Thursday, January 21, 2021

Don't Be Afraid to Rehab Those Old Tools

Some collectors talk about maintaining an old tool in as unchanged condition as possible.  Not being a collector, I like the tools that I have to be users.  In November of 2019, I wrote about becoming the new owner of a Sandusky Tool Co. #92 round plane.  Its catalog number is "92", size "8"; the iron is 1 1/8" wide.

Sandusky #92 round, used to cut a 1 1/8" radius hollow

"92" was their catalog number for non-skewed round planes

While trying to put off projects that I should really get to, I decided to rehab the plane.  The sole and iron were not all that close to the shape they should be.  So the first thing to do was to mark on the toe and heel a vertical line 5/8" from the left side of the plane.  Then mark an arc with 1 1/8" radius close to the sole.

Marking the proper shape for the sole

After planing the sole to these marks, I started on the iron, marking the shape of the sole on the iron with it installed in the plane.

Colored the flat face of the iron with a red sharpie and then marked the sole shape with a scribe

This is not the result of the above marking:
I had done this earlier to get an idea of what I was up against.
You can see how out of shape the iron's edge was.

It took a bit of grinding and honing to get the iron to match the shape of the sole.  But after a few iterations, the shape was right and I sharpened and polished the iron.

The iron gleaming

Here's the sole and iron all cleaned up ...

... and here's the shape it cuts - nice and clean with a sharp iron

Well, I may never need a 1 1/8" radius hollow cut into a workpiece, but if and when I do, I'm all set to go.  [Update: I actually used it this week to hollow the outside of an experimental box I'm making.]

I didn't do much to this plane, so you collectors out there can breath easier (not that this plane is all that collectible).  But for the rest of us, if you've got a tool that can be put back into use, don't be afraid to alter it.  These tools want to be used!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Small Entry Table Refinish

Refinishing is not really my thing.  But I'm always up for something different and besides, it was on the honey-do list, so what choice did I have?  This table was my wife's mom's.  Before she died (26 years ago), she had started sanding the top, preparing to refinish it.  We've been using it as a shoe shelf and stuff catcher for the last 7 years.  It was time.

An interesting little table.  Top is 12" x 24".  It is 24 1/4" tall.

Here's how the table is constructed.  The legs fit through holes in a batten, which was glued and screwed to the underside of the top.  The leg tenons extended through the battens and into depressions in the top.

Underside of table

Legs detached from table top

Each front leg is attached to a back leg with a turned rail, whose tenons are about 3/4" long and 3/4" diameter.  One of them was loose and had to be re-glued.  The 5/16" thick shelf is glued into grooves in the two rails.  The shelf has a VERY rough underside.  I got to thinking about the method used to make the turned rails with a groove.  Perhaps plow a groove in square, over-long stock, glue in a stick to fill the groove so the edges of the groove don't blow out too badly when turning.  But only apply glue at the ends (that would be cut off later) and a tiny spot in the middle (that could be chiseled out later).  Remove the stick after turning and voila.

First thing I did was to plane, scrape and sand the top.  I worked both sides and removed as much finish as I could, and was surprised how light (in color) the wood was.

Top of the top


I filled a couple of small chips on the underside that extended to the edges.

Outline marked out

Then excavated, glued in patches and planed flush

I didn't want to risk taking the undercarriage apart, so it was a hassle working on it.  Scraping and sanding the turned legs was time-consuming and tough.  But in the end it looked pretty good.

Top and undercarriage prepared for re-finishing

I used the underside of the top to show my wife what three different stains might look like.  I tried the stains with and without a pre-coat of shellac.

Shellac applied before stain (above) and stain only (below)

We both liked the Behlen American Walnut stain with shellac undercoat - upper left in pic.  After a single coat of shellac and light sanding, the stain was applied with a small rag, working lighter areas more to get as even a color as I had patience for.  The next day, I applied some water-based "polycrylic" finish with a brush.  The top and shelf got two coats with light sanding in between.

And there she is

The top looks good

And back in service

I'm really happy with how this came out.  All the work sanding was worth the time spent.  More importantly, the wife is very pleased with how it came out.

I've been thinking about an alternate solution for shoe storage that would replace this little table.  The wall that it is against is at about a 45° angle to the wall at the left.  I'd like to design a piece that wraps around that 45° corner.  Maybe there will be more on that in a future post.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Stanley #2358A Miter Box, Part 2

In this second post about the Stanley #2358A miter box, I'll try my best to describe the workings of the swivel and locking mechanisms.  Many of the pictures are with the box upside-down, so be aware that when I use words like "above" or "lift" or "raises", the actual meaning could be the opposite when the box is upright.

Stanley #2358A with new sacrificial floor board

This bottom view shows where the swivel mechanism bolts to the main casting

Swivel mechanism removed.  The grease in the "track" was built up over time.
The grease only needs to be on the raised surfaces.

When tightened, the bolt and washers keep the swivel arm a very small distance
from the main casting, allowing it to swivel.

