworking Club. I arrived at the church around 9:00 am and Bill, the gentlemen who originally contacted me, told me I’d be the last speaker around 10:45 am. I thought to myself “Oh God, I’m the headliner. I hope I live up to their expectations.” There was about 50-60 people at the meeting which was way more than I thought would be there. I kind of hoped I would only be speaking to around twenty to calm my nerves.

Like any club, the meeting started off with some administrative stuff and talking about building toys for a toy drive. A few members spoke before me demonstrating projects they built or woodworking classes they took. There were a few really nice pieces that members brought in to show off.

I started off talking about how my Grandpa got me into collecting old tools as a kid when he gave me his jewelers drill press. Then I talked about my tool cabinet and how it came to be. I’ve been collecting antique tools since I was a kid and the tool cabinet was born out of necessity as a place where I could store all the old tools I used. When I was young, living at my parents place, my tool collection was on the other side of the basement being displayed on book shelves. I had to walk outside the shop to the other side of the basement in order to pick up a tool I wanted to use. My idea was the tool cabinet would separate my “good” antique tools from my users. I told the audience that my cabinet looks a lot nicer in pictures than it does in person because every time I reorganized the inside, I tore the veneer from the oak plywood where a tool holder was attached to the wood. If you examine the cabinet in person, you’ll see a bunch of tears and mismatched stain where I couldn’t remember which stain color I used the last time.

I then went on and talked a little bit about my work bench and described how it’s based on Chris Schwarz’s benches in the Workbench Book and Roy Underhill’s Roubo bench he built on his show. My bench is a user and is dirty from years of use. Once in awhile, I’ll clean the top off with a hand plane or belt sander just to give me a fresh surface.

Then I started to discuss how I restore old planes. This is a Diamond Edge Jointer I picked up on The World’s Longest Yard Sale this summer. The plane was a good candidate since it was made by the Sargent Tool Company a competitor of Stanley Tools.

Anytime I buy and old tool, I roll the dice that I’ll be able to restore it. Most times I win, but once in a while I’ll buy something that needs additional work. I didn’t notice at the time, but this plane’s yolk broke off the frog and needed to be replace.

Luckily, I had the proper replacement parts in stock from other planes I couldn’t restore. The yolk and the brass adjustment knob from an old Stanley plane worked as replacements.

To fix the frog, I simply punched out the pin that holds the yolk in place and inserted the new yolk, punching the pin back in place to repair the tote. It took literally five minutes. Once the brass adjustment knob was screwed back on, the frog was as good as new.

Once I determined the plane could be restored, I told them I dip all the plane parts in a citric acid bath. I allow the parts to sit in the bath for a couple of hours making sure that they don’t sit too long or I’ll get acid burns on the metal.

Wiping the rust off the metal with a drywall sanding sponge, the plane was looking in good shape and ready to be buffed.

I took the parts outside to use my wire wheel to buff out the metal. I told the audience I have this machine outside because the little wires fly off the wheel. If I use the machine in my shop and this happens, I’ll walk around at night and get a nice little wire stuck to the bottom of my foot. So, outside this thing stays.

I then discussed my tool solution I make to coat my tools. It’s made up of a slice off of a beeswax candle, one part orange oil, and one part mineral oil. I take the slice of beeswax and melt it in a pot on a hot plate. Once the wax is melted I add equal parts of mineral and orange oil and stir it up. The solution works great and works just as well as Kramers Antique Improver for pennies of the price.

This is the plane put back together. If I wanted to just put this thing on my shelf, I would be done but I want to see if I can get this guy to work again.

Here’s the plane blade when I bought it. Many people think that when you buy an old plane, you have to buy a new blade because the old one won’t work anymore. I always try to see if I can get the original one sharp first.

Using my slow speed grinder, I flatten the back of the blade to remove as much of the pitting as I can. I only care about cleaning up 1/4″ of the bottom of the blade as this will be the only part of the blade that needs to be tuned.

Then I use the plane jig and grind a 25 degree bevel to the edge using my Tormek slow speed grinder.

