New Tools Listed on eBay 6/18

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

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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.

Father’s Day Present

Last weekend my wife, Anita, and I were cutting down a tree in our back yard when I dragged out my 16″ chainsaw and tried to start it up. I’ve owned the the thing for 15 years and it has worked well in the past, but the last few, it’s been a real pain in the ass to start. I had to keep pumping the primer button, pull the choke and yank the cord several times before it started. Then, when it did start, anytime I held the chainsaw on its side to make a cut, the saw would shut off. It’s my fault for never winterizing the thing and keeping up with the maintenance, but I would only use it once or twice a year to trim up tree branches around my yard.

Anita seeing me frustrated asked if we should just buy a new saw instead of fighting with this one. I told her what I really wanted was a battery operated one so I wouldn’t have to deal with the bullshit anymore. I knew DeWalt made a 60V version as I talked to DeWalt rep a couple of years ago at a contractor’s luncheon at Home Depot. He told me at the time, that they had a hard time keeping them in stock as they were so popular.

Anita looked online to see how much the saw was and where it was stocked. She told me that Home Depot now has them so, we decided to take a look at it at the store. Sure enough, they were on the shelf for $299 so, we bought one.

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The saw has incredible power despite of it being battery operated. I was amazed how well it cut through the tree limbs that were 14″ in diameter. Even Anita got caught up in the action as she started to use it. She loves the thing too. We ended up spending the whole afternoon trimming a bunch of trees and burning them in the fire pit. Even though it’s electric, the saw is no toy. In fact, I would consider this saw more dangerous than a gasoline one because as soon as you pull the trigger, the chain spins. If you’re not careful, you can easily misfire the saw and accidentally cut yourself. A gasoline saw, you have to at least start it up first before the chain ever spins.

I posted a picture of the chainsaw on Instagram last Sunday saying how well the saw worked and one of my woodworking buddies told me he was going to buy the saw. Today he posted a picture of the same saw on Instagram his wife bought him for Fathers Day.

This saw would be perfect for bowl turners who need to whip out a chainsaw for a few minutes to cut a slab of wood to throw on a lathe. I’m going to use the trunk of the birch tree we cut down for that very reason.

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I don’t have a video of me using the saw as I was too busy to whip out my phone but, you can see a video of the chainsaw in action here.

 

As far as how well the DeWalt stacks up to other makers, I have no idea. I know Makita, Stihl and even Greenworks make battery operated chainsaws nowadays.  If you’re in the market for a new chainsaw and hate the priming, choking and the two cycle gas of regular chainsaws the way I did, take a look at the new evolution of battery operated chainsaws.  Happy Fathers Day everybody!

Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves

I normally don’t do product reviews. The reason is because often when someone writes one, they seek affirmation that they made the right decision with what they just bought. This is especially true with tool reviews. How many times do people buy a new tool, take it out of the box, use it, and then blog about how much of a piece of shit it is? Very rarely. It’s one of the reasons I don’t put much weight on reading tool reviews in woodworking magazines. The other reason I don’t write tool reviews is that often I don’t have anything to compare the new tool to. When I bought a new random orbital sander, my old sander was twenty years old and obsolete. I can’t compare my new one to the old. That wouldn’t make any sense. Also, when I bought my random orbital sander, I didn’t try out any of other sanders on the market to see how they stacked up to mine so, I just use it and move on with life.

This time it’s a little different. I found these heavy-duty nitrile industrial gloves at Lowe’s a few weeks ago and was intrigued. For awhile, I was looking for something to replace my old exam gloves that would constantly tear while I was working. I tried using industrial latex gloves, but didn’t like how I couldn’t “feel” what I was doing so, I went back to the old stand by. When I saw these at Lowe’s, I opened a box, took a glove out and tried it on. Then I pulled on the glove while it was on my hand trying to rip it. It was a tough glove so, I bought the box hoping for the best.

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These are the nitrile exam gloves I used for years. For the price I couldn’t complain. Two boxes of 100 ran about $15.00. The problem is that I would go through three to four pairs when I spent the day sharpening. Worse yet, when they did tear, they often tore at the thumb turning my thumb black from the sharpening slurry completely defeating the purpose of wearing gloves in the first place.

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Typical dirty thumb even after I washed my hand from sharpening slurry. If you sharpen without gloves or do any type of metal working, you’ve experienced this as well.

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When I sharpen, I use my water-cooled sharpener along with 1000, 5000, and 12,000 grit water stones so, my hands are constantly getting wet.

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These are some of the planes I sharpened within an afternoon. It took about two to three hours to do all of them wearing my new tough gloves.

