Tip of the day – How to cut down on your sharpening time

cheap-stanley

If you’ve read issue two of HANDWORK you’ll understand why it’s a pain to sharpen thick A2 and O1 irons. It’s a necessary evil, but one that can be slightly minimised though.

After re sawing a board you’re left with a rough surface and I can’t tell you how painful it is to put a freshly sharpened thick iron it.  So, by chance I happened to find a cheap Stanley in my shed.  I don’t know when I got it or how much I paid for it but it was there sitting in the bottom of my old toolbox in OK condition.

I cleaned it up and flattened the bottom and didn’t do anything else to it.  The iron sharpened in a jiffy because it’s thin.  I don’t do any finish planing with it, I use it just to take the roughness out and then finish the board off with the rest of my planes.

I still have to sharpen several times in a day, but prepping the board with this cheapy means I save on a couple of trips to the sharpening station.

 

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77 and still making planes by hand!

Maybe you’ve heard of him or maybe you haven’t. His name is Bill Carter an Englishman gentleman, 77 years old and still makes planes by hand.

He makes wooden planes of all sorts including miniature moulding planes and he also makes infill planes and once again all by hand.  No machinery used to cut the metal dovetails. A simple hacksaw, a blunt chisel and a file is all he needs to produce beautiful and very antique looking planes.

They’re not cheap though and I wouldn’t expect them to be, but as an investment if you could afford them they’re worth every penny.

On his website he shows how he makes them, a lot of great tips so worth a look.

After he’s  gone these planes will be worth 4 times the price and it will only increase in value.  It will be a sad day though as he’s probably the last tool maker who purely works by hand.

www.billcarterwoodworkingplanemaker.co.uk

Bahco Files

I just purchased a Bahco file set from workshopheaven.  I chose this set because it was cheaper to buy as a set than individually plus you get a tool roll with it with an additional two pockets to fit my other two files.

I usually avoid sets of any type as you don’t get what you want, but I was very lucky that they offered exactly what I wanted.

The set comprises:

  • 150mm Smooth Cut.  A high quality double-cut smooth hand file, made from alloyed high-carbon tool steel. 6″ (150mm) from shoulder to tip, 15.7mm wide, 4.0mm thick, with parallel sides, one safe edge and one single cut edge.
  • 150mm Engineering Second Cut Round.  A true rat tail file, straight for 1/3 of the toothed surface at 6mm diameter, and then gently tapered for the remaining two thirds, down to about 4mm diameter at the tip. Second cut toothing provides rapid material removal and, with care, a surface that requires little or no further finishing.
  • 150mm Engineering Second Cut Half Round. Possibly the most versatile file you will ever own, for flats, hollows and sneaking into corners, the perfect combination of efficient cutting and a clean finish.
  • 150mm Smooth Cut Feather Edge File.   Strictly speaking the Bahco ‘wasa’ feather edged file is designed for sharpening saws, but it is one of those tools for which you soon find a multitude of other uses. The combination of shallow profile and very fine teeth create a superb finish in places that other files cannot reach.

 

Each file is fitted with a wonderfully comfortable Holtzapffel pattern Walnut handle with solid brass ferule.

Free 6 pocket Canvas Tool Roll to keep your files clean and tidy, with room for a couple more.

What interested me was the feather edge file aka “wasa” what ever that means. The seller claims it’s designed to sharpen saws. What type of saws? It got my eye when I browsed through his website and am lucky it appeared in the set.  It looks interesting and I’m looking forward in seeing first hand as to how it performs.  It has very fine teeth and they claim it gives and unbelievably smooth finish.  I wonder?   The only file I forgot to add to the list was a square cut.  Oh well next time I suppose.

Files are really one of the most useful tools in the shop and not just for metal work.

bahco-file-set-01bahco-file-set-02bahco-file-set-03

It cost me with shipping around AU$85 (British pounds 52). I noticed PayPal currency converter isn’t correct or they choose to charge you more.  I took a gamble and used my card’s currency converter as they didn’t state how much it would be. Ironic isn’t it?  It paid off as I saved $5.

It’s a shame I cannot locate individual Bahco files in Australia.  Bahco files are as good as the old Nicholson’s once were.  Nicholson today produces rubbish.  I bought some over a year ago and not only didn’t they perform well, but blunted very quickly.  After Paul Sellers recommended Bahco I never looked backed since.

The sad state of many tool shops and probably this is a worldwide epidemic of the uneducated clueless salespeople, is that they don’t know the quality of the tools that their selling.  If they did, they wouldn’t stock Nicholson and therefore it would force Nicholson to improve their standards.  Clueless salespeople mislead clueless people and if a clued on person challenges them, then they’re ignored and brushed off to the side.

