A Better Way to Sharpen

For years, I have been trying to find a better way to sharpen my blades, and for a time I thought I did until I came across another video of the late David Charlesworth. It wasn’t a video on sharpening at all, but he happened to be sharpening at the time, and I was puzzled with his method of sharpening. With a few strokes he got a burr and then a few more strokes on the polishing stone, and he was done. I was beyond irritated by how quickly he was able to sharpen his blades. I left it alone as it was doing my head in and a year later it popped up again, and this time I was determined to find out how he did it.

I noticed in the video I was watching he mentioned something about the default bevel angle off 25°, Stanley grinds their tools too. So I ground my bevel to 25° and the secondary bevel to 30°, and true enough, I solved the mystery. With only a few strokes, I was able to get a razor edge, much to the same level of sharpness as I did after stropping. This was an eye-opener to me.

I’ve always ground my bevels to 30° then applied a secondary bevel of 33°, after which I stropped. However, applying a higher secondary bevel to a 25° primary bevel seems to get it even sharper, and after stropping it’s several levels above a razor.

After saying all that, let me ruin it all by adding this. I only experienced this level of sharpness after I ground the bevel to a hollow grind on my grinder. As I could not grind my LN chisels because they weren’t long enough, I honed a 25° primary bevel and then applied the secondary bevel of 30°. I cannot say if there was a difference in the amount of sharpness between the two. Since purchasing the low speed grinder, I’ve always hollow ground my plane blades to 30°, so I also cannot say that the hollow grind using a higher angle of 30° has anything to do with it as well either. However, what I can say is that the hollow grind at a lower angle of 25° has everything to do with it.

So there you have it. A hollow grind of 25° primary bevel with an added micro secondary bevel of 30° and above will give you a strong and razor edge with only a few strokes on your stones, therefore saving you unnecessary wear. You may end up owning two 1000 grit and one 8000 grit for the rest of your life with this method. That’s a huge saving.

Mitre Shooting Board

This is merely one of many different varieties of mitre shooting boards. This morning I realised I went a little far with the quantity of shellac layers. It’s a one-pound cut with four coats. I’m thinking three coats on the next one. I’m planning to construct another shooting board that is completely different from this one because it is the one I’ll be using the most. I know I’ll use it primarily since I already have one made of lousy MDF. MDF is more stable than quarter sawn, however it does not look as nice as real wood. I would not have used it if I had known it would not stay flat. I planed both sides of a tiny cup and coated both sides. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t since I have work to do.

Don’t let the opinions of others prevent you from being inspired. Having lovely shop cabinets or storage units for your sandpaper, screws, nails, or whatever is not a sign that you are not busy and hence have too much free time. It indicates that you are passionate about what you do and how you do it. It should serve as motivation for you to raise the bar every time you step into your shop. It should motivate you to take pride in your work, your tools, and your craft. Having beautiful things that you made for your shop will always have a positive psychological impact on you.

Ramped Shooting Board

II created a new type of shooting board called “A Ramp Shooting Board,” which isn’t a new concept at all, but one that I felt was needed in my daily work. The idea behind this ramped board is that it will use 90% of the blade as opposed to 1/4″ or 10%. As I previously stated, this is not a new thing, and don’t let people convince you otherwise. The concept was first proposed in the 18th century, although few were built. In the late nineteenth century, craftsmen asked the same question as they did in the 18th century: how to use more of the blade while shooting and took an already existing design “the ramp” version.  However, not many were constructed. It is entirely up to you how many degrees it should be ramped. The greater the angle, the thinner the board you can shoot, and the lower the angle, the thicker the board you can shoot. I chose a happy medium of about 3 or 4°, but I can’t remember which one. I can’t shoot more than an inch and a quarter.

I was filming a video about it, but because it was taking so long, I had to turn the camera off. Now I’m working on another new shooting board, this time a flat one for materials up to 2″ thick. Anything thicker than that must be done by hand. When it’s finished, I’ll upload pictures.