After that, I’ll hone the edge of the blade using 4000 and 12000 grit water stones. At this point, it’s sharp enough to shave the hairs off of my arm.

Setting the cap iron back on the blade about 1/8″ behind the cutter, I stick both back on the plane to see how it cuts. With a little bit of work, I was able to get whisper like shavings from the plane without buying a new blade or even worrying about flattening the bed with sandpaper. I brought the plane with me to the meeting and used it on a scrap piece of poplar to show how the plane performs. I then passed the scrap wood around the audience so that they can see how smooth the plane made the wood.

I told the audience that it basically took me an afternoon to transform the plane to make it work again as it will make a nice user for the next 100 years.

Hopefully, I inspired a few of the them to hunt for old planes to see if they can tune them up themselves. All I know is that I really enjoyed giving my presentation and a few of the members came up to me after the meeting to tell me how much they enjoyed me speak. And no one threw tomatoes at me.

L W Jacobs West Miter Box

Six months ago I ran across this miter box lying on the floor in an antique store. Intrigued by it, I took a look at the price but decided not to buy it. I went back a few weeks ago and the seller lowered the price by 50% so I took it home with me.

I’ve been using a Stanley No 150 miter box for years. In fact, it’s the only hand powered miter box I ever use now since I sold my larger Stanley No 60 1/2 miter box as it was just sitting around collecting dust. What I love about the 150 is its small footprint and ability to cut small moldings safely as opposed of using my Delta powered miter saw.

You can see the difference between the Jacobs and Stanley No 150 Miter Box. The Jacobs looks like Stanley’s bigger brother. The Jacobs actually predates the Stanley by several decades as it was patented in 1889 while Stanley didn’t produce the 150 until 1923. More likely, Stanley simply bought the design from Jacobs or waited for the patent to run out and redesigned it into a smaller version.

I always use a Disston back saw when I use my Stanley No 150 but, apparently this miter box was meant to be used with a panel saw which is why the throat is so deep. Even the patent documents show it being used with a panel saw.

The cut from the miter box is pretty accurate considering it’s age. Both 45 degree positive stops produced a decent cut however, I would still finalize the cut by using a shooting board or miter trimmer as I always use my miter trimmer to clean up the miter when I use my Stanley No 150. This is a neat box to own and I’m glad I found it.

Removing Frozen Screws

Every once in awhile I’ll buy an old tool that gives me some grief. This time it was the frog that wouldn’t come off the bed of a Stanley No 4 plane due to some rusted screws. Normally, when screws won’t budge, I use the oldest trick in the book, and tighten them before I try to loosen them. This will often break the seal of rust and allows me to unscrew the bolt with no problem. But that didn’t work this time. Not even a shot of PB Blaster could save the day.

I ended up having to drill through the top of the head to break it apart from the threads so the frog could come free. I’ve read where some people use propane torches to heat up the screws and free the rusted threads that way but, my shop is in my basement and don’t feel like stinking up the whole house with the flames off of a propane torch.

After a few minutes of drilling, the frog came off of the bed. You can see all the gunk that’s been trapped underneath the frog for decades.

Now that the frog is removed, I was left with another problem. The threads of the left screw stood proud of the bed while the threads of the right screw are inside the bed.

Removing the left threads was simple, a little bit of oil and some channel locks and it unscrewed easily. The right one, not so much.

For the right one, I used a 11/64″ drill bit and carefully drilled through the threads of the screw paying careful attention not to damage the interior threads of the bed. When the majority of the screw is removed, I used a dental pick and cleaned out any remaining metal inside the threads so that new screws would seat nicely.

Grabbing a couple of spare screws I had lying around, I tested them inside the cleaned out holes. They worked just fine. Now it was time to continue on with the restoration job. I dipped all the metal parts of the plane in a citric acid bath to remove all the rust.

With all the parts cleaned up and the blade sharpened, the plane was restored to working order. Another plane saved from the scrap heap.

GTL British Plane

Over the weekend, I received a box from The Fine Tool Journal with a couple of planes that I won in their latest auction. I’ve been disappointed with my winnings the past few auctions as I have only won one lot at each auction after sending them two pages of my bids, but apparently that’s my fault for not bidding high enough. Nevertheless, I was happy to get something from them. Inside was a Stanley No 104 Liberty Bell plane and this guy. An odd looking bronze plane with GTL stamped on the lever cap.

