Saturday, May 30, 2015


Yesterday's barbecuing experiment seems to have been a success.  At least, the iron is shiny and it has an edge that will draw blood.

Don't ask me how I know this.

The big question now is if it will hold that edge.  To find out, I have a little more woodworking to do to finish up the planes.  The round needs the mouth opened, they both need the wedges trimmed and shaped, I have to clean up the bodies of the planes, cut them to length and put whatever edge treatments I decide on to them.

Then, they get a workout.

Here are some pics of the round iron.  This only took about ten minutes for me to sharpen up freehand.  I suspect the hollow will take a little longer when I get around to it.
Here's the round that is now sharp. 
It looks like it perhaps it needs a bit more polishing in this close-up.
Only the very edge is polished.  I don't think there is a benefit to polishing the whole thing.

Another glamour shot of the whole thing.

I tried punching my last name in these irons when they were still soft.  It looks like I need a bit more practice to do that.

It looks nice, but will it cut?  That is the question.

Friday, May 29, 2015

BBQ'd Plane Irons

Tonight was the night for heat treating my plane irons.  I figured it would only take about a half hour, and I wasn't too far off.

I think I was worrying too much about this step, and it put me off.  I needn't have worried, this was relatively easy.  At least, I accomplished what I meant to.  We'll see if it gives me good steel or not once I sharpen them up.

My plan was to use my barbecue on the balcony for a platform for doing the heat treating.  This was a really good idea, as my set up didn't need to be anything crazy.
My heat-treating forge.
I bought three fire bricks at the big box store yesterday.  I also picked up a special teflon-infused fire glove.  This turned out to also be a good idea, because it kept me from burning my hand while still being able to use my fingers, unlike using an oven mitt.
The rest of my heat-treating set up.
I bought an old pot today at the thrift shop.  It was only $2, and almost too nice to use.  I think it is cast iron with an enamel coating.  Plus, there was a lid which I thought was a bonus.  Handy for when the oil catches fire.  Outside of this picture was a fire extinguisher, just in case.

I hadn't done this before, so wasn't quite sure the best way to go about this.  I set the fire bricks up this way in order to best hold the heat in the spot where it counts most.

I think this was a good idea in theory, but the torch used up all of the oxygen in that corner and wouldn't burn properly.
How I started.  Note that I am holding the iron with a big pair of pliers, using my hand in the fire glove.
I asked the Frau to take photos of this whole process, and when I looked for her while I had the torch going, she was no where to be seen.  As a result, you'll have to paint the picture using only my words.

It took a little while to figure out the best configuration, but I finally got the torch working best when it was shooting the flame at a bit of an upward angle.  It was plenty enough to get the iron hot if I held the iron as flat as I could against one of the side fire bricks.

It turns out the fire bricks hold heat for a long time, so next time I will pre-heat the iron while it is laying flat (to get that nice dark color), then lift it up so the business end of the iron is flat against the side brick and I can torch the crap out of it in that position.

Once it got red enough, and the little pools of iron float to the surface, quench.

Next time I bet this only will take five minutes for the two irons, after everything gets warmed up.

I think I wound up with a couple of decent irons.
Now all that is left is tempering.  I haven't told the Frau I am using her oven for this yet.  Wish me luck!
Edit:  Success!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Some More New Tools!

OK, so I spent some more money today that I meant not to.

Since the guy with the welding torch certification is on leave for the next couple weeks, I am unable to heat treat the irons for my new moulding planes.

Or am I?

Larry Williams shows in his DVD heat treating some plane irons using a regular propane torch that you could get anywhere.  While I was at the big box store today, I was looking at those.  For a lot more money, though, I could get a MAPP torch which essentially is butane.  This particular torch gets much hotter than a wimpy propane torch, more than 2300 degrees centigrade!

This ought to heat treat the crap out of my plane irons!

I decided it might also be a good idea to get a new fire extinguisher.
My plan is now to do the heat treating on my balcony using my barbecue as a platform.  I have a couple of fire bricks to help direct the heat, and a gallon of peanut oil to quench.  All I need now is an appropriate old pot as I think the Frau will frown on me heat treating plane irons and quenching them in our best pasta pot.

