Friday, September 28, 2007

How to annoy people on a Friday

Ooo, you're going to be sticking pins in my effigy - not doing the ones I thought I was today, but rather the more familiar moulders and such. So yes, this is going to have to go into another week and you'll have to wait until Monday for the rest. Gosh, I'm evil...

Rather sparse on legible makers' marks thus far so it shouldn't take long. Anti-clockwise this time methinks, starting at noon:

1 5/8" skew rebate. For some reason the top of the toe has been cut away - anyone in a position to enlighten me on why that might be? It has rather a round wedge top shape which leads me to wish to have another hard look for any names on it. Not that I think it's likely very old, but for general info it seems wedge shapes got less round and more elliptical over the years. Top o' the day...

1/4" side bead. This plane is not in its first youth by any means, but feels Good.

3/8" slipped side bead. Might be a Buck but this blighter did like to stamp his own name over everything else...

1/2" side bead, also slipped. J Buck, 124 Newgate Street, London. BPMs sez Joseph, 1837-1872. Yay, 'nother date bracket. For those wondering, a slipped bead has removable fillets to provide the depth stop. Take 'em off and you can work your bead up close to any projection, such as might be found in sticking part of a more complex moulding. If you didn't know that you might well think the plane had been rather obviously repaired instead.

#10 hollow by Goad & Son, 78 Tottenham Court Road. What is with all these London planes? I've never had so many in one go like this. Anyway, that'd seem to be Frederick and his boy between 1887 and 1892.

And finally a push-me-pull-you plane. A 5/8" double-ended match plane (for tongue and groove) by Griffiths of Norwich. Fun, in't it? Can't quite decide if this tops my previous T&G pair who's claim to fame is being once owned by a Mr E Bastard who had no qualms about clearly stamping them with his surname. Planes for SWMBO to give you when she's finally had enough perhaps...? Luckily they're 3/4" so all I need is to do any T&Ging at all and I could probably justify both. As it is...

Thursday, September 27, 2007


T'was the sight of one of these beauties perched atop the rest of the stash that alerted me to the fact I wasn't going to be looking at any old woodworker's tool kit. Yep, reading Salaman's dictionary for fun isn't totally insane. Mind you, it's a close call... Anyway, viz:

Plane, Coachbuilder's, (e) Tee Rabbet Planes. Rabbet Planes in which the sole is wider than the stock (T-shaped in cross section), thus leaving room for the fingers when working in deep rabbets or in confined spaces. The stock is usually rectangular, measuring about 6in long. They are made in sets with straight or compass soles varying in width from 1 to 1 3/4in.... The iron is square, single, double-shouldered, with the cutting edge from 1 to 1 3/4in wide. Used for cleaning up glass frame runs and rebates on door pillars and elsewhere.

From top to bottom:

1 3/4" with (user added?) brass wear strips, straight sole. The wear strips have been done very nicely but I have no means of knowing if they were added later or a purchasing option. Makes sense to do it I suppose; must have suffered quite a bit of wear, although on the other hand by their nature these planes must have had a limited life because of the restrictions on usable iron length.

1 1/2" straight sole, Williams, London. BPMs gives two options on Williams in London but John, Henry, Thomas and then & Son seem the most likely. Need to study the mark again to see if I can glean more info. As it stands there are dates that could still fit the bracket quite comfortably plus the additonal thought that perhaps this could give us a source on the dovetail saw. In addition all the likely addresses seem to be in and around areas of south London that I know fairly well, and for some reason that's nice.

1 3/8", slight convex curve. Another that appears to be by Buck in Tottenham Court Road, and another that really needs another look with book in hand.

1 1/2", very evident curve, Collier, Brixton, London. Can't tell you how pleased I am to finally have a Collier plane; they eventually went kapput in Streatham in 1984 which means I was unconciously wthin touching distance of them every school day for five years. Okay, so it didn't mean anything then, and the days of wooden planes were long gone, but it's kinda the closest I'll ever got to the old tool makers. I know, silly isn't it? But I like that tenuous link in the same way as I enjoy the couple of Cornish dealer-stamped tools I have. Anyway, the early days of Geaorge Collier in Cornwall (!) Road would also slip into our rough time bracket. Must take the book to the tools and see if I can at least work out which mark it is.