While the edge glue on my new shooting board was drying, I decided to clean and polish some of my planes. After removing some of the rust and patina from the bronze, I lightly covered it with some blonde shellac. I’m hoping that this will keep the metal from rusting and the bronze from fading. Some people want patina, whereas I favour gloss. I know I could have done a better job, and I plan to perform a show room restoration one of these days or months.

The last six pictures are when I did do a proper restoration.

Another new news is I printed a new T-Shirt with my new final designed logo. I’m finally happy with it and I’m sticking with the new design.

That’s for now folks.

Cam Clamps Build Project

Throughout our vast known woodworking history, many forms of clamping devices have been in use to clamp two boards together. Ancient Egyptians used to clamp by placing two boards vertically weighted down by a heavier object. Wedges were another form of clamping method used.
Today we have many clamping devices available to us. In fact, there is a large variety of them in all shapes and sizes ranging from the highest quality Bessey

clamps, to the lower quality Craftright. There are even lower quality no name brands you can find for a couple of dollars. I would highly recommend you steer away from those cheap types no matter how tempting they are. They are just downright atrocious and should be outlawed, the manufacturer imprisoned and whipped with the cat of nine tails.
Bessey being my ultimate most expensive favourite brand is sturdy built, and the head slides smoothly up and down the bar.

Prior to turning amateur, most of my work involved in making clocks. Rarely did I need clamps larger than 800mm (31 1/2”). Now I have the freedom to build what-ever I fancy and larger clamps will be needed soon enough. However, Bessey clamps as good as they are, are cost prohibitive and not within my financial reach. So, instead, I shall make myself a copy of the Bessey clamp and God willing, it will be just as good as Bessey. I will leave this for another article.
A new clamp for me is the cam clamp. Cam clamps are so versatile that I end up reaching for them often. Cam clamps are lightweight, non-marring and offer just the right amount of pressure needed for light duty work like building boxes or instruments. Instrument makers are common users of these types of clamps and they’re easy and fun to build.
Large clamping force is seldom needed if your boards are flat and out of twist. Sometimes boards cup and a little more pressure is needed. You would choose the right clamp for the job at hand. For light work cam clamps are the perfect choice.
Since I’ve been concentrating on making moulding planes, cam clamps are all I need. If you’re wondering why I need to clamp moulding planes, it’s because I’m using the French build method they once used in the 18th Century. The British frowned upon this build method, but there are pros and cons in both methods. They’re not so heavy on the pocket either. You can use any hardwood to build yourself a set. I wouldn’t recommend using softwoods like pine. Pine is too soft, and the force applied from the bar and pins will dig into pinewood and render the clamp useless. Therefore, I would recommend using hardwoods like maple, black walnut will hold up, ironwood is very strong, New Guinean rosewood looks beautiful and is perfect for them.
I already have a few cam clamps lying around but for the sake of this article, I will add one more to the growing set, besides I like making them.
So, I rummaged through my offcuts bin and found black walnut. It’s always good to keep your offcuts no matter how small or thin they may be, you never know when you will reach out for it for another project. Wood is expensive in Australia and just like our predecessors you can’t afford wastage, so I hoard as much as I can to use later.

The bar I will use is aluminium, you can use iron or timber, but the aluminium is lightweight and sturdier than timber, and it won’t warp through seasonal changes. The bar length I have on hand is
23 9/16” x ¾” x 1/8” (600mm x 19mm x 3mm). I will use half that length for two reasons: I’ll get two clamps out of one bar and it’s the right size for my moulding planes. The pins will be from a brass rod 1/8” in diameter. The rod needn’t be of any great length as the pins will be cut to just a little over an inch in length.
Cam jaws dimensions are 6” x 1 ½” x 1”. You will need to cut two; the upper and lower portion. The upper portion is called a fixed jaw. The lower portion is called a sliding jaw. The aluminium bar is called a bar. The lever is called a cam lever.

