Friday, August 31, 2018

Study of a D. R. Barton Skewed Rabbet Plane

I'd been thinking about obtaining a wooden rabbet plane and I found an interesting one at a tool show I attended last week up in Sonoma, CA.  It's an old D. R. Barton skewed rabbet plane.
The plane, as found
The D. R. Barton logo
According to info on the Davistown Museum website, who got their info from Nelson's 1999 "Directory of American Toolmakers", David R. Barton was in business under various company names from 1832 until his death in 1875.  His name and logo were used for another 5 years by the people who bought his company.  The logo above was used from 1874 until 1880.

The back end of this plane is stamped "24", which was probably a catalog number for Barton's skewed rabbet planes.  This number was probably not for a specific size of rabbet plane.  I had seen a picture of another D. R. Barton skewed rabbet plane, stamped on back with "1 1/8" (the width) and the number "24"; my rabbet plane is about 1 1/2" wide.  It's possible that the width was originally stamped on the back, but it seems the back end has been hammered a few times too many and no mark can be seen.
Catalog no.? 24
As found, the plane was under 1 1/2" wide - just under 1 7/16".  I'm guessing it started out about 145 years ago at 1 1/2".  It is just under 9 5/8" long and about 3 7/16" tall.
Width across the sole
A prior owner had attempted to flatten the sole, so that part didn't have the same patina as the rest of the plane.  If you look closely, you can see bad chatter marks where the sole had been planed.
Chatter marks on the sole
The skew of the bed is about 24° from the perpendicular.
Skew angle approximately 24°
OK, old tool collectors might want to avert their eyes - otherwise you'll see where I've planed away the patina.  I'll be writing in another post about my work to restore this plane be a user.

The cutting angle (the bed angle) is about 47-48°, though due to the skew, the effective cutting angle will be something a little less than that.
The bed angle
I wanted to document some aspects of this plane that we don't always think about.  But if I ever attempt to make one, these things will come in handy.
The bed line begins about 3" from the toe
On the other side, due to the skew angle, the bed line is about 3 5/8" back from the toe
The mortise for the wedge and iron was interesting.  It's just under 7/16" wide, though the walls are anything but flat and straight these days.  The rear wall of the mortise (bottom in the photo below) has the same angle as the skew angle, of course, but the funny thing is that the front wall of the mortise has a slightly different angle.  I don't know why this would be.
View of top of plane - toe is towards top
The conical escapement fascinates me - I just love the curve and how it works.  The wedge starts to curl a shaving and the escapement forces it out the left side.
Escapement area
Just documenting some escapement dimensions
The curve starts with about 11/16" radius and gets progressively greater
Right side of the lower mortise area
The conical escapement starts 3/4" from the sole and
top of  escapement area is 2 1/4" from sole
The 5 3/4" long wedge is usable, but is in tough shape.  It's about 25/64" thick - a little loose laterally in the mortise.  It's got some cracks on the back end and along one edge.
Wedge and iron in place
Back end of wedge has been smacked a few too many times
Another chip coming away from the wedge, near where it exits the mortise
The iron has no maker's marks anywhere on it.  But it's a laminated iron, which I think is great.  Harder steel laminated to softer iron makes it easier to sharpen.
Side view of the iron - shows the lamination very clearly
If you look carefully, you can also see the lamination on the bevel
The iron is 1 9/16" wide and about 1 5/8" along the skewed cutting edge.  The length of cutting iron is about 1 1/2" from cutting edge to the back of the wide portion.
About 1 9'16" wide
About 1 5/8" along the cutting edge
The tang is anywhere from 3/8" to 5/16" wide and definitely not close to straight or flat.

In the next post I'll detail the steps I took to bring this plane back to user status.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Eric Sloane

I love Eric Sloane's stuff, but as yet haven't owned any of his books.  A couple years ago I borrowed a copy of his 1954 title, "American Barns and Covered Bridges" from the local library.  I was dazzled by the artwork and information.

At the PAST tool show I recently attended in Sonoma, CA, one table had some old books.  I got lucky enough to snag this copy of Eric Sloane's 1973 title, "A Museum of Early American Tools".  For $3!!!  I had heard of this book, but had never seen a copy.  This copy is not in perfect shape, but it's plenty good enough for me.
My two purchases from the tool show - a grand total of $13
I've only just begun to go through it, but already I can tell it's going to be fascinating.  Within the first couple of pages I found out that what I call a bench hook, he called a "side rest".  What I've called a bench dog, he called a "bench hook".  It's interesting how these terms can change over the decades.

Sloane's artwork was just great.  He did all the illustrations in his books and I find them so damned good.
A random page from "A Museum of Early American Tools"
The other titles that I've heard of (that align with my interests), but as yet have not seen, are:

A Reverence for Wood (1965)
An Age of Barns (1967)

And I know Sloane put out dozens of other books, sketches and paintings.  If you ever have the chance to get your hands on one of Eric Sloane's books, run - don't walk - and snag it before someone else does!!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Rehabilitating an Old Oil Stone

One of the treasures from Orvil Heft's tool collection was a nice Pike's Lily White Washita oil stone.  I've never worked with oil stones, so I contacted Bob Rozaieski, who I support through his Patreon page.  Bob had some good recommendations for me and most of what I've done below incorporates his suggestions.
The stone as found
It came in its own wooden box - in fact it was glued into the box, which I thought was weird.
The inside of the box lid
The box itself was interesting.  The sides of the box were joined with tiny rabbet and dado joints that were pinned with a couple tiny nails.
One corner of the box's lid
Not every joint was still perfect ...
... and predictably with this tiny joint the dado blew out in two corners of the top
An internet search indicated that Pike's Washita stones are well thought of.  My understanding is that it's a relatively soft stone used for fast metal removal.  In 1932 Pike was bought by Norton.  Here's a great 1985 article written by Robert Topping if you want some history on Pike Manufacturing Co. and the abrasive industry in general (that's for you, Bob).