So nearly at the end of the countdown now - should be anyway, as I've done my best to tuck this last bit into the week... ;-) A small hint of what's to come tomorrow here; an unmarked 1/16" wide iron and two 3/8" ones, one by Buck and t'other by W Baker (& Son?), London.

The slipstone was totally black and barely recognisable as a stone at all at first, but the ever-useful Painter's Hand Cleaner brought out the lovely colours of the natural stone. 3 1/2" long, 1 3/4" wide tapering in thickness from 3/4" to 1/2". The only stone in the lot - wonder if there were others at one time?

But enough for today; time to go and try to work out who the heck I am talking to in the comments box... :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


And thus we proceed to the smoother and thence to more esoteric parts of Salaman's Dictionary.

Look, Ma, dinky smoothers! And yes, she did indeed go "ahhh, isn't it sweet?". Oh well, she got me a can of Renaissance wax yesterday so not all bad... ;) Anyway, top to bottom again:

A dinky smoother that may possibly be by one of the Bucks - a Tottenham Court Road one I think. Another London maker, eh? 1 1/2" iron that appeared to have a lion? holding a torch? and might have possibly says "Bedford-something"? Yay, BPMs sez there's a Bedford, Burys & Co, Regent Works, Penistone Road, Sheffield. Never heard of 'em. 1860-1880 eh? Starting to get a bit of a date bracket developing here... Regrettably it's got the inevitable split in the cheek, but a nice little plane, pleasant to the hand.

Next, its brother? Nope. This one's got a slight but noticably convex sole - wouldn't like to place any bets, but doesn't seem to be accidental. 1 5/8" iron by Ward & Payne and a Marples cap iron; so far, so wide a date range. More squinting and we have the "notable five line" J Leist, Planemaker, Something-illegible-on-both-plane-and-in-book, Near Fye Bridge, Norwich mark. Norwich?! If I interpret British Planemakers correctly that address would put James Leist at St Simons around 1851. If he continued to use it when he moved the date could slip to 1875, and if his wife(?) used it when she carried on it could be as late as 1896. But would you still use it, with such a precise location, if you weren't there any more? Well you might for a while, so it'd tally with our tentative date range, would it not? 'Nother split in the cheek and the iron's pretty far gone alas.

Thirdly and we come to the real specialist stuff. James Leist again, this one with a 1 5/8" I & H Sorby iron. But what is it, I hear you ask? It's a Coachbuilder's Door Check plane, s'what. In this case a "Coach Door Smooth" for cleaning up rebates - for some reason called "checks" by Coachbuilders. As it's curved it can do concave rebates curving in the horizontal plane, which is nice. The cap iron gives it a finishing advantage over dodgy grain that the subjects of tomorrow's post just don't have.

On which teasing note...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So to the bench planes - a voyage through the sublime to the not at all sublime perhaps. This blog entry will be done with considerable reference to the third edition of British Planemakers.

From top to bottom:

17 1/4" jack with 2 1/4" Ward & Payne iron. No obvious maker's stamp as yet and my notes give a tentative craftsman-made? because it doesn't seem to be beech. Neatly patched possibly with boxwood, so evidentally much-loved.

17" Marples "BB" brand jack. A modern abomination introduced by Bill and His Boys c.1938 and helping killing wooden plane making quality right through to 1968. Yes, folks, machine made (boo hiss). BPMs laconically says "those examined by the editors are coarsely finished" - the editors are right on the money. The cut out bit of the wedge is positively hairy with tearout. For the record; Marples 2 1/4" iron. Just think, if it hadn't been for Stanley wanting to rationalise their iron widths we'd still have proper 2 1/4" wide irons instead of these 2 3/8" things. Shame on Thomas that LN didn't make their #5 1/2 after the original pattern. But I digress...

I'll come back to that one.

Bottom, 22" try plane with 2 1/2" Marples iron and monstrously heavy. It's not as if the iron isn't well-worn, but the body seems to be a good deal less so. Small handle too, so quite awkward to hold even for my smaller fists. By squinting a good deal I believe I can make out "Moseley" and "Bloomsbury". Readers with good memories will recall me mentioning that John Moseley and his descendants have a fulsome and precise entry in BPMs and thus a combination of those two names gives me John Moseley & Son's wholesale branch at 54-55 Broad Street, Bloomsbury, London. Dates 1862-1880.

