No other ratcheting brace is more highly sought after than those made under the “Yankee” name. The liberal use of ball bearings, the concealed ratchet, and rugged construction all leave a most favorable impression on the user. Use one that is in good condition, and you will be spoiled for life.
Originally made and sold by The North Bros., these braces feature the mechanical elegance and simplicity for which the firm was justly renowned. When Stanley acquired the company in 1946, they continued to make the brace with only minor changes. This brace is one of those made by Stanley.
Like so many other “Yankee” braces, this one was made expressly for Bell Systems, who valued their rugged, sealed construction. Earlier models are substantially similar. If there is one weak point in these tools, it is that the grease in the sealed ratchets dries out and hardens after a few decades. In many, the grease will be so stiff as to completely freeze the ratchet mechanism. Fortunately, the time and effort needed to clean and regrease the ratchet and pad is not great.
Although the 2101 and 2101A models are far more common than the 2100 and 2100A, there is little difference between the models. To the best of my knowledge, the difference lies in the plating: the 2100′s are chrome plated, while the 2101′s are nickel plated. In 1958, that chrome plating commanded a 20% premium (page 66 of the 1958 Stanley catalog).
A word of warning before starting: while much of the construction remained essentially unchanged over the years, there are some differences. On older braces, I believe that the cladding and bearings on the end handles were peined into place. Disassembly of this requires modification of the brace which may or may not be worth pursuing. If you run into this, or other differences from what I have shown, consider taking pictures of the disassembly process. It takes time to do this, but makes it much easier to put everything back in its proper place.
Without further ado…
Let’s start with the head. Begin by removing the two or three screws on the underside. The plastic or composition handle is threaded, so after these screws are removed, it will not simply pull off, but will need to be turned counterclockwise (looking at it from the above, as if you were holding it to use). Occasionally, these threads will be a little sticky. If this is the case with yours, hold the collar of the metal cladding in a wooden handscrew or vise (pad the jaws of your vise to prevent damage to the plating).
Once the head is removed, you will see a C-clip that holds the cladding and bearings in place. (ab)Use a screwdriver to remove this clip, then lift off the cladding. This is best done with the brace in the upright position so that the now exposed ball bearings don’t make a dash for freedom (hard to blame the little buggers, though – who wouldn’t want to explore the world after toiling away for decades in a confined space?). The bearing cup, races, and bearings can now be removed from the handle and cleaned.
Reassembly of the pad is simple, so long as it is done in the correct order. The bearing cup goes on first, followed by a bearing race (flat washer). Next, install the grease and bearings. If you give the race and cup a good coating of grease (I use axle grease), the bearings will stay where you stick them. If you managed to lose some of the bearings along the way (there should be 16), take a deep breath and visit a good hardware store and ask for 1/8″ bearings there. If you can’t find them locally, you can order them online. The other bearing race goes on top of the bearings, followed by the cladding and the C-clip to hold everything together. Finally, screw the pad on and reinstall the two or three small screws from below.
With the pad done, it is time to tear into the shell (the assembly that houses the jaws) and ratchet. Begin by unthreading the shell completely. No tricks here; just turn until it falls off.
Hold the shell in a handscrew or padded vise jaws and use a wrench or handscrew to remove the end cap. This usually requires little effort. The threads are a standard right hand form.
With the cap removed, look down into the shell, where there is an internal spring clip. This clip needs to come out so the cone shaped race and ball bearings can be removed. I use a machinist’s scribe and pick to remove this clip. Patience and persistence are your friends in this step. With the clip removed, the cone race can be removed. Remove carefully, as the ball bearings (there are 31 of them in there) beneath it are no less eager to taste freedom than were those in the head. Remove the bearings and the thrust washer below them.
Clean, grease, and reassemble.
Now that you are warmed up, it’s on to the ratchet. This is the most challenging work, but very doable. Pay close attention to how things fit together, and take pictures to help you remember the proper order and orientation.