Step 1
Crosscut the aluminium bar in half with a hacksaw.
Your bar can be of any length desired. There is no need for me to provide any specific length measurements as everyone’s need is different.
Aluminium bars are soft and easy to cut. Scribed lines are visible. Wouldn’t it be nice if all metal was this easy?
Once cut to length, file the cut end to a smooth square. Making it square isn’t necessary, but it’s good training. Working with a quality file is a joy to use.
After it is smooth and square, prepare your stock.
Note: Apply the following steps to both jaws to save on build time.

• Length, width and thickness
• Arch
• Through Mortise
Rip and crosscut a little oversized by 1/8”, this is a precautionary method if you’re not a very good sawyer, otherwise 1/16” will suffice.

Step 2
Surface plane both stocks flat and true five sides. Both faces and edges parallel.
Step 3
Thickness both to 1”. Make them flush to each other.
If your stock is already 1” a little under won’t hurt.

Step 4
Crosscut and chute to final length of 6”.
Step 5
Determine which will be the fixed jaw.
Layout all your dimensions now rather than as you go along.
We will layout the dimensions for the position of the arch which will be at the underside of the fixed jaw.
From one end of the fixed jaw, measure in 1 ¼” on the edge (31.75mm).
Now on the opposite end, measure in 2 1/8” (54mm), what’s left in between will be the arch. The arch’s height is ¼” (6mm). Pencil a line between the two arch points. To draw the arch, I used ¼ of the size of a 5c coin. If you wish you can use a circle template, a compass or draw it freehand.

Step 6
Shape the arch with a chisel or saw it with a coping saw or a scroll saw. Clean up the chisel marks or saw marks with a rasp, file, scraper or sandpaper.
Step 7
Lay out the through mortise and chop it out. The bar will be inserted into the through mortise and fixed with two pins. The mortise is ¾” x 1/8”

From one end (refer to the drawing which end), top edge of the fixed jaw, measure in 7/8” and pencil it in. With a square, square the line around the work piece. Now, measure from the same side 1 5/8” and square the line around all four sides. We’ve now established the length of the mortise.
Now we need to establish the width being 1/8”.
Measure from both sides 9/16” to get 1/8” width, provided your stock is thicknessed to 1”.
If it isn’t, set the pins on a mortise gauge to 1/8”. Move the head of the marking gauge so that the pins are approximately in the centre of the stock and pinprick the stock. Flip the gauge to the opposite side and pin prick again. The difference in between the pinpricks is the centre of a 1/8” wide mortise. Repeat the same on the underside of your stock.
Chop out the mortise. You can drill using a drill bit narrower than 1/8” or chop it with a 1/8” mortising or bench chisel.
I’ve discovered a simple way to centre a mortise with pinpoint accuracy. This method will eliminate the need of having a mortise gauge and that’s one less tool in your tool box.
If you don’t own a marking gauge to mark out mortises, you can use a single cut-ting gauge with accuracy. To do so, take half the width of your stock add half the width of your chisel, then add that dimension to the half width of your stock.
For example; let’s say the width of the stock is 7/8”, take half of that which is
7/16”. The width of the mortise is 1/8”, half of that is 1/16”. Add the two, 7/16” + 1/16” = 1/2”. 1/2” is what I’ll be setting my marking gauge too, and scribe on both sides. Your mortise will be smack in the middle. Clever, eh. I think this method is much more accurate than making a gazillion scribes from both ends trying to potluck the centre.

Step 9
In this final step we will insert the bar through the mortise of the fixed jaw and pin it in place to render it immovable.
Check that the bar is square to the jaw and apply glue inside the mortise and on the bar. (Refer to the list of glues below). Insert the bar into the mortise and allow the glue to dry at least a half hour before drilling through it.
Mark the hole locations at a diagonal on the stock/bar. Then drill straight through both. I used a 1/8” brad point drill bit as my brass rods are 1/8” in diameter.

Saw the rods/pins a little longer than the thickness of the fixed jaw. Apply glue to the pins and hammer them in place. Let the glue set. Saw the pins off as close as flush as possible. Then draw it out by hammering the pins towards the outer perimeter. This method is called peening. This is an age-old metal working trick to make the pins irremovable. Finish it by sanding the pins flush.

As for the glue that will glue metal to wood, any of the glues below will work.

