Friday 29 October 2010

Sorry, I Don't Do Windows...

I caught a Stanley No. 10½ a few weeks ago from Jim Bode Tools. It is an "S" cast, probably manufactured around 1900, so it fits with the rest of the planes I have. It has the adjustable throat, about 85 to 90% of its japanning, the "Q" blade (now that I know what that is), and is in pretty nice shape, overall.

So the series is filling in slowly as now I have a 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10½, 48, 49, 66, 71 and 72, most sporting the "S" casts, all possibly produced between 1899 and 1902. I have a 4, 7 and 78 as well, but they are all Type 18's, purchased by my old man in the late 1940's. I will keep these for sentimental reasons, but I will add the same numbers to the older set. There are a few that I won't purchase, come hell or high water, though. The infamous No.1 is one of them, as I would never use it, not to mention I think it is way overpriced.

Once the plane set is complete, I'll do the same for saws. While I have a fair set now, there are a few I would like to add.

The joys of tool collection and being anal enough to want them all to be from the same time period. Go figure.

So here is the 10½ the day it arrived...

Here is the same shot of it after I got through cleaning and waxing it...

I stripped it down and placed it in a bath of Lee Valley's "Evapo-rust". This stuff stinks, but it is a non-acid and non-toxic and requires no work at all. I left the whole lot in the bath for 36 hours, pulled them out, wiped them off and gave them a coat of Minwax's Paste Finishing Wax. The wax is applied with #00 steel wool on the japanned parts and #1 steel wool on the raw metal, followed by more using the #00. The tote and knob are wiped down with 90% alcohol, then given multiple coats of the Minwax using #000 steel wool. I still have to check the sole for flatness and if it is out more than slightly, I'll flatten it, and I also have to sharpen and polish the back of the blade.

This process probably makes any die-hard collector cry and no doubt, costs me a few bucks in lost value, but what good is a tool if it isn't in pristine working order? I can't, for the life of me, figure out why 100 years of crud and abuse makes a tool worth more. It may, in fact, have a higher value, but not to me.



Thursday 21 October 2010

Its Nice To Have a Little Pot Around the Shop...

When time becomes a commodity that is easy to come by, I hope to have everything I will ever need to while away the hours making little pieces of wood out of big ones. Hopefully, some of those little pieces will be usable as veneer.

There was a time when I thought only cheap furniture was made using veneer. Amazing what you learn when you read a book.

So now veneering is right up there on the top of my list and to facilitate it, I have been looking for vintage tools and toys of that trade. My first purchase was a disaster; the French saw that turned out to be a trim saw, but hopefully I have done right by this latest purchase.

I have no idea when this glue pot was produced, but I sure like the look of it. I have been looking for a glue pot for some time now, ever since receiving my copy of Stephen Shepherd's book, "Hide Glue, Historical and Practical Applications". I have seen a number of traditional styled pots come and go on the market, but I wanted something a bit unusual. Finally one came up on

This was the first one I came across that was made of brass, all three pieces in fact. The outer pot reminds me of the bottom of an artillery shell, and weighs about as much. The inner pot is about half its weight with one small steam hole and the lid is just pressed sheet. Its only marking is "W. Pehrson", a producer whose name does not come up on the internet.

As we said back in the 60's - "Good stuff!" (ok, we didn't actually say "stuff", but you get the idea)



Additional Comments added October 22 at 10:45 a.m.

Waking up this morning to PeteW's comment about this glue pot, I clicked on his link and checked out the very same item listed in one of MJD Tools' auctions. They had it listed with another brass item as... 

"Two Unusual Desktop Items including a brass inkwell holder by W. Pearson".

My God! Did I screw up AGAIN??????

Here is an enhanced photo of the mark...

I took this out of a shot I took of it through a loop...

The mark is definitely "W. Pehrson".

I'm no expert on inkwell holders, but I can think of no reason to manufacture an inkwell holder that has the inner pot much smaller than the outer...

Nor can I think of any reason why they would put a carrying handle on an inkwell holder or include a vent hole in the top of it...

Now I admit that logic has failed me before with calculating what a tool is or does, so I did a search of "Inkwell Holders" on Google. An "Inkwell" is "a small well holding writing ink into which a pen can be dipped". Trying to come up with an as clear definition for an "Inkwell Holder", however, was a different story. The best definition is "a hole to hold an inkwell", but there are many sales listings for these things that call the decorative base that has a hole in it to hold an inkwell an "inkwell holder", although I surmise by the very few articles on the subject that I found that this is an incorrect use of the term.

As a result of no factual information about this manufacturer or this item, I am only left with logic.

  • There is a half inch of space all around the inner pot which would be perfect for holding heated water.
  • There is the hole in the top of the inner pot aligned with that space that would be perfect for letting off steam.
  • There is a handle attached to the inner pot which would make removing it easy to top-up the water bath when it runs dry and through its use, would make it unnecessary for the user to touch the heated base.
  • Brass is the third most conductive metal for heat available.
  • If it isn't a glue pot, it sure as hell is one now!

    I truly appreciate any and all comments on this blog. Sharing information and helping each other, to me, should be as natural as falling off a log. I don't understand those that see an area where a few typed words would help another individual but they don't bother for whatever reason.

    Just don't scare the hell out of me first thing in the morning when you do :o)
    (That was a joke, PeteW. I do appreciate you bringing that listing to my attention and please, keep commenting)



    Friday 15 October 2010

    Simple Solution...

    I'm still messing with these new window sills. It is a stupid little job that involves a little ingenuity to overcome past poor workmanship.

    I had to make the stool for one window run out of two pieces of oak and when I did a dry fit, I found they didn't line up across their surface. I cut them to hit a high spot, but the twist in the top plate did me in. Keeping the front in line with each other was easy as I am adding a 1 x 2 to the bottom front edge to give the sill a thicker appearance. The problem was the back of the joint.

    The easiest solution was to add a piece to the back of the stool. The problem was, I no longer own a router and I had never done something like this by hand.

    I ended up using my Veratis Small Plow Plane, adjusting the depth of the blade down with each stroke to cut deeper each time. I then cleaned it up with a chisel and laid in a piece of pine, planing it down flush when the glue dried. I didn't even bother to try to square up the ends. Instead, I just curved them so it wouldn't look like a dog's breakfast.

    It worked, but it was a bit of a female dog to do. I think there must be an easier and more accurate way to do blind rabbet like this, so again, if anyone has any direction they can give me with this, it would be greatly appreciated.

    The learning curve with handtools is unbelievable.



    Wednesday 13 October 2010

    Who the Devil is H. Lyons...

    Another plane has been added to my H. E. Mitchell plane collection, this one being a small plow and one with a new twist. On this example, poor ol’ Henry’s stamp has been over-stamped with one for “H. Lyons” of 15 Nurse Street, although no city is included.

    Goodman’s, British Planemakers from the 1700’s has a listing for a “D. Lyons” who made planes from 1873 to 1877, but no listing at all for an “H” Lyons. I have a feeling he was a dealer, not a maker, and for some reason, thought putting his stamp on top of the makers stamp was acceptable.

    If any of you have run across this situation on one of your planes, or have any information on Mr. H. Lyons, I would appreciate hearing from you.

    While I am asking for help here, I will add that I am trying to put together a list of common British and American plane profiles along with their common widths from the 1700’s to today. This has, surprisingly, turned out to be a difficult task. I can’t believe that I am the first person to ever think such a list might be interesting, but finding any previous lists has eluded me. Whatever information I do come up with will be posted on the web for anyone who is interested, so whatever information you can offer would be greatly appreciated.



    Sunday 10 October 2010

    Irony (ī′rə nē, ī′ər nē)...

    noun pl. ironies -·nies 

    A combination of circumstances or a result that is the opposite of what is or might be expected or considered appropriate

    If you recognize the saw in the above image, you will appreciate that it is the saw that was the subject of some hub-bub I caused while writing about it a short while ago.

    I had done some research before buying it and all that research stated it was a Veneer Saw. At 19" in length, a number of major dealers and other authorities felt that it was manufactured for cutting large sheets.

    The day this saw was delivered to me, Lee Valley's July Newsletter showed up in my InBox and surprisingly, their "What Is It" article featured a perfect match to my new saw. Written by D.S. Orr, the article basically stated that there were a number of suggested uses for this saw, but cutting veneer wasn't one of them.

    I was perplexed. Not only had I purchased it as a veneer saw, I had also just paid Daryl Weir to retooth this saw as a traditional French veneer saw. I went into research mode and ended up talking to one of the most respected marqueteur and 18th century furniture restorer in North America, W. Patrick Edwards. He informed me that the saw was a trim saw for use with a mitre jack, and writing about it, I got carried away and ended up inadvertently being pretty insulting to Mr. Orr.

    To explain one more time, I had no idea who Mr. Orr was at the time, I had tried to contact him about it but didn't hear back and I couldn't find anything about him while doing extensive searches on the internet. Because of all of this, I stated I couldn't put weight on what his article stated simply because I just didn't know who he was.

    Man, did I end up eating crow. Doug Orr is one of Canada's leading vintage tool authorities. He has contributed to a number of worthy publications and his opinions on all things in the vintage tool area is highly respected. It also turned out that he is a hell of a nice guy and I had already done business with him the previous year. I have also learned that Mr. Orr works at not being known, hence the reason I could not find out anything about him on the web.

    Which brings me to starting this post with a quote from, defining the meaning of "Irony".