So back to exhibit three. 14 3/4" jack plane showing considerable wear; the bottom of the wedge is almost touching the sole. Can you see it tapers being lower at the front? It's also got a trifle of lean from left to right too. Have you spotted what I totally failed to see at first? Yep, single iron. No cap iron here, and the 2" Thomas Ibbotson iron is thus uncut. Another small rear handle, unfortunately loose where the screw head at the toe no longer has any wood to grip. So does a single iron mean old? Not necessarily. Although double irons were the option of choice way back, they were still offered as a (cheaper) option much later. Buck & Hickman still have them in 1935 f'rinstance. Golly, but the thing's been used for a good long time though, to get like that. Feels lovely in the hand - compare its worn round edges to the Marples BB's harsh chamfers. Just need to work out a sensitive way to fix the handle and then I'm definitely going to take her for a spin...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sticks and String

Is it fair to say that when you reach the point of pivoting slowly on one foot gazing at the scene of devastation and destruction that was your workshop, littered copiuosly with tools waiting to be put away and dust ready to be swept, and being unable to decide what to do next - well would you say that was the moment to stop? On Sunday I decided it probably was, so despite the fact I'm still not finished, stop I did. What with one thing and another it'll probably be on hold now this week. Not so good that there are tools still lying about though - Houston, we have a problem. A leak in the workshop roof. :-( Just as well I got the drill press moved before the rains came again 'cos otherwise it wouldn't have been in the Splash Zone. As 'tis, it was just anti-fatigue matting that was getting wet until I put a bucket there. Heigh ho; builder will have to be asked nicely to come and fix it 'cos nobody chez Alf is volunteering to go and play on any roof just now.

So back to the alledged Wheelwright, but more probably Coachbuilder's tools. Being a stinker I'm still holding out on the planes and such, but instead some marking stuff and, for the hell of it, hammers and such.

Now what does your eagle-eye notice about this motley collection? Apart from the fact they're not all hammers. Seemed to me there was a definite bias towards shorter hammer handles. A predilection of this particular chap, or a feature found amongst all his breed? I know not, but marked it none the less. Also in there is a Moore and Wright triangular scraper - what I always assume to be a bearing scraper but have yet to be bothered to double-check. Big old cabinetmaker's screwdriver too, but ground for the smallest screw slot. Perhaps reach was required? Again, I know not, but it's interesting to speculate. And will some nice reader call me a doofus and point out what that darn wheel onna-stick bottom right is for? Wheels with points I know about, but this one I'm not even sure where to start.

The clamp doo-dah is a funny one. Not until after I'd taken the pic did it dawn on me what it was for (the name "Ilford" gave me the initial hint) although goodness knows how it came to be in with the tools. Needs a good clean up, but it may actually come in handy. Anyone for House Points with the correct answer?

The other hitting implement is a mallet. Classic "it's a wheel felloe" mallet head shape to delight the student of tool design and how surroundings effect it.

The marking and measuring is remarkable for there being not one rule in the lot, although they're the sort of things that do walk so perhaps not so remarkable. But lo! My first pair of recognisable Winding Sticks! 13" long, 12", 5/8" mahogany. No inlaid contrasting wood here though - paint I think. :-) Then 12" and 6" try squares and, unusually, 6" and 3" Engineer's squares too. Whether they're still square time and testing will tell. A rather crummy vernier caliper and a somewhat seized-up Stanley #18 sliding bevel; the latter fills in a gap in my "how many ways can you lock a sliding bevel" selection which is probably cause for celebration. Or embarrassment...

In the middle we have a string line; terribly Seaton Tool Chest and something I've meant to make for myself this many a year. There are firm joint internal and external calipers as well as the wing dividers, but they got overlooked. Salaman's Dictionary suggests that perhaps the top dividers count as "Lancashire Pattern" but I'm not sure. There are so many different designs of these types of tool I can't keep up. Last but not least a couple of mortise gauges, and even still in useable condition which makes a change. The only other gauge I've found is a homemade one which looks well-used; also evidence of more thriftiness in that the cutter is the stump of an old chisel.

