Sharpening in the “Bad Axe” Style

Anyone that truly works with hand tools knows the value in having sharp tools. Sharp tools minimises muscle fatigue and accidents that arise from frustration by unnecessarily over exerting yourself to get the work done. Handsaws are no different to planes, chisels, or any other hand tool. A mediocre sharpened saw works well, but super sharp saws like the ones from “Bad Axe” perform better than more modern manufactured saws. Admittedly, I have never tried a “Bad Axe” saw because I live in Australia, but I have read so many articles about its superiority and cutting speed that I have only imagined how fast it actually cuts until now. I have wished to pick Mark’s brain on what rake and fleam he uses that makes his saws so superior to the way other sawyers have sharpened their saws.

Today I found an old in FWW article on how to sharpen a saw on Mark’s website. I anxiously downloaded the article and read it slowly and carefully, making sure not to miss anything. When I finished, I was a little confused. I didn’t find any rake and fleam that he favours. In fact, it says to stick with the angle determined by the manufacturer. The only thing I got from the article was the stroke method he used. Medium, heavy, then a light finishing stroke he say’s. Making sure every tooth is of equal height and every gullet of equal depth. That’s it! That’s all he does. I pulled out my saw vice and a spare LN backsaw, which I intend to sell and sharpened it using Mark’s recommendation. Upon completion, I was surprised at how prickly the saw teeth felt. I put it to the test on some scrap pine and it just went through it like butter, then I tried some white oak which he recommended and it too sawed through effortlessly. I then pulled out my other backsaw sharpened by Lie Nielson and tried it sawing white oak with it, and it struggled. I had difficulties pushing it through the wood.. I nearly fell on my arse in awe of Mark’s expert sharpening technique. The rake and fleam I used was the manufacturer’s default of 15°. What I changed was the method of stroke as per Mark’s recommendation. Not only did it saw faster, but there was zero tear out on the back. Go figure that one out. I highly recommend you download this article, read it, and then give it a go. I guarantee you will never look, read or watch another saw sharpening video again.

One last note, use the recommended size files that Mark recommends. You can find other sized files on his website. Bad Axe Saw Sharpening Files by Friedrich Dick (badaxetoolworks.com) Take the time to read his articles, I’m sure you’ll agree them to be very informative.

Rely on yourself and stop relying on others

This post is ongoing from my previous post on glue failure. I mentioned to you that Titebond’s liquid hide glue has failed on a long grain to long grain joint. The glue never cured. As a test I placed a dab of glue on a piece of wood several days ago and it’s still very soft and sticky. This is enough evidence for me that this glue is old, despite what’s written on the bottle. Whether someone has done this unintentionally (human error) or to save on costs I don’t know and neither do I care. All I know is that they need to get their act together. I‘m still awaiting their reply and have accepted that it may never happen. The irony in it all is that if you speak to the salespeople at Carba Tec which is our local woodworking store, they try to steer you into using other Titebond products and pass off hide glue as an outdated weak glue that need not be used anymore. That’s the same thing the “tech” guy at Titebond on the phone said to me. It’s laughable and sad that we live in a day and age of total ignorance. This has been a wake up call for me to make an effort to pursue making my own version of liquid hide glue. Because in the end, making your own fresh batch is better than relying on the word of others

The same deal is with shellac, why people still buy Zinsser Shellac products bewilders me. They neither know how old the can is, nor how long it’s been sitting on their shelves. Products despite who sells it can sit on a shelf for many years and I know this to be a fact as I’ve seen it. A reputable paint store purchased one time only a batch of 100% Pure Tung Oil and Citrus solvents. I bought 5 years ago several bottles of Tung Oil and a couple of 4 litre cans of the Citrus solvents from this store. Recently I returned to the shop to get some more, and he looked it up on his computer and said this is the last batch we have, we will not be placing anymore orders as the last sale we had, was 5 years ago. I laughed, and said yeah that was me, so I bought what was left except for the one can I left on the shelf. I left it because I couldn’t afford it, as it is very expensive and not because I’m a prick. So the point being products can sit on shelves for many years and you’re none the wiser. The seller was honest about it and I have no qualms in buying this old stock as I know that this can never expire, but you cannot say the same about shellac and nor about hide glue.

If you have granules of hide glue and you keep them out of direct sunlight preferably in a cabinet, should and will last indefinitely, but as soon as you immerse it in water the breakdown process has begun.