• Fish glue
• Loctite AA330
• Epoxy

Making the Sliding Jaw
The first thing we need to do is rip a narrow kerf so the clamp pad can flex when pressure from the cam lever is applied.
Step 1
Pencil a line freehand ¼” up beginning from the clamp pad and ending at 3 7/8”. Drill a 1/8” stop hole at the end of the 3 7/8” line.
This will help prevent a potential split beyond the stop hole.
The drawings display a screw inserted from the bottom. I have omitted this screw as I don’t see the reasons for it.
Rip down the narrow kerf.

Step 2
The width of the stopped slot is 3/8”. Using the same method for marking out the mortise in step 8, we shall mark out for the cam lever stopped slot.
Working from the top first, measure and mark the length from the right side 2 3/4″ (70mm). Then from the face side on the kerf measure and mark 1 1/8”. Pencil in a line connecting the two marks, this will give you the angle to aim to when sawing and chopping out the stopped slot.
Drill two holes for the pins. These through pins need to be placed next to the mortise wall, ¼” down from the top and 3/8” up from the bottom. If the pins protrude into the mortise, then the sliding jaw won’t slide up and down. If the pins are further away from the mortise wall, then your clamp will be ineffective.

If the pins hit the bar then you can file a small relief in the pin.
Also, when drilling, use a backer block to prevent any break out from the other side as you drill through the stock.

Step 3
Use a tenon saw to kerf the slot.

Insert a small thin shim in the kerf between the clamp pad and the stopped slot to avoid chiselling into the clamp pad.
Chop out the stopped slot referring to the angled guideline you pencilled in earlier.

Cam Lever
Step 1
Trace the lever from the drawings onto the timber and with a coping saw or scroll saw cut the shape. Clean the saw marks with rasps, files or sandpaper.
Insert the cam lever into the slot with the large rounded part of the lever in a downward position inside the slot and rest the cam lever flat on the angle. Position the cam lever so it protrudes into the saw kerf.
With the cam lever positioned in the sliding jaw, place both parts into the vice. Eye ball or measure in 5/8” from the right side of the sliding jaw and about 3/8” up from the kerf and drill a 1/8” hole.
Use a brad point tip to stop any wandering of the bit as you begin to drill.

Insert the pin dry (don’t glue it in). Use the same metal working trick to peen the end as described previously.
At this stage, you may be disappointed as the cam lever isn’t holding its position when activated. The problem lies in the pin hole location. I’ve experimented with different hole locations and haven’t yet resolved this phenomenal problem. To date 3/8” seems to be the better candidate.
If you drill your hole close to the kerf, the lever won’t swing very far and it won’t clamp at all. If you drill a hole above 3/8” then the cam lever won’t grab or stay put when activated. Even at the 3/8” mark the lever still doesn’t perform well.

My only solution to this is to insert a piece of leather with the suede facing up in between the saw kerf and the lever and glue it in place. If you like, use a quick setting PVA glue. It will set in 2 minutes and cure within 4 hours. You’ll notice that the clamp will now holding better.
In this final step of the build and only if you used metal bar, you will need to file a row of grooves on the back of the bar so that the sliding jaw will grab when you clamp. Use a triangular file and eye ball the spacings.

I glued cork to the clamp pads to provide better grip and more clamping power. I’m not sure how that works, but it does.

You can use any finish you like. Minwax Antique Oil is great, so is shellac. Just be careful that you don’t get the finish on the leather. It could seep in between the glue line and break the bond.

