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Fitting a door into a carcass that isn’t perfectly square is a common task for cabinet makers, but it’s rare that the problem is as severe as this or on such a large scale. So I take my hat off to the Venetian joiners who installed these doors in a palazzo near the Church of Sant’ Alvise in the Cannaregio sestiere of Venice.
I decided to stick around and do a little bit more on day 5 in the morning before packing everything up for the long drive home.
In pictures, here's what happened:
|Jonas leveling his bench preparing to cut the legs to length.|
|Me gluing a tenon getting with hot hide glue.|
|Jonas is holding the seat stable for me while I pound the legs home.|
|Time to run some stick stock through the planer!|
|Olav working on his legs.|
|Mrs. Mulesaw and Asger trying out Jonas' bench now that it is at final the height.|
|Working on my sticks.|
|Olav is working on a reproduction from a photograph. It had tapered, round legs. The most efficient way to do this with this splintery ash was to plane them octagonal, and sand them round on the lathe.|
|Shaving my sticks round.|
|What a nice coffee table!|
|Us adults didn't hog all of the fun! Here Asger is smoothing a pine board.|
|Half of my sticks are rounded!|
|I found this to be a good technique for shaving thin stock at the bench. I am supporting the thin wood with my thumb, but keeping it behind the blade, otherwise the end of the stick doesn't get shaped.|
|I used a round scraper after shaving.|
|Yes, even professionals refer to the plans every once in a while.|
|Meanwhile, Jonas is moving along.|
|Here is a close-up of a wedged leg near where the hoop pierces the seat.|
|I suppose I should quit goofing off and start working on my arm rail, too!|
|Jonas drilled all of his stick holes by eye.|
|Olav referring to the photo of the original he is reproducing along with the John Brown book.|
|I needed to cut a lap joint for my laminated arm rail.|
|Meanwhile, Jonas is moving right along.|
|Jonas showed me one of his chests that he built out of pallet wood while on board his ship. It is even more impressive in real life than in the photos from his blog!|
|Here is the rough shape of my arm rail. It is resting on some temporary mounting blocks.|
|Jonas' bench all but done. Supposedly a settee takes twice as long as a chair to build. Jonas got farther than I did, and I expect his chair will have finish on it in no time.|
|Time for me to cut my legs to length.|
|Olav testing his seat after cutting his legs to length.|
They have an absolutely gorgeous house converted from an old one-room school house. They have furnished it with a collection of some of the finest Scandinavian furniture I have ever seen. One such piece is this fantastic Windsor rocking chair from Sweden. It is very much like one in a photo of a Swedish Windsor in Drew Langsner's book.
|Swedish rocking Windsor.|
There is only a little left to do on the chair at home before mine is complete. I need to drill the holes and insert the sticks, shape the crest and apply finish.
Hopefully I'll get to post pictures of the completed chair soon.
There is a moment at the end of a long project that woodworkers live for: the last bit of hardware has been installed, the finish is wiped down for the last time, and the piece just sits there on the bench, surrounded by tools and debris. It is finished.
Take a deep breath: there is nothing more to do but put these away, where they await their first project.
Backtracking a little, one of my favorite parts of this project is that it forced me to get creative in order to solve little problems along the way. For example, the saw nuts I have are extra-long and need to be sawn off and filed so that they sit flush with the handle or slightly below it. Marking a screw to be cut short isn’t as easy as marking a piece of wood.
First, with the nut screwed all the way on, I set the assembled bolt on the saw handle with the head flush. I used a marker to color the screw where it needed to be cut.
I then put the whole thing into a machinist’s vise (protected with some brown paper), and sawed/filed it until the inked section was gone. Backing the nut off the sawn-off screw evens out any burrs left from the filing, ensuring that the nut will be able to thread back onto the bolt.
