Thursday, 27 January 2011

What to do with this seventy-two...

I bought this Stanley No.72 Chamfer Plane about a year and a half ago for, I think, $225. Its a nice plane, one I have used many times, but it is the one plane in my collection that bugs me to no end.

My likes:
  • The blade seems to hold an edge forever, even though 100% of its wear is limited to the half inch in the middle.
  • It is comfortable to use as the tote is the same one used on the No. 3, a size that seems to be just perfect for my hands.
  • It also does an excellent job at producing a very true and even chamfer, for miles, if need be.
  • The wood has a beautifully patina.
  • I think it is one of Stanley's better designed tools, an excellent example of design following function.

My dislikes:
  • Registering it properly at the beginning of the stroke is next to impossible (On a power planer, the problem is always at the end of the board and its called "snipe". What do you call the same issue at the beginning of a board when using a hand plane).
  • It lacks a blade adjuster, something I truly hate in any plane (now there is a statement you don't want to hear from someone who collects wood molding planes).
  • It sells for a ridiculous price.

So all that said, what bugs me to no end with it?

Its condition.

The japanning on the main casting is just...well...sad.

The V-Sole has some lumps and craters that came with the plane from the factory, I believe.

The japanning on the adjustable sole is almost none-existent.

The blade cap isn't too bad, but it has its issues.

Its a "B" casting.

I paid another $225 for the beading attachment, but I'm still looking for the bullnose.

The question is, what do I do with it?

I sent my Miller Falls eggbeater off to Wiktor Kuc, over at three months ago. Mr. Kuc broke his wrist just after that, and that put him out of commission for a while, so the return of it is understandably delayed. One of my requests when I set it to him, though, was he not make it look like a brand new drill. That look is impressive, but not the look I like in a vintage tool and remember, to me, looks are half the battle.

So how do you deal with missing japanning without having it come back looking like a repainted plane?

I found a guy who restores planes on eBay and I really like what he does with these old planes, but the problem I have is that they do not look like old planes any more. I emailed him with my thoughts, and Steve assures me he is well equipped and experienced to deal with it within my requested limitations.

If the plane can be redone without looking like a remake, I then have to be concerned about the value of the tool. Will refurbishing it increase its value, or decrease it?

Oh, what do you do with an old seventy-two (sorry, I like that rhyme).



Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Its a cheque I'll take...

The following arrived in the mail this morning.

Its a cheque made out to yours truly for $18.08, the difference between the price I paid Lee Valley Tools last June for two diamond stones and the price those same stones will sell for this year. The refund is in accordance with Lee Valley's "Price Reduction Guideline". I had no idea Lee Valley Tools had such a guideline.

I searched their site for that guideline, but couldn't find anything. I then did a Google search for it, but nothing came up except a bunch of hits for postings in other blogs that have already written about this same surprise cheque.

I then sent off an email to the company asking for directions to the guideline, or a copy of the guideline. This is what came back...

"There are many factors that determine our price reduction guidelines,
unfortunately these are not published."

Now I could be a cynic about this so called "price reduction guideline" as this is the first time I have ever received anything even closely resembling something like this in the 32 years I have been dealing with this company. In fact, about 8 or 9 years ago I commented to one of the salesman that, due to the amount of money I had spent with this company over the years, I shouldn't have had to pay $5 and change for one of their caps . That comment got me a smile, but no discount and certainly no price reduction guideline cheque. (I should have bought one back then because they are almost 10 bucks now)

So yes, I'm being a bit cynical about this because the question that arises is, "Why now?"

After a little thought, I answered that question myself and my cynicism dissolved very quickly. The answer is very simple.

The economy on both sides of the border sucks. Sales for Lee Valley, like any other business during this past fiscal period, have to be down. What better way to initiate additional sales then to send a cheque to most of your long-standing, loyal customers under the guise of being a straight-shooting company? Talk about a brilliant promotion. It is subtle, a boost to customer relations, and if any Lee Valley customer is considering buying a new tool or two, where do you think they will be cashing in that cheque? You got it. Lee Valley Tools.


Just bloody brilliant!

Of course, I could be wrong. The guideline could be a long-standing policy of Lee Valley's and this could be the first time in 32 years an item I have purchased from them has fallen in price the following year. It is possible, isn't it? (take two minutes out here to stop giggling)

Either way, I'm off to Lee Valley this weekend to get that Auriou 300mm Cabinetmakers Rasp I have been dreaming about for the past couple of months. As of this morning, the price of that rasp just dropped below a hundred bucks.



Monday, 17 January 2011

Great Minds Think Alike...

Over the past few weeks I have noticed that articles regarding the engraving of tools by Catherine Kennedy have been popping up all over the place. The Village Carpenter had one just the other day and a while ago, Chris Schwarz wrote about her work in his Lost Art Press blog, having just had the beauty of his No. 5 increased dramatically by her.

I have been aware of Catherine's work for some time now as she has been a major feature on so it was nice to see that the true movers and shakers in woodworking tools had the same thoughts about Catharine's work as I. For sometime I have had an idea forming in my head regarding some special engraving I would like to have done on my set of Stanley Bench Planes and as I'm still missing a few, I was waiting patiently to accumulate them before going at it. I did end up getting a plane engraved by her earlier than expected, though, and I'm extremely happy I did.

One Sunday morning a couple of months ago I was cruising Jim's site looking at his latest offerings and a block plane caught my eye. Jim had it listed as a "Jim Bode Tools Rabbeting Block Plane" and I immediately jumped to the conclusion he had finally started his own line of tools, something I expect him to do at any time. Instead of asking if my assumption was correct, I fired off an email saying I'll take it, and given I thought this was the first example from his new line, I asked that it be enhanced a bit by having Catharine engrave it. I figured this was apropos as I know Jim is into engraving tools big time.

After considerable back and forth, Jim finally caught on to what I had assumed and set me straight. It wasn't a tool of his design and no, he hadn't come up with his own tool line. I took the tool anyway as I thought it well made and well designed.

It is a beautiful low-angle, rabbeting block plane with a seriously hard and heavy blade.

In fact, this plane makes as much sense to others as it does to me as Rob, over on the Blogbloke, wrote about it late last week as he plans to pick one up soon. 

Not only is this a great little plane, but after Catharine got through with it, it now looks a hundred times better than it did "naked". I only had two wishes for the engraving so I asked Catharine to match the contemporary feel of the plane's design and to add a Jim Bode Tools logo to the adjustment wheel. It was Catharine who suggested adding the logo to the box lid as well. She pulled this off for me like she can read minds and here is the proof...



Friday, 7 January 2011

Its All In The Details, Sans The Detail Planes, That Is...

Things are coming along with my wife’s plant shelving unit. Not as quickly as I would like it to, but at least things are heading in the right direction.

I now have both sides completed, and son-of-a-gun if they don’t match. I have always found this to be the hardest part of building anything; when you get one side done, you have to match it. I would save myself a lot of grief with this if I worked like Rob over on the woodbloke blog. He makes scale models and does tremendous research before he even buys the materials. Often, as with this project, I don’t work from a plan. I just come up with a concept and start at it. I know that if I spent a little time creating plans, I could cut all the pieces in one go and they would all be the same. Knowing and doing is two different things, though. I just think that working things through as I go along is a lot more fun. I work one side until I get it the way I want it, and then I shoot myself in the foot making the match.

The first order of business was dressing the stock.  Using a scraper, I got rid of the squeezed out glue and realized that I would have to do very little planing. In fact, I only had to touch the plane to it in two or three places. The whole thing was cleaned up with a card scraper. I purchased a Veritas Scraper Set some time ago and I love the thing, especially the holder. I can take out a hunk of skin working with cotton balls, so anything that minimizes the chance of blood ending up on the wood is a good thing for me. While the set is a winner for me, the card holder is the bonus. It makes holding the scraper blade so much easier, especially for these large jobs.

Once I had the faces smooth, I cut the piece to length. The shelves are made from a glue-up of two 1” x 6” pieces, so the final width was 10 ¾”, which is the width I made the sides. As a result, I did not have to do any ripping on them.

I then shot the ends using my temporary shooting board with my 15” Veritas Low-Angle Jack. I have no idea how I lived without this appliance for so long, but I’m very happy to have it now. The dark areas in the image above are sweat stains, by the way.

I shot the long edges with a Stanley No.7, and I was ready to do the detail.

The detail on the shelf edge is a perfect example of why I don’t work with plans. In my drawing, I placed a three-bead reed along each edge of the shelves, but all the other details are single beads. As I looked among the Stanley No.66 Beader blades, I realized that the design would probably be more unified if the shelf edges matched the other shadow lines. I ended up putting the reeding blade back and using a single ¼” beading blade.

I started out adding a bead to the outer edges. I then wanted to remove the ¼” space between so I pulled out the little Veritas Miniature Shoulder Plane and the set of Veritas Detail Rabbet Planes. Now these little planes are really well made and I am sure in the hands of someone a heck of a lot more capable with tools than myself, they are probably an incredible advantage to a shop, but, man, I had a hell of a time with them.

The Miniature Shoulder has a blade adjuster on it, so setting the blade was very easy. Getting that blade to remove the oak in anything that resembled a reasonable amount of time, however, was another story. With a sole that is ¼” wide by 2 ½” long and only weighing in at 1.7 ounces, it was like trying to remove wood with a feather. I knew at the time I was asking a lot of this little plane. Maybe on a smaller project, one that does not involve hardwood, I might have stood a better chance. It didn’t take long to realize that there was no way the day was going to be long enough for me to plow out that space using that tool.

I then turned to the Veritas ¼” Detail Rabbet plane. At 3”, these planes are a little longer with a bit more heft to them, but they are awkward little buggers to hold. Because of their height, they are also difficult to keep square to the stock. Being a tad lighter than what was needed, it wasn't going to remove stock in a hurry either. The biggest issue I had with them, though, was setting up the blade. There is no adjustment and the only way to work it is to set it using two fingers and doing so by feel, not the easiest way for a raw amateur to set a plane blade.  I also noticed that after two runs down the 52” length, the plane was uncomfortably warm in my hand, damn near hot, actually.

I said the heck with the lot of them (ok, so maybe a little stronger than that), and went to the Veritas Miniature Plow Plane, which is what I should have started with in the first place. It was much more controllable and removed what I wanted in about 4 minutes flat. I finished it all off with a quick sand and I was done for the day.

Thankfully, only two of the four shelves require this treatment, the other two having square faced edges.

Tomorrow, I’ll start trying to match it.