My First Speaking Gig

After working with wood for the past 30 years, I have my first speaking engagement this month. I was contacted by a member of the Cincinnati Working Club a few weeks ago who asked if I would be interested in speaking in front of the group. At first, I was shocked and confused. I didn’t understand why he would want me to be a guest speaker, but after reading further into the email, he saw that I restore planes and have a nice tool cabinet full of antique tools. Apparently, he wants me to talk about my journey into antique tool collecting and describe the process of how I clean my tools.

I’m going to start off talking about my tool cabinet and how it came to be. I started building it in 1999 but didn’t finish it until 2001 as it sat in my parent’s basement unfinished. It’s undergone a few transformations over the years as I added and deleted tools from the doors and back. It actually looks nicer in pictures than it does in person as the oak veneer plywood tore off in places where I removed the tool holders.

From there, I’ll describe the process of restoring this Diamond Edge Jointer. I took a bunch of pictures of the process and will upload them to a thumb drive so I can plug it into their laptop. The group meets in a church basement so I’m not sure if there is a workbench down there for people to work on. The idea of actually doing the restoration while I’m there doesn’t make much sense so pictures it will be.

Bill told me that each meeting has between 65-75 people attendees so this presentation is going to be as big as a session at the Woodworking in America events.

If you’re a member of the Cincinnati Woodworking Club, stop by on Saturday Sept, 14th at Northminster Presbyterian Church 703 Compton Road in Cincinnati, Ohio around 9:00 and watch me be nervous as hell. Just please don’t bring tomatoes to throw at me.

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.

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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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