Wednesday 30 January 2013

Electric or Pedal Power?

A good customer kindly sent me 50 old woodworking magazines he had acquired.  They dated from 1924 through to 1939 and cost sixpence at the beginning and sixpence at the end. I wish we had that sort of price stability now. The last issue in September 1939 was a bit thin and I'm guessing with the outbreak of the second world war this was the last issue for a while, maybe things weren't so good after all.
I've only had a chance to flick through them but they are fascinating.

This advert was in every issue in different forms and was for a treadle operated circular saw and universal machine. I can't imagine how well this would have worked but it claimed to cut 5" thick timber with a 15" blade, that must have taken some pretty hard pedalling!
It also must have required some care pushing the wood through at the same time

One of the adverts offered 10% discount for cash, those were the days!

In this advert things had moved with the inclusion of an electric motor. However it only plugged into a light socket, I think I would have preferred to keep pedalling and keep the light on!

The next advancement was this belt driven jigsaw with a separate motor available as as an optional extra. It was available as a ceiling suspended motor, was this more efficient?

At last by the 1936 edition appeared a fully fledged electric table saw, made in the US, where else?
It was interesting to note that this machine came as standard with a splitter and blade guard, which firms in the US are only just coming to terms with now.

Wooden moulding planes were still being advertised more than the metal ones right up to 1939.
Maybe those old wooden planes you've found in granddads attic aren't as old as you thought they were.

This advert shows a happy woodworker making shavings with his GLT plane.
They took liberties with their advertising in those days as well, these planes were crap and I can't imagine the pipe smoking helped!

Old screw boxes are rare, especially in good condition. The 2" size here cost 44 shillings, just over £2 ($3.00) in today's money. The 2 1/2" screw box I use for the vices for my benches came from Germany and cost nearly £1,000 ($1,500), how things change.

Monday 28 January 2013

More Customer planes!

 It seems plane making is a popular pastime! This is a small planes which look very comfortable with a nicely rounded iron and a well thought out front grip.

It has spalted beech sides and what looks like a rosewood centre and possibly a brass sole?
I like the the blade holding method with the lever cap applying pressure low down on the blade, It also looks good.
The Damascus blade looks very nice.

 This one looks like plain beech and rosewood with an old cast steel blade. I'm not sure of the need for the brass pins which may also protrude over time as the wood shrinks a little. Apparently both planes work very well and he is thinking of producing them for sale. I can put you in touch if anyone is interested.
The first plane gets my vote, the short thick iron and nice front grip look more comfortable to use and it's more stylish. Well done Kevin!

Saturday 26 January 2013

Try Making This Joint!

Another visit to the David Stanley tool auction. I was shown this miniature joint by one of the friendly stall holders. He believed it to be a joint used in stair building and it was reminiscent of the complicated Japanese joints I've seen in books.

 Here is a shot of the end profile and below the assembled joint.

It was found in this small case of miniature planes and was presumably to demonstrate his skill and workmanship to prospective clients.

I bought a few planes at the auction (well you have to justify the trip!) and this was the nicest. It is a user made plane from around 1900 with a cast gunmetal body and a mahogany infill and wedge.
The style of the body was Spiers and the elongated rounded wedge is reminiscent of George Miller and  is very comfortable to hold.

The really nice feature is the perfectly tented infill profile which carries on into the wedge. The casting was obviously made to take this profile .

The lovely shaping is carried on round the front bun, a quality piece in great condition.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

More Favourite Planes.

As my last post on favourite planes was popular, here's some more! Above is a beautifully shaped Norris No2 which dates from around 1900 -1910. It has an open handle which is very comfortable particularly for the larger hands of today's woodworkers as well as a pretty saricens head screw and original Ward iron.
This pre dates the adjuster mechanism which made Norris's name but comes from an era where makers were trying to outdo each other on quality not price, and it shows. The mouth is a tight as a gnats whisker!

Here is another under rated Norris an, A50. These were half the price of the A5 when new and that is still the case now. As a user plane the iron sits on the metal casting instead of the wooden infill which gives a more reliable support for the blade. This plane was made during the first world war and has a Hearnshaw blade which most unusually is stamped Norris London on the rear. In times of shortage it is highly probable this is the original blade. It has a larger than normal handle and is very comfortable.

I showed this little HNT Gordon plane in a group shot on a recent post. With the blade at a steep 60 degrees it is great for planing small areas of nasty grain, although it hasn't had much use, I couldn't resist buying it just for that wonderful Rio Rosewood.

Here's my favourite Bill Carter plane a 1 1/2" thumb plane with boxwood infill, this gets a lot of use and is a real pleasure to use. When I bought it there was no front bun which I believe was copying an old Mathieson or Spiers model so I added a boxwood infill which I aged using Bill's techniques (see his website). Bill wasn't too pleased I had adapted one of his planes but I don't think I've done a bad job and it helped me to appreciate the work involved in over stuffing an infill (I don't think he really minded!)
Below is my Holtey No 10, this handles wood no other plane can touch, it's a real understated beauty.

