Friday 30 November 2012

David Stanley General Auction

Another visit to David Stanley's enjoyable auction. There were the usual familiar faces and a good selection of tools.

I keep being tempted by lovely old tool boxes, and this was a particularly fine example.

The general auctions are mainly for tools not considered worthy of the international sales, although this very rare Norris 11 mitre plane was included and sold for £5,800 + commission!

Here's my little haul! Three Spiers smoothers including a very early one, two Norris smoothers, one Mathieson smoother, two shoulder planes and a steel soled brass Norris bull nose  Most need some attention   which is work I really enjoy, you just have to pick the right ones at the right price to make it profitable.
My favourite is this Mathieson smoother dating from around 1900, it has a fine undamaged handle with elegant spur and the original Mathieson parallel iron, giving a very tight mouth.
I will probably start tinkering with these tomorrow, I just can't resist!

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Knew Concepts Saws

I'm a big fan of the Knew Concepts fret saws, they are dead accurate and very easy to use, great for removing the waste from dovetails. This is their new titanium birdcage version which is super rigid and can pull up the blade extremely tightly with the cam mechanism.

The saw weighs more than the normal aluminium ones but with only 3" of depth and the blade angled at 45 degrees it felt very comfortable. In use the rigid blade was very nice. If you want one it'll set you back $195.

This is the new heavy duty coping saw with cam lever and 360 degree rotational pins, a lovely saw to use and so it should be at $149!
Both these saws are wending their way to David Charlesworth who will be doing a magazine review on them. I look forward to hearing his opinion.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Marking Gauges

I have back orders for marking gauges so time for another batch. This is the gauge I use.
This time I decided to cut the stems exactly to length and rout them in pairs for safety, flipping  the block and then  doing the other side. My added fences are acting as stop blocks to limit the cut at both ends.
Here are the resulting stems awaiting final fitting on the disc sander.
An invaluable tool in accurate work. A good quality digital calliper  is well worth the investment, lacking all the annoying  little faults of the cheaper Far Eastern ones.
Another very useful tool is this 6" rule made by Incra, I've had it for years and it gets daily use. Using a .5mm pencil it marks lines in increments of .25 of a mm. I have the 12" one as well but this rarely gets used.
This is the piece the heads are going to be made from with a 1.5mm deep groove  in the centre to take  the stems.
Here are the heads cut to size waiting for shaping.

Friday 23 November 2012

Japanese Vintage Knife by Ishido Hideo

A year ago I bought this Kiridashi knife from from an American who bought it direct from Hideos widow and her son Yoshitaka, the current Teruhide.
Here is the Ishido lineage
I also have a small kanna by Ishido Hideo and a 70mm kanna by his father TeruhideSeiichi from the 1940-50's, more of those on another day.

The blade is signed Ishedo Teruhide, done by hand rather than with a stamp.

The blade is made of Blue Swedish steel and the body is old wrought iron. The knife is a large size, 8 3/16" x 1" wide and the cutting edge is 2 1/8" long.

The other side is marked HAKU REN (one hundred hits) referring to the making method.
The box is marked O KOGATANA (hand knife) and has the red Ishido seal on the end.
Although a few years old the knife has not been used and I'm afraid it will stay that way under my ownership.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Antique Bookbinders Press

Earlier in the year I spent 2 very enjoyable days with box maker Andrew Crawford, he uses a lot of veneers but doesn't have a vacuum press. Instead he uses an old bookbinders press along with one he had made specially. Although I don't use veneers much, and then only band sawn veneers, I thought I would try out an old fashioned press and this was a monster!
It weighs over 200 lbs and I was glad that it could be disassembled.

 Here it is in its assembled glory with an 18" x 12 " platten.

The quality of this press is shown with the bronze parts as well as the gold paint.

Here is a shot of the ribbed cast iron base which was very heavy.

It seemed to be a Lion brand and was shown as quality 'A'
This was far from an essential addition to my workshop but I look forward to giving it a try.

Monday 19 November 2012

Dovetail Alignment Boards

I've run out of my dovetail alignment boards, so time to make some more.
Pictured above is a traditional Sun Child saw with extra hard teeth and a deeper blade than normal saws. With its universal teeth it cuts dovetails in hardwood like a knife through butter. This blade has cut more than 10,000 dovetails and is still going strong!