Begin by removing jaws, then the cap on the end of the ratchet housing. Once again, use wood handscrews or padded jaws to do this. The cap has right hand threads, and usually comes off easily. Use a pick to remove the exposed pawl.
Now turn the brace over to work on the other end of the ratchet housing. Remove the knurled collar using – yes, you guessed it – either a wood handscrew or paded jaws. With this collar unscrewed, use a pick to remove the clip that is now exposed, then lift out the entire shaft and collar.
Now push the ratchet selector down (towards the head) and remove the second pawl. With both pawls removed, the flat spring will slide out.
Finally, remove the ratchet selector by pushing it in one direction or the other. Once this is out, the spring and pin are free to fall out.
Reassemble after cleaning and greasing everything. Again, I use axle grease here. Reassembly of the pawls and springs is a little tricky. Not complicated, but you will often wish for a third and fourth hand to hold everything in its proper place. Take your time and don’t force anything.
And here is the completed brace.
See our previous post on water stones. Now we move on to oil stones. There are many different types of oil stones available, from man-made to natural oil stones. They’re harder than the water stones but they also wear out. They also do need to be flattened from time to time, especially the courser ones as […]
The post How to Choose a Sharpening Stone, Part 2: Oil Stones appeared first on Heritage School of Woodworking Blog.
At Woodworking in America 2015 2014 (for which I leave in one week…and to which I’m possibly driving the truck with the benches), in addition to the education sessions in the classrooms from such woodworking luminaries as Will Neptune, Roy Underhill, Drew Langsner, Phil Lowe, Patrick Edwards, Don Williams and more, we’re offering a variety of hour-long Shop Talk sessions in the Marketplace (included with admission).
One of the Shop Talk sessions will be Phil Fuentes showing how to set up a Japanese plane on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 2-3 pm in the Marketplace area. If you’re going to Woodworking in America just for the Marketplace, catch Phil’s talk. He knows his stuff.
And here’s a coupon, because who doesn’t love a bargain?
We all have quirks, but one of mine is the irrational fear of running out of stuff to talk about whenever I am making a presentation. Notwithstanding the fact that I have never run out of words before the end of my previous two hundred presentations, I still try to prepare such that I can “wing it” if ever I do.
So, in preparing for the upcoming presentations at WIA I have been working assiduously for both the historic finishing and gold leafing talks. Just the supplies and examples for the historic finishing talk seems somewhat overkill, but don’t bother to argue with me. It’s what I do.
I even hand-planed some boards from the lumber pile,
and made a couple of parquetry panels to make sure I had things to work on while the crowds are watching.
I might’ve gone even nuttier with the gold leaf demo, starting with mixing up traditional gesso by putting 10% glue granules in a jar,
Adding water until full,
and soaking over night.
I cooked it,
added calcium carbonate/whiting,
and started preparing step-by-step examples so that I can walk the attendees through the entire process from start to finish, ending with the toning of the newly applied 23 karat gold leaf..
If you are at WIA make sure to say “Hi” and tell me you read the blog.
Woodworking in America 2014 is only a few days away as I’m writing this post, and I’m so excited about attending this year! WIA is billed as the “ultimate woodworking weekend,” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement. I’ve been very fortunate to have been in attendance at almost all of them since the inaugural event took place in Berea, Kentucky in 2008.
What started out as a small symposium dedicated almost entirely to hand tools, with a small number of attendees (compared to recent attendance numbers) has grown into an event that requires a convention center to contain it.
Why is it the ultimate woodworking weekend? It’s simple. Over an entire weekend, attendees have the opportunity to learn from some of the predominate woodworking instructors and artisans in the field. Woodworkers you’ll recognize from magazines, books, DVDs and even online content are leading classes ranging from “bench plane basics,” “saw sharpening 101″ to “table saw joinery,” “Historic Marquetry Processes,” and so much more.