Monday 21 January 2013

My Favourite Planes.

Here's a little cracker from Bridge City model HP 5. It's a bevel up plane with the blade bedded at 25 degrees (or somewhere close!). It has an adjustable blade and an adjustable mouth and feels just right in the hand. It is much better and heavier than the lower angle HP 3. I've owned a dozen or more Bridge City tools in the past and this is the only one I still possess. No apologies for the condition it gets well used. This model is no longer available new if you ever see one on E Bay, buy it!!

The plane below is a very early one made by me, long before I thought about making them commercially. The wedge is held by lugs in the traditional way which is not as firm as the rocking bridge combined with a curved wedge, but this still works well enough.
 It has a very tight mouth and a dovetailed brass abutment similar to the Gordon planes (see recent post). The 1/4" iron is bedded at 57 degrees and there's not much this can't handle.                            The wood is Santos Rosewood well known as being very nasty and I can vouch for that. This plane brought me out in a bad facial rash that took a month to clear, this is the last thing I made from it. I have to handle Cocobolo carefully but this stuff is in a different league.

The cute little plane below is Dutch and perhaps the one I use the most.
 The mouth is positively gaping.                Have you guessed yet??

Saturday 19 January 2013

Snowed in!

We don't get much snow here on the South coast , but we woke up to this on Friday morning. It was gridlock on the roads and our long weekend in London had to be postponed. That's my workshop with the white roof, at 500 ft square it's not big but it's well insulated and easy to keep warm.

I thought January would quieten down with orders, but not so far. These parcels are ready to post on Monday.

I've been working on another small batch of dovetail guides, I can't let these run out of stock!

Thursday 17 January 2013

Zebrano Scraper Plane.

I recently did an article for F&C magazine on the making of my scraper plane. I supplied the 2" blade to a customer who did a fine job on reproducing the plane in Zebrano with a wedge and cross pin in Jarrah. If you look carefully you can see thin strips of rosewood glued in-between the laminated sides, a nice touch. Well done Phil.
I remember Alan Peters advising a young Jeremy Broun 'if you can't hide it, make a feature of it', great advice.

Here is Joe's first attempt with my dovetail guide and he's done a fine job with this chunky little box.
Keep the photos coming!

Tuesday 15 January 2013

HNT Gordon Inset Vice and Other Tools.

 I recently ordered this inset tail vice from HNT Gordon in Australia. I don't have much use for a tail vice with the way I work but it is one of those things that is useful to have. If I used one more I would invest the money (and time fitting) in one of the lovely tail vices from Bench Crafted or Richard McGuire. Inset vices are much cheaper and easier to install. I don't which bench I'm going to fit it to yet or it may go into a bench yet to be made.

The brass dog is a beautiful fit gliding down on a cushion of air.

The handle is spun with the palm of your hand and is solid and very well machined. It is captured so that it doesn't extend outwards as it is retracted unlike the Veritas version. It also moves much faster.

The main shaft is circular, fits without any play and runs smoothly. This is a better shape to resist the pressures the vice will exert over time.

Here is the Veritas drop in version which can be used anywhere you have a 3/4" hole, it is fiddly to use and slow so I have hardly used it.

I also ordered this lovely little round soled spokeshave with handles in raindrop blackwood. It is ideal for delicate shaping work in tight corners. You can see the size of it compared to a full sized Gordon shave below.

I really like Gordon tools, they have much higher angles at 55 to 60 degrees which makes them harder to use but great where you need to avoid tearout. The blades are very hard at Rc 62 - 64 and take a wonderful edge. The wood is beautifully finished especially on the premium versions which use fine, rare timbers.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Antique Plane Blades for Mini Smoother

I recently bought 135 cast steel plane blades from G&M Tools at Ashington. That will keep me in blades for my mini smoothers for a while!
They are about 100 years old but were all unused, an extreme example of new old stock.

All were stamped Isaac Greaves and they are 1 1/4" wide.

Most had a good portion of surface rust.

My belt linisher made short work of removing the rust as well as flattening the back. This needs great care as it is so easy to round the edge of the back which would be disastrous. It helps that the blade is long at this stage.

Here's my old cast iron linisher, they don't make them like they used to!

The hard cast steel was laminated to softer unhardened steel which is handy as the unwanted upper part of the blade can be easily cut off with a hack saw.

The top is than rounded on the disc sander and all the edges softened. The whole process from rusty blade to the picture above takes about 4 minutes so overall they work out much cheaper than having them specially made. It is great to finally put these superb blades to good use 100 years after they were made.