Friday, December 14, 2018

Tool Gloat, Sort Of

A few weeks ago I went to a tool show in Ripon, CA, put on by PAST Tool Collectors.  PAST used to stand for "Preserving Arts and Skills of the Trades" and was originally associated with EAIA, the Early American Industries Association.  Anyway, my intent was to limit my purchases to a couple of old plane irons for two planes that I plan to build (hopefully soon).  But at the end of the tool meet, there was an auction that included about 50 "lots" (boxes) of tools.  I had scoped out the boxes beforehand and didn't see anything that I thought I needed.  But I wanted to stay for the auction anyway.  As it turned out, I got "shamed" into bidding on a box and $10 later this box came home with me.
My $10 haul
Anybody who reads my blather knows I'm not a tool collector.  I just don't have the space to collect stuff, not to mention I think collecting is a disservice to usable tools and to those who might use them but can't because somebody else has them on a display shelf.

Anyway, here's what's in the box.

Stanley Defiance #1214 hand drill
Unknown plastic handle and chuck from a missing brace
Stanley #923-10 IN-Y 10 inch sweep brace
Stanley Handyman #H1250 10 inch sweep brace
Dunlap 10 inch sweep brace
W. A. Ives 13/16" auger bit
Hand saw handle (no maker name, just Warranted Superior medallion), including 4 saw bolts
Chisel, unknown maker, a little over 1/2" (may only be useful as a paint can opener)
Buck Brothers gouge, 5/16" radius curvature at cutting edge (I don't know the "sweep" numbering)

I already have two braces and a couple hand drills, and I don't need more.  But the gouge is another story.  I've got two larger gouges and this smaller one will come in very handy.  And it's a Buck Brothers, so I'd bet the steel is very good.  I'm gong to replace the handle and it should be a great user tool.

I've cleaned up most of these tools now and I'm thinking about giving most of them away.  Time will tell.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Disston Keystone K1 Backsaw Rehab

I picked up this saw for $3.00 at an estate sale a few weeks ago and I've been anxious to give it a little love.  The plate was dead straight as found, so I was hopeful that it would make a good user saw.  When I got it, I could just barely make out anything on the etch.  The medallion just said "Warranted Superior", nothing about Disston.
Disston Keystone K1 12" backsaw
Can't make out much of the etch
After turning it in the light and using lighted magnifying goggles, I could read Keystone K1, made by Disston U.S.A.  I googled that to get a better idea of the etch.
Photo from Jim Bode Tools (
A similar saw in 14" length, with good etch
From Erik von Sneidern's "Disstonian Institute" website, I read that the Keystone line of saws was aimed at "lower end" buyers - homeowners and hobbyists.  But the quality was reasonably good so as not to sully the Disston name.

The first thing I did was disassemble the saw and clean up the handle.
Did not take the back off the saw plate
Scraping to remove old finish
Quartersawn beech handle
Scraped, filed and sanded
Over three days, I gave the handle three coats of BLO.  I just love the feel that it gives.

The saw plate wasn't in bad shape - no major rust or pitting anywhere - just years of crud and I worked on that with sandpaper, mostly 220 and 320 grits.
Right side of the plate shows how dirty it was in comparison to the part embedded in the handle
Outlined the etch so that I wouldn't destroy it by sanding.
I destroyed an etch via sanding once before and was extremely disappointed - never again!
I did go lightly over the etch area with sandpaper wrapped around a flat piece of wood and that helped.  It's not perfect, but I'm happy how it turned out.  I can read the etch easily.
Plate finished
I used a wire wheel in the drill to work on the saw bolts and medallion.  Two of the three screws needed a little filing at the rim of the driver slot.
Medallion cleaned up a little, others as found
After clean-up
Now it was decision time.  As found, the saw had 12 tpi and it was tough to tell, but it was filed cross-cut.  I already have a 12 tpi x-c saw, so I thought about filing off the teeth and changing the saw's configuration.  The saw plate is 0.030-0.031" thick, whereas my other x-c saw is 0.026" thick.  I like the thinner plate, but I like the handle on this new saw much better.  I decided to keep the 12 tpi x-c config.  I'll show the two saws together later.