I think I'm all ready to go now:  I spent my lunch hour the other day at the Army's woodshop grinding the untreated irons on their powered grinder, and finished the shaping today with a file.  I think I have them pretty close.  My guess is shaping them with a file is much easier than doing it after they are hardened.
The round,

And the hollow.  The iron is a bit overly proud here as I thought that would make a better photo.
While I was taking these photos, I found the setting on my camera that takes microscope pictures.
Here is the endgrain of the cherry plane blank.
Technically everything is ready to go.  After heat treating the irons, they can be sharpened and put to work in these planes.  However, there still are lots of cosmetic details that need to be done to these babies before I'll call them done.
A little closer every day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stanley #3 Smoother

Last fall I finally finished the walnut dining table I had been working on for the last couple of years.

The main reason I got hung up with this project, is the stock that I had chosen for the top had crazy reversing grain and produced tear out when it was just looked at wrong.

I tried everything I could think of.  I sharpened my blade on LV bevel up jack plane.

No go.

I tried the 37 degree blade in that plane.

No go.

I tried the 50 degree blade, which resulted in a 62 degree effective angle on that plane, which should be enough to tame the worst wood.

No go.

I tried my #80 scraping plane.

No go.

I finally used a hand scraper over the entire top to get a top that had no tear out.  The only problem with this is the table now didn't look flat.

I hated this look.

Don't get me wrong, I am extremely proud of this table, it looks gorgeous -

- In the right light.

It is difficult to photograph, but in the wrong light, it looks a lot like the following picture:
Crazy scraper bumps.  Believe me, it looks a lot worse in real life.
This is the only project I have done in the last couple of years that I couldn't smooth satisfactorily with the tools I had - i.e. my BU jack.

I therefore paid close attention when Christopher Schwarz announced he was going to use a #2 smoother for a year, and Richard Maguire started a series on cap irons and tear out with his #3 smoother.

I decided I needed to find a small smoother with a cap iron rather than one with a high angle and a tight mouth.  After striking out on eBay, I found the perfect plane at Handworks in Amana.  A Stanley type 10 #3.

Planing this table top isn't the catastrophic extremity that you might think.  The finish is just burnished bee's wax.  That's it.  If I decide to leave half of the table the way it was, the wax finish should theoretically be able to be re-applied to the table with none the worse for wear.  Time to get my new secret weapon out.

I monkeyed with my new plane the other day, sharpening the iron and setting up the cap iron like the Schwarz and Richard Maguire said.  Tonight, I decided to go for it and try it out on our dining table.

The first couple swipes showed how not-flat the table is.  However, I was astounded that this plane worked easily where so many of my previous attempts failed.

The secret is the cap iron being set as close to the cutting edge as humanly possible.  I was getting absolutely no tear out, going either with the grain or against it.

Just to prove it, here is a photo of how wide I have the mouth set on this plane:
This is about how far I usually set the mouth back on my jack plane for rough work.
This was utterly amazing to me.  I would say that I am getting to the point in my woodworking that it is getting hard to utterly amaze me, but there you have it.
About 20 minutes work.
I do have to admit that I have very little experience with a bevel down smoother.  One of the reasons I haven't got one, is that with bevel down planes, I think you probably need three:  a jointer a jack and a smoother.  I can do a lot of these tasks only with my BU jack.  I haven't ever run across a wood that I couldn't smooth with that plane.

Until this project.

I decided that this project was worth the investment in a new vintage tool - if it worked.  Boy am I glad I did.

I have a feeling that every once in a while a dedicated smoother is required, so I think that this one will be it.

The only problems I came across is that after a while, a shaving got caught under the chipbreaker.  This was expected, as I couldn't quite get the chipbreaker to fully close up to the original iron.

I also found out that this table top requires the blade to be super-hyper-freaking sharp in order to work well.  I did wind up with some microscopic tear out toward the end of my planing session that wasn't there at the beginning.  Unfortunately I don't have my sharpening stones here, so I'll have to finish this task up another day.