I opted to finish the handles with paste wax, and I’m happy with that decision. I sanded the handles lightly so as to smooth out any burrs left from the drilling. Sanding also packs the open pores of the pecan wood with sawdust, and when the finish is applied, the dust acts as a grain-filler. (Note: this works well with oil and wax finishes, but I wouldn’t try it with a film finish.) Then I rubbed a liberal amount of paste wax onto the handle, working it especially into the exposed end-grain. Then I heated it up with a hairdryer, which melted the wax into the wood. The wood absorbed more wax than I expected, so I applied two coats.
Then it was just a matter of straightening out the saw plates, sharpening the teeth, and testing them out. The dovetail saw, being new, required only a very light touch-up with a file, as well as setting the teeth. The panel saw, however, needed more work. The teeth were dull, uneven, and over-set. I jointed and filed the teeth, and then stoned them to remove some of the excess set.
I did opt to leave some of the patina on the saw plate, more out of laziness than anything else. The staining doesn’t affect how the saw cuts. I kind of hope that some saw expert picks up this saw in 100 years and puzzles over it. A skew-backed panel saw, split nuts, no medallion, and an extra-small tote made from figured hardwood. It should keep him guessing for a while.
The spalting is visible only on the show side of the handle, unfortunately. Fortunately, my kids do not care. I’ll get them to try it out soon.
The dovetail saw’s plate required a little straightening before it would track straight. Thanks to Isaac’s Smith’s advice on the subject, this operation was simple and relatively stress-free. Essentially, you find out where the plate is bent and use your hands to bend it in the opposite direction. Check it carefully each time, and it will eventually be straight. It worked so well that I immediately got out two older backsaws that didn’t track straight and straightened them out, too.
Now my dovetail saw is done. I could spend a lot of time pointing out the little aesthetic flaws. Should I make another backsaw, there are a few things I will take more care over, but on balance I am happy with the results of my work. It fits my hand perfectly, and it tracks true.
Now to start a project that requires dovetails–lots of dovetails!
Tagged: saw nuts, split nuts, straighten backsaw, straighten saw plate
Walking around an antique store called Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Cincinnati this weekend, I ran upon this massive beast in one of the aisles. An eight foot long authentic Roubo style workbench. I’ve seen dozens of old workbenches before, but for some reason this guy stuck out to me. The previous owner screwed nickel-plated hooks on the front of it for someone reason. Probably to hold coffee cups or some other nonsense.
What made this bench stick out was the splay of the front leg along with the leg vise. I imagine this was done to prevent the workbench from racking when sawing. The cast iron vise hardware turned smooth and could still tighten with something with a good grip.
It had an old planning stop hole used for planning boards. Oddly the area around the hole was all worn down. When I see wear marks on old pieces like this, it makes me wonder what type of work the craftsman did to make those types of marks. Though it does appear he was sawing on the right side of the planning stop.
Another interesting clue is that it is quite possible that at one point there was another vise installed on top. The three holes around the lighter circular area is possibly where he bolted down a machinist vise onto the bench.
The legs were jointed together with a simple bridle joint however, the legs were not jointed into the bench’s top. More likely the top was just bolted down to the legs somehow. I didn’t feel like moving everything around in the booth to get a better look.
The bench top was a good 12″ wide x 4″ thick piece of pine. It had a tool tray in the back that appeared to be in real good shape given it’s age. Notice how there are no bench dog nor holdfast holes in the top.
Who knows where this bench will end up. Probably in someone’s home as a kitchen island, but for a cool $700 it can be all yours.
The images below represent a very small sampling of what took place in the woods of northern Saskatchewan this past August. It is almost a disservice to all who participated but I have an excellent excuse – the night before the big auction in Saskatoon, I somehow managed to bend the lens tube on my camera limiting it’s ability to focus. In addition, the auction was absolutely jam packed with people making it difficult to take pictures.
This table set the record for the most expensive piece sold at the Thursday night auction. A two person bidding war drove the price just north of $9,000.
This rattle sold for $1200. I wanted it but backed out of the auction @ $800.00
This is an image from the Emma grounds, things like this are all over the site.