The funny thing about the teeth was that they weren't exactly 12 tpi - there was some drift over the length of the toothline.
Tooth peaks line up with a 12 tpi template at left, drifting away from the lines at right
The teeth were not too badly shaped, but definitely not all even
I've only sharpened my cross-cut saws about a half dozen times and have a fair amount of room for improvement.  So I took this slowly.
Jointing the teeth - had to file a lot as some teeth were quite a bit lower than others
Tops jointed - note how some teeth were barely touched
Started the sharpening by filing straight across to make the teeth uniform.
Left half of teeth in this photo are done - aiming to make the gullets line up with the template marks
Used a brand new Bahco file that lost its teeth on one corner very quickly (see upper edge),
but that could have been due to my technique - or not!  The same file got me through the sharpening.
Because the teeth had "moved" from their original 12 tpi position and were not exactly lined up with the template marks, I filed aggressively to move some teeth to where they should be.
After filing straight across, I jointed again and found where to file further.
It took three jointings and filings to get to where I was happy with the location and shape of the teeth.
The teeth were fairly even, though not yet filed for cross-cut
Next added a little set to the teeth
After applying some set, I filed cross-cut with 14° rake and 20° fleam (my standard).  I filed carefully, so as not to remove the entire flat spots on the tops of the teeths after filing from both sides.  I rejointed a couple times, trying not to end up with "cows and calves" - small and large teeth.

Not too shabby, but still far from perfect
For the set, I was aiming for about 0.037" total set, but as always I got more set than I wanted - and it wasn't consistent either.  I first lightly hammered back the set, using a larger hammer in the vise as an anvil.  Then I "stoned" the teeth on both sides with a diamond plate to get the set more even along the whole saw.

OK, just for picture comparison, here is the pre-rehab picture:
As found
And here she is, all gussied up.  The plate looks pretty good.  And a couple of test cuts convinced me that I did OK on the sharpening.
Glamour shot
Starboard side
Handle closeup
And for comparison, here it is with my Spear and Jackson 12" cross-cut backsaw (with a butt-ugly handle).
I like the Keystone's handle much better.
Both perform about the same.
Now I just need to find a spot for it - might need to move a few things around on the rolling cabinet that I use as a saw till.

UPDATE: I've now used the saw a number of times and find that it doesn't seem to cut as easily as the S&J.  I'm guessing that's because it cuts a slightly wider kerf.  Perhaps I'll use the S&J for joinery work and the Keystone for rougher work.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

W. A. Ives 13/16" Auger Bit Repair

I didn't think this was possible, but I was able to repair the lead screw of an auger bit.  I got this auger bit in a box of tools that I bought for $10 at a mini auction.  When auger bits are not stored properly, the lead screws (and spurs) can take a beating.
There it is in the middle
The bit was made by W. A. Ives and Co. and shows a patent date of Feb 28, '69 (or maybe '89).
Makers mark
Patent date
There was a little information on Sandy Moss' website regarding W. A. Ives.  William A. Ives worked in and around New Haven, CT and received over a dozen patents for braces and other boring tools between 1868 and 1884.

The bit as found was useless.  When I tried to bore a hole with it, it stalled after the lead screw was embedded in the wood.  The flutes of the screw were so worn down that they wouldn't pull the bit any further into the wood.  And little bits of wood got stuck between flutes, rendering them even more useless.
The bit in question at left, next to a bit in good condition at right
Look at the difference in the two lead screws above.  The lead screw flutes of the Ives bit were rounded over and very worn.

I have wondered if it is possible to rehab the flutes of auger bits.  Bob Rozaieski has an article on his website about sharpening auger bits.  Most articles I've seen about this topic only cover sharpening the spurs and cutting edges.  But Bob shows two things for the lead screw flutes.  First, he uses a triangular file to clean up the lead screw and second, he puts a bunch of polishing compound on the lead screw and twists it into wood several times to polish the threads.

I only used the file technique here, but I didn't think a triangular file would get as deep into the flutes as I needed.  Earlier this year I found a bunch of very fine files at a garage sale.  The file I used was a 3 1/2" half-round file with extremely fine teeth.
Small file with very fine teeth

"Half-round" is a misnomer here, as the round part is not a half circle - it's more like 1/6th circle.  So the angle the file has at its edges is much smaller than the 60° angle of a triangular file.  It took me probably 10-15 filings to get the teeth to look better and allow the bit to bore a hole, but I finally got it working.
Here it is after a little bit of filing
And a little more
And here's how it ended up
I realized after a couple rounds with the file that the bit is "double-helix" fluted.  I had only been filing half the flutes.  After filing the other half, things improved quickly.