The stone was heavily dished and dirty.  And apparently it was glued into the box!  I thought maybe it was just stuck from all the muck.  But it really was glued in.  I got it out by clamping the stone in the vise and gently tapping the edge of the box until it released.
Stone clamped in vise, tapping the edge of the box with small hammer and block
Unfortunately, some of the stone stayed with the box.
The light areas show glue residue.
Side view of stone face-down on benchtop.
Notice the air space under the center of the stone - about 1/8"!
The first step in cleaning up the stone was to soak for a few days in mineral spirits to try to loosen up some grunge.
Could have used a better plastic container - this one got soft from the mineral spirits
I had read somewhere that you can roughly flatten a dished stone on a concrete block.  So I tried that, but after a few minutes, the block was smooth as a baby's butt and didn't help flattening the stone any more.
Flattening using a cinder block
After a few minutes I was still only getting the ends of the stone
After a few more minutes
I decided to face the wrath of the wife and use the driveway as a flattening stone and that worked MUCH better.  I cleaned the driveway with water several times in between rubbing sessions.
After a few minutes on the driveway
Finally got it as flat as the driveway
Then I took it inside and cleaned it off and used a coarse diamond plate to get it flatter.
I did this in the kitchen sink where I could clean away the debris often
Lookin' a whole lot better now - can see how it gets the name "Lily White"
Here's the stone standing on end in its box, looking straight down from above.
I was shocked to see a reflection off the dry stone of the red lettering in the box lid!
I guess it's pretty smooth.
The next thing I did was to boil the stone for about an hour and a half with some liquid dishwasher detergent.  This got more of the deeply embedded oils and swarf out of there.  Then I let the stones dry in the sun for a few days.

Finally,  I soaked the stone in mineral oil for a few days.
Soaking up some mineral oil
The stone should soak up some oil and hopefully that and the use of fresh oil when sharpening will keep the metal swarf from clogging the stone.

I haven't used the stone yet for sharpening - I'll do that soon and report back.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Multi-Drawer Shop Cabinet, Part 2

The carcase having been completed, I got to the drawers.  I made a test drawer first, to see how the runner system would work and to work out some other details.  The drawer sides and back are 13/32" thick pine, the fronts are 1/2" mahogany from a salvaged table undercarriage and the bottoms are some 3/16" maple-veneered plywood.
The test drawer with oak front
As you can see in the picture, the sides are half-blind dovetailed into the front.  There is also a rabbet on the bottom inside edge of the drawer front that will conceal the plywood bottom.
Showing how the drawer front will hide the plywood bottom.
Also note the groove in the side that will slide on runners in the carcase.
The drawer pulls will be 1/8" thick pieces of maple, mortised into the top edge of the drawer front
Another view of the pull
Ten of the drawers will also have a divider housed in dadoes in the front and back of the drawer
One thing I love is being able to use some of my older and favorite tools.  I cut the drawer side grooves with the Ohio Tool Co. plough plane that I rehabbed a couple years ago.
Ploughing the groove with the old screw-arm plough plane
After the bottoms were glued on, I was able to use an old vom Cleff & Co. German-style plane to clean them up.  With a wide open mouth, this plane worked much better than my Stanley metal planes with tight mouths that clogged on the plywood.
Cleaning up the glued-on bottom
Speaking of gluing on the bottoms, here was my method of clamping.
An MDF shelf and a toolbox to add weight for clamping pressure
The drawer construction took a long time at first, but moved along better when I did similar operations on all drawers before moving to the next operation on all drawers (a "batch" operation).
First test-fit of all drawers in their spaces -
Note the gap between the bottom drawers and the next drawer up
Apparently I miscalculated something and had a large gap between drawers 5 and 6 on each side.  I fixed that by gluing a small piece to the top edges of the bottom drawer fronts.
The fix was almost invisible
Gluing up the carcase was OK - a little nerve-wracking, but it went well and the joints were very tight.
Carcase glue-up - note the special cauls that add pressure directly to every other tail
For a finish, I coated the case with a couple coats of shellac.  Any wear surfaces also got shellac and then wax.
Shellac drying - oh, man look at those nice dovetails
Drawer fronts with shellac and drying.
The bottom drawers also got shellac on their undersides because they slide on the case bottom
And here she is ...
The back is a piece of 1/8" plywood fitted into rabbets and screwed in place.
And here's the obligatory shot of the drawers progressively opened showing the half-blind dovetails
Some of you might have noticed that I grooved the bottom drawer sides when I didn't need to ...
And here it is in its new home
This area of the shop went from this ... to this.
As it was ...
To as it is now.

One thing I didn't mention - I made the drawer fronts overwidth by about 1/16" so that I could plane the top edges down to get an even space between all drawers.  This turned out to be a great idea, as the spacing was anything but consistent.

This project was a LOT of work.  Hopefully the benefits will outweigh the work required.  But even if it doesn't, I have one more project under my belt that will lead me in the direction of more complicated pieces.