The Numbering System of H&R’s

The numbering system starts from 1 through to 18, this gives a us 36 moulding planes. Thanks to the 60° of a circle cut by these planes, the width of the iron is the radius of the circle the plane cuts.
There are two forms of numbering systems – Even and Odd.
Robert Demers a tool historian and blogger suggests that the even and odd numbering system has nothing to do with the profiles radius, but rather to denote that it’s part of a full set, an even set or an odd set.
Al Sellens in his book Woodworking Planes says; “The size numbering refers to iron width but the numbering schemes appear to have been established to confound the scholar and to confuse the collector.”
Hollows and rounds before 1750 were unmarked as to their size or number. There is an 18th century JENION plane in Larry’s Williams collection that is marked. It is however unknown whether the mark was placed at a later date or it’s an original, Larry believes it seems to be an original.
A standard in the numbering system developed at the start of the 19th century.
The numbering and sizing varied between manufacturers. For example, (and
I hope you’re ready to be confused as all buggery). There are plane numbers that end at 15 with an iron’s width of 2”, then there are planes that begin with no.2 and end at 30 that increase by 2. For example: 2,4,6,8,10 etc. But each plane’s iron width differs from manufacturer to manufacturer even though they may be the same number. For example, one manufacturer will stamp a No.12 representing its iron’s width to be ¾”, but another manufacturer will say our No.12 is 7/8” and a third manufacturer will say our No.12 represents 1 5/8”. Larry Williams gives a good clarification of this numbering system and I quote;
“The major British makers seem to have followed this emerging standard relatively closely. Under this system, numbers correspond to the number of 16ths of an inch in cutting width; except on those planes wider than ¾” the increment of change switches to 1/8”. For example, a number 11 would be 11/16” wide; number 12 would be ¾” wide, and a number 13 would be 7/8” wide rather than the expected 13/16ths. This change, I believe, was an attempt to offer planes which allowed for visual weight of the profiles cut. Visually, there’s little difference between a 1 ½” diameter cylinder and a 1 5/8” diameter circle.
The width of hollows and rounds directly relates to the radius of the arc they cut. Most planes cut 1/6th of a circle, or 60º of arc. This means the cutting width of these planes is equal to the radius of the arc — a number 8 plane will have a ½” cutting width and cut an arc with a radius of ½”. It is convenient to judge the size of a circle by the width of the sole of the plane. My observation is that this too has some exceptions. Larger hollows and rounds tend to cut less than 60º and often cut a radius larger than the sole of the plane would indicate. For instance, a #18 from an unused set of GRIFFITHS, Norwich (c.1860) planes we have cuts a cylinder with a 2” radius rather than the expected 1 ½”. This matches the #18 profile of a little used set of MOSELEY (c. 1810).”

A No.8 Moseley has a radius of ¾” whereas the Mathieson of the same number that follows the British standard would be ½”.
He continues to say; “Another exception is that number 1 planes were listed as being 1/8” bare or less than 1/8” but larger than 1/16”.
Many American plane making firms closely followed the British system. Some didn’t and used a variety of systems. Greenfield avoided the increment change found in the British system. Sargent offered only planes that represented the even numbers of the British system but numbered them sequentially. Those American makers who didn’t follow the British system appear to have had their own different systems and no alternative American system is apparent.”
Larry Williams chose to follow this later British system except to stay with planes cutting 60° of arc. This ensured that the plane’s width will be the radius of the arc cut.

The list below is the numbering system that Larry follows. These sizes incrementally increase by 1/16” except for the No.13, 14 and 15 which increase by 1/8”.

151 1/81 1/8
161 1/41 1/4
171 3/81 3/8
181 1/21 1/2

Here is a list of numbering systems from other plane manufacturers including but not limited to Chapin Stephens, Moseley and Greenfield.

Plane NumberRadius of Profile
91 1/8
101 1/4
111 3/8
121 1/2
131 3/4
152 1/4
162 1/2
172 3/4
Plane NumberRadius
81 1/8
91 1/4
101 3/8
111 1/2
121 5/8
131 3/4
141 7/8
NumberIron Width
161 1/8
181 1/4
201 3/8
221 1/2
241 5/8
261 3/4
281 7/8
NumberIron Width
181 1/4
201 3/8
221 1/2
241 3/4

As we have seen not all followed a particular standard and since plane manufac-turing is no longer practiced on a large scale as it once was, we as small-scale manufacturers for the lack of a better word, can set new precedence to follow one standard.
Did you know that each plane manufacturer in the 1800’s produced about 70,000 planes a year?