If you don't mind a little close-up work with a file, don't throw out those auger bits whose lead screws are poorly shaped.  Maybe they can be fixed!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Simple Tool for Checking Diagonals for Square

During the glue-up of my recent curio cabinet project, I couldn't use a tape measure or any other straight rule when checking the carcase for square.  That was because I had sides that were not flush with the top and bottom - they were set back about 1.5".  So I made a simple tool with stuff I had on hand.  I've used two sticks before to measure inside diagonals, but they never seemed accurate enough due to slippage.  I'm not sure where the idea came from, but it hit me all of the sudden and I wondered why I hadn't thought of this before.
Veritas mortise/marking gauge and the diagonal measuring tool
The Veritas gauge comes with a little piece that locks the two rods together so that you can get the exact same mortise width in different locations relative to the edge of project parts.  I measured the two rods at 5/16" and wondered if I could lock two pieces of 5/16 dowel rod together using the mortise gauge locking piece.

I put one end of each dowel in a pencil sharpener so that they fit tightly into corners.  Slipped them into the locking mechanism and turned the thumb screw and it worked great.  The two dowel rods stayed where they were supposed to.
Checking one diagonal
And the other
When the gauge fits the same in both diagonals, you know your project is square.

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that make me giddy.  This one did!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Curio Cabinet, Part 5: Finishing Up

Next up was hinging the door.  I purchased some nice Brusso hinges.  They were damned expensive, but I wanted some good hinges to take the weight of the glass and wood door so that it wouldn't sag and scrape the bottom as it opens and closes.  So far, these hinges have performed perfectly.

I worked on the door first, marking the hinge recess carefully with the hinge in place, then mortising with chisel and router plane.
One hinge mortise chopped in the door
When the two hinges were on the door, I placed the door on the carcase to allow an even reveal at top and bottom.  Then marked the hinge recesses and chopped and chiseled them out.
Marking the carcase for the hinge mortises
And here is the door hanging on the carcase
With all the glass in this project, I thought I should pre-finish the components before gluing up.  So I planed, scraped and/or sanded all surfaces, gave 3-4 coats of shellac, and added a coat of paste wax.
Areas not to receive finish were taped off or avoided with the brush strokes
Having finished the sides and the thin strips that would hold in the glass, I could nail the strips in place.  I pre-drilled the nail holes in the strips so that these thin pieces would not split.  The 3/4" nails were just a bit smaller in diameter than my smallest drill bit, so I used a nail with its head cut off and point sharpened like an awl as my drill bit.
Nailing on a strip - thin plywood used to protect the glass
After installing the glass and the holding strips in both sides and the door, I could glue up the carcase.  It didn't want to be perfectly square, so I had to angle the clamps slightly to bring it into square.
Testing one inside diagonal ...
... and the other diagonal
I made this inside diagonal gauge to check for square.  Due to the overhang of the top and bottom, I couldn't measure accurately enough with a tape measure and these sticks worked great.  I'll write about them in a separate post later.

After that, I added the door pull.  Sometimes a task that seems so simple can have complications.  I had to recess the screw head on the back of the door (3/8" hole to a specific depth).  I needed a 3/16" through hole to accept the screw threads.  I ended up starting with a 1/16" pilot hole, drilled as square as I could drill it.
Marked the location and then drilled from both sides to get a square through pilot hole
On the back, used the pilot hole to guide a 3/8" auger bit
I then drilled a 3/16" hole from the front to take the screw and wound up being a bit off-center, but I rectified that with a small round rasp.  In retrospect, I could have used a 3/16" auger bit that probably would have followed the pilot hole better than the drill bit I used.

The door will be kept closed by a magnet inset into the front edge of the right side.  The magnet attracts the screw head of the door pull and this seems to be working nicely.

And here she is, with shelves in place.
Very happy how it turned out
Full frontal view
With door open
Left side showing hinges
And finally, in place on the wall, filled with the wife's collection of unicorns and other curios.
Tada !!!
The wood for this project was recycled - it had been a someone's shop-made cabinet and I got it for free on Craigslist.  They said it was mahogany, but I think it's sapele.  Rob Porcaro of the Heartwood Blog recently did a series of posts on mahogany and its impostors.  Sapele is not a true mahogany,  but it was a joy to work!  It sawed and chiseled like butter, but it dulled my plane irons quickly.  I wonder if it's a wood that has silica in it - something known to dull irons quickly.

There were several "firsts" for me in this project.  The ones I can think of at the moment (and there were probably more) were:

1. First project incorporating glass
2. First project from sapele
3. First time using the mitered bridle joint (for the door)
4. First time using h&r planes (rounds only) to mold the top on three sides
5. First time using Brusso hinges - they work as advertised

Wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving.