Thursday, December 29, 2016

Toothing Planes - Part 1

There was an ad on Craigslist for some old planes and I had to check it out.  The seller said that a friend's father passed away and they had all these old handplanes to get rid of so they went to the only woodworker they knew.  There was a Stanley #45 that I really wanted, but someone beat me to it.  But there were some other interesting things.  I would have bought just one but the seller was selling two planes together for $20. This post will cover the plane that I cared more about.

This is a coffin-shaped toothing plane.
As found - A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Plane Toothing Plane
View of the other side
Toothing planes are used to help smooth woods with particularly gnarly grain that are prone to tearing out.  But it will leave a surface that looks like the iron (see below).  What I'm not sure of is what one does after using this plane to get a final smooth surface.

The plane is 7 1/4" long, about 3" at it's widest and 2 9/16" tall (without iron and wedge).  It's got a very high bed angle, about 80° (plus or minus a couple degrees).  The name on the plane is A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Plane and there appears to be the number "36" stamped on the front.
Front view
Back end, complete with hanging hook of prior owner
The toothed iron is about 2 1/8" wide, but (oddly) tapers to about 2 1/6" at the back end.  Maybe that's the result of many years worth of hammer taps when setting it.  It's tapered in thickness too, measuring 3/16" at it's thickest and about 1/8" at the back end.
The iron as found
Closer view of the engraving - the apostrophe is apparently in the wrong place!
Closer view of the toothed end
The bevel is approximately 25°
The iron's taper profile after a little clean-up
The wedge appears to be in pretty good shape.
Front side of wedge
Back side of wedge
Note how the toothed iron has left its mark on the back of the wedge
A little internet searching gave the following info.  Credit here goes to a website called  A.C. Bartlett was a president and/or partner of the hardware distributor, Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett of Chicago.  Their in house brand of planes was A. C. Bartlett's Ohio Planes and were made for them by Sandusky, probably between 1882 and 1917.

According to the Early American Industries Association (EAIA) Directory of American Toolmakers,
"Planes made by the Sandusky Tool Co. were marked as indicated for sale by Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett Co., a hardware firm which Bartlett was president of 1904 -17.  Bartlett was a salesman for Hibbard, Spencer & Co. before becoming an unnamed partner in 1872; his name was added in 1882."  For anyone interested, a history of Hibbard, Spence & Bartlett can be found here, thanks to "The Hardware Companies Kollectors Klub".

The next entry will cover the steps I used to clean and get the plane to a working condition.  I'll also show some (hopefully minor) issues with it.  Never having used a toothing plane before I don't know what to expect.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Holiday Gift #2: Ebonized Oak Serving Tray - Finishing

Just wanted to add a little bit to the last post.  Ebonizing of the project went well.  For the iron solution I used steel wool and apple cider vinegar.  Time pressures made it so I couldn't wait 7 days for the solution, so I waited about 4 days, stirring each day.  And since it was chilly in the garage I also wrapped it in a heated "corn cozy" a lot of the time - heat increases the rate of a chemical reaction.

The steel wool had not disintegrated like it usually does, so I was a little worried.  So I tested the solution by dipping a couple test pieces in an oak-shaving tannin broth and then in the iron solution.
Test pieces turned color quickly
With a good test I went for it, giving the project a heavy coat of hot tannin broth, letting it dry and later knocking down the raised fibers.  I repeated that and after it was dried and sanded I applied the iron solution.  The color went dark quickly, but I still added a couple more coats.
Still wet with first coats - drill shown for black comparison
Hanging from the bicycle seat drying
After all ebonizing steps
When satisfied, I coated with BLO, waited 15 minutes and wiped dry, then waited a day before a second coat.  Lacking time, that was all the coats it would get.  This morning I gave it a couple coats of paste wax and it shined up pretty good.
The complete tray
Lookin' shiny
The final shot
Happy with how this came out.  And just in time ...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Gift #2: Ebonized Oak Serving Tray / Stuff Organizer

This project was a real challenge.  It's a serving tray with angled sides dovetailed together.  My intent in making it was to hold a bunch of video game joysticks (or whatever they call those things) that are seemingly all over the place in the recipient's apartment.

It's also been a real challenge to try to explain the angles.  I'll apologize up front for the lack of clarity in the text.  Hopefully the pictures will help.

In November I experimented with angled dovetails, making a step stool.  But that was a different type of angled dovetail.  This time I'm joining four corners where each side is splayed out at 20°.  When I posted about the step stool I mentioned the YouTube video by "Half-Inch Shy" and that really helped me in this build.  But there is something that he didn't cover in that video (or a follow-up video) that had me scratching my head for quite a while.  I'll get to that later.