WIA is a weekend full of learning for every type of woodworker and for every level of woodworking experience.
And aside from the educational classes, there’s also one of the most talked about features of Woodworking in America, the Tool Marketplace. Vendors ranging from specialty hand tools to leading power tool manufacturers, woodworking schools and many more.
The marketplace at WIA is the heart of the event, and after years of attending, I’ve observed that this is the location where attendees congregate to talk about the class they just attended, to get hands on experiences with the tools they want to add to their own shops, and to talk one-on-one with the manufacturers to learn more about whether it’s the right choice for them.
Woodworking in America is an experience unlike any other. So whether you can make it for the entire weekend, a single day, or only a few hours to hangout and purchase something in the Marketplace, you’ll be happy you did.
We just had a cancellation in my up-coming class in making a carved oak box – so if you would like to tackle this sort of work, September 22-26 in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, Heartwood School is the place to be. http://www.heartwoodschool.com/
This is going to be a really small class – so we will be able to really delve deeply into these boxes. I usually do this with 10 or 12 students; this time we’re hoping for 5! Lots more attention to carving patterns, and come hell or high water – tills! Students always ask, “can we put tills in our boxes?” – and the answer is usually “maybe” which really means “no.”
This time – yup. I bet we will.
come on, fall in the Berkshires? Send Will Beemer a note – it’ll be great. http://www.heartwoodschool.com/coursefr.html
I’ve instructed the eBay minions to sell a few tools for me, so check out the For Sale page and watch any items you’re interested in. Some nice bits on there, including this super ‘Ward’ paring chisel. More soon.
What my talk is about is how we have been automating our Foley Saw filing machine to allow us to do some operations automatically and also enable some very complex filings that an all mechanical Foley filer can't do. The reason I find this subject so interesting and why I wanted to give the talk is I think that for the past ten years the Maker Revolution has been building infrastructure so inexpensive that anyone can make pretty complex robots, CNC stuff, and general gadgets. At Maker Faire 2013 we saw a lot of cool stuff and then when we decided that we needed to add some automation to some of our processes it made a lot more sense for us to go the Maker route instead of the substantially more expensive, and much harder to implement, industrial machinery route.
While my specific professional interest is in tool manufacture the revolution in personal automation will (and maybe has started to) effect woodworkers all over the country. But don't think that the job of being a cabinetmaker will be any easier. Good construction is good construction, whether or not you use a hand saw, a giant factory saw, a table saw, a CNC router, or a fancy Altendorf. The difference is really in the amount of capital the maker has and the volume that is produced. As CNC equipment becomes less expensive and easier to use some cabinetmakers will find ways of lowering their costs without compromising the type of quality they are interested in offering. Some cabinetmakers will come up with whole new ideas in design and assembly that weren't possible before. It's mostly all good. Low cost automation might give a small shop a way to compete with factories. And the traditional factory will lose lots of their advantages.
I already know a fair number of shops that have CNC routers, laser cutters and some of them are doing some very interesting stuff. But don't jump down my throat. I like early American furniture. I love lots of early, sometimes very decorative forms. The big sin of furniture makers over the past generation has been simplifying and simplifying forms until most of the stuff I see in stores is pretty boring. I don't expect any machine to be able to grind out a colonial highboy - ever. And I would hate that anyway. I don't want dumbed down designs. What I want to happen, and I think it might, is that with new machinery will come new techniques and new designs. Hopefully furniture makers of the 21st century will produce stuff as new and exciting as say Chippendale furniture was to the customers of the mid-18th century.
Here is the link to Maker Faire NYC . It's an awesome show. And every year I am truly overwhelmed at what folks are making. Bring your kids!! you will all have a great time. If you don't live anywhere near NYC there are Maker Faires all over the country and the world. Even Mini-maker faires for smaller venues that are just starting up.