Tip on thicknessing by hand accurately

Many people have difficulty planing to a precise measurement. They struggle because they lack the proper tool for the job. That is to say, the proper marking gauge. Veritas created a marking gauge with two blades. One has the bevel on the inside, while the other has it on the exterior. I won’t waste time describing what they’re for because we all know what they’re for.

Veritas Marking gauge

Use the flat surface of the circular blade against the material while gauging your stock for thicknessing. Why? Because using the bevel side, which is what most people do (including myself), will indent or undercut the line. You’ll notice a few thou difference when you plane to that line if you planed successfully. The thickness difference throughout the board would be roughly 1/128.

Except for a few spots near the centre where it is high 1/128, this piece is perfect on 3/4. That is incredible accuracy by hand and something to be proud of.

Here’s a rundown of how I prepare my boards for thickness. I don’t just plane aimlessly. Whether or not I need a scrub plane depends on how much material I need to remove. I lessen the cut as I get closer to the gauge line in order to creep up on it. The key is to maintain patience; if you don’t, you will almost certainly cross over the gauge line.

Not everything needs to be flawless, but when it does, it’s nice to know that you don’t have to rely on machinery. You are capable of relying on your own two hands.

Here is some thing off the topic.

The wood on the right is American black walnut and the one on the left is Queensland walnut. They may appear to be same, but their qualities are vastly different. This makes me think of my twin boys. Even though they are identical twins, their personalities are very different.

How To Make a Hand-Engraved Hammer with Simple Tools

The video description is from the maker himself.

In this video I am showing how I made a simple hand engraved hammer without a forge or fancy tools. For the Hammerhead I have used a 25mm by 25mm steel bar (1” x 1”) and cherry wood for the handle, cherry is not ideal for hammer handles but it is beautiful and this hammer will get very light abuse, ideally hickory or ash wood is used.

Moisture Meters


Moisture meters measure the percentage of moisture or water in wood. Woodworkers use them to determine whether or not the timber is too wet or too dry to be used for furniture making. If the timber is too dry, glue bond failure may occur and if too wet again you may face the same problem. Using a moisture meter irrespective of whether you’re a hobbyist or professional is essential.
I admit that up until recently I haven’t owned a moisture meter and have to a certain degree worked wood successfully without one, but I emphasise the phrase “to a certain degree”. Not every timber I worked was without its problems of cups, warps and bows. Not every timber I planed remained flat the next day. Had I used a moisture meter prior to working that wood I at least would have been informed of its moisture content (MC) and would have decided then and there whether or not this timber is workable. However, not always is the MC the culprit, as I mentioned in the kiln drying article on the blog. If the timber isn’t dried correctly, it can form stress and regardless of its moisture content you may face hard times working with it.

Pinned versus Pinless
A pinned style includes two pins that are proud on top of the meter. These two pins are inserted into the timber either face or, more commonly end grain to take a reading. A small electrical current is passed between the points, and the amount of resistance is correlated to a moisture content. Moisture is a good electrical conductor so the wetter the wood the less resistance there is to the current. The accuracy of a pinned version is affected by the variances in the naturally occurring chemical composition of wood species, but isn’t as affected by the difference in density from one species to another.
A pinless version penetrates deep into the wood using an electromagnetic wave through the area under the sensor pad. This creates an electromagnetic field which the meter correlates to a moisture content. The real beauty of a pinless version is it’s non-destructive, which means there are no holes bored into your timber and it scans a much larger area than the pinned version.
The debate regarding the accuracy of the two versions has been ongoing for years with only ever one outcome, pointing favourably towards the pinned version until recently. With technological advancements, the pinless style has been shown to be just as accurate with the added benefit of being non-destructive. However, it always boils down to the quality of the device and there are many manufacturers out there producing both versions that range in price from $30 to $1000.
All companies, regardless of version will make claims that their meter is the best in terms of accuracy. Knowledge through research will make you better informed as to the accuracy of their claims.
So how do we know which manufacturer to choose? Well lucky enough for you I have done this research over many months and am providing a link for you http://www.moisturemeter.com where you can see for yourselves which brand is better than others. These tests were conducted by experts and the methods they used are described on the website. I urge you to thoroughly go through all the brands tested so you can make a truly informed, unbiased decision. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees even though the leaves are the same colour.
After extensive research of many, many brands I have opted to go with a Wagner MMC 220.

