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.

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.

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.

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.

 

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.