You have up to three weeks max to use the glue before it goes off, unless you add preservatives in it after cooking the glue to keep it from going off a little while longer. Think about how they kept meat back in the day when refrigeration didn’t exist. They either ate it all within two days or they salted it and preserved it. So this is what I’m going to do from now on with my own liquid hide glue and I wish to share this ingredients with you. You too can make your own room temperature liquid hide glue that you know when it’s been made and when it will expire. Be warned though as experimentation is key to a successful outcome. It may take several weeks or months before you come up with the right dosage that you need for your everyday woodworking. Remember you’re not making large amounts to roll out for sale, you’re just making enough for yourself which is why you need to experiment and not rely on the measures left by others on the net. They worked out what will suit them and if your size needs are different then theirs, then you will need to work out what will suit you.

Canning/Pickling Salt

This is the same thing, just worded differently. Here In Australia they call it Pickling Salt. In the US, it’s Canning Salt. It’s also known as canned salt, rock salt, sodium chloride.

What is Canning Salt?

Canned salt is made from pure granulated salt. What sets it apart from other salts is that it does not contain any anti-caking ingredients or additives like iodine. These additional ingredients, which are found in common table salt, can make pickle brine cloudy or the colour of pickled vegetables black. Another standout feature of canned salt is its composition.

Where can I buy it?

If you live in the US, you can buy it in any supermarket. If you live in Australia, you must order it online. Here is where I’ve ordered mine from. Herbs and Spices Australia. The salt is made in Tasmania, which is where most of our timber comes from.

Can I make my own?

Yes you can, but it’s not worth it as it isn’t expensive to buy. However, if you still wish to make it, read below.

First, though, consider if you can correctly store this type of salt, as it shouldn’t be near any moisture when settling. Store the salt in a waterproof container that is airtight so that the ingredients don’t react with oxygen and change from a light colour to a darker shade.

Canning & pickling salt can be made by whirring kosher salt in a blender or spice grinder (or a handy-dandy coffee grinder used for grinding every kind of seed, bean, and grain that ISN’T coffee).

Take about a cup of kosher salt and run it through the grinder. Get it pretty fine, to make sure that it could dissolve adequately in the canning process. Then store it in a mason jar next to the boxes of kosher salt and bags of sea salt. In the end, you’ll get perfect canning and pickling salt.

How do I make my own Liquid Hide Glue?

As I said earlier in the post, experimentation is the key. It all boils down to how much you want to make. The steps below will be for the same size large bottle of Old Brown Glue 20fl.oz or 590ml. The trick is that most of us will not need that sized bottle, but instead will want that smaller version of 5fl.oz or 148ml.

This is what I’m looking at, which is why I said you need to experiment with the amount of salt needed for that small amount of glue. One way you could do it, is use the amount I will write below and pour it in several small bottles and give them away or possibly even sell them. But I’m looked at as a freak for working with hand tools and using hide glue, so I have no one to give it too and selling it may or may not work. One can never know without trying.

The methods below I will give you from three sources and it’s up to you which method you choose to follow:

Don Williams written by Christopher Schwarz:

To make a batch of liquid hide glue takes about three minutes of active work, according to Williams,but it’s three minutes spread over a 48-hour period. And you don’t need anything special in addition to the hide glue – except table salt.

To begin, you have to make hot hide glue. I’m sure if you have yet to purchase a glue pot (a special pot for making and reheating hot hide glue), you’re not of the mind to do so for this single purpose. You don’t have to. You can use an electric hot plate, a saucepan, a small glass jar and a small amount of hide glue flakes or pearls, along with salt.

Here are the steps:  The first day, mix two parts hide glue flakes with three parts water into the jar and let everything soak. The following morning, heat water in the saucepan to a temperature of 140º F (a thermometer helps with accuracy), add in one part salt to the jar then cook everything for about two hours. Next, immediately stick the cooked mixture into your refrigerator for the balance of the day (quick cooling is key).

On morning three, fire up the burner and cook the mixture for another two hours (Williams always cooks the glue twice). Once the batch cooks the second time, you have liquid hide glue.  Williams adds that he seldom makes more than a pint of glue at a time. He pours it into a plastic ketchup or mustard squeeze bottle for easy dispensing.

And here is the most interesting part of home-made liquid hide glue: The salt makes this product stay liquid at room temperature and salt preserves the glue so there is no spoil date – just as salt has done throughout time in salting meat.

Chris claims there’s no spoil date, I will shoot off an email to Don to confirm this.