This necklace has a piece in it from everybody participating in 2014.
Both auctions raised approximately $100,000 – how cool is that? I really have never seen anything like it and can’t remember a week where I had more fun.
I hope you enjoyed living vicariously through this series. The message that I brought back with me – and I will never forget: When you think about how long you are going to be dead, the time we have is all we have – what better way to spend it than by making something?
Today I fitted all of the tenons back to their original sockets and made them snug as they should have been. I also added a pair of rails 3” below the long top rails. My joints were as tight as always and you can see that they hold the frame very well. This serves to add the strength I would have got had the top rail been wider. I will add a shelf here for book storage and such; perhaps a good place to stow my drawing board and tee square. It strengthened the overall carcass tremendously by the time it was all done and now I can sating and finish the unfinished parts to the golden oak colour. Beyond that I just need to turn some new knobs for the drawer and the support pulls and my work will be done.
This is the crystallised glue scraped from the mortise hole.
Here is a comments question someone asked and I thought my answer might add more light for consideration.
Out of interest, I’ve used Cascamite on a couple of projects in the past, none of which are 70 years old, obviously. The adhesive is known for setting glass hard, and glass brittle, hence in the boat building trade it’s only used where it can be backed up with a secondary mechanical fix, such as a screw. Otherwise it’s epoxy resin and not much else.
In your experience is this failure more to do with poor joinery or would the glue have failed in this manner over time regardless?
Good question, Jon. I noticed that all of the joints had failed in some measure. That’s 14 mortise and tenons. The reasons may vary but one thing I did feel was that shrinkage in a tenon can split along the glue line if the mortise wood is not moving or shrinkage taking place at a parallel rate and time. In other words both sections of wood should be dry to the same level at the point of union. If tenon wood is drier than mortise wood that would be fine, but we furniture makers generally use wood from the same batch and uniform in moisture levels. These joints were surprisingly poor even though the actual forming of them was very good. I repaired and glued up the whole framework this evening and was very happy with the eventual outcome as I left for home.
All in all it was the joinery I felt contributed most to the failure, and though there is of course something of value in using glues that allow splitting on the glue line for repair work to take place, for new and non-conservation furniture work I will continue with PVA and/or animal glues and perhaps use the Cascamite for outdoor work. Then again, I think that the newer PVA waterproofs seem to be holding their own these days.
Here you can see a design flaw or a wrong decision on the part of the maker. I conclude what happened was that he made the mortises keeping extra length on until after glue up and then cut the length down flush with the tops of the aprons. He allowed only 1/8” between tenon top and leg top. Not really enough. He bevelled the top corners after cutting the legs to final length. I like the concept and visual appearance where the top cabinet fits to the base frame but they would it would have been better increasing the apron width and also leaving more meat at the top of the mortise pocket between the top of the tenon and the top of the leg. I am sure all would have been OK had the glue or joinery not failed, but all joinery details and sizing should be decided on with repair and restoration being considered as possible after long-term usage. I always consider my joints might one day be X-rayed for authenticity or establishing details inside. It’s just vanity really.
When I completed my tool chest over a year ago I purchased a can of paint which has stayed on the corner of the kitchen counter. Red chili did not seem to be right for the chest so I submit it here as a possible color for the completed stool. A couple of thoughts as I finish this project.
1. How in the world did it take this long?
2. I don’t really like working in soft woods!
3. It was fun making the tenons and mortises especially with the angles.
4. The stool is really comfortable.
5. One day I will stage a photograph without the clutter.
6. Onwards to the next project!
Here at Benchcrafted we're always tweaking our designs to make them as sweet as we can. Of course the dilemma in all this is that we risk slighting past customers when we change a product. Here's how we see it. Our past offerings were the best we had to offer at the time. There are companies out there (big ones usually) where planned obsolescence is part of day to day business. Not us. Here, we design and build for the long run, but now and then we get ideas that are genuine improvements and we can't sit on them. Our motivation is to make great stuff, and share it with our fellow woodworkers.