Searching online, I discovered that GTL stands for Guaranteed Tools Limited. It was a short lived plane maker in London, England from the 1920-1930’s who marketed to the DIY and amateur carpenter market. Apparently, the makers of these planes were trying to fill a gap between the Stanley Bailey planes that were taking the world by storm and the traditional Norris style planes that British craftsmen were accustomed to using at the time.

The lever cap and frog look rather crude which made me to believe at first, that it was user made. According to guys on UK woodworking forums, these planes were garbage to use. No one liked them as they thought they were too light and the “Norris” adjustment was a joke compared to real Norris style planes.

Intrigued by the plane, I decided to restore it and see how well it performed. I removed all the paint that the previous owner sprayed on the body and handle and sharpened the blade.

The plane cuts, but not very well. The biggest issue with it was because the Norris adjuster doesn’t have any lateral adjustment, I was unable to dial in the cut when the blade was cutting too heavy on one side and not enough on the other. I would have to either play with the setting of the frog or hone the edge at a slight angle for it to take a nice feather like shaving. Neither of which I was willing to waste my time doing.

Another big issue with the plane was the screw on the bottom of the bed that holds the tote in place stuck proud of the bed’s surface leaving gouge marks on the work piece when I used it.

Obviously, when I took the plane apart to clean it, I removed the screw so when I went back to install it, it wasn’t in the exact position it was before I removed it. This left a little nib of the screw head sticking proud of the surface which I had to file back down.

The oddest thing about the plane is that the frog is bent for some reason making the blade and cap iron not seat fully on it. I’m not sure if it was manufactured that way or if it got damaged some time during it’s life. No way would I try to bend it back straight. Knowing my luck, I’d end up cracking the frog in half.

All in all, it’s a fun to look at, but not the best to use. If the idea of a Norris style adjuster on a modern bench plane appeals to you, just buy a Veritas or even a new Stanley plane and avoid all this nonsense.

New Tools Listed on eBay 6/18

I listed a few tools on Ebay tonight. You can see them here.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I normally don’t blog when I list tools but, I’ve been selling on eBay for years. I’m small potatoes compared to the big tool sellers like Jim Bode or Patrick Leach but, I only do this in my spare time.

I buy tools that are often passed up by tool collectors because they’re not in the best shape. However, to me, part of the fun is to see if I can get them to work again. I make sure all the parts function properly and fix broken totes so they feel good in your hand. I’ll even sharpen the blades when I have time. If I buy a plane that can’t be brought back from the dead, I’ll sell it in parts so someone else can bring their tool back to life.

I normally have more than 100 tools for sale in my store but, I haven’t had time to restock it in the past few weeks. But that’s a good thing. It means that my prices are fair and they sell. I don’t want to own an antique tool museum.

Another Surprise Plane

Several years ago I wrote a post about one of the most interesting planes I ever restored. It was Sargent No 6 plane with a note underneath the rear tote with the original owners name and date of purchase. I thought that it was one-in-a-million chance where the owner of the plane would stick a note underneath the tote. Surely I would never see that again. Well, never say never.

20190330_111501.jpg

Sure enough, when I unscrewed the rear handle of this Stanley No 8C corrugated jointer plane, laid a small note.

20190330_202130.jpg

This original owner was S A Cowan of Port Carling, Ontario. Musk is short for Muskoka Lakes a summer resort town with a population of only a few thousand. I Googled “Cowan Port Carling Muskoka Ontario” and came up with several entries. There is even a Cowan Lake to the east of Port Carling so, finding who actually owned this plane would be tough with as many Cowan’s living in the area.

20190330_111526.jpg

It makes sense that the owner was Canadian as you can see by the blade’s logo. I’m not sure when Stanley made some of their plane blades in Canada, but figuring it out will help date the age of the plane. The SweetHart logo was used from 1920 -1935 according to Roger K Smith and there are no patent dates behind the frog which puts it into the 1930’s.