With this meter, you also receive a clip-on carry case. Yes, this meter is fragile – you cannot exert more than 2-pounds pressure and a drop from 4 feet or more will result in damage to the unit, requiring that it be sent back for re calibration. I thought I’d point that out straight off the bat. Other than that, according to independent moisture meter experts it’s accurate and measures moisture in the wood and not on the surface of the wood. It measures softwoods and hardwoods including tropical species. In the manual you receive, there is a list of specific gravity for most commonly used timbers. If your timber isn’t listed they also provide a link where you can find this information.
In summary a moisture meter is a must have for any serious woodworker. If you’re building once or twice a year and you purchase timber from a trusted source then it would be a complete waste of your money to own one because, by the time you get around to building your project your wood would have significantly dried and acclimated to your shop’s environment.

On the other hand, if you’re buying timber from privateers and not so reputable businesses (and I could name a few) then it would make good sense to bring one with you. Not everybody’s honest and not everybody’s claim of their stock being dry is true. So, having a meter for your own peace of mind is money well spent in my books.

The Last Screwdriver You’ll Ever Need

By Peg from MetMo Driver

Hello everyone!

We are a small team of engineers with a passion for investigating and bringing historic tools back to life.

We have spent the last 6 months collecting, studying and reverse engineering a tool first designed in the early 1900’s – the Weltrecord ratchet screwdriver. This was one of the early examples of combining a ratchet mechanism with a mechanical drive handle, creating a pocket tool that would fall somewhere between a brace and a regular screwdriver. 

There were some precursors to this particular design, but this German made piece is unique in that it combines a switchable ratchet mechanism, interchangeable drive bits, collet chuck and the drive arm.

As an operational tool these original versions are still useful today with the ability to put more torque and pressure onto a screw, avoiding slipping and subsequent damage to the screw head.  

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Above: Original screwdriver in use

With modern production techniques and new materials, we were able to take the genius of that early patent and improve in some key areas with our new tool, MetMo Driver.A picture containing weapon

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Taking a look at the original, you can see the whole design is much slimmer than our version, which was most likely a cost issue back when the tool was being produced. Our new driver has a much larger form factor which brings with it some key benefits;

The adjuster pin to change from forward/reverse/locked is now a knurled brass component which is much easier to interact with than the original pin, especially on cold days in the shop when you’re in two pairs of gloves and full arctic survival gear! 

The chuck and reciprocating pin have now been hardened to increase wear resistance and the much larger chuck has a broached hex drive with a neodymium magnet mounted internally to hold all standard bits. This was a major step forward from the old design which used specialised bits and a collet system which has long since seized on our unit. 

The free spinning handle has been helped along by the introduction of a brass bush and the increased size allows you to get much more weight behind it to prevent slipping and damaging a stubborn screw.You can see a how we produced this prototype here: https://youtu.be/c2ywZnQLPeI

Introducing Mr Baumann 

The original inventor was a German chap named Conrad Baumann, who ran a company called Conrad Baumann Werkzeugfabrik (roughly translated as toolmaker) that operated from around the end of the 1800’s. The drivers were sold under the Baumann-Weltrecord brand, translated into English as the Baumann-world record. 

Pictured here is a later version of the early design.


Conrad was a tool maker by trade but also an inventor, with patents on various screwdrivers, as well as an innovative form of shirt buttons akin to folding cufflinks! But I digress.

Getting back to the patent that we used to redesign the MetMo Driver.

The funny thing here is the original design was not a patent at all but instead a specialised German design mark! Let me explain – Thanks to rapid industrialisation and interest in international trade after the founding of the German empire in 1871, the imperial patent office introduced the “German Imperial Utility Model” or Deutsches Reichs-Gebrauchs-Muster (in German) in 1891 and would act in a similar way to modern day design trade marks or design rights, but also prove that it was a genuine product of Germany.