About a year ago we started experimenting with a Glide Leg Vise in our test shop. I've always been intrigued by ship's wheels, and the ergonomics and physical dynamics of why they work. A large wheel gives lots of leverage, and the handles provide an efficient way for a human to transfer their energy into turning the wheel. If the wheel were without handles, one would have to grip a rather thick section of wheel and use enormous amount of energy just maintaining that grip. My Northfield 16" jointer adjusts by means of a large cast iron ship's wheel. I can rotate it with a single finger on one of eight handles as it moves hundreds of pound of cast iron.
We had a reject bronze Glide wheel from a previous run so we drilled and tapped the rim of the wheel to accept six of our rosewood (now Dymondwood) knobs. We were immediately struck by the improved ergonomics of this arrangement. Spinning the handwheel for gross adjustments was simply of matter of flicking one of the knobs. The wheel, as usual, would spin for several revolutions. We also noticed another improvement. With no knob mounted to the front of the wheel, the entire vise was lower profile--no more bumping a leg into the knob or catching a pocket as you walk by. With knobs oriented symmetrically about the perimeter, the wheel was also balanced, allowing it to spin more smoothly.
But as cool as the six-knob bronze ship's wheel looked (batten down the hatches!) and functioned, we found a problem. Six knobs was three knobs too many, so we removed every other knob. Bingo. This placed a knob at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock or any point in between. In other words, there was always a knob within easy reach at the top of the vise. Perfect.
But we weren't finished. On the heels of releasing the Classic Leg Vise we decided to swap out the standard single-lead screw (that we've always used on the Glide) for the double-lead screw we use on the Classic. The results? A turbo-charged Glide. One revolution of the wheel now yields 1/2" of travel, vs. 1/4" of the previous Glide. And there's no change in the feel of how the vise holds, due to the effect of the larger lever when adjusting the vise with the knobs (I still grab the rim from time to time.)
The Glide M features our fully-machined cast iron handwheel that is designed, cast, and machined entirely in the USA. The handwheel is outfitted with three Dymondwood knobs turned and finished to a high level in the USA, and mounted with our proprietary fasteners. The Glide M automatically includes a Crisscross mechanism (choose Solo or Retro.)
Price is $439 with a Crisscross Solo, and $479 with a Crisscross Retro.
With the added costs of the additional components, we weren't comfortable with the higher price of the Glide M.
The Glide C features a cast-iron handwheel that we're leaving un-machined to save on cost. The wheel has the same weight and feel in use as the machined Glide M wheel. Both vises perform identically. The difference is entirely cosmetic.
The Glide C uses acrylic-infused Beech knobs. The combination of the un-machined wheel and the Beech knobs not only mean a less expensive vise, but also a more traditional look. I have a Glide C on my ash Roubo bench at the moment. I love the look.
In case you're wondering, we do have a Tail Vise C in the works, so you'll be able to completely outfit your bench with matching vises. And yes, the Tail Vise C will also cost less than the current Tail Vise (which will become the Tail Vise M.)
A word on the infused Beech knobs. These are incredibly tough. They are as durable as solid acrylic, but with the feel and look of wood. They won't split or move. If you know the infused mallets made by Dave Jeske of Blue Spruce toolworks, these knobs are the same. In fact, Dave turns all of our vise knobs from the same stuff. They are impeccable in every way.
Price is $369 with a Crisscross Solo ($40 less than the previous "Glide Crisscross"), and $409 with a Crisscross Retro.
Retrofitting your bench with a Glide M or Glide C
The Glide M and Glide C components are not interchangeable with previous versions of the Glide. We've never encouraged upgrading parts of our vises anyway, since that relegates the obsolete parts to the recycle bin. To us it makes more sense to sell your current vise, give it to a friend, donate it to a school, or hang it on your mantle as a piece of industrial art (okay, maybe that's going too far).