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After a dozen plane blades sharpened, the gloves took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. No rips or tears and best yet, clean hands! If your Lowe’s doesn’t stock them, you can find them on Amazon.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Reshaping a Magnolia Home Dough Bowl

Last week, my wife, Anita, and I were walking through Target buying some clearance Christmas crap when Anita spotted this dough bowl on the shelf. If you know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are from the HGTV show Fixer Upper, then you’re probably aware that they have their own line of home decor in Target called Magnolia Home. Originally this Magnolia Home bowl was $50.00, but it was on clearance for only $15.00. Anita asked me to make a dough bowl for her a couple of years ago, but the project never got finished even though I got a piece of wood for it at a local lumberyard. For $15.00, I figured I could reshape this thing to make it look like the expensive antique dough bowls found in antique stores.

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The first thing I did was cut the stupid handles off and try to deepen the inside of the bowl out with a Northwest adze. The bowl is made from paulownia wood, a native to east Asia that grows ridiculously fast. It’s easy to work, but your tools need to be sharp in order to cut the through the porous grain. I was using the adze for a few minutes, but didn’t feel I was getting anywhere so I turned to my angle grinder with a King Arthur grinding disc.

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The grinder worked better, but it threw up a tremendous amount of dust. After a few minutes of that, I said screw it and stopped. The next time I use my grinder with that disc wheel, I’ll do it outdoors. Way too much dust for a basement shop.

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I ended up finishing the inside using a simple gouge. I’m not sure of the sweep of the gouge I was using, but I’m sure it was the wrong one. I bought a carving set at Costco about ten years ago and they are the only carving tools I own. If I was going to make a lot of these dough bowls, I’d buy the right tools for the job.

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After I was satisfied with the depth of the inside, I drew around the edge to mark where I wanted perimeter of the bowl to be. I wasn’t designing this bowl using elements based on the golden ratio or from the proportions of vases from ancient Egypt. I simply wanted a bowl that looked organic in form and handmade.

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I took the bowl over to my band saw and cut the ends off. You can see the rings of the paulownia wood and how fast the tree grows.

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Chopping off the backside of the bowl was the toughest part. I used everything I could from axes, to chisels, to a drawknife. Whatever it took to get the job done I did as long as the tool was sharp as to not crush the end grain. The drawknife ended up working the best.

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After a few hours, this is how the bowl came out. Turned out to be more of a pain in the ass than I thought it would, but my Anita likes it which is all that really matters. I doubt I’ll ever do it again unless I have a piece of green wood to start with.

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Making Black Shellac

Several years ago I heard about making black shellac out of an old 78 record. At the time, I didn’t have an old 78 around so I never gave much thought about it, but a few weeks ago, my Dad gave me some old records he had lying around his garage. In the pile were some old 78’s that were broken. I thought this would be a good opportunity to try to make black shellac.

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The first thing I did was make sure that the 78, even while broke, wasn’t worth anything. I scanned eBay to see what a good condition Darktown Strutters Ball was going for. At $3.00 plus shipping, it wasn’t worth much, so I was willing to destroy the record. I would only try this with broken 78’s that aren’t worth anything. Doing this to a 78 that is in good shape is considered sacrilege to audiophiles. Plus, you can only do this with old 78’s. Any newer records are made of vinyl and won’t work at all.

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I broke the record apart like snapping a KitKat. I couldn’t believe how easily it snapped in half. I then stuck all the pieces into a plastic bag and crushed it more with a hammer.

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Next, I weighed the pieces into a mason jar and measured out 4 ounces of shellac since I was making a two pound cut with 16 ounces of denatured alcohol

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If you get confused on much shellac flakes you need for certain pound cut of shellac, here’s a simple chart I’ve been using for years. Since I make 2 cups of shellac, I double the amount of flakes I need for a two pound cut on the chart. Pretty simple.

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Like any other shellac, I let the solution set for a day or two stirring the mix every few hours to help break it down. With the black carbon in the old 78 record, there will always be a sludge at the bottom of the jar. I shake and stir the black shellac before I use it to make sure the black dye is mixed well in the solution.

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Below is a sample of three coats of black shellac on four different species of wood. You can see how the soft maple and red oak look a bit muddy however, the southern yellow pine and poplar highlight the early wood and late wood of the grain. As of right now, I’m just playing around with the shellac. I need to see how it performs on a project I make. What I like about the shellac so far is that it’s very quick to add more coats not having to wait very long between coats as the shellac dries very fast.

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This is one side of an old rosewood tote from a Stanley plane with normal blonde shellac applied to it. Below is the other side of the tote with a coat of black shellac. Even though, the blonde shellac pops the grain, you can see how the grain on the black shellac is much more subdue and looks more natural. It’s all in what your intentions are.

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Have you ever played around with black shellac? Let me know what you think about it.