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.

eBay Listings 7/14/19

Life has been busy lately with my wife and I working around our house, but I have found some time in the shop to restore planes. Below is what I have listed tonight.

One of the planes I have for sale is this Sargent No 4 1/2C . Nice and hefty, it will perform well in the shop.

Ohio Tool CO No O5 1/2C Corrugated Plane is well made and and has a thicker blade than comparable Stanley planes. These Ohio Tool planes are some of the most under appreciated tools in the hand tool world.

I also listed the GTL plane I blogged about last month. It’s a nice plane but I really don’t need it.

The workhorses in most shops are the classic Stanley Bailey planes. I have a few available in my eBay store at reasonable prices.

Since you guys are following my blog, I’m offering a special 15% discount until the end of July only available to my blog followers. You can access the discount by clicking on the link. It’s a simple thank you for following me all these years.

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.

The Tool that Changed my Life

It was thirty years ago this summer. I was thirteen years old visiting my grand parent’s house on my Mom’s side in Detroit, Michigan when I walked into my Grandpa’s garage and spotted this little drill press on top of his cabinet.

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It’s was a little German-made drill press. It had no manufacturer’s name on it, so I have no idea who made it, but I thought it was the coolest tool I ever saw. I played with it for a few minutes, and my Grandpa seeing I took a liking to it, gave it to me. I was stoked.

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My Grandpa was never really a woodworker. He was a mechanic who restored old cars like Ford Model T’s and Maxwell’s, so he had no use for the press. I just started to work with wood in my parent’s basement, so I was glad to have it.

A few days later, my Mom, Grandparents, and I went to the flea market. While there, I started hunting for more cool tools. I found some old wrenches and a Ohio Tool Co wooden razee fore plane that I still use to this day. The only money I had was a few bucks I saved up from my allowance of cutting the grass, so I bought all my tools dirt cheap. Nevertheless, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of my antique tool collecting.

As the months and years went by, I started buying more and more old tools. I’d buy planes, chisels, drills, saws and clean them up. As my tool collection grew, my woodworking skills developed right along with every tool I bought as I learned how to use it. I enjoyed the process of restoring old planes so much that I kept buying more of them and before I knew it, I had collected nearly 100 old tools by the time I was sixteen years old. I used to have white bookshelves in my parent’s basement filled with all my tools. My friends would come over, take a look, and asked what the hell was wrong with me.

At the height of my collecting I had over 600 tools. Then one day, I stared at all of it and decided that enough was enough. I took some of the tools I didn’t care much for and threw them on eBay. I watched the auctions end and realized that I enjoyed that process as well, so I threw more tools on eBay. Before I knew it, I was buying and selling tools on a regular basis.

Today, I’ve figured that I have bought, restored, and sold almost three thousand tools on eBay. It’s become a hobby within a hobby. Something that I would never have believed would have happened thirty years ago when my Grandpa gave me his little drill press.

Brown Tool Auction Winnings

Every few months Clarence Blanchard from the Brown Tool Auction holds an antique tool auction in Pennsylvania. Even though some his auctions are within a day’s driving distance for me, I’ve never been to one. It’s just too easy for me to place a bid online and pay a $3.00 absentee bidder fee for every auction I win. Plus at $3.00, it’s a lot cheaper than spending the money on gas and a hotel room.

I never know what or if I win until about a week later when UPS drops of a box at my door. So you can imagine the excitement when I see a big box at my door. Typically the bigger the box, the more tools I have won.

As soon as I open it up I see molding planes neatly bubbled wrapped up. I love molding planes. To me they’re the router bits of hand tool woodworking. With a little bit of work, molding planes tune up nicely and create some of the nicest profiles that you can’t even produce with common router bits.

After unpacking the box, the results were in. Seventeen molding planes and two Stanley bench planes. All of the planes were in good shape and need only a little bit of tuning to bring them back to working condition.

Of the two Stanley planes I won, one was the Big Boss of Stanley planes, the No 8C Corrugated Jointer. This plane is in excellent condition and with a little bit of work, it will clean up to be a top shelf tool. The other bench plane was a nice Stanley 5 1/2C corrugated plane. Collectors go crazy for the corrugated soles as they tend to bring in higher prices, but for me, the corrugations just act as a place for dried glue to hang out. The theory behind corrugated soles was that they tend to be easier to push because of the less mass on the workpiece, and they were easier to fettle the bed because you didn’t have to remove as much metal. I haven’t found either one of those benefits to be true.

The molding planes were nice with a wide variety of profiles in the mix. Over the next few weeks I’ll tune them up and list them for sale on eBay.

As you can see, I have a soft spot for molding planes. The day I figured out how to tune one up and make it sing, I was hooked. I intend to sell some of my duplicate profiles on eBay in the coming weeks.

World’s Longest Yard Sale: US127 Corridor

My wife and I just returned from a five-day excursion on the The World’s Longest Yard Sale down US 127. The yard sale runs every year during the first weekend of August from Michigan down to Alabama. Last Wednesday, my wife Anita rented a Ford F-250 cargo van and we headed down to Chattanooga TN to spend the night. We picked up 127 around the Kentucky Tennessee border stopping at multiple yard sales running all the way to our hotel in Chattanooga. The next day we started heading up 127 back home.

Anita was looking for old furniture to fix up as well as things she could sell in her booth. I was looking for antique tools. We traveled over 1200 miles in five days traveling from Chattanooga, TN to Castine, OH and had an absolute blast. Nothing more fun than the thrill of the hunt. We ran into a little trouble at the top of Tennessee though. It was around 7:00 pm and we didn’t have a hotel booked. We drove all the way to Danville, KY hoping that a hotel on US 127 would have a room but they were all booked. We ended up driving all the way to Lexington, KY to find a room. The next day we got up and had a nice breakfast in neat little restaurant and headed back to Danville, KY to continue up US 127.

I picked up mostly a bunch of planes, some of them needing major cleaning, with a few miter boxes near the end of the trip. What’s amazing about my finds is that most of the planes I had bought had corrugated bottoms. I wasn’t specifically looking for corrugated planes but when I turned over a plane I was interested in, its bottom was corrugated. Twelve of the fifteen planes were that way. Amazing since corrugated planes are not as common as flat bottom planes in the market.

This is the shot of the bottoms of the planes with nearly all of them being corrugated. It’ll take a while but every one of these planes will be cleaned up and ready to be put back to use.

Near Danville, KY I ran into a guy selling a trailer full of cherry hardwood. I couldn’t buy the whole trailer but I did manage to pick up one of his slabs. This piece is 2″ x 16″ x 100″ and the offer was too good for me to pass up. Does anybody want to guess what I paid for this slab of cherry? Post a comment and I’ll let you know.