Source two is someone I don’t know who has repeated Don’s idea and hasn’t added much to the subject. I still posted it for the sake of the pictures.

I used a 1/4 measure, so this means 1/4 salt, 2/4 hide glue granules, 3/4 water. This glue is 260# Bloom gram strength from Lee Valley Tools.

Mix the hide glue and water together. Leave out the salt, for now. Let the mix sit overnight. I put mine in a 1qt jar.

The next day, add the salt, then heat the jar of goop in the glue pot of your choice at 140°-150° for 2 hours. I use a $10 dollar Crock Pot that I bought at Walmart. The “warm” setting is perfect for hot hide glue.

After 2 hours, put the mix in the refrigerator overnight (Important!). Evidently the quick cooling is key, because up till now, this is what I had always done and it hadn’t made a big difference.

The next day my mix looked like meat jello, same as always. But hang in there. Heat the goop for another 2 hours at 140°-150°. This time is for real. Liquid hide glue! 

Room temp success. The salt will act as a preservative, too. I would normally make a much smaller batch, but I’ve got some bigger projects in the works and expect to use this reasonably quick.  Here is the link should you wish to see other stuff he wrote. My Peculiar Nature

Third and final one is from Mortise and Tenon

There you can see the link to their website.

So there you have it and my last word on how to mix the stuff, but not my last word on whether I have successfully made a no expiry date strong liquid hide glue. More on my findings soon. Good luck to those who will venture out on this journey with me.

Liberate yourselves from the dependency on large multi-million dollar companies, who regard you as insignificant whether or not you buy from them.

Last minute addition

To help those decipher the above US mix ratio from Mortise and tenon, I will convert it for us under the commonwealth and we all use the same measurements:

1/2 Cup hide glue granules=118.3g

1/2 Cup Water = 118.3ml

2 tsp pickling salt = 11.8g

140°F = 60°C

I would suggest following Don Williams method of first mixing the granules and water ratio provided but leaving the salt out. Once the granules soak up the water and turns into a gelatinous state, heat up the stove and water to 60°C. Add 11.8g of pickling salt and begin cooking the glue for 2 hours. Refrigerate it overnight, then the next morning cook the glue again for another 2 hours and you have liquid hide glue.

Fixing an out of true chuck

Trying to drill a hole accurately with a wobbly bit is a pain in the backside. This pain I lived with for several months until I figured out what was wrong. When I bought this eggbeater, I never had such issues, but since I dismantled the chuck for cleaning several months back, I noticed the wobble started.

I will go through the steps I have taken to find a solution. You can also follow these steps when you’re next at flea markets before buying a hand drill. You don’t want lemons because these hand drills aren’t cheap anymore.

The first thing I checked was the bit. I laid it flat on my table and rolled it. There were no irregularities, for good measure I placed it in my drill press and it was fine. So, I crossed that off the list.

Open and close the jaws in the chuck and watch if the jaws open and close evenly together. If not, get a new chuck.

Next unscrew the chuck completely off the threaded shaft and inspect the shaft. Crank the drill and eyeball shaft carefully. Your eyes will pick up any irregularities if the shaft is bent. You’ don’t need any expensive gizmos for this.

Threaded shaft must run true and straight

Next pop out the jaws and inspect the flat milled back that holds the bit. This must be clean, undamaged, and milled perfectly flat. It is highly unlikely that it isn’t perfectly flat, so inspections by eye are close enough. There can’t be any dings.

By now I was frustrated and I mean really frustrated. I checked everything I could check, and they all passed with flying colours, but did I. There was one last thing I didn’t notice when I put the darn thing back together again. Since I don’t know the part name, the two pictures will give a better picture of what I’m referring too.

Incorrectly seated
Correctly seated

That’s right folks, that part that I’m pointing too was flipped the wrong way round. The bit rests in the cylindrical depression you see in the middle, which aids in keeping the bit centred (centered for the yanks) coupled with the jaws holding the bit in place. These two combined aid the drill bit from wobbling whilst drilling. Amazing, isn’t it? Something that’s so easy to miss can lead to months and months of frustration and hair loss.

Sandpaper

By fix it club

Most do-it-yourselfers still refer to various grades of “sandpaper,” but the proper term for these sanding sheets is “coated abrasives.” There are four factors to consider when selecting any coated abrasive: the abrasive mineral, or which type of rough material; the grade, or the coarseness or fineness of the mineral; the backing (paper or cloth); and the coating, or the nature and extent of the mineral on the surface.
Sandpaper
Sandpaper can be held in the hand or wrapped around a sanding block.
Paper backing for coated abrasives comes in four weights: A, C, D, and E. A (also referred to as “Finishing”) is the lightest weight and is designed for light sanding work. C and D (also called “Cabinet”) are for heavier work, while E is for the toughest jobs. The coating can be either open or closed. Open coated means the grains are spaced to only cover a portion of the surface. An open-coated abrasive is best used on gummy or soft woods, soft metals, or on painted surfaces. Closed coated means the abrasive covers the entire area. They provide maximum cutting, but they also clog faster and are best used on hardwoods and metals.

There are three popular ways to grade coated abrasives. Simplified markings (coarse, medium, fine, very fine, etc.) provide a general description of the grade. The grit refers to the number of mineral grains that, when set end to end, equal 1 inch. The commonly used O symbols are more or less arbitrary. The coarsest grading under this system is 4 1/2, and the finest is 10/0, or 0000000000.

The following chart contains information on sandpaper types and uses.

GritNumberGradeCoatingCommon Uses
Very coarse30
36
2 1/2
2
F,G,S
F,G,S
Rust removal on rough-finished metal.
Coarse40
50
60
11/2
1
1/2
F,G,S
F,G,S
F,G,A,S
Rough sanding of wood; paint removal.
Medium80
100
120
0(1/0)
00(2/0)
3/0
F,G,A,S
F,G,A,S
F,G,A,S
General wood sanding; plaster smoothing; preliminary smoothing of previously painted surface.
Fine150
180
4/0
5/0
F,G,A,S
F,G,A,S
Final sanding of bare wood or previously painting surface.
Very fine220
240
280
6/0
7/0
8/0
F,G,A,S
FAS
FAS
Light sanding between finish coats; dry sanding.
Extra fine320
360
600
9/0

_2
_2
FAS

S
S
High finish on lacquer, varnish, or shellac; wet sanding.
High-satinized finishes; wet sanding.
SELECTING SANDPAPER

1 F = flint; G = garnet; A = aluminium oxide; S = silicon carbide. Silicon carbide is used dry or wet, with water or oil.
2 No grade designation.


My Thoughts

There are higher grits of course that I have seen up to 7000. They possibly go even higher however, the likelihood that you will ruin your timber is high. From experience, the coloured high grit sandpaper above 2000 will burn its colour onto the wood when using a lathe. Even if you sand with a very light touch, it still occurs. The same cannot be said for grey coloured sandpaper. The 3M 3000 grit foam is an excellent choice for sanding the final coat.

3000 Grit

It’s fine to use on a high-speed lathe, but don’t expect to leave enough grit for second rounds. Hand sanding is fine. I have successfully reused this paper at least 15 times before I had to discard it.

The other one is their next grit size up the 5000 grit.


The colour of this is blue and without a doubt will leave its colour embedded on the wood if used on a lathe. The same will apply even if applied by hand. If you concentrate too much on a particular area, the heat will build up quickly and melt the paper onto the wood. This is extreme, but I have done it. Using this paper will aid in burnishing. The cost of 3M paper is ridiculously expensive, and I do not understand how they can justify it. I don’t know of any other company who makes foam pads of this type.

If you wish to burnish your project you must be made aware that irrespective of how small and insignificant the mark on your work is, it will be highlighted significantly when burnished. Just like all marks are highlighted by the stain when staining, so will any damage be highlighted on burnished timber.

Here Is the Proof

I mentioned earlier that shellac will harden (fully cure) within 10-13 days before the product can be shipped. Some expressed scepticism, whilst others shrugged it off as mere fictitious jargon, but here is the proof.

Whilst this is thankfully only a sample piece for an upcoming project, I am grateful it happened so I can help you not make the mistake I did so long ago. You may wonder what caused this, well, I placed it in my vice not clamping hard at all to plane the edges. I wanted to figure out just how to French polish small pieces as I intend to do so on small jewellery boxes.

Why shellac when there are so many cheaper and faster alternatives? Because no other finish in my opinion can give me the clarity, depth and glass like finish that shellac can and oh almost forgot; longevity. Museums are full of antiques coated with shellac that still don’t need re-coating. Shellac has stood the tests of time whilst modern day products such as lacquer and polyurethane will never outbid shellac, neither in longevity and most definitely in appearance. I understand that there is a need for modern finishes as they come with many benefits such as ease of application, shorter drying times, ready to go out of the can etc, but shellac will always be my most go to finish. It doesn’t mean I don’t use other finishes it means that I use shellac more often than not.

100 year old Process for the Ebonising of Wood

By H. C. Standage

Boil 1 pound of logwood chips 1 hour in 2 quarts of water. Brush the hot liquor over the work and lay it aside to dry. When dry, give another coat, still using hot. When the second coat is dry, brush the following liquor over the work: 1 oz. of green copperas to 1 quart of water, to be used when the copperas is all dissolved. For staining, the work must not be dried before the fire, but in the sunshine. If in a warm room then away from the fire.

Polishing the Work

To polish this work, first give a coating of very fine glue size, and when dry smooth off very lightly with No. 180 paper, only just enough to render smooth, but not to remove the black stain. Then make a rubber of wadding about the size of a walnut, moisten the rubber with French polish, cover the whole tightly with a linen rag, put one drop of oil on the surface and rub the work with a circular motion. When the work has received one coat, set it aside to dry for about an hour. After the first coat is laid on and thoroughly dry, it should be partly papered off with No. 180 paper. This brings the surface even and at the same time fills up the grain. Now give a second coat as before. Allow 24 hours to elapse, again smooth off and give a final coat as before. Now comes spiriting off; great care must be used here, or the work will be dull instead of bright. A clean rubber must be made as previously described, but instead of being moistened with polish, must be wetted with 90 per cent alcohol, placed in a linen rag screwed into a tight even-surface ball, just touched on the face with a drop of oil, and then rubbed lightly and quickly in circular sweeps all over the work, from top to bottom. For the fine ebony black stain, apple, pear and hazel woods are the best wood: to use. When stained black they are the most complete imitations of the natural ebony. For the stain take gall-apple 14 oz., rasped logwood 3 1/2 oz., vitriol 3 1/4 oz. For the second coating a mixture of iron filings 3 oz. dissolved in strong wine vinegar 1 1/2 pints is warmed, and when cool, the wood already blackened, is coated with it 2 or 3 times, allowing it to dry after each coating. A strong lye is now put into a suitable pot to which is added coarsely bruised gall-apples and blue Brazil shavings, and exposed for the same as the former to the gentle heat of an oven which will yield a good liquid.

Staining the Woods

The woods are now laid in the first named stain, boiled for a few hours, and left in it for 3 days. They are then placed in the second stain and treated as in the first. If the articles are not thoroughly saturated, they must be once more placed in the first bath and then in the second. The polish used for wood: that is stained black should be white (colourless), to which a little finely ground Prussian blue should be added.

How to Replace a Battery Powered Movement

I’ve had this clock for a while that my daughter bought for my birthday some years ago. The movement died and since I have many movements left from my previous clock making days; I thought it would be a great opportunity to demonstrate on how to replace a battery powered movement.

Remove pin

This is the pin that holds the hands on the movement. Not all clocks have pins some are nuts (open and closed). Pull this out with your fingers to remove the hands.

Remove nut

This is the nut that holds the movement on the face. It is only finger tight. Unscrew the nut and pop the movement out.

Movement

The movement I’m replacing is a cheap Chinese-made movement. They cost around 0.30cents to buy in bulk from alibaba and only last about 3 years. They are good if you want to build a reputation for producing rubbish. For battery powered movements you need to buy the best there is, and Takane movements are it. They are made in the USA and come with a warranty of 10 years, even though they can last longer than that. They cost around $22 each, which is significantly higher than the Chinese model, but you get what you pay for.

Insert the shaft through the hole, replace the washer and screw on the nut using finger tight pressure only.

The plastic shaft on the movement which holds the hour hand isn’t the same diameter as the hole in the hour hand, I have to make some adjustments to reduce its diameter. I will hammer the outer walls of the hole inwards.

Hammer the outer wall of the hole inwards to reduce its diameter.

Reinsert the hands and screw on the nut. Discard the pin that came with the previous movement.

I discarded the metal hands altogether and make some new ones from wood I had left over from the jewellery box project I made for my niece.

Have you ever wondered why many clocks for sale read 1:50? It’s an old psychological trick that sellers still use to make their clocks seem more attractive. It’s a smile and meant to make you feel good when you look at the clock in the shop’s window. You’ll never see a clock reading 8:20 as that represents a frowning face.