    Mr. Orr is one of the individuals behind the Tools of the Trades Show that is held bi-yearly in Pickering, Ontario, Canada in conjunction with the Tool Group of Canada. This show not only draws a fair crowd of collectors, it also boasts an impressive roster of dealers. Even Live Free or Die Auctions of Martin J. Donnelly Antique Tools fame has a booth at each event. I had met D.S. Orr about 8 months before writing this article when I purchased a couple  of wood molding planes from his booth, one of them the H.E. Mitchell ogee that I wrote about in the previous post.

    I headed straight to his booth the moment I walked through the door for two reasons; to face my medicine, and to see if he had turned up any more Mitchell planes. He was gracious, funny and helpful. We talked about the article, his; not mine, thank God, and he mentioned that he had turned up more research to support his argument because, while I do not believe the saw was originally designed as a stair or floor saw as his article stated, he does not believe it was used as a trim saw either.

    Are you catching the irony of all of this?

    It would be ironic enough that the large Mitre Jack that is in the image that accompanies the "Scie a Recaler Boite a Recaler", a Trim Saw for use with a Mitre Jack, was purchased at that Tools of the Trade show, but I'm not done yet.

    Yup, it was purchased from D.S. Orr.

    Not only was he very gracious about my purchase, he even gave me a discount to boot.

    Now that is a gentleman.

    And that is also a textbook definition of "Irony".



    Friday 8 October 2010

    Getting Silly...

    Strange stuff this working with hand tools. Coming from a power tool background, like most, I am used to banging off most jobs in a few short hours. Switch over to hand tools and the same job takes days.

    The condo corp decided it was time to change some windows. The crew ripped out the old and popped in the new and did a relatively good job of it. The one thing they didn’t do is replace the inside sills. That would be an improvement of a private residence, and they are not paying for that, so I got stuck with the job.

    The original sills were just drywall, prone to the usual cracks, shrinkage and other sundry ailments of plaster in an inconsistent environment. I decided to make the change to oak, now that the opportunity arose.

    The last house I built had oversized trim from crown to floor, which was v-groove and pegged, all in oak, and all stained ebony. This ran throughout the entire first floor. Within five years I hated it, but it cost so damned much, I couldn’t bare to rip it down. It may have been the dark stain that I tired of so quickly, but I think it was more the dark slashes and flecks that makes up the harsh grain in oak that got to me the most. That said, this time around only the sills are being done and they will only be varnished.

    In my power tool days, lumber was only purchased rough and I would dress it on the jointer and planer. No longer having those tools available to me, I hefted my trusty Stanley No.5, then put it away and headed off to Home Depot to check out the prices. To say I was shocked at what I discovered would be an understatement. Not only was the pricing beyond ridiculous; the wood was junk; warped, twisted, full of knots and good only for firewood. After some hustling, I got a fantastic deal on some great oak, which is now stacked in my livingroom. All I could get was 1” dressed and window aprons were out of the question so I grabbed some 1 x 2, 1 x 4 and 1 x 6.

    Today I put together a shorter section to make sure what I had in my head would work attached to the wall.

    Stanley No.8 Type 8

    I cut a 1 x 6 to length and ran my new No.8 over it to make sure it was flat. I did the same to a length of 1 x 2, and when I figured they would match up tight, I glued them together to make the edge appear to be 6/8 stock.

    Once glued, I set the Stanley 72 to an eighth and chamfered the lower-front edge, then set it to three-eights and did the same to the top edge.

    While this structure is the typical metal studding found in high rises, the single top-plate looks more like a roller coaster track than the base of a window opening. Not only does it rise and fall, but it twists like crazy as well. There is not enough height to add a piece to it to straighten it out so my only choice is to fix the apron solid to the sill and use it as the main connection surface. I’ll just shim the back of it every three feet or so and glue the whole lot in with construction adhesive.

    As I could only get 1 x 4 to use for the apron, I had to treat the lower edge and I had just the ticket for this. Last fall, while at the Tools of the Trade show just east of Toronto, I purchased a molding plane from D.S. Orr, yes, the same D.S. Orr that I posted about so disparagingly a couple of months ago. I didn’t know who he was until I spoke to him after those posts. Anyway, H.E. Mitchell made this plane, which is why I bought it. He is really a relatively unknown maker from Brighton, England who operated a shop there in the later half of the 1800’s. I think he is possibly a cousin of my great, great grandfather, and because of that, his wood planes are the only ones I will purchase now. Don’t tell my wife, but I picked up one of his plow planes on eBay the other day. Great stuff!

    So with a 1 ½" wood molding plane in my hands, I tackled a 4' piece of oak, cutting a ogee along one edge. A half hour later, I was soaked with sweat, but I had a beautiful edge on that board. Its no wonder men only lived until they were about forty-five or so during the last century. Doing something like this day in and day out would kill ya real quick.

    After gluing and pocket screwing the apron to the stool (don’t look at that word like that, stool is the correct name for it), I ran over the lot with a scraper card and plopped it into place to check the fit.

    I then quit for the day.