On a product, this Utility Model would be designated by the letters DRGM much in the same way we use the TM or C symbols now. This system was used from 1891 to 1945 and early examples of the Weltrekord ratchet screwdriver have DRGM stamped into the handle, putting the original design date anywhere between those dates.

We had hoped that through contacting the historic patent office in Germany, we’d be able to narrow the date down, but all of these early records were lost when the second world war ended. What we did find was a tool catalogue from 1942 that listed the Conrad Baumann brand and suggested it had been in business for around 10 years prior to that, so we know it was already an established and widely distributed product at this time.

The history doesn’t stop there though, in 1950 a German patent was filed with the US patent office under the same company name outlining the same details of a ratcheting screwdriver and is the first written record of the ratcheting screwdriver encompassing removable bits with an independent drive handle.


Above: The original patent drawings and Patent number

Conrad goes on after this to file two more patents, one in 1959 that officially ties his 1950s patent to his original DRGM mark that would have been lost. Another was published in 1967 a much more complex and refined design, that took advantage of the latest engineering techniques of the time, the addition of a moulded plastic handle, smaller mechanics and reduced size overall, combined with a collet style chuck. But interestingly still designed to only work with the supplied bits.  

Above: drive bits were of this set size with a D shaped drive dog this set also has an extension arm.


Close up of the collet chuck, seized in place on this particular model. https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/036/763/046/c3c69e4b16be8db4421a782cc67c6826_original.jpg?ixlib=rb-4.0.2&w=700&fit=max&v=1648123789&gif-q=50&q=92&s=dfbed7f8af295da3b9b39a43ae48f64c

 Close up of the collet chuck, seized in place on this particular model.

later versions of his screwdriver have the 1950’s patent number stamped into the handle instead so if you see the DRGM mark you have a pre-1945 model on your hands. There are more of the later versions available at auction, identifiable by the semi translucent plastic handle, however, there seems to have been a design flaw with the collet style chuck on these later models that has resulted in this part no longer holding onto the bit as would have originally been intended.


Above: The Iconic stamp and patent mark of the Weltrekord brand

The last known record of Conrad’s business was in 1975 where his business was given an official registration certificate to supply the US government. At the time the early power drills and cordless battery drills were starting to take off and Conrad would have been reaching the end of his career. It is possible it was bought out by one of the other tool companies in the area, but like many small businesses we may never know its fate in history.

The area where Conrad set up shop has a rich heritage in toolmaking, on Gerber str, Remscheid-lüttringhausen in Germany located in the northern Rhine region. This area had seen rapid economic growth in the early 1800’s with mechanical engineering and toolmaking as the main industries. In the early 1900’s Remscheid was the centre of the German tool industry.

Then during the second world war this manufacturing area was considered a threat and in 1943 the town was almost completely destroyed by a British bombing raid as part of the RAF’s battle of the Ruhr, involving over 270 aircraft.

To this day the town has a very high concentration of well-known quality tool manufactures whose history’s date back hundreds of years, starting out specialising in a single tool much like how Conrad had started. It is also home to the German tool museum, something I am keen to visit when I get the chance. More information about the museum can be found at https://www.werkzeugmuseum.org/

To the best of my knowledge this screwdriver first went into production over 100 years ago and was produced for around 70 years. But there are very few remaining, so they were never mass-produced items. With the early wooden handled pieces most likely made by hand in small volumes by Conrad himself.  So, there you have it the most comprehensive history of the Baumann-Weltrekord ratchet screwdriver around!

Above: 1960s version vs our 2022 re-creation

We have spent the last few months lovingly recreating this original patent, modernising some of the components with much harder wearing materials and allowing for use with a much wider array of drive bits by introducing a standard hex drive at the head.

loving the look of the original exposed mechanism we have kept true to the earlier models of the driver and re-created this as it would have been, with a few enhancements allowing for updated production techniques.    

Above: The final re-creations.

To learn more about this recreation, check out our site at MetMo.co.uk