And finally - a plea to those folks who entered the draw for the Lee Valley catalogue but didn't win. Could you drop me an email again please? I have news that may be to your advantage, but like a chump I deleted your entries.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Some progress. Painfully slow progress, but progress none the less. The drill press is back in operational condition, the cupboard got another reprieve and the drawer slides are fitted in the base unit. Oh, and some of the boxes had to make way for larger things as I feared.

'Course half the stuff that already had a home is now in the Wrong Place. The drilling stuff is miles away from the drill press, a sharpening spot has to be decided on and somewhere to be able to use the grinder, well you get the idea.

What really drives me nuts is the fiddly bits. The jobs that don't notice when they're done, but if they're not done they're a constant irritation. Take the back of what we must now call the "lathe cupboard". For longer than I can recall its had an upstand at the back to prevent things rolling off the back and into oblivion. All well and good, I thought, I can screw that to the wall for extra rigidity. Hah. Muggins here totally failed to remember that the wall curves out at the bottom and you can't get any base unit within about 4" of the wall. Well great; nothing can roll off but any number of things can ping their way down that gaping chasm (and you just know it'll be something vital like the chuck key...) not to mention the fire hazard of the shavings build-up behind there. So I have to take out time to find a suitable bit of ply, scribe and cut a fillet and find means to attach it twixt cupboard and wall, all the while clambering over various homeless items that are all, universally, sitting in front of, or on top of whatever tool or drawer I need to get to do the job. All told it probably took three-quarters of an hour. Lovely, isn't it? No, I didn't think so either...

In the comments Paul declares I have "too much stuff". Reckon he's in the mood to state the bleedin' obvious... ;) Anyway, while he's 100% correct, it's not 100% of the problem. Half the problem is the crappy use I'm making of the space available, and unfortunately changing that is just one long, horrible fidddly bit. :(

Thursday, September 20, 2007


What with one thing and another I've not got back to the workshop "remodel" - one of the things being a haircut yesterday and I know how much you long to hear about those... Trouble is I know my bad habits too well and the longer I go before knuckling down to it again, well the harder it is. But I must. I mean, look at it:

Old kitchen unit doesn't look too bad. Not sure those boxes o'tools will be able to stay there though - there's a hand-cranked drill press and a treadle wheel to home, erm, store, somewhere...

Okay, so the drawers with the saw don't perhaps look so good, but behind that piece of ply is the old sharpening station and that looks even worse. Plus it looks like an advert for Bosch and they're not paying me anything... However that's nothing - NOTHING - to the sight that greets me if I turn round:

I couldn't bear to take a picture beyond that, it's too depressing. But it'll be worth it in the end, right? Right?


Too depressed to continue the coachbuilder's tools at the mo'. I'll get back to it next week. Tomorrow I'm hoping to drop everything and devote myself to getting the workshop back into a usable state. Well on the way to it anyway. Better than it is now at any rate. At least sweep up a bit...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spring in my step

Having the unwanted kitchen base unit sitting in the middle of the workshop finally got to me. It's been waiting for me to do something for weeks, and weeks before that ever since the boiler-induced kitchen tweak was finished, but I knew darn well what I wanted to do with it, and the large quantity of barely soiled worktop, would be hellish in the extreme. Viz: Moving the sliding compound mitre saw to the end wall flanked by worktop, and most importantly of all, lose the glory holes where everything gets lost. The latter heard their final death knell when my tapered plug cutters fell down there never to be seen again. Or rather never to be seen again until now, when they emerged blinking in the sunlight. Cursed with rust.

I can't tell you how thoroughly annoying it is to spend so much time removing rust from other tools only to see your own-from-new ones exhibit the dreaded lurgy. So I won't.

Anyway, I've been up to my ears in dust and spiders, clearing stuff out in order to move other stuff round while still retaining enough space to use the saw horses to cut the worktops. I've banged my shins on something hard and painful too many times to count and moved too many drawers from A to B and back to A to wish to remember. And I'm still not done. The drill press is hors de combat until I can decide where exactly I'm moving it to and bore the holes in the floor for the anchor bolts, I need to build two drawers to finish the base unit because (naturally) it happened to be one with false drawer fronts and I'm damned if I'm letting that space go to waste. Somehow all the bits and bobs that were in the glory holes now have to find storage elsewhere - that's why I hate jigs I think; how d'you store the blasted things? A decision has to be made as to whether I beef-up the power tool cupboard I've been moving from place to place in the workshop for about 10 years and put the lathe on it (which will dictate where the drill press goes to some extent) or finally part with it after all this time and see if there's room for it under the tender mercies of my father's care... In short it is hellish in the extreme as I thought.