I like the steel on this iron, and I have no problem with using the original thin iron.  The only problem is there is only about 1/4" on the iron left until I run in to some pitting, and the cap iron isn't quite what it used to be.  I am a bit undecided at what to do to remedy this.  I could buy a new cap iron and blade from a company like Lee Valley or Hock, but I could also get a vintage replacement.  I think a vintage Swedish blade and chipbreaker would be cool.  I could also spend some time and research rehabbing the one that is original to this plane.

Anyway, here is some vintage tool porn:
I really like the look of this old plane with the low front knob.

The type 10 was manufactured between 1907 and 1909, according to the internet.  There are some real neat features from this time period.

You can tell it is a type 10 because it has two patent dates (unlike the type 11 which has three), and there is no frog adjustment screw.

The frog adjustment screw would be nice, but I figure once the frog is set, there shouldn't be much need to muck with it on a dedicated smoother.  Plus, my intention is to keep the mouth relatively open.
I thought it was neat that this was a model #3C.  That means the bottom has the corrugations.  I don't think they do much other than look cool.  But hey!  It is cool to look cool.
Just look at the frog:
The money shot.
I think the blade says, "STANLEY - PAT. 4/19/92."  I mistakenly thought that this was a later blade, but it turns out it is from the time that this plane was made, so my guess is it is original.  If it was in good shape, it would be worth as much as I paid for the whole plane all by itself!  I like the steel, it sharpens up nicely.
Overall I am extremely pleased with the plane and it's performance.  The walnut on this project was extremely frustrating to deal with, and this little smoother seems to be capable of taming it nicely.

My plan is to smooth the top until it looks good enough, then re-finish it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Progress on the Plate 19 Moulders

Yesterday I had a little bit of time in the shop.  Instead of working on these, I spent the time getting my new Stanley Type 10 #3 smoother sharpened and working.  That plane is awesome.  I can't wait to write about it.  It went so well, I rehabbed a few chisels, too.  No time for these moulders.

Skip to today, and I was able to sneak in the shop for about an hour and a half.  I think once I get a couple of these built, it will go a lot faster, as it always takes a bit to learn something new.

Today I spent some time belatedly fitting the wedges and bedding the irons.  It turns out the irons bed a lot easier if the wedges are dead-nuts perfect.  I didn't bother shaping my wedges yet.  I'll probably regret that later.

In this photo you can see where I was in the process when I left off last time.  One wedge is roughly fit, and the other is way out.

You can see from here one wedge is way off.  You can also see my chisel-rehabbing mess from yesterday.
A bit of time fitting the wedges.  This open mortise makes it easy to see everything that is going on with the wedge.  I have no idea if the wedge is square or not, but it fits the mortise.  I then used the dry erase marker to determine where to remove wood on the bed to seat the iron as best as I could (as per Larry Williams).
The pair with fine tuned wedges.
I forgot I had a singleton #12 hollow in my tool chest.  This is the exact size I am making here, so I used it as a mother plane after touching up the blade.  It worked a treat.  If you are going to make planes, it might be beneficial to make friends with someone who has a plane or two the size you need.
I found a mother plane in my tool chest.
For the hollow, I used my plow to set the depth I wanted for this profile, then used 80 grit sandpaper wrapped around my new round body to establish the profile.
Don't tell anyone I used sandpaper!
Here are a couple of pics of the completed profiles.   I like this first photo because it shows a little more clearly that the blade is full width the whole way.
I admire people who keep their shop and bench clean while they work.  I don't
Here's a close-up of the profiles including what the irons look like peeking out of the bottom.  Obviously they aren't shaped yet.
The last thing I did was use some machinist layout fluid and a shop knife to mark out the profiles on the irons.  These are the lines I need to grind to.
I think I need to try a different brand of fluid.  Although it looks like you can see the line well enough.
Unfortunately, My shop isn't set up well for grinding and metal work.  I will go to the Army woodshop to do the grinding.  I then will go to the Army's do-it-yourself Auto Crafts shop.  They have a welding torch that I will use to heat treat these irons.  I figure that's quicker and easier than mucking about with fire bricks and propane torches.  At least, that's what I'm about to find out.

