Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This calendar year has been all about gutting, rebuilding and setting up the Horse Garage, which will store wood and a few machines that I use for processing stock. For 2018, the major project will be setting up a mechanical library in the area formerly known as the storeroom.
Today, Brendan Gaffney and I took the first step on this project by moving all of the book inventory, furniture parts and shelving to the basement below the shop.
I’ve been waiting months for the humidity level in the basement to reach a tolerable level for books and furniture parts. Earlier this year, we dug out the basement floor about 18”, installed French drains and a sump pump and concreted the place. At the time, the humidity levels down there matched the outdoors (or a little higher).
About two weeks ago, the humidity level in the basement began to match the humidity in my shop upstairs.
Tomorrow, I’ll start moving the bulk of my woodworking book collection to our library area. When I run out of shelf space, my plan is to build an entire floor-to-ceiling bank of bookshelves on the blank north wall of the building.
I hope that task will be easier than gutting a building and rebuilding the Horse Garage. But I’ve been wrong before.
The goal of the mechanical library is amorphous for now. There are plenty of excellent mechanical libraries out there (Winterthur and American College of the Building Arts are two wonderful ones that I have visited). But the mechanical societies of the 18th and 19th centuries had other functions that were social and educational. So I’m letting things fall into shape as the community of Covington and our storefront get on their feet.
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Filed under: Lost Art Press Storefront, Uncategorized
I think there are three criteria for judging your woodworking as an amateur:
- enjoyment experienced
- projects completed
- skills developed or improved
- Stop buying tools and spend more time developing skills with the ones I already have. I am sometimes like the golfer who thinks he is one club away from being really good. It would be better for him to work on his swing. I have more than enough tools and really should go a year without buying any, not even one. Just like the golfer who should spend less time playing and more time on the practice tee, I need to step away from projects more and just work on skills.
- Focus on my weakness. Here in Portland, we are soccer crazy and we have a superb player whose glaring weakness is his left foot. It makes him much easier to defend and sometimes keeps him from making the most of opportunities. Why doesn't he spend the offseason focusing on it? Because it isn't a lot of fun to work on your weakness and he has learned to compensate with acceptable results. Same thing in woodworking. My worst weakness is finishing and it shows. The fact that I dislike it a lot is both cause and effect.
- When something is almost but not quite right, stop and figure out why. To continue with the soccer analogy, some players make good entry passes that sometimes work out but great passes would unzip the defense and make a huge difference. Good enough is not good enough. A clear example from my woodworking is a mortise and tenon joint that almost but doesn't quite fit. I tell myself I can close it up with a clamp or by drawboring. Sometimes it works and sometimes it almost works.
Editor’s note: With the holidays upon us, I’m looking through the magazines and books we own for fun handmade gifts – things that you can build in not too much shop time, but that will help to create a lifetime of memories for the recipients. I’ll post (at least) two every week between now and the new year. This is Holiday Project Post number three – for the “Pint-sized […]
After I got to the ER the nurse took my vitals and listened to me babble about my eye problem. She did a visual acuity test with one eye covered and I could barely read the 3rd line with either eye. With both eyes I could make out 5 of the six blurry letters on the 4th line. The doc put some dye in my eye and checked for a corneal abrasions and found none. He seemed to think that I had sawdust in it. But I told him that I didn't feel anything foreign in my eyes.
I was lucky in that no one came to the ER with a problem worse than mine. It still took over 3 hours before I was able to go home with a diagnosis of pink eye. The doc said I should see an improvement in my eye come monday and if not to go to the eye clinic. I know that my eye felt a lot better after the first warm face cloth I put on it.
A quick update on Miles's toolbox. I was shooting to get everything for it by his birthday (Dec 9th) but that is not going to happen. I have all the major tools except for a 10" brace and a set of bits. I also need a #1 and #2 square drive screwdriver and a 4" sliding square. One last optional tool I'm thinking of getting is a fractional dial caliper which I find handy to have.
I found the brace (several) but the set of jennings is proving harder to find. They are not that plentiful now that I'm looking for a set. Does anyone know of anyone that makes/sells a set today? (Note:Checked the WWW and to my surprise found a few sites that sell new and vintage ones.)
|started this friday night|
The saw till box won't be done this weekend along with any of the tool rehabs. When I put the medicine in my eye, I'm basically blind for a while. I can't see well enough with one eye to do anything that requires sight. I can still pick my nose and scratch my butt and my goofy looks don't seem to be effected. Needless to say a lot didn't get a lot done in the shop in today.
|this didn't work|
|got my big MOXON|
|doesn't look any better in the bigger moxon|
|3 gold stars for both|
This was it for today. It was real strain doing what little work I got done today. I knew I was going to fall behind so I did what I could. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to do a bit more.
