The Art of “Salting” Oak

The American public at large is familiar with the phrase and the practice of salting a mine. This method of deception practiced upon the “tenderfoot” was and still is a favourite one with a promotor who wishes to get good money for a worthless mine.

The reader will not have to entirely revise his conception of salting mines to understand the term “salting” as applied to oak. When common oak three inches or more in thickness is piled with strips a rapid shrinkage is liable to take place which will form deep cracks along the silver or medullary rays. Rains and other conditions introduce dust and dirt into these cracks, thus seriously injuring the stock. The lumberman soon finds that he has a worthless pile of lumber on hand. The cracks from the opposite side will often pass each other so that if the material is resawed the boards will literally fall to pieces.

To get the lumber in condition so that someone will buy it the unscrupulous lumber dealer sometimes resorts to salting. This is accomplished by taking down the lumber pile, removing the strips and sprinkling fine salt over the surfaces of the stock. The lumber is then replied without strips. The salt being slightly deliquescent, draws sufficient moisture to cause surface swelling which closes the cracks on the outside of the lumber, making it appear firm. The presence of the salt prevents the fungi growth which causes dry-rot, and thus makes it possible to leave the stock piled solid for some time.

Even an expert dealer in lumber may be completely deceived by the surface appearance of lumber which has been treated in this way. The only way to detect it is the rule employed for detecting a bad egg, that is, look to the inside, which necessitates the sawing of some of the pieces in two in the middle and planing or smoothing of the exposed surface. Simply sawing with the handsaw may not be enough. The rough surface exposed may not show the conditions plainly enough to be detected.

We know of one case in which from 15.000 feet of 3-inch oak which had been salted only 1000 feet could be used. The rest was good for absolutely nothing but firewood. That is what it was used for; though the buyer paid for the material, which was claimed to have been air-seasoned for five years.

New angles on tool sharpening

Article from CPT 17 June 2019

Here’s a better way to hold tools securely while you’re grinding them—and take the guesswork out of creating the right bevel angle. It’s a short piece of 2×4 with an angled end and a 1-1/4-in. hole for a clamp. We made one for chisels and plane blades, and a few more with different angles for wood-turning tools. Large labels with the tool’s name tell you which blocks are for which tools.

For a Delta grinder with a 6-in.-diameter wheel, a 5-1/2-in.-long piece of 2×4 aligns the tool to the wheel just right. For other grinders you may need to adjust this length.

Note: The angle you cut on the block is not the same as the tool’s bevel angle. To determine the block angle, turn off the grinder and hold the tool’s bevel flush against the wheel. The angle of the tool shaft to the workbench is the angle to cut on the 2×4.



This beautiful deluxe version of our popular Ultimate hand brace has a smooth black gunmetal finish shaft which looks striking against the solid brass elements and the fine grained Kotibe wood handles.

These superb quality hand braces will accept both brace shanked and hexagonal machine shanked augers (square shanks engage a square hole behind the chuck and the jaws reach around to grab the shank).

A three position ratchet mechanism allows the brace to be used in situations where there isn’t space available to swing the crank through a full revolution (also handy when using it with sockets or screwdriver bits).

Length 360mm (14″)

Throw 120mm (4-3/4″)

Jaw Capacity 3.5mm to 16mm.

Not suitable for very short shanked spoon bits.

I’m not an advocate for the above business nor do they sponsor me etc, etc, etc. 

I am posting this link because it is so awesome to see quality hand tools coming back on the market and beautiful ones too. We, the hand tool users have created a market for hand tools to be manufactured again.  As the price of some antique tools are costing more than the price of a new one,and, most times are not any better than a new one,  it makes sense to buy new over used. Just a thought.

Titebond Liquid Hide Glue

Two years ago I wrote unfavourably about titebond’s liquid hide glue and I believe I committed a grave injustice to what appears to be a good glue after all.

I was making a clock and used titebond LH and left it overnight to dry. The next morning I took the clamps off and the clock fell apart; glue failure as you’ve never seen it. I haven’t used it since up until today. I’ve been either cooking my own batch or most of the time used OBG Old (Brown Glue) by Patrick Edwards. It’s really good glue but expensive especially when you add shipping. For the large bottle it would cost me $60 with shipping. So today I thought enough is enough and gave old titebond another go. In between jobs I ran home, glued a small moulding strip to some off cut and left it to dry. Four hours later I came home to check on it and the glue was dry as a bone and held the piece of moulding solid on the off cut. It dawned on me that when the glue failed back then, it must of been well out of date. This one was produced in June of this year so I have about six months shelf life left. It’s obviously not their biggest seller from where I bought it and how can it be when their sales people try to turn people away from it. Ironic isn’t it?