For a bonus, here are a couple photos of what I did yesterday:
Here's my new Stanley smoother.  I planed the wrong way on this walnut board, and there was no tear out.
 I also got a little re-habbing in.  The two smaller chisels are now sharper than they probably ever were, and the big one and the Mora knife are grinding projects in-progress.
I hate lapping, so I'll do it until I get sick of it, and I will come back to it next time.  Sooner or later they will all be done.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


What a weekend!

I'll try to sum up what went through my brain last weekend, but there was so much, I'm sure I'll only get a fraction in.

Plus, my laptop charger is broken, so I only have as long as my battery lasts while I am waiting for my eight hour layover in Atlanta to be over.

Here goes:

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as I didn't really need any new tools.  The only thing I planned on bringing home was a plane blade from Ron Hock to build a small smoothing plane, as my luck on getting a #2 or #3 from eBay has been thwarted.  I thought I would be able to come up with something better anyway.

What I really wanted to do here was meet and talk to fellow like minded woodworkers.

As soon as I walked up to the Festhalle barn at about 9:20 or so on Friday morning, I knew I was in the right place.  There was a big line that went half way to the street already.  For some reason I thought they opened the doors at nine, but it wasn't until ten when they opened the doors to the great unwashed.

The wait was OK, as the next guy to arrive after me was Bill Schenher from Billy's Little Bench.  Shortly after that was a nice guy by the name of Hamilton who loves to read woodworking blogs.  Chatting with these two was a nice way to pass the time.

Since I really didn't have much interest in buying new tools, I walked in and was amazed with the number of people there.  I fiddled with Benchcrafted's traditional French vice (I really might have to think about upgrading someday to this, as I like it), and admired Chris Schwarz's chest with Jameel Abraham's fancy lid.

This really looks good.
My "no substantial purchase" embargo lasted about 12 minutes, until I realized it wasn't only new tool pushers, but old tool dealers, too!

Slav Jelesijevich was sharing a booth with a nice guy by the name of Jeremy (whose last name I didn't get).  There were some gorgeous tools here.  There was a guy there fondling the two Stanley #3s when I got there, and as soon as he bought one I snatched the other one.  It was gorgeous and a good price, so I bought it.  It turns out it is a nice and clean enough to use without much mucking with Stanley Type 10 #3C.  Since Richard Maguire has been discussing the #3 I have decided I needed one to address some problems with my walnut dining table that I haven't been able to take care of with the planes I currently have in my tool chest.  I now no longer have an immediate need to build a Krenov smoother.  For some reason, I don't have pictures of this plane yet.

I went about three paces to Slav's portion, and there he had a gorgeous Swedish chisel that looks to be more than two inches wide.  I couldn't resist and opened my wallet again.

I then went to Patrick Leach's booth and about went into a coma.  I have never seen so many desirable old tools in one place before in my life.  I feel like I was lucky to get out alive, with no purchases from him.  Although, there were two nice sets of Swedish chisels I had my eye on.  Unfortunately for me, he knew their true worth.

There are many pictures of this elsewhere on the blogosphere, so I'll spare you and only show one:
For God's sake, who has ever seen such a huge box of mortice chisels?
I wanted to talk with and meet as many cool people as I could, but I especially wanted to meet Bengt, Jeremy, Ralph, Ethan, and I wanted to catch up with Christopher Schwarz.  I got to see everyone on my list in the first hour or so of the event, except Ralph.  I kept my eye out for him the whole time, but never bumped into him.  Maybe next time.  The Schwarz was of course running around like a chicken with his head cut off, but he promised that we would get a few minutes to chat on Saturday.  Unfortunately he was under the weather and missed the show that day.

It is great being able to wander around and chat with the various vendors.  One of the first I was able to watch and speak to was Mary May.  She was demonstrating her carving, and mentioned she loved to work with walnut.  I asked if she preferred air-dried walnut, and she said she didn't really know.  A client will give her a chunk of wood with a commission and she just works with it.  I think there is something to be learned here, that there is no need to be snobby with the woods you work with.  If it carves well, then it is good carving wood.
Mary May carving a chunk of walnut.
It was right after this that I started speaking with Chris Kuehn of Sterling Toolworks.  He convinced me that I needed to spend the rest of the money I had with me on a new 1:4 dovetail marker.  So much for not spending any money.  This little gauge is cool, though.  I look forward to using it.