If you do upgrade to a Glide M or C, and you currently have a Glide and Crisscross installed in your bench, you'll have to attach the new nut, patch your square acetal bushing mortise and cut a new, round mortise for the round acetal bushing. The existing tapped holes on your chop should work just fine with the Glide M or C.
We'll be uploading the new installation instruction (see our downloads page) for the Glide M/C which also include the Crisscross instructions. We're constantly revising and improving our instructions to make your installs as smooth as possible.
Split Top Roubo Workbench Plans
Its been about two years since we did away with the Split Top Roubo's parallel guide and replaced it with a Crisscross. Unfortunately we haven't had a chance update the STR plans to reflect this.Yes, we've been lax on this and it has caused a bit of confusion. Apologies. We do address the changes in the Glide installation instructions, and the STR Construction notes (both of which have been recently updated to further emphasize the changes.) The bad news is we lost our hard drive that contained the plans as we were updating them, and believe it or not, we also lost two backup drives as well. Computers! The good news is we're back on task and working diligently to get the plans totally updated as soon as possible. They will be better than ever.
See our stuff at WIA in two weeks
We had hoped to return to WIA this year, but the location and timing unfortunately did not work out for us. Maybe next year. However, if you're planning on attending WIA, Plate 11 Bench Company will have one of their benches outfitted with a Glide M, as will the Sterling Tool Works booth. If you're in the market for a finely made bench, Mark Hicks does excellent work and will build you a complete bench, or furnish you with a kit of parts ready to assemble. And Chris Kuehn's Saddle Tail is hands down the best dovetail marker I've ever used. Crisp and precise machining, beautifully made. I have the whole set, including the leather holster.
You can order a Glide M now through our Store page. The Glide C is still in production and will be ready to ship in 3-4 weeks. Watch for an announcement here in the next couple weeks. Tail Vise C's are also still in production and will be ready to purchase, we estimate in a couple months.
Later this fall, Glides will be also available through several of our dealers.
I took a break from basket making last week to finally build myself a dedicated lathe for turning bowls. Mine is based on the ones we used when I was a student this spring in Robin Wood’s bowl-turning course at North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN. http://pfollansbee.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/bowl-class-tip-of-the-iceberg/
I think I first saw this style of lathe in the book Wood and Woodworking in Anglo-Scandinavian and Medieval York, by Carole A. Morris (York Archeaological Trust/Council for British Archeaology, 2000), then in the work done by Robin Wood and others…
First off, I jobbed out the long slot cut in the 3″ thick beech plank. I traded Michael Burrey some carving work for his labor – I coulda done it, if I wanted to…
Then came boring the hole for the legs. Legs like these angle out in two directions; to the side, and to the end. I mark out two angled lines off a centerline to help me sight one angle for these legs. Then use an adjustable bevel aligned on this line to get the other. This is based on the ideas I learned from Curtis Buchanan and Drew Langsner in making windsor chairs. (Drew is teaching a session at Woodworking in America that covers in detail this notion – setting the geometry to get these angles right. http://www.woodworkinginamerica.com/ehome/woodworkinginamerica.com/WIA2014/?&& )
In a case like a bench, or this lathe – I’m not too concerned about these being “just exactly perfect.”
This spiral auger is probably a nineteenth century one; it’s about 1 1/4″ or so…some now call it a T-auger, but it’s really just an auger. The ones that fit in braces are auger bits.
A detail showing the bevel to help line things up.
Here’s a bird’s eye view – showing how the auger aligns with the scribed line on the bench. So you sight that, centered on the line, then the bevel takes care of the 2nd angle.
Here’s the two poppets set into the slot. One taller than the other, these could have been longer still, but I worked with what I had. These are oak cutoffs from timber work.
Now wedge from below. I just eyeballed the angled mortise, then made wedges to fit.
The shorter poppet gets a bent pike inserted in the top. Then I slid this over to the taller poppet, to mark where I’ll bore for the straight pike.