Did you know that Walt Disney provided the voice for Mickey Mouse?
I took an hour off of my busy schedule on Friday to spend time at an auction preview. It was there that this question came to mind.
Many of you know and understand the question but for those who might not, let me provide some background information.
The product of this imagined unholy coupling is below:
Description: 1950s, bentwood beech frame, stitched leather back and seat with underside straps, unmarked.
This lot has sold for $1,600.
This auction featured more of what many call Modern Furniture or, in New York, Mid-Century Modern.
Description: 1960s, Norway, manufactured by Nesjestranda Mobelfabrik, teak crest rail/arms with finger joint, ‘Y’ formed back splay tapers into the turned rear spindle, black naugahyde seats on rounded tapered legs.
This lot has sold for $4,400.
Description: For J.L. Moller Mobelfabrik, Denmark, 1960s, top with banded edge and two pull-out extension leaves, on rounded tapered legs, labeled.
This lot has sold for $2,200.
Description: Herman Miller, Zeeland, Michigan, models 670 and 671 in black leather with black painted steel and aluminum swivel bases, labeled.
This lot has sold for $3,600.
Description: Designed by Mark Goetz circa 2000, molded walnut veneer frame with black leather upholstery, loose cushions raised on aluminum legs, unmarked.
This lot has sold for $2,600
Description: Early 20th century, beech, including a circular table with eight turned legs, ball finials, circular stretcher, and four arm chairs with flat single piece bent crest rail/arm, triple bent-rail back support, oval bent wood arm supports on eight turned legs with repeating bent wood stretcher, later velvet upholstery.
This lot has sold for $2,000.
Description: Baker, contemporary, hammered and patinated iron frame with stitched black leather upholstery, labeled.
This lot has sold for $550.
Description: Finland, 2003, model 400 chair in bentwood birch with Zebra style upholstery, together with an Artek circular side table, labeled.
This lot has sold for $2,300.
The Best of Everything calls to ask if he can hire me to consult on his workbench build. And, if we get along personally, he would like to fly me to his shop so we can build the bench together.
Me: I have young children and a day job with little vacation. I can’t really do that, but I’ll be happy to help you (for free) like I do all our readers via email.
The Best of Everything decides to fly to Cincinnati, meet me for lunch, look over my workbenches and pick my brain about his design ideas.
Question No. 1, of course, is wood selection. His first choice: tiger maple from Irion Lumber Co. He shows me some photos from the website. I tell him it’s beautiful stuff, but that he might get a little nauseated staring at it all day. And it’s a bench. It’s going to get beat up and dirty. I recommend plain rock maple.
His second choice: purpleheart. My response: It’s dark and difficult to work – it’ll be hell on your tools. Plus, a light-colored workbench (such as rock maple) is much easier to work at in my experience. Setting your tools against the light background of a benchtop is much easier than against a dark wood.
Choice No. 3: Ipe.
Me: Really? Ipe? That’s not a wood. That a metal that once fondled some wood grain. And it’s dark. And it’s a pain in the butt to work – like purpleheart, but worse.
His final choice: Cuban mahogany – an old stash he’s located at a lumberyard. It’s the least objectionable of his other choices, so I say: OK, kinda?
Next up are the vises. He wants a vise for every corner of the bench: A Benchcrafted Glide on one corner, a Lie-Nielsen tail vise on one end, an Emmert patternmaker’s vise on one back corner and a Benchcrafted end vise on the final corner.
Me: May I ask why?
The Best of Everything: I can’t make up my mind about which vises are better, so I decided to get them all. I do have one question, however: Is there any brand that’s better than Benchcrafted that I should be considering instead? Something from Germany or Japan perhaps?
Me: No, there’s nothing better in my experience.
The Best of Everything: I also want six rows of dog holes on 3” centers all along the length of the benchtop.
Me: May I ask why?
The Best of Everything: I’ll be able to hold anything then, no matter its size or shape.
Me: No one needs that many dog holes.
The Best of Everything: I think it will also reduce wood movement in the bench because all areas of the bench will be exposed to the atmosphere.
Me: Aren’t you worried that dust, tools, screws and the like will fall into these holes?
The Best of Everything: Not at all. Every hole will have its own dog.
The discussion turns to the cabinet he’s going to build below the bench. (“I don’t recommend those,” I say.) The drawers will have Blumotion slides, and all the tools will be French-fitted with custom-cut foam. Do I have any recommendations on foam?
“Kaizen Foam,” he says, “is so coarse.”
I look up Kaizen Foam on my phone to see what the hell it is. He starts talking about getting his Benchcrafted vises chrome-plated. Oh look, I find a cat video on my phone….
— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com
Next up: Workbench Personality No. 5: Frank Sinatra
Filed under: Uncategorized, Workbenches
I’ve been quiet for a while, enjoying the serenity of the craft. It’s difficult taking photos and then trying to figure out how to put them into words that will be easy to understand. I know this will fall into place only after several years of continuous writing.
You can’t rush knowledge to gain experience and I was reminded today when I returned to the moulding plane build. I took out the no.4’s I wrote about in Issue III.
I didn’t notice it earlier and I guess that’s the curse of distraction that the body of the round was thicker than a 1/4″. It being thicker, it planed a hollow that was all wonky looking, out of shape. To fix it all I did was plane down the chamfer on the blindside. Without a chamfer the plane could not reach into the corner of a moulding.
Now it’s planed to the correct thickness, both planes now mate perfectly together.
Skill is the final frontier we are trying to reach, but without knowledge you’ll never put it into practice to gain the experience and experience comes only through repetition followed by skill. This is not an overnight process, it takes years to gain true knowledge, experience and skill. So if you’re frustrated with joints not being gap free or sawing not perfectly plumb, don’t be. It’s normal and part of the learning process. Remember, you first crawled before you walked and then finally ran. Give it time and allow nature to run its course. Don’t give up and don’t be like that stingy guy Christopher Schwarz wrote about on his blog.
Take care. Peace
North Bros. Mfg. Co. Manufacturers Of Hardware Specialities, Yankee Tools, Ice Cream Freezers, Etc. 1914
Letterhead: NORTH BROS. MFG. CO., MANUFACTURERS OF HARDWARE SPECIALITIES, "YANKEE" TOOLS, ICE CREAM FREEZERS, ETC. , Office & Works, N. E. Cor. American st. & Lehigh Ave., Philadelphia, PA. December 1st, 1914.
An unusual full width graphic letterhead. With this modern letterhead, North Bros. was intent on showing that they had moved on from 19th C influences. Even so, they retained a vignette of a factory with tall chimneys billowing smoke. Sold to Myers Hdwe, Col, Lexington, Va. R. Carter & Co. of New York, as the wholesaler, arranged for replacement steel balls for a Yankee #41 Drill, supplied free of charge
Nicholson File Company. Billhead, Price List and Toolemera Press Trade Catalog Reprint of the 1878 Full Line Catalog
Letterhead: NICHOLSON FILE COMPANY. OPERATING FOUR DISTINCT PLANTS. Providence, R.I., U.S.A., March 9, 1896. Letterhead to Messrs. Henry H. Myers & Sons, Lexington, Va. Graphics of all four plants in all their smoking glory
Price Lists: Nicholson Swiss Pattern Files, also Tools and Specialities. Nicholson File Company, Providence, R.I., U.S.A. Nicholson Files, Increment Cut... Nicholson File Company, Providence, R.I., U.S.A.
both, 1889. Files and rasps get a bad rap. People think of them as poor seconds for shaping stuff. They're seen as 'cheaters' for when you can't get a joint right, or make a mistake that needs to be corrected. Files and rasps are anything but. Essential tools that should be in every mechanicks tool chest, they are the intermediate step in shaping wood, plastic or metal. Don't leave home without them.
Toolemera Press Reprint - History Preserved
A Treatise On Files And Rasps, Descriptive And Illustrated: For The Use of Master Mechanics, Dealers, &c.; In Which The Kinds Of Files In Most Common Use, And The Newest And Most Approved Special Tools Connected Therewith Are Described - Giving Some Of Their Principle Uses. With A Description Of The Process Of Manufacture, And A Few Hints On The Use And Care of The File. The Nicholson File Company, Providence, Rhode, Island U.S.A. 1878
"The Nicholson File Company has now been in existence for upwards of fourteen years, during which time they have permanently introduced their goods into every section of this, and to some extent into other countries, against the strongest possible prejudice in favor of hand made files; their product being now double that of the entire imports of foreign files into this country." The Toolemera Press re-publishes classic books and trade catalogs on early crafts, trades and industries, from our personal library.
Trade Catalog: New York Mallet & Handle Works. 1877. Some one had to make the mallets and the handles to be used to make the tools that made the tools. Lots of fascinating tools in here we tend to take for granted. An early catalog in surpringingly good condition.
Billhead: THE NEW LONDON VISE WORKS, MANUFACTURERS OF SOLD BOX VISES AND HEAVY HARDWARE. Joseph Hyde, Sons & Co., Proprietors. New Londgon, Conn. June 15, 1897
Sold to H. H. Myers. Lexington, VA. Very interesting graphic of a so-called blacksmith leg vise which has a provision for a foot actuated tightening mechanism.