If you’re looking for an expiration date on the bottle you’ll find it but it looks like it’s encoded. According to Titebond the codes were changed in 2009 to the following:

“The first digit represents A for America (made in), the second digit is the last digit of the year of manufacture, the third and fourth digits represents the month, the fifth and sixth digits represents the day of the month, and the last four digits represent the lot number.

Example: A904270023 – This material was manufactured on April 27, 2009

I’m not sure which year I first used it titebond LH, but I remember not checking the expiration date because I naively trusted the company I bought it from.

It cost me $15 not $60 and works just great, even sands beautifully. No heating, no fuss but then again it is summer in Oz and the heat is really on.

In the end, if push comes to shove I can always make my own batch.


Some Varnish Troubles

When you receive a can of varnish from the store or maker, as the case may be, do not shake it up but handle carefully and set away in a dry and warm place until wanted for use. It is not generally known that this shaking up of varnish will cause some trouble from pitting due to the air being shaken and taken up by the varnish. The remedy in such a case is to take the stopper out and let the can stand in a clean, dust free place until the air and gas escapes and the varnish settles to normal condition.

Creeping is caused by several things, but one cause is generally overlooked or not thought of at all, namely, that when a job is done and allowed to dry overnight, the shop may become much cooler in the meantime and so cause the creeping from chilling.

Silkiness I have not yet alluded to. It may be caused by the shrinking of the wood. Adding thinners to varnish will cause it. This is particularly the case when the work is subjected to a strong sunlight. The silky appearance is due to a vast number of extremely fine lines lying very close together, and which may become larger and wider later on. These cracks you will find are sharp and clear cut, crossing the work in all directions. Cracking itself is often caused by applying a quick drying varnish over a slower one, or vice versa.

A Complaint and a Conversion

Speaking of complaints—a man called at the Disston Saw Works, Philadelphia, sometime ago. He carried a Disston handsaw and seemed very much aggrieved and complained bitterly about their sending out such a saw as the one he had. “Why,” he said, “It will not cut wood. In fact, it will not cut anything.” This struck the Disston folks as being rather curious, for in seventy years of saw making millions of thoroughly reliable saws have been made and sold by them. Upon examining the saw, however, the cause of the difficulty was readily apparent.

The Disston representative casually asked the visitor if he thought the saw would cut iron. “No, of course it won’t,” said the visitor and he was very emphatic about the opinion. Asked if he could wait a few minutes, he said he would.

Disston’s man took the saw out in the shop and had it specially filed to cut iron notice the specially filed part brought the same saw back, took the visitor to the machine-shop, got a piece of iron bar about two inches in diameter, placed it in a vise, tightened it up, put the saw to work and in short order neatly sawed the bar in twain without any trouble what- ever, and the teeth were still in fair condition.

The visitor was utterly amazed. “Well,” said he, “I wouldn’t have believed it.” After an explanation of the trouble simply a matter of the condition of the teeth in the saw he asked: “Can you put it in proper condition for sawing wood?”


“Well, do it and I will never complain about a Disston saw again.”

The majority of users do not know or they give little thought to the fact that to obtain the best results in any particular class of work the saw must be specially toothed and filed for the sawing to be done.

Years of experimenting have determined just what shape or space, angle and bevel should be given to the teeth, as well as the amount of set best suited for this or that class of sawing: that the tooth best adapted for sawing softwoods is not at all suitable for cutting hardwoods.

Of course, the work could be done after a fashion, but the result would not be as good as that obtained by the use of a saw properly toothed for its particular purpose. You can take a rip-saw and cross-cut with it, but note the difficulty.

In line with this circumstance it may be noted that even a saw blade made for cutting soft metals is not at all adapted for sawing the harder metals, nor will a saw made for sawing wood stand the work of cutting a combination of wood and metal without injury to the points of the teeth, thereby spoiling it for further use in making a clean, sweet cut in wood.

A saw that is “fitted up” for sawing wood has the teeth filed with a bevel back and front, given a proper set, enabling it to do fast cutting. A hand saw for sawing metal has no set on the teeth but is ground for clearance and filed straight across the front of the tooth, while to a limited extent it would cut wood but not in the manner that a mechanic desires.

In other words, it is not adapted for wood cutting and its temper also is different from that of a wood cutting saw.

It is for these very reasons that various patterns of saws are made and specially toothed for the different kinds of work. Experience in this line is the best teacher. Take a saw fitted up for sawing wood, try it on a piece of metal. No matter what kind of a saw it may be, or whose make, it positively will not do as good work afterwards in sawing wood without being refitted for its purpose.