Friday, November 25, 2011

A Chisel By Any Name revisited

If the reader would cast their mind back a little to here, you'll recall I asked for thoughts on what those particular narrow trapezoid-shaped chisels one sees about the place were specifically sold as. I meant to follow this up much sooner, but Life and all that jazz intervenes, as it is wont to do.

Anyway, here are a couple of other 1/8" chisels we have sculling about the w'shop, which seem to me to narrow down the options. At the bottom we have our trapezoid by James Howarth; above that my old man's Wm. Marples bevel-edged firmer, which is actually a hair under 1/8"; finally a OVB mortise by Isaac Greaves. The latter some of you might fancy to call a guinea-pig sticker, I suppose. If you were that way inclined. I'll forbear from comment if you do...

So our un-named chisel style could, I suppose, be a straight-sided firmer. It's not impossible they'd be made so noticeably different from the bevel-edged, just for the sake of strength. But personally I did immediately warm to Joel's thought that they were used in caning chairs; it rings true. Of course you might argue we see them so regularly, this seems unlikely - but then cane seats were a lot more prevalent in days of yore (Almost as bad a phrase as "Yesteryear" - my apologies). However, the clinching argument for their widespread appearance is probably best summed up by many of the comments you all left as in any other way.

Viz: Every woodworker can think of a task where a handy narrow chisel like that would have/will come in handy ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Linking the generations

Never underestimate aunts; just ask Bertie Wooster. Unlike Mr Wooster though, my aunts have tended to be fairly pleasant coves and one has outdone herself this week. A parcel from same arrived in the post yesterday, and unwrapping it revealed to my wondering eye the following:
One virtually pristine No.260 tape measure by Rabone & Sons.

In its slightly battered, but rather fetching original box.

All complete even unto the care instructions.

Wow. I mean wow. But that's not the best bit by any, um, measure. No, sir. 'Cos this well-cared for tape belonged to a Master Plasterer from Southampton; none other than my Great Grandfather. I had assumed all his tools were long gone - and indeed, all the others are - but this one survives. Result!

Plus I got a little extra history about him as a bonus. Apparently he did the ornate plasterwork for Rothschild's house at Exbury. Rothschild? Heck, he must have good at his job, methinks. Gotta say that's a heck of a better legacy than the one my generation will leave. "What did Great Grandpa do? He was an accountant..."

Anyway, two other things beyond "This is pretty cool" struck me. Firstly, the irony that a tool has been handed down the female line. Secondly, that maybe not all white spots on old tools are paint. Maybe some of them are plaster...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I just ran across this in one of my other online lives (Yes, I have several, and we're all very happy in our different online worlds, thank'ee. We're never short for conversation amongst ourselves, and we're even quite entertaining sometimes.)

(But I digress.) Now I believe one is probably supposed to think how picturesque (or picture-skew as we have it here at Alf Towers), look at the light, pretty flowers, and so forth. Y'know, the whole atmospheric photograph shebang.

I took one look and thought:

No wonder the top of that table is warped to b*gg*ry if some barsteward puts damn flowers in water all over the top of it. Furniture killer. Die. Die. Die.


So, yeah, I may have had that reaction before. Pretty much any time I see my mother going anywhere near any woodwork with a watering can in her hand, akshully. She likes plants; I like wood without water marks. It's a domestic situation made in hell, if we're honest. But I staple my tongue to the floor to avoid saying anything about it, and she usually remembers to take a cloth to wipe up any spills immediately, so we muddle along without excessive bloodshed.

Anyway, looking beyond my initial reaction, this is evidently fairly "country" in style. Overlaid front rail; don't think I've seen that before. T&G top - or is that actually a loose tongue? Pegged tenons though, which is probably all that's keeping the whole thing from falling apart. So, no, not Chippendale, but that's a useful little table. C'mon, non-woodworking world. Have a heart. Put a coaster under those damn flowers, okay?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Seven Year Itch

Would you believe it's seven whole years today since I started this blog? No, me neither. Don't bother going and looking at the inaugural post though - it's not 'ticularly interesting. Anyway, apparently Copper or Wool is the traditional material to mark seven years. Pish, sez I. Yea, even Tush. Iron and steel it is then:

Despite everyone's best efforts to get me to buy more chisels on Saturday, I only came away with this combination square. I never buy squares usually, but it appealed to me somehow - and I do seem to be in a metrological frame of mind at the moment. I got the general impression that the collective tool gurus present reckoned I was slightly off my nut buying it, but hey, a girl gets to the point where she needs to get her hands on something freshly rusted and painted-spotted, and this fit the bill all-too admirably.

A bit of TLC and elbow grease later, and a not displeasing result.

Nothing particularly special - as far as I can gather, Stanley churned No.21s out by the thousands over the years. But I like it; it feels good in the hand (and considerably better than the fancier, more expensive, and newer 12" combi square I already own - and never use as a result).

At some point I must find the patent and discover the purpose of the slot. I've got a vague impression of some sort of sliding bevel feature, but have yet to explore it fully. 'Cos yeah, I needed another thing that could do duty as a sliding bevel like I need a hole in the head. Or another chisel.