Jumped ahead a step or two – here’s the tool rest arrangement. The tool rest support is just wedged into a slot cut in the outside face of the taller poppet. The too rest is pivoted into the top of the smaller poppet. Simple.
a 14′ sapling, lashed at its bottom end to a small tree on the bank above me, then resting in the cruck of two 2x4s – Now, the transition from the relatively still craft of basketmaking, to the aerobic craft of bowl turning. I need some practice.
Caleb James, a planemaker and chairmaker in Greenville, S.C., built a very cool knockdown Nicholson workbench earlier this year that inspired me to design a version for myself.
His breaks down into fewer pieces than mine, but what is most interesting about Caleb’s design is his face vise that is powered by holdfasts. While I am sure this has been done before, I can’t recall seeing this on any workbench, old or new.
It’s definitely worth checking out all the details on Caleb’s blog.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Workbenches
In planning and preparing for the upcoming book “Virtuoso” and the accompanying exhibit of H.O. Studley’s magnificent tool cabinet and workbench (May 15-17, 2015), I invariably get the question, “Is it possible to have a piano built by Studley in the exhibit?”
My typical response was, “I have no way to know if any particular Poole Piano was built by Studley.” Studley’s job was to build the “actions” or complex mechanism of levers, pivots, rods and hammers that connect the keys to the strings of the piano (along with all their adjusting devices). Depending on the size of the piano factory, anywhere from two to 50 men, perhaps more, could have this job. That would make every piano essentially anonymous, bearing only the company logo.
Or so I thought until today. While spending a very productive afternoon with Tom Shaw and Randolph Byrd at Charlottesville Piano I learned something that will someday redound to the benefit of my research. According to these fellows it was something of a tradition for “action men” like Studley to sign the side of the first key of the keyboard!
So, if you ever encounter the keyboard from a Poole Piano, check the side of the first key. And if you see the name “Henry O. Studley” emblazoned thereon, please drop me a note.
By the way, Tom’s grandfather was a piano teacher and technician in Boston from 1907 on, so he was a contemporary of Studley, who worked for Poole until 1919.
Filed under: Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley
I dismantled another piece this week and that was an oak fall-front writing desk I bought a few weeks ago. The desk is simple enough and made from solid oak and that was why I bought it. If I don’t like the desk or the style then the oak was worth the price I paid and more. I felt the desk worthy of saving and restoring and the top portion of you recall was made with mitred dovetails that hid the dovetails completely within the mitres. This aspect of the work was very neat and precise. I had however been a little troubled with the mortise and tenoned framework of the stand the desk was anchored to because two or three joints were loose and the desk’s upper weight seemed to readily part the shoulders. As I decided to take the frame apart my concerns were confirmed and suspicions verified.
Parting the joints I heard a sort of crunching crumbly sound not dissimilar to animal glue but I also knew the colour to be another glue I had used 50 years ago as a boy. Those I worked with touted this as one of the best glues and I accepted what they said to be true. Looking at it now I have shifted my opinion in some measure.
The glue he used
Cascamite is a synthetic resin used as an adhesive for general joinery usually for joints that are exposed to outdoors; windows and doors, door frames and so on. It was used on glue lines too where long edges were jointed for laminations. Cascamite is generally sold as a powder you mixed with water to a consistent thickness or viscosity and sets up during the cure which gives it its gap filling properties. It’s said to be suitable for load bearing and laminating. It leaves a clear glue line and will not discolour hardwood, its also mould resistant. After the glue is mixed you need to work with it quickly as it can quite rapidly change from thick liquid to a solid jelly and in about 6 hours (temperature dependent) sets rock hard. It’s touted as having excellent well proven adhesive for joinery, cabinet work or boat building and I know that to has its place, but seeing this piece 70 years on I feel questioning as to its long term efficacy.