There are a lot of angles to keep track of in this project.  I only have one bevel gauge (and it's not even a good one), so I mark the angles on the top of my workbench, referencing off the front edge.
The four angles I need for this build
Before getting to the real project, I made a couple of test joints on 3/4" pine.  I also made a couple of 20° angle blocks to lean the boards against when laying out.  I started by cutting the mating ends at 20°.  This will be close to, but not exactly equal to the eventual angle I need on the ends.  The method for getting the correct angle goes like this.  Lean the two boards against their 20° angle blocks.  Arrange them so they are at 90° to one another, and so one overhangs the other by a little bit.  Then take a pencil and run it along the inside surface of one of the boards, scribing the other board as you pull the pencil up.  The resulting angle is a couple of degrees off of 20°.
Scribing the angle onto the tail board
A previously knifed 20° line and the bevel gauge at the scribed pencil line
Anyhoo, after re-cutting the ends at the proper angle so that they mate properly when leaning at 20°, I got to marking and cutting the dovetails.  But you can't just use a dovetail marker like you can on a board with a square end.  Dovetails on an angled end need to be laid out as if the end was square.  So I used my DT marker in combination with a square to get the proper alignment.
Dovetail marker registering on a square to draw in DT layout
Tails laid out on one face
If you mark the DTs square to the angled end, it creates some very weak bits at the ends of the tails that can break easily.

With the DTs laid out on the face, you can't just square these lines across the end grain because of the splay angle.  To get the proper angle to mark the end grain, you need to draw a line parallel to the bottom edge of the boards and capture that angle with a bevel gauge (referencing the stock of the bevel gauge on the angled end of the board) to transfer it to the tail board end grain.  This is one of the keys to this method: the pin board layout lines are parallel to the benchtop so that with both boards on the benchtop the pin board can just slide right into the tail board recesses.
Line parallel to the benchtop to get tails board end grain layout angle
Forgot to get pictures of marking those end grain angles, but here are the tails cut.
Tails cut - front to back the cuts are not square to the face
Then it was a matter of transferring the tails to the pin board end grain.
Marking pin board end grain
The lines down the face of the pin board are parallel to its sides.  Cut to the lines, fit the joint and clean up the surfaces.
Pins cut
The joint after a little fitting
And after a little clean-up
Here's what it looks like from above.
View from above
There's one thing I didn't write about - while the tail board end is cut at a little less than 20°, it also needs to be beveled at about 7°.  I honestly don't recall how I handled that on the test joints, but I was more concerned when doing the real thing.

With a couple of test joints cut, on it was to the real project.  I used oak approximately 5/16" thick.
Holding boards at proper splay
After thinking for a long while about angles, I decided to bevel the long edges of the boards so that the edges would sit flat on the benchtop when the parts are splayed.
Made an impromptu shooting board for the edge bevel
Beveling one edge
Monitoring progress with pencil lines
Lines almost gone
And we're done
This also allowed me to find that 7° angle without measuring.  The next picture shows a top view of one corner.  The board on the left was crosscut on the end to the "near 20°" angle, and the cut was made square to the face.  You can see that when the boards are splayed and the edges mated that the end grain of the board on the left is not in a straight line with the edge of the other board.
Top view of one corner before layout
This angle affects how you lay out the joint because you can't just square the lines from one face around to the other face.  However, with the edges beveled, you can use a square registered on the face of the left board to mark the appropriate lines.

This is where I didn't get any pictures, but at least I showed my test joints earlier to give an idea.  After a lot of head scratching I finally got the joints marked and cut and then test fit.
Four sides dry fit
Before gluing up I needed to make some hand holds on the short sides.  I decided where and how wide to make them, then bored a couple 1" starter holes.
Starter holes
Used a container lid for marking the curves
Then cut out with coping saw, smoothed with rasps and files and sanded smooth.

The glue-up went in two stages.  I'm just gluing a piece of 1/8" plywood to the bottom.
Lots of 20° angle blocks needed for glue-up
Later gluing on the bottom
After the glue dried on the bottom, I reinforced it with 24 "tree nails",
 1/8" dowels glued into drilled holes
The oak I used for this project was fairly brittle and the ends of some tails or pins fractured.  So I had a few holes to fill.  I cut off little bits of oak scraps and glued them in, cutting flush later.
Little bits glued in
Here's a before and after of one of the holes.  Nobody will ever know (don't you go telling anybody!).
And here's the finished tray.
Completed except for finishing
Very happy with how this turned out.  I'm going to ebonize it.  I still had the iron solution (steel wool and vinegar) and the tannin broth from my last project, but look what happened to the tannin broth.
Yeah, that fuzzy stuff is mold growing in there
And the iron solution had a film over the top that made me wonder about it.  I dumped them both and started fresh.  I'm trying to speed up the steel wool and vinegar reaction by heating it a little using a bean bag cozy (there's probably a better term for these things).
And yes, those are pink piggies on the cozy - don't ask!
I'm hoping that by Monday the iron solution will be ready so I can start the ebonizing process.  Time is drawing short to get this finished.