Hodges Mitre Shoot 1890

Many aids and appliances for frame making and for making correct mitre joints have been given to the working public of late years, and the latest addition to their number has been Hodges Mitre Shoot, which is illustrated in Fig.2, and which is intended for planing up the joint after the wood has been cut to the proper shape by the means of the saw. The patent rights are held by Mr. E.R. Sibley, Whites Hill, near Gloucestershire, who, I am sure, will readily answer any question regarding the price at which the machine is sold, and respecting which I am utterly in the dark. I like to be in a position to mention the price of everything I am called on to notice, for to know the cost of an article is useful to buyer, seller, reader, and myself all round, and, in many cases, saves the putting of questions on this point and the answering of the same.  The nature of the machine will be seen from the illustration. First, there is a rectangular frame or bed, with raised edges or guards, which is fixed firmly to the edge of the workbench, as shown by two screws. Attached to the frame is an adjustable bed, whose inclination forms an angle of 45° with the frame, and on this frame the moulding is placed after bring cut, in the mitre block, and secure by the vice, which grips it and retains it in position, the vice itself working in a small block attached to the adjustable bed. When the moulding is in position, the end may be planed up with the long plane shown in the illustration, and which is made of so great a length that it may be able to ride on guards formed by the raised edges of the frame and the top of the bed itself.  As these guards are perfectly flat and square, it follows that the end of the moulding, when planed up, must be equally flat and square, The bed, as it

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has been said, is adjustable, and should it deviate from the proper angle, it can be set correctly by loosening a screw at the back of the regulator, bringing it parallel with the sides of the machine, and then tightening the screw again. The regulator is at the bottom of the bed, and does not appear in the illustration. The points of utility claimed for the machine are, its capability of producing accurate work; causing no injury to mouldings; perfect adjustment by means of its rising and falling bed; the ease with which it can be worked; the possibility of reshooting the ends of a frame after two sides have been joined together; and its portability and the ease with which it is fixed. The machine takes moulding 4 in. and 3 in. deep.

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Stanley Burnisher No.185

I’m not sure when Stanley begun the production of these burnishers, but they are an ingenious invention.  The burnisher itself is no different to any other burnisher with one exception and that’s the point on the end that has a 30° bevel.

When you’re burnishing, you may end up rolling the burr and the rolled bottom rides on the timber and doesn’t cut.  Have you noticed that sometimes you have to lean your scraper much further than other times to get it to bite into the wood?  Well, that’s what happens when you roll the burr beyond the 30° angle.  Stanley came up with the idea of grinding a 30° bevelled point on the end of the burnisher.  To use it after the bevel is rolled, you place the pointed end on the end of the burr with the bevel resting against it and lightly pull back along the scraper a couple of times. This pushes the burr slightly upright or back creating a consistent 30° bevel.  As long as you have done all the other necessary steps correctly prior, your scraper will produce shavings and not dust.

Vintage versions can still be found and range from $90-40 or you can buy one from Phil Lowe He makes his own. Burnisher

For me it’s a little pricey and I think I will be making one myself. In the end it may well cost just as much as Phil’s. For the time being, I came up with a little work around. I angled my burnisher to approximately 30° and made a couple light passes and it worked.

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I must admit, successfully sharpening scrapers have always been a challenge for me. I’ll sharpen one side spot on and then screw up the other side and never know why it happens. This method won’t resolve your sharpening flaws, but will improve it.  You still must go through the whole sharpening process correctly to achieve good results.

A scraper is a wonderful tool, but often neglected due to the difficulties many people face sharpening it correctly.

You can’t rush experience

I’ve been quiet for a while, enjoying the serenity of the craft. It’s difficult taking photos and then trying to figure out how to put them into words that will be easy to understand.  I know this will fall into place only after several years of continuous writing.

You can’t rush knowledge to gain experience and I was reminded today when I returned to the moulding plane build. I took out the no.4’s I wrote about in Issue III.

I didn’t notice it earlier and I guess that’s the curse of distraction that the body of the round was thicker than a 1/4″. It being thicker, it planed a hollow that was all wonky looking, out of shape.  To fix it all I did was plane down the chamfer on the blindside. Without a chamfer the plane could not reach into the corner of a moulding.

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Now it’s planed to the correct thickness, both planes now mate perfectly together.