NB: The snapshot of the most excellent Rhode Island furniture is from the renovated rooms at the American Wing of the Met. OMG. I was rushing en-route to another exhibit and I drolled only a little. I will return for a proper look.
I have decided to make the tool chest shown here and make it a series on my blog. Enough people have said that they would like this so I will post the cutting list shortly. Choose your own wood. I think this will be a most enjoyable task and I will work on it as I teach the upcoming Craftsman Style Rocking Chair. It is simple enough for new woodworkers to make and progress their skills by and then they will have a good place to stow their tools safely.
We have a couple of places left in the remaining Foundational Courses later this year but please sign up as soon as you can set your schedule because I think they will fill. Above is the classroom. Below are the chairs we make in a few days time.
The post Woodworker’s Tool Chest – Replication Means Multiplication appeared first on Paul Sellers' Blog.
I’ve started work on a few custom dulcimers and took a few photographs of one in the early stages of construction. Once the sides are bent to shape I trim the to length using a bench hook and saw. It may be time for me to make a new bench hook. This one has a […]
I am embarking on a project to (slowly) repopulate my deck with a better grade of furniture. First up is a pair of small folding tables. The design is adapted from one published a few years ago in Popular Woodworking. The table shown here is 20″ square by 38″…er, no…24.5″ high.
Designing furniture that can survive being left outdoors in the sun and rain without eventually degrading into a pile of sticks (or worse) is a whole ’nother enchilada compared to ordinary furniture making. There is significant overlap with campaign furniture, with the added bonus that wood that gets rained on moves. A lot. In fact, outdoor furniture has much in common with boatbuilding, and so one looks to suppliers like Jamestown Distributors for fasteners and finishes, SailRite for upholstery fabrics, etc.
The woods used must be durable (resistant to decay), of course. That limits one’s choices to the usual suspects: teak, mahogany and its relatives, white oak, etc. Some “cedars” are also suitable, though their relatively low strength means that the various components usually need to be beefier than in this table. Other North American woods that would be suitable are black locust and honey mesquite, both of which can be hard to find but are probably worth looking for. I haven’t worked with mesquite, but it’s on my to-do list, as it is supposed to have exceptional dimensional stability with changing humidity.
These tables are in sapele, an African relative of mahogany that’s rated as “moderately durable.” To give them a leg up (pun intended) in terms of surviving the elements, I’ve fitted them out with “shoes” made of UHMW polyethylene. The shoes are held in by a 1/8″-diameter oak pin, which can easily be drilled out to allow for replacement, in case they wear out or the whole experiment turns out to have been a bad idea.
There are four legs and four top supports, and no two are exactly the same. They come in each of the four combinations of inner/outer and left/right mirror-image pairs. It got to be so confusing that I made up some custom labels before I drilled all of the holes and counterbores.
For want of a good locknut…
Chris isn’t the only one with hardware woes. Because the joints of this table need to allow folding for storage, the fasteners have to stay put without being fully snugged up to the wood (which in any case is only going to be a temporary condition as the wood shrinks and swells). So some kind of locking fastener is called for. The standard solution is a nylon-insert locknut (leftmost in the photo below). These work well, but I didn’t want to use them, for two reasons. The main reason is that they’re thick, quite a bit thicker than an ordinary hex nut, which would mean having to reduce the thickness of wood left at the bottom of the counterbores more than I was comfortable with. The secondary reason is that nylon is not UV stable, meaning that they would degrade over time (although, to be honest, so will the wood).
Back when I was in the cyclotron business, we used some aircraft-grade locknuts that were all stainless steel, and worked by having a thinned-down collar that looked like it had been slightly squished in a vise. I wasn’t able to find that kind of locknut, but I did find some at McMaster-Carr that were superficially similar. I ordered a pack of the center-lock style (second from the left). You can see a small indent on the flat; there’s a matching one on the other side, and together they deform the thread just enough to create a locking action. Or at least that’s how they’re supposed to work. I found the nuts to be wildly inconsistent from one to the next, and most barely locked at all.
