Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hot soup

As I'm sitting here anyway, refreshing the Lee Valley "what's new" page every five minutes or so in case the LV Elves get the promised updates up a little earlier than anticipated by El Presidente, I thought I might as well throw up a few pics I took while cleaning up some of the tools on Monday.

Given that there are "a few" items to be seen to, expediency dictated that a citric acid brew was worthwhile. Everything get's the manual treatment anyway 'cos that's my preference, but the citric does make the initial shifting of crud that much less effort. In most cases I'll give everything a scrub in hot soapy water before I do anything anyway - try it, you'll be amazed what a difference even that can make. So I thought maybe more of an effort might be worth a go this time, and actually brewed up some hot water to start proceedings with a whizz. Phew, and does that work too. I was so taken with the bubbles fizzing off the rusty moulding plane iron that I took a short video clip of it (had to be short 'cos the steam fogged up the lens...), but alas the requirements of web-based storage viz-a-viz compression render them invisible so I can't show you. But it was good, trust me. The still doesn't do it justice.

Please, don't ask me how much cirtic acid I used to water - as ever, I don't know. It was a kettlefull of water and I suppose a coupla tablespoons of acid? Could probably have managed with less, but I had everything out of the soup again within a couple of hours so it was a short, sharp rust removing shock.

Anyway, why do I prefer to still do some hand cleaning work on tools? Well mainly because it can be more selective and sensitive where necessary, but also because I find you can appreciate the finer points of them that much better when you've been all over the thing at close quarters. F'rinstance, don'tcha just love the style contained within the simple confines of the spokeshave's handles?

Look at the larger pic and you can see the marks where the casting was cleaned up too, however many years ago.

The brass mouth adjustment screw is somewhat out of focus here, but it too is extraordinarily elegant.

The whole thing's an awful lot nicer than the Stanley (and much lighter too) except for one glaring problem that isn't, to be fair, strictly its fault. There's a spring missing and now I've actually seen the remaining example clearly I'm considerably less confident about finding a replacement... Oh well; it's carefully packaged and will travel around with me a while, ready to be brought out in any likely spring-purchasing situation. If worst comes to worst I suppose a voyage into the uncharted waters of spring manufacture may be on the cards.

A few other bits and pieces got the treatment too, but nowhere near all the things that should have. It pays to only bath the stuff you've got time to finish cleaning and wax against fresh rust you see, otherwise you can practically watch the good work being undone before your eyes as fresh, new, vigorous rust swarms all over your tools again. The body of the router plane and most of the rest of the block still await their dip, but it's a start. Don't ask about the calipers - no, I don't need another pair of calipers, I know. That's not the point. They looked lonely, okay...?

Once I'm done with the soup it's on to the saws with abrasives and wooden block and the eternal debate over just how much one should do to the brass. Then the sharpening, the setting... Aaaargh, it really doesn't do to list it all, it really doesn't.

On a different note, we had a visitor caught up in one of our friendly neighbourhood spiders' webs yesterday - a female Giant Wood Wasp. Dunno if you've ever seen one of these fearsome-looking ladies in the flesh? About 30mm long and looking like it could sting. Apparently it's as harmless as a, well, fly but that'd be hard to believe if you had one buzzing round your head instead of happily identifying it throught the safety of a jam jar as I was. Pretty cool and safely released back to freedom, you'll be glad to know.


  1. Enough with the soup already...


  2. Never mind that, Mike:
    waddabout dis?
    Hmm, d'you think a small tenon as well as a half-back would be going too far?

    Congrats! :)

  3. Well even more stuff on the LV site to lust after, what is a wood worker to do?
    If you post some dimensions for that spring I will have a look round, somewhere I have a couple of boxes/jars of springs, bound to turn out I have 4 or 5 of just what you need but only come to light after you have made one. 8}


  4. When I put stuff in the soup, I add electrickery. Electrolysis is IMHO better than acid because it not only gets rid of the rust, it also turns it into a rust resistant surface. And it gives off really good bubbles.

    Have a look at this article from the Hand Tool Preservation Association website for a simple explanation and how -to on electrolysis:



    PS - I wish I could get into the workshop, but i have daytime work to do (which I hate)

  5. Hope you get that spring sorted, Alf. Those adjustable spokeshaves are so nice.

    Congrats from me as well, Mike. Even more people will be able to use your lovely saws.


    Paul Chapman

  6. Dave, that's very good of you, thank you. It's 1/4" diameter and the wire seems to be 0.038" (I plead being female in defence of not knowing if that's a certain gauge or something). I'm sure there could be some leeway on those dims though. Length, erm, "short". It looks like the existing one was cut from a longer spring anyway, so again I'm assuming a little leeway is allowed added to an application of wire cutters.

    Jeremy, I know, I know. I must have been reading about using zap tanks since I first got onto the interwebnet, but something about water and electricity SCARES THE BEEJEEZUS OUT OF ME. Yes, I'm a coward; I own it freely. I'm not proud; just resigned...

  7. David Charlesworth9/04/2007 09:17:00 am

    Any competent model engineer or the like would be able to make another spring for you.

    There must be some on UK forum.

    I like those spokeshaves!

    David C


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