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Skill is the final frontier we are trying to reach, but without knowledge you’ll never put it into practice to gain the experience and experience comes only through repetition followed by skill.  This is not an overnight process, it takes years to gain true knowledge, experience and skill.  So if you’re frustrated with joints not being gap free or sawing not perfectly plumb, don’t be. It’s normal and part of the learning process.  Remember, you first crawled before you walked and then finally ran. Give it time and allow nature to run its course. Don’t give up and don’t be like that stingy guy Christopher Schwarz wrote about on his blog. 

Take care. Peace

 

Dovetailing Machine of 1890

The year was 1890 and the first ever dovetailing machine was patented by the Britannia Company, Colchester for £2 2s. It’s a dovetailing jig as we would understand it which is used on a foot powered table saw.

It was an unfortunate year, the beginning of the end of yet one more skill, but in the interest of gaining historical woodworking knowledge we shall read more about it and how it’s used.

A pine board 24”x 18”x 3/8” is clamped at each end on the table saw. A spline fitting the groove in the table saw ensures accurate movement, with a slot exactly in the centre of the two frames when in their places, for the saw to work through as shown in Fig.1.fig1

Fix on the gauge, (Fig.3) which is a piece of wood with slots at intervals, according to the size of dovetails required- upon platform, (Fig.2), of frames, as shown. These gauges are generally fixed upon the lower ledge, but for some work the upper ledge may be more convenient.  These gauges can be easily made by an amateur, or are supplied with the dovetailer.

The appliance in Fig.2 is to be fixed upon the board as shown, so that the saw may run clear when the movable frame is at either end of the segment.fig2Put in the screw through the frame Fig. 2 and screw down so as to allow the frame to move backwards and forward. The frame is to be fixed as shown 2 ¾” from square line of saw. To cut the mortises, place the wood upon the inclined plane, having adjusted the table so that the saw will cut the correct depth. Bring the front edge of the wood up to the end of the gauge, holding the marker in the left hand so that it falls into the various slots s the wood passes up the incline. The positions of the operator, the movable table, the frames, gauges, inclined plane, wood, marker and saw are all very clearly indicated in Fig.1

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When one row has been made, turn the wood round and take the marker in the right hand and follow each cut up the incline until the cuts are completed. To cut the tenons or pins, adjust the saw table so that the saw cuts the required depth. Fix the gauge on the lower ledge of platform, the inner end of gauge forming the distance for the first cut.

Of course, it will be understood that the cuts only are made by the saw. The clearances of the mortises and the wood intervening between the pins must be affected in the usual manner with a chisel. The merit of the entire appliance lies in the presentation of the edges of the wood to the saw in such a manner and in such a position that the saw kerfs, first in one direction and then in the other, are made with such sure and certain regularity of distance and direction, and perfect parallelism, that an operator who is comparatively an unskilled hand can be enabled to perform work which, if done by the hand, must be the outcome of long practice combined with the utmost care in execution.

England has been at the forefront of invention of engineering marvels since their creation of the Industrial revolution in 1830. I’m in midst of writing an article on the industrial revolution and its effect it had and still has on human lives.  All I’m going to add is that this machine or appliance eliminates the need for a skilled dovetailer. I’m sure it would only take two minutes to train anybody to operate it and produce flawless dovetails.

For the sake of mass production and of course profits, we have traded something more valuable in fact something priceless; skill.

Something to ponder. We marvel at how skilled craftsmen they were. But how many pieces made were actual hand work?  I think it’s safe to bet that our craftsmen in the 18th century were machine free and therefore truly skilled at their jobs. On the same token it would be grossly unfair if I said the opposite about our craftsmen in the 19th century.  I can’t help but wonder how many of those dovetails we see on antique furniture of that period were made by hand or by the patented dovetailing machine.

How to fix a wonky Auger bit

I wish I had of taken a photo of the auger bit prior to the fix, but I didn’t think of writing about it till it was too late.

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Just because it’s an antique or vintage doesn’t mean it’s flawless. This set of Irwin auger bits is pretty good, but far from flawless.  I bought this set years ago and haven’t used them much in all this time.

Anyway, I remembered that I had a bit 3/8″ that wasn’t straight and of course it’s always the one that is used more than others or at least second to the 1/4″. The shaft was bent and pretty much I might add.  Maybe someone dropped it, either way it needs fixing.