Chas. Morrill Manufacturers Of Liquid Soap Dispensers, Nail Pullers, Box Openers, Seal Presses, Bench Stops, Saw Sets, Punches. Trade Catalog and Billhead
Billhead: CHAS. MORRILL, MANUFACTURER OF LIQUID SOAP DISPENSERS, NAIL PULLERS, BOX OPENERS, SEAL PRESSES, BENCH STOPS, SAW SETS, PUNCHES. 100 Lafayette St. New York. Oct. 8, 1913. How's that for variety in manufacturing? Perhaps best known for his saw sets, Mr. Morrill obviously believed in diversification of his product line. Sold to Myers Hardware, Lexington, Va.
Trade Catalog: Morrill Product line,c1912 including saw sets and soap dispensers.
Trade Catalog: Monhagen Saw Works. Wheeler, Madden & Bakewell, Manufacturers of Warrented Patent Ground, Extra Cast Steel, Circular Saws, Mill, Mulay, Cross-cut, Hand, Panel and Rip Saws, Butcher's Bow Saws, Back Saws, Wood Saws, Felloe and Turning Webs, and Plastering Trowels. Manufactory, At Middletown, Orange County, N.Y.. Branch Office and Warehouse, No. 39 Platt Street, New York. 1859.
A very early catalog from the company that morphed into Wheeler, Madden & Clemson, Woodrough & McParlin which eventually was abosrbed by the National Saw Company. For a full history, see WkFinetools. This catalog has what is known as 'self-wraps", which simply means the cover is constructed of the same paper as are the contents. This makes for a very fragile catalog. That plus the use of acidic paper has resulted in the loss of many mid-nineteenth century trade catalogs to the depredations of time and the elements.
Interestingly enough, there are refernces within this catalog to "see another page" for more information on various hand saws. But there is no other page and there never was one included in this catalog. I can only guess that there was an insert at one time that has been lost. The 1860 catalog at WKFinetools has images of the various hand saws which must be the same ones referred to in this 1859 catalog. Both catalogs feature this engraving of the factory as well as an engraving of their patented saw grinding machine, something that would have given OSHA nightmares.
Trade Catalog: MILLERS FALLS COMPANY, CATALOGUE "B", POCKET EDITION , c1904?.
Millers Falls issued a series of pocket catalogues that are simply cute to behold, apart from superb graphics of rare and unusual items. Read it and drool. Contributed by Randy Roeder of the Oldtools eMail List, owner of A Millers Falls Home Page.
Trade Catalog: Millers Falls Catalog H, c1912.
One of the small format catalogs which, as attested to by Millers Falls expert, Randy Roeder, is actually a mini-version of Catalog 32. Brett Rochette, many many months ago, asked if I would scan this catalog. He had found it in a toolbox, fairly well sodden with machine oil. On arrival, it was clear that oil had won. Mold had begun to set in on the rear cover and pages, almost all of the pages were nearly transparent with oil and the two stapes rusted through. I froze the catalog to halt the mold growth, after which I inter-layered the pages with absorbent paper to sop up oil and removed the staples. Still fragile, but now scannable, here is the PDF of this catalog, done in grayscale to minimize the oil staining
Trade Catalog: WOODWORKERS TOOLS AND MACHINES CATALOGUE NO. 25. RICHARD MELHUISH LTD., TOOLS AND MACHINE MERCHANTS, FETTER LANE, HOLBORNE CIRCUS, LONDON, E.C.4. 1925.
A super catalog, or catalogue if you prefer, of one the great tool houses of Great Britain. Everything the professional shop would need in the way of tools, supplies, machinery, &c, &c, The finest of British and American tools and machinery are represented in these pages. Included are two inserts, one for Irwin bits and one for the BevelMaster sharpening attachment.
Contributed by Joe Parker of the Oldtools eMail list. (28 MB)
Trade Card: MAY & CO. EST 1797. HARDWARE, TOOLS AND METALS. No. 1, Broad Street, Cor. State Street, Boston. Quite literally, the A to Z of hardware stores.
Handbill: SAND PAPER. MATTHEWMAN & LEWIS, 225 STATE STREET, NEW HAVEN, AGENTS FOR THE NEW ENGLAND IMPROVED FLINT PAPER. OCTOBER 15TH, 1868. Fascinating handbill that was sent along with a product sample. Sold by the ream. "Give it a trial, and we doubt not you will order again." What better prose could you ask for when marketing a product?
Trade Catalog: LUTHER'S TOOL GRINDERS. LUTHER GRINDER MFG. CO., MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN, U.S.A. c1920. Featuring one of the best catalog covers ever, this small catalog is a perfect example of one company's use of paper advertising to tell the world that they had moved into the modern machine age. Great Arte Deco design. Take a close look and you can see the sparks flying from the grinding wheel. Quite a cover for something so mundane as a grinder.