20190330_111537.jpg

Mr. Cowan must have been thrifty (possibly bought during the depression) as he bought a damaged plane. Planes that didn’t pass full inspection were labeled as damaged and sold off as seconds at a discount. The casting marks is what probably made this plane considered to be damaged.

20190330_111544.jpg

Overall, the plane is in good condition and will make a nice user. I repaired the top of the tote with a new piece of wood and will sharpen the blade before I sell it. This plane deserves to be put back to work and the note is back underneath the tote.

 

Restoring a Chisel/Slick

Apparently, my last restore was somewhat lame, so I’ll step up my game a little bit and show you how I restored this slick.

I bought this blade on the Worlds Longest Yard Sale a couple of weeks ago. I saw it on the ground and thought it was just a big ass chisel. The guy selling it told me he got it from the Amish. I noticed it was made by the Ohio Tool Co, so I bought it figuring it wouldn’t be too hard to make a new handle for it. When I got home, I examined it next to my other chisels when I realized that I probably had actually bought the blade for a slick.  It was 2 1/2″ wide x 6″ long and much thicker than any of my 2″ firmer chisels. The top of it was mushroomed and the blade was blunt like someone used it as a cold chisel, but I was confident that I could bring it back from the dead.

20180805_152301-1.jpg

I started cleaning the slick the same way I start all my restores, by soaking it in a citric acid bath for a few hours, then cleaning up the metal with a brass wheel on a buffing machine.

20180814_173357.jpg

The pieces of the handle still remained inside the socket of the slick, so I had to drill it out in order for the new handle to fit.

20180814_173748.jpg

In order to get rid of the mushroomed socket, there was no way I was about to heat up the end of the slick and reform the socket, so I decided just to grind the mushrooming away on my bench grinder. I figured I lost about a 1/4″ to 3/8″ of the total length of the socket grinding away the mushrooming.

20180814_175348.jpg

I grabbed a piece of 1 1/2′ maple and turned a handle that was about 16″ long. I looked in an antique tool catalog for a picture of a slick’s handle that I could use as a pattern. It was a very simple design with a knob on the end and a slight curve in the middle. This photo is the wood before I turned it to shape.

20180814_181112.jpg

 

The trickiest part about making a new handle for a chisel or slick is to measure the angle and thickness of the taper to properly fit in the socket. I took a 1/2″ thick dowel and placed it down the center of the socket and marked the top with a pencil. This gave me the length of the taper.

20180814_183209.jpg

Setting my calipers to  1/2″ to turned the bottom of the handle until the calipers slipped by.

20180814_183640.jpg

Next, I measured the diameter of the hole at the top of the socket and set my calipers to that measurement, then shaved down the wood until the calipers slid pass. This gave me the length and the proper shape of the inside of the socket.

20180817_204138.jpg

20180814_183826.jpg

After I cut the handle from the lathe, I sanded the end of the knob and hit the handle down into the socket with a wooden mallet. This is the trickiest part of the operation as you really don’t get a second shot. Once the wood seats inside the socket, it’s not coming out. The socket was slightly oval inside from all the whacking by the Amish guy, so the handle was tough to fit all the way down, but it still solidly seated in there.

20180814_185124.jpg

Next, I focused on the blade and sharpened it on my grinder and honed the edge with my water stones. I used 1000, 6000, and 12000 grit water stones respectfully.

20180814_185934.jpg

I bet it’s been a long time, if ever, since this blade has been this sharp. You can see how the top of the blade is all chewed up. It’s as if the guy used the top of the blade as a plate for tin punching.

IMG_20180814_201332_996.jpg

I flattened the back with my water stones as well. I didn’t go over board with the flattening. Just enough to give a good cut.

20180814_195432.jpg

Here’s the slick in use. It cuts wood like butter.

IMG_20180814_201333_006.jpg

I added hemp oil to the handle to give it some protection. I’m not sure if I will ever use this slick, but it’s nice to have it in case I do.  The best part is restoring it wasn’t that hard as it only took a couple of hours, but the tool will last me a lifetime.

IMG_20180814_201332_990.jpg