I got to have lunch with Bengt, and spend a good deal of time with him.  He comes to Germany every time Chris Schwarz teaches there.  If you don't read Swedish, run his blog through the Google language translator and be patient as Google's Swedish to English isn't quite perfect. 
Bengt and St. Roy.
The second day I arrived at about ten after nine, and was shocked to see the line of people already there to see Roy Underhill's speech.

Almost an hour early, and here is the line.
Roy's speech was fantastic.  The guy is a 1st class performer.
There were a LOT of people there to see Roy.

I think everyone could see and hear him.
I found myself out at the green woodworking barn a lot.  It was a lot less busy than the Festhalle.  I had a nice conversation with Peter Galbert when he had a few minutes.  What a nice guy.  It was neat to talk to him about his book.  He spent a lot of brainpower trying to figure out how to write in a book what can be shown in person so much easier.  I think he did a great job (from what I have read so far).  It also seems he is open to questions and communication regarding what is in his book, so feel free to look him up with your questions.  I am sure he will be gracious in answering them.
Peter Galbert demonstrating sharpening a drawknife.
Claire Minihan was there, too.  It was fun to watch her teach people to use a travisher.  I must have watched her demonstrate sharpening a travisher blade three times.  Too bad I didn't get a video.  I'm glad I haven't sharpened mine yet, as I would have ruined it.  It really looks easy.

Another "A-ha" moment I had was watching Tim Manney demonstrate his adze technique.  He clamps his board on a sawbench, braces it with his leg, and swings the adze down (just behind his leg for safety) pivoting at the elbow.  The idea is to make a smooth, cross grain cut.  He says the hardest part is coming out of the cut, going up the grain.  If you can do it this way, you save a lot of time as you don't have to turn the board around and re-clamp just to work down-grain on the other side.  I bet he could hollow a wooden serving bowl in no time flat.
Tim Manney demonstrating adze technique.
Jeremy from JMAW Woodworks seemed to bump into me every five minutes.  The Frau and I even got to go to dinner with him and his lovely wife.  He and I have been thinking about entry level moulding planes (or the lack of them).  I am working on some French, open mortice ones, and he has come up with a design all of his own.  I got to see his prototype, and I think it is clever.  Keep an eye on his blog to see how it turns out, as it will be very cheap to make.
Here is Jeremy with Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted discussing the lid to the CS tool chest.
The undeniable highlight of the weekend was the Studley tool chest.
Don Williams speaking to our group admonishing us to keep our grubby mitts off!
The presentation was as professional as any museam exhibit I have ever seen.  There were some guides in the room discussing different aspects of Mr. Studley, his chest, and his bench.
The pictures we all took suck.  Get the book.
Even though I have been following this project on the Lost Art Press blog, as well as Don's own blog, I was amazed at the amount of research and preparation put into this exhibit.
Don Williams giving his spiel for about the zillionth time.
My photos are just a tease.  From what I have seen of the book so far, I am impressed with the photos in there.  However, nothing is like seeing it in person.  My condolences if you missed it.
Even the bench was stunning.

The obligatory photo of me with the chest.  I was glad to see one of the exhibitors photo-bombed this pic!
The vices on the bench were well worth seeing, too.  It would be cool if Benchcrafted offered a silver plated model.
Wouldn't it be neat to have a silver-plated vice?
One of the funniest things of the weekend in my opinion, was looking at the parking lot.  There was only one yellow Beetle there, which was my rental car.
This made it easy to find my car in the parking lot.
Overall the weekend was a success for everyone.  I don't know, but my guess is that a lot more people showed up for this even than were expected.  People were spending money like crazy.  I'm sure Patrick Leach did well, as every time I saw him at least three people were trying to buy tools from him.  Lost Art Press sold out of their first printing (3000 copies!) of the Studley book.  Most other vendors sold out of many things, too.

Congratulations to everyone regarding this event, as I'm sure it will be remembered forever.