So I ordered a pack of the top-lock style (third from the left). These have three small deformations on the top of the nut, which you can just barely make out in the photo. These turned out to be a lot more consistent than the center-lock variety, although there are a still a few bad apples in the pack. These are the ones I’m using in these tables, but to hedge my bets, I also ordered a pack of low-profile nylon-insert locknuts (rightmost), in case the top-lock nuts turned out as bad as the center-lock ones.
I haven’t yet applied any finish to the table. One option would be to leave it unfinished and let it go gray (like Megan the teak chair in the photo). I have a piece of sapele that’s been sitting outdoors for about eight years, and while there’s a fair bit of surface checking, it still looks pretty good, and remains structurally sound. I will most likely go with Osmo “One Coat Only.” I’m currently field-testing another piece of sapele with that on it, and it’s holding up well after a couple of months, but I’m going to see how it survives the winter before making a final decision. I decided early on against a traditional exterior varnish finish (e.g., Sikkens Cetol); I just can’t stand the look of varnish on unfilled open-grain woods, and I wasn’t about to try to use a pore filler on an outdoor piece.
In order to facilitate the inevitability of refinishing, the only parts of the table that are glued are the components of the two halves of the top. Everything else is bolted or screwed together. The top panels and the two leg braces are attached with #6-32 screws and brass inserts. The screws (also from McMaster-Carr) have a patch of locking goop that you can see in the photo. The makeshift insert installation tool on the right, along with a drill press to keep everything square, works better than any commercial tool that I’ve tried.
If I were to build these tables again, I’d increase the thickness of the top from 1/2″ to 9/16″ and reduce the thickness of the legs and supports from 3/4″ to 11/16″. I also realized after it was way too late that bronze saw nuts like these might be just the thing for the leg/support joints.
I think the most important lesson I learned, though, is that writing a blog post using an iPad (from a hotel room) is never a good idea…
Filed under: Uncategorized
I’ve long known about the Maison de l’Outil in Troyes, France, but I have not had the chance to visit. Yet.
Reader Sebastian Gonzales found this short video – in English – about the history of the museum, its collection and its more than 30,000 books on tools and crafts. The video even highlights Juliette Caron, the first female compagnon carpenter in France (I collect postcards related to her).
The video is worth a watch.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
With campaign-style hardware, there are many choices out there for different budgets and aesthetics. You can go for full-on rustic, sand-cast hardware – this looks great but can be tricky to install because every piece of hardware is slightly different. Or you can opt for modern die-cast hardware – easy to install but a little too-consistent looking to look historically accurate. I have installed both kinds of hardware, and I […]
I had a sick day today. Sitting in bed blowing my nose and resting. It’s especially in reflective times like these I remember how blessed I am to be able to work on such amazing pieces of furniture. Whether it’s an elaborately ornamented high style piece or even a well-built vernacular specimen, I am grateful. Northern New England has such a wonderful abundance of great opportunities for furniture conservators. Even in rural, tucked away Blue Hill, Maine I get these kinds of pieces in the studio. Feeling blessed. Can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow.
Customer David Keeling sent us a nice email and some photos of his Classic Leg Vise-equipped bench this morning. Gorgeous. We love crisp, clean work like this. Below is David's email:
Last year I went to a meeting of the local chapter of the SAPFM, which was fun even though I’m not heavily into period furniture forms. There was a Marquetry demonstration involving a Chevalet, which is a specialized tool for cutting marquetry developed and popularized in France. The presented mentioned having taken several classes at the American School of French Marquetry in San Diego…and the seed was planted.
I’ve been poking around for an interesting woodworking class to take lately, and I came across the “Stage I Boulle Marquetry” class at ASFM and I just signed up for it. I’m looking forward to spending a week learning a new technique. I’m sure I’ll post updates on this class, which will be the first week of October.