Because the tenon thickness was undersized according to the mortise, a full width gap was evident on almost every one of the wide faces of the tenons. This surprised me because the overall piece was well executed. It shows the significant impact good joinery has on longevity and that glue generally cannot substitute for the levels of accuracy it demands. This for me is where harmony becomes evident in the word joinery which has its root in the word harmos. Now the tenons were all dead to size or slightly over width. Very different than thickness. You can use the extra width for tightness here but it substitutes for the real art of joinery. many joinery companies (or the staff machinists and assemblers) use foaming adhesives such as polyurethane glues to expand around the joints. This is only a temporary gap-filling fix (pun intended) for poor workmanship and the missing craftsmanship that’s become standard in the industry. It lasts long enough for the guarantees of a year or so but not really good practice.
I glued on the thin slither, jokingly called “special shim joinery” when I was a boy who made a bad joint, which pushed the other face to fully engage with the wall of the mortise too.
Inside the holes the glue was both brittle and fractured. it flicked of readily and was easily removed with the corner of an old chisel. So to chiselling off the glue from the faces of the tenon. I decided to thicken the tenons by adding thin veneers to the face of the tenons and then fitting the tenons back to the relevant mortise holes. I am also considering adding a mid rail along the long length to increase stability. I think wider top rails was an answer to the problem too. The weight of the top box is to much for flex in the legs. An inch extra and rightly fitted tenons would have meant no joint failure.
As an accidental/incidental/occidental tool collector, I am always amused to read or hear a serious tool collector trash talking a Frakenplane. Their definition of a Frankenplane is a Type 5 plane with a Type 6 knob, shorter one without the bead. Or a type 16 lever cap on a Type 14 plane. Let me show you a real Frankenplane.
Behold the Frankenplane:
I’m not sure what it was or how it became what it is, but it does exist and we must accept that.
We traveled to Baltimore to visit friends for Labor Day. On Sunday, my wife visited one of her best friends in Philadelphia. To give them some time to catch up and bond, I volunteered to go explore my old stomping grounds in and around Adamstown, PA. For those not in the know, this is an area self-billed as Antiques Capital, USA. There you will find about 5 miles of antiques dealers and flea markets (the good kind). Mid level and primitives, not much in the real high end and fancy. Still, a reasonable mix. Always interesting.
I found this plane at a shop that is usually loaded with primitives. And the Frankenplane is interesting in the clinical sense of the word. It is still there for only $30. If anyone really wants it, I will send you the location if you can provide a reasonable explanation for wanting it.
Did I buy anything for myself? Against my better judgement, I picked up the carcass of an early Stanley 45 combination plane. I believe it is a Type 3 or 4, 1888 to 1892. I paid $20. It’s my plane, I think I’ll keep. Until I get a better offer.
Although I usually feel like a competent woodworker, any time I am faced with metal work I feel like I’ve gone back to kindergarten. This project has, however, forced me to get a little more comfortable with metal working.
But first, one important photo I forgot to share last time around:
Work holding isn’t always easy when working with an irregularly-shaped piece. That’s where a handscrew held upright in a bench vise gets really, really handy. I place a spacer block behind one of the jaws so that the bench vise clamps only one jaw, leaving the other free to move. That way, I can easily reposition the workpiece with a turn of the lower screw.
Once the saw handles were shaped and sanded, it was time for a little metal work. Both saw plates needed trimming to fit the handles. The panel saw also had at least two separate sets of handle holes drilled in it, so I opted to cut that whole section off the back, shortening the saw by maybe an inch and a half. I marked my lines with a black marker, taped the saw plate to a backer board, and cut it off with a hacksaw.
In retrospect, I should have just used the tape itself as the layout line, but oh well.
The dovetail saw plate also needed one corner clipped to fit into the handle slot. I filed both cuts smooth. Then I shaped the brass spine with a file and sandpaper. (Not wanting to get metal filings all over my camera, I opted not to take any pictures of that process.) The work went quickly, as brass is quite soft and easy to work. The drawback is that the brass is also easy to mar with an errant stroke of the file. After sanding the spine, I took it down to my buffing machine and put a nice shine on it. I went back and forth between the sandpaper and the buffer several times before I was satisfied with the surface finish on the spine.