On the metal part of my lathe which is now serving as an anvil until my luck runs out, I tapped it straight with a rubber mallet they use in panel beating.  (This mallet is pretty good and will not leave a mark on wood not matter how hard you hammer it.) I would hammer a couple of times and check the bit by eye. Once it looks straight, I would finish it by hammering whilst turning the bit 360°.

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This is the result.

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I chucked it in the brace and held the bit and brace vertical while slowly turning the bit. No wobble, good news, it’s not a bin job. It’s fixed.

Issue III has finally been released as you all know and there has been a lot of downloads, but zero feedbacks.

Hope this post helps someone.

A side rebate plane’s fence, fix solution

A side rebate (rabbet) plane widens dado’s (housing) or trench (Europe) and grooves, wow so many names for one joint.   Sometime a dado is a little too tight to accept a shelf or a groove for a drawer bottom needs to be a little wider for a perfect fit, this is where these planes excel.

There are several versions and makers of these planes, I believe Stanley only produced two of the No.79 and the 98 and 99 which Lie Nielsen now produces. 98_99

Then there was Edward Preston, whom Veritas based their design on and not to forget record. When Preston left the tool making scene, Record took over the production of the Preston planes.


Some time ago I began my hunt for a decent no.79 and I found one on eBay. I can’t remember what I paid for it, but they’re stupidly expensive now. The one I found was in near perfect condition. Here are the eBay pictures I downloaded at the time.


Whoever bought it must have thrown it in the toolbox and forgotten about it.  It’s rare to see these planes in such good condition. Well, I was lucky. There is another version of the no.79 you should avoid. They have slotted round screws instead of the thumb screws like I have.

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I suspected at the time that the slots in the screws would wear out through repeated use, so I asked my friend Tony as he has one and he hates it for that reason alone. Tony’s tool chest was featured in Jim Tolpin’s book “The Toolbox Book.” page 28.  He fits over 400 tools in his chest and it weighs in at a whopping 400lb (181.43kg). That’s an entire workshop of tools he can carry to any job site and only taking up a small corner in the back of his pickup.
Let me see anyone do this with modern machinery.

Anyhow, the purpose of this blog was not to go into any detail about different versions of the side rebate planes, but to discuss a manfacturer’s flaw in the fence and the quick solution I came to fixing it.

So even though it’s basically new for a vintage plane, it still had a manufacturing fault. The fence wasn’t 90° to the surface of the plane. This rectification was on my to do list for many months, but I didn’t give it much thought on how to fix it since I don’t have a square metal block, I’ve left as is till this morning.  My day typically begins at 4 am when I’m not working my other job, this is the best part of the day as your mind is fresh with new ideas and it’s peaceful as the world is still asleep. It’s very serene.

I started off with a pair of pliers trying to bend it into shape and all I managed to do was create small teeth marks ruining what was once a pristine surface.

If Stanley did their job right in the first place, I wouldn’t have had to do this.

So, I kept bending it like a moron not realising that I was also creating a hump in the middle.  Now I was frantic and I looked around in desperation for anything that was square that could handle a beating and there she was. My lathe.

I threw a square up against the outside face and no go, so I tried the inside and alas she’s square.

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I placed the fence against the metal bar on the lathe and with the hard part of a rubber mallet I struck several light blows across the surface.

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Yes, it worked! The fence is square, but the hump is still there. To fix that I used a normal metal hammer and got rid of the hump.

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Had I given this proper thought beforehand, I wouldn’t have left teeth marks on a pristine surface. Lucky for me these marks are not sharp where it would mar the work. Surprisingly though they are smooth as a baby’s butt.

Is this a must have tool?

It’s a toughie to answer, yes and no. Yes, when you need one and I have used it more often than not, but it’s not an everyday “usage tool.”  I think it’s one of those tools you tend to forget you have until the day pops up when nothing else will work as the tool you forgot you had.

Rabbet Plane Build Split in Half

I had some free time on my hands, yeah, I know, shock, horror I got free time. I returned to an unfinished project I started a few months ago building a wooden rabbet plane.  I was boring a 1″ hole near the escapement when CRACK the bit split the timber in two.

Rather than chuck the plane away, I glued it back together again with fish glue.  Those cam clamps provide just enough pressure without risking crushing the fibres.  I say that because I reattached it as is without disturbing the break. Fortunately for me the break was clean with no missing parts.

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I left the plane oversized in length, width and thickness. When I inserted the iron and wedged it, I noticed the plane bowed ever so slightly.  Maybe when I put the cover on the rabbeted grip, the bow may not return.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see.