In the first picture above, just below the front post is the handle that, when squeezed, allows the swivel arm to move.  The following picture, with the miter box upside-down, shows the handle mechanism on the underside of the swivel arm.

The miter box is upside down - this is a view of the underside of the handle

The two screw heads at right provide a stop so that the handle won't go any higher.  The screws capture springs that return the handle to its stopped position.

Showing the springs that return the handle to rest position and stop it going further

With handle squeezed, the springs compress

When handle is squeezed, a tab on the inside of the handle moves an arm (see pointer)
that turns a horizontal barrel that raises/lowers the pin in the vertical brass barrel

In the following photos, I'll take apart the mechanism to show the component parts, and try to describe what each of them does.

Let's start at the back end of the handle area.  The handle is held to the casting with two screws, shown by the red arrows.  The yellow arrow points to a short, slotted threaded rod, the purpose of which I'll get into later.

Back end of handle area

With the short threaded rod removed

When that threaded rod is removed, you can see the top of the barrel that is aligned vertically in the casting.  Cutting across that barrel is another barrel oriented horizontally and you can see a part of it through the vertical barrel.

When I remove the two screws (see red arrows, above) and take off the handle, you see that the horizontal barrel has a split tab that fits into a slot on the inner edge of the handle.  When the handle is squeezed, the horizontal barrel is turned.

Attachment of handle to casting.  Vertical arrow points to the slot in the handle,
horizontal arrow points to the tab on the end of the horizontal barrel.

The following two pictures (side view) show what happens when the tab is rotated.  I've cheated a bit here - the two positions are not an accurate depiction of when the handle is installed.

When handle is squeezed to release the swivel (the tab would actually be more horizontal)

When handle is released to lock the swivel (the tab would actually be rotated clockwise more)

Note what happens to the bottom part of the vertical barrel - the part that extends below the casting.  When the handle is released, the vertical barrel is pulled into the casting.

Here it is in action.  The dental tool is pointing to the part of the vertical barrel that extends
from the casting.  Note how it "clamps" on the lip of the main frame of the miter box.

That part of the barrel that extends from the casting is sort of a "lock" for the swivel angel setting.  Here are the individual parts of the mechanism.

A: horizontal barrel, B: vertical barrel with clamp, C: slotted, threaded rod

How parts A and B interact within the casting

The horizontal barrel is positioned such that as it rotates, it lifts and lowers the vertical barrel.  The threaded rod, when it is tightened all the way, rotates the horizontal barrel in such a way that it locks the swivel mechanism.  As far as I can tell, this is only important when the user wants to lock in an angle that is not one of the preset angles.

OK, now it's time for the part that lifts and lowers the pin that fits into the holes for the preset angles.  This includes the brass barrel, the spring-loaded pin and the horizontal barrel / arm mechanism.

D: brass barrel, E horizontal barrel with arm

Individual parts

The brass barrel with spring-loaded pin

In the first of these three pictures, you see a screw just above the arm.  There are two of these - one on each side and they are shown in the second picture, close to their normal orientation relative to the brass barrel.  When they are tightened in the two detents of the brass barrel, they keep it in proper position.  The first of the three pics above makes it look like one of them might be a stop for the arm of the horizontal barrel, but that's just coincidence - the arm stops anyway just before hitting the screw.

The arm is actuated by the handle - a small tab on the inside of one fork of the handle is positioned to move the arm when the handle is squeezed (see the eighth picture in this post).  The barrel that the arm is attached to turns and engages the carved out area in the head of the pin.  This next picture shows how it works - sort of.

When the arm and barrel rotate (counter-clockwise), the pin retracts (to right) into the brass barrel

Here's what happens (following two pics show handle end of casting in proper upright orientation):

With the handle in neutral position, the pin (red arrow) protrudes and can engage
with any of the preset holes on the underside of the miter box

With the handle squeezed, the pin retracts, disengages with the preset holes
and the swivel is free to move to another location

BTW, the holes for the pre-set locations are for angles that were commonly used for equilateral structures that have 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, or 12 sides.  The holes furthest from 90° are at 30°, used for making a 3-sided frame.  Those locations are not marked on the top of the box.  These positions are also used for storing the box in its most compact configuration.

Underside of the box showing the holes for preset angles

Here, set to 67.5° (that's 90° minus 22.5°), the angle needed to make an 8-sided frame.
The scale shows the angle in degrees, as well as the way miter boxes were originally marked -
showing how many sides a frame would have if individual parts were cut at that preset.

But what if you want to cut at an angle other than the presets?

I noticed that if I tried to cut an 80° angle (for example), the swivel could move during the operation because the pin was not in a hole for a pre-set angle.  But I found that the swivel could be locked using the threaded rod mentioned earlier.

Screwdriver ready to engage the threaded rod to lock a non-preset angle

Unfortunately, that means getting under the box to lock the angle.  I'd guess that many miter boxes are clamped or even bolted to a table, making this a pain in the ass.  I guess I'll see if it matters.

Well, that's it for the Stanley #2358A miter box.  It's a nice tool to have, but again, time will tell if I actually use it in my small shop.