I could of kept my money within Australia but instead I was forced to go overseas. Financially it’s a loss for both, materialistically I got the best.  I will always buy the highest quality tool I can afford, and if I can’t afford it now then I will patiently save up for it and buy it when I can.  I will never settle for second best, those I leave for everyone else.

Trial & Error with Fish Glue

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This is going to be a very short post, but I want to share a finding with you.  I purchased 1 litre bottle of fish glue from Lee Valley.  The day it arrived was the day I put it to use.  The glue’s consistency is very thick, and I tried it as is on two moulding planes I made.  The results were poor.  It’s not that it’s not doing its job, that part is fine.  It held on strong and still holding strong, but it needs thinning prior to use.  I knew that all along but since I’ve had previous success with it with their tiny bottled version I didn’t think it would make any difference, but I was wrong.  Like any glue it should flow like maple syrup as they say, I’ve never actually seen maple syrup but I know what it should flow like as I use hide glue.

So, today I thinned it by eye, I can’t say exactly how many percentages you should thin it by, but it should flow off your brush or stick or whatever you’re using like maple syrup.  Not too thick and not too thin.The results immediately showed a remarkable improvement.  It flowed and spread easily with no lumps that caused the two pieces not to fully close.  Another words not show any gaps.  By adding water to any glue your taking away it’s strength, but to render it useless would be to add too much water.

Remember you have to add water to hide glue but only enough to take away the lumps. I’ve set the pieces aside to dry and will check it in the morning.  It’s spring here, and it’s slowly warming up so I’ll see if it’s still holding strong in a weeks time.  I don’t have any reason for it not too.

You may wonder why all the fuss with fish glue as I normally use hide glue.  Well, to be honest it’s sheer laziness on my part.  The part about preparing hide glue and heating it up, OK I have liquid hide glue as well and that too is a pain as I need to heat it up and keep it heated to 140° F (60°C).  It’s easier to use liquid hide than regular hide because it’s open time is longer.

With fish glue you use it in it’s cold state just like regular glue and if I’m confident in it’s holding abilities like I am with hide glue, then I’ll make the switch.  So far this glue hasn’t let me down but I need to use it for a while to be certain of all it’s pro’s and con’s.

Final Thoughts

Is all this fuss really necessary? White glue and yellow glue work fine.

I think the fuss is necessary if your building fine items that’s going to end up in some antique roadshow or shop in a hundred years time.  I glue all my clocks with hide glue and furniture I built prior to clocks I used regular glue.  None of it was reproduction antiques except for the hotel I built for.

You have to ask yourself.  Are you building furniture that it recyclable or furniture that is exquisite and made to last?

In this modern age of consumerism, women mostly like to replace their furniture every 24 months and many would like to replace it every six months if they could afford it.  So when you think about it; do you really think it’s going to end up in some antique shop or someone is going to bother themselves to repair it? No, it will end up at the city dump like most items.

Like I said earlier, unless your building something extraordinary like a secretary, highboy, fancy clocks or you do veneer work, all this unnecessary extra expenditure on glue pots and paying the ridiculously high costs of both fish and hide isn’t worth it. Rather invest your money into timber or a new tool or even some video or book where you will learn something that will benefit you in the long run than on these glues.

You know how much I love these glues and I won’t stop using them, but the truth is the truth and there’s no point in deluding yourselves to think otherwise.

Correction on wedge description

A few blog posts ago I mentioned Thomas Walker’s wedge design for the moulding plane and that was a slip of tongue as I was writing the first issue of the magazine and I was doing an article on Thomas Walker.  Thomas was a clock maker and not a plane maker.

What I meant to say is Thomas Mooney design, so I’ve adding this design in case you prefer to be more period of appropriate.

Please note for Metric users that all my drawings are imperial.  My tools are imperial and therefore I match my drawings to the tools I use.  I know metric is as simple as counting 1,2,3 but it is what it is.  If you really wanted too you could convert all the measurements yourselves.  In the machine world I guess it would matter and you may need to redraw everything in metric but in the hand tool we only use measurements as a guide and every other piece is measured against each other if that makes any sense.

WEDGE A4 Imperial

Free Plans for No.18 H&R

Today I spent the day correcting the half set of the Hollows and Rounds plans.  In later issues I will write a step by step on how to make these wonderful moulding planes.  Like anything the first time around you may find it a little difficult.  I highly recommend you practice first with some pine and start off with the round.  You don’t need a complete half set, but if you can afford the irons it sure is a fun project to do and you’ll save yourself a few thousand dollars in the process.  Even though if you calculate the time spent each plane will cost you the same as if you bought it new.

The plans are in PDF format so you can print them.

18 round A3 Imperial

18 hollow A3 Imperial