With the thicker stock, the extra weight of these Barr Quarton chisels comes in very handy. The hard tool steel is wonderful, I only used two chisels on this batch and they held their edges right to the end.

Here I'm removing the waste from the pins with a fine fret saw by Knew Concepts, once you've used one of these you won't want to use any other saw.

Most of the boards went together first time with no paring or filling needed. The dovetails take 20 - 25 minutes to cut and fit in 16mm stock, I wouldn't want to try this without my magnetic guide!

Here are all 11 boards waiting for the fences to be fitted.
The wood I use is a type of Mahogany used for window boards, it is stable and cheap but the rowed grain can be a bit of a pig to plane, it needs light cuts and a razor sharp blade.

Friday 16 November 2012

Dovetail Course Finished

Emily paring pins for her dovetail alignment board.

Careful paring of tails for the pivot hinge dovetail box.

An 18th C cabinet in for restoration. It's amazing the contrast between the fancy outside and the extremely plain inside. One of the drawers had so much woodworm it looked like the backing board for a dart board!

On day 2 it was Rio's birthday, I'm not sure he wanted the fuss but he was happy to blow out the candles.

Three days of intensive woodworking and they're all still smiling, or is that just relief! Everyone managed to make the dovetail alignment board as well as the dovetailed box. This was a very enjoyable course and I hope everyone benefited.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Dovetailling Course Day One

Arrival at West Dean College on a magnificent Autumn day. Pictured are part of the 1,000 acre grounds.

Here is a shot of the College from the grounds, this used to be someone's house until 30 or so years ago!

This is the restoration workshop where the course was being held for the diploma students, much smaller than the main workshop but ideal for the eight budding restorers.

Only 3 of the eight had dovetailed before so this was going to be a fast learning curve for most. The first afternoon was spent making a dovetail alignment board and almost all managed to get through to glue up which was impressive.

Monday 12 November 2012

Instrument Making Planes.

Kevin follows my blog and sent me these photos of some planes he has made.
My first impression was how sleek they looked but I wondered how comfortable they would be to use.
Then I realised how small they were and spotted the finger recesses which are clearly designed for one handed use. The blade top nestles in the palm of your hand, hence the rounded top.

 The plane above is made from maple and cocobolo with a fine home made Damascus blade.

The plane on the right (as well as the first shots) has snakewood sides and a boxwood centre.
If anyone else has had a go at their own planes it would be great to see them.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Workshop activity.

I've just finished a small batch of dovetail guides, it didn't seem very long since I did the last one!

My Kirjes pneumatic drum sander is a great little tool, I don't know how I managed shaping my planes without it. The only drawback is that the motor gets hot and needs to be left to cool every 20 minutes for another 20 minutes, not great when you're in the middle of a batch. So the answer was to buy another motor which was cheaper than I thought (£90), I  wish I'd done this ages ago.

I bought this Norris A5 on E Bay, the laquer was well scratched and there were plenty of paint spots but there was no damage and it had a good length original blade.

The front bun showed some fine figured rosewood, this one should come up well.

Another E Bay purchase was this Spiers panel plane for £136, a good buy. Apart from the cracked spur which I can easily repair from my stock of Rio Rosewood it was in nice order with the original (if short) Ward blade which gave a very fine mouth. This will be a great user plane.

 The front bun has a brass stud added by a previous owner, this is quite common and allows the blade to be retracted slightly if tapped with a hammer. This is a useful addition and has been nicely done, I won't be removing it.

Here is a very nice Slater shoulder plane which caught my eye. I bought it from
for £95 inc postage which I was pleased with. It had the original good length Marples iron with all parts stamped 0. The condition is very good with no damage but what really drew me to it was the use of the sap wood of the Rio Rosewood which looks stunning. Slater were considered budget planes in their day so the use of the sap was practical and the user presumably didn't mind as they were paying less for the plane.

My last purchase was 135 unused cast steel plane blades by Herring. They are about 100 years old and the steel is wonderful, although they are a bit rusty. I use these on my Mini Smoothers, that will keep me going for a while! I will post later on, showing my process for cleaning up and preparing these blades for use.