The next challenge was drilling the holes for the bolts and nuts in the saw handles. This presents a challenge, as the holes must be lined up perfectly. It’s easy to drill a hole through one side and then counter-sink it for the head of the bolt. But how does one counter-sink the other side? Normally, one would do this with a special drill bit called a piloted countersink. But since I had only five holes (three of one size and two of another), I didn’t want to buy a special bit. There is a way to do this with regular drill bits, and while it’s time-consuming, it works just fine.
First, clamp down the workpiece on the drill press table and drill the narrow hole all the way through. Then, without moving the workpiece, counter-sink the bigger hole to the necessary depth. My drill press has a decent depth-stop, so getting a consistent depth was pretty easy. The smaller hole should be perfectly centered in the larger hole.
Now turn the workpiece over, put your smaller bit back into the chuck, and (without turning the drill press on), insert the drill bit into the original hole. Turn it backwards a few times to be sure the workpiece is in the right place. Clamp down the workpiece; it is now perfectly centered on that hole. Back out the small bit, put in the larger bit, and counter-bore it from this side.
It’s a lot of changing bits in and out, but the results are precise enough for my purposes here.
I then drilled holes in the saw plates for the bolts.
For the dovetail saw, I considered squeezing the slot in the spine so as to hold the saw plate by friction alone–which is the traditional way of constructing a backsaw. In my imagination, it seemed like the right thing to do. But when I started to try to close the slot, I found that the brass is pretty springy. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that the likelihood of my ever wanting to remove this saw plate from the spine is about nil. So, in a moment of weakness, I reached for the super glue. A dab in each end of the slot, and the saw plate was solidly seated in the spine. Sometimes chemistry wins out over mechanics.
So, at the end of the evening, I am almost finished. I will need to trim the screws to final length, apply a finish to the handles, and sharpen the saws.
Tagged: backsaw, counter bore, countersink, dovetail saw, drill press, handscrew, spine
With all of the parts complete, I attached a couple of pieces for the screws and attached the seat.
Next the back support was attached with glue. I am still not sure of the size and shape of the back support but it is now attached.
Finally the seat is attached using screws.
Of course who could forget the little repair needed when I sent the chisel through the leg.
Recently I was reminded that there have been a lot of newcomers to woodworking and especially to hand tools. My philosophy on tools is quite simple. Tools were made to be used. Before you get your feathers ruffled, I am not against tool collecting. It is just not for me. Tool collecting serves a useful purpose in that it preserves tools for the future. One of my main objectives for this blog is to show people how to preserve antique and vintage tools with the purpose of making them available for use to a new generation of woodworkers. And I emphasize USE.
The pic above shows my Stanley #4 smooth plane. This is the plane I use for all smoothing work in my woodshop. It was made in the very early 20th century. I completely restored this plane with no regard to its collector value. But I didn’t go into the restoration blind.
I am often asked “should I restore this tool?” That is a complex question with no simple answer. So here goes. It is my opinion that the owner of any item has the legal and moral right to do anything they choose to with said item. A person may feel that preserving a vintage or antique item in its original condition is a moral obligation, but it is not. If you choose to do this that is fine and dandy, but you are not obligated to do so. So if you choose to restore an antique tool that is nobody’s business but yours. Some antique tools can be worth hundreds even thousands of dollars. If you were to restore one of these tools its value would drop dramatically. Therefore, you would probably not want to restore such a valuable tool.
Before you decide whether or not to restore a tool do some research. There is a wealth of information online to help you determine the value of a tool. For Stanley planes you can start here. In general, with Stanley planes, the older, pre 1900, specimens are the most valuable. Once you have an idea of the value of your tool you can make an informed decision as to whether or not to restore it. The idea is to preserve a tool for another generations use. If you do that by a good cleanup, a complete restoration, or wash it and put it on a shelf with the rest of your collection matters not.
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment. Oh, I have a feeling I’m going to hear about this one :)