Sigh. I keep telling myself it'll be worth it in the end, but I dunno...

So after all that I don't exactly have a spring in my step. But I do have two springs in my spokeshave...! Yes, got some functional replacements in the Preston adjustable mouth shave - and about 200 others to see me through my spring requirements for a lifetime. And then some lucky person in the future will probably dig out the plastic box with "Assorted Springs" written on it from some car boot sale box and have enough for their lifetime, and so on... Trouble is, looking again at the iron, well really it would benefit from a new one, and I think I'd have no trouble accommodating the thicker Hock one. But. Yeah, a but; no-one seems to stock the bally things. I may be moved to speak nicely to Mike Hancock at Classic Handtools once I double-check my measurements. Might also ask him who won the competition.

Finally, the mystery saw is, as I understand it from the Buck & Hickman catalogue, a "Shetack" saw frame, for sawing corrugated sheeting.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pass me the Eclipse, lad

No votes so I went with saws. What can I say? I like saws.

I regret to say there's not one saw here that isn't unhappy in one way of another. The inevitable "nest o'saws" with the inevitable bent-to-blazes blades, a rip saw that's virtually worn to the nubbin (never thought to see the like in a rip saw), Disston D8 (yawn, yawn, boring, etc ;-) in something of a wibbly condition and also not a little worn. What else, well my first wooden handled hacksaw (hard to believe); naturally it's an Eclipse, a 60B in fact. Hmm, that's another "B" model in tools there. Anyway, what I don't understand is how it is in Britain we still call hacksaws, well, hacksaws. Eclipse ones are so ubiquitous I'm surprised we didn't go the same way as "Hoover" for vacuum cleaner. Of course the saw set's an Eclipse 77 as well, so maybe that answers my question. No good saying "pass me the Eclipse, lad" 'cos it'd be 50/50 whether you'd get a hacksaw or a saw set... But I digress.

The backsaws are slightly more promising but still require TLC. The 14" I Sorby has evidentally had its nuts tampered with (oo-er, matron) and the handle's a little loose, while the 8" dovetail has lost a split nut and the handle's a little messed-up. Stamped Williams, London, which is exercising me somewhat as the only one in Hand-saw Makers of Britain seems a little early. On the other hand he/they've popped up elsewhere which suggests to me that maybe they were a dealer or rebadging outfit of some sort. I dunno though, maybe things are a bit older than I suppose? Diving deeper into the evidence as we go along is half the fun. In a way it'd be better for the saw to be younger because then I'd have fewer qualms about doing what's necessary to get it back to being a fine saw. Assuming it cleans up okay...

Lastly I'm sure a few readers can identify the saw bottom right - go on, we know you want to tell us. Given the roofing material of choice for farm buildings in these parts it's a surprise I don't see them more often. Anyone used one in anger?

And finally, belatedly I've noticed the visitor counter went over the 50,000 mark sometime this week so a good moment to thank all those people who've been at a loose enough end to read these Musings, especially those who've commented either on here or via email. It's nice to know I'm not just talking to myself :)

On the other hand maybe it's horribly embarrassing that someone else is reading this...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Boring shaves

Let it not be said we here are Alf Towers don't aim to please the reader - boring tools then shaves as well, to wake you up again ;)

The actual boring implements take us into the wunnerful world of Stanley and Millers Falls (which is strangely comforting when you find yourself without a single metal plane to document). The breast drill is a MF is a 120B and it's a good opportunity to plug the excellent site dedicated to Millers Falls built by Randy Roeder. Another breast drill isn't otherwise a cause for celebration - even though the usually missing side handle was found amongst the other tools (miracle!) - nope, never use the darn things and already have at least two more than any sane person needs. i.e. two ;)

Lurking coyly behind is the aforementioned extension, brace for the use of, chuck variety. I have hopes a trip in the hot soup will reveal unto me a maker, and similarly the 8" sweep brace which currently only speaks of being a No. 823, which is not ringing dem bells. The smallish hand drill, for which tool variety I have a curious and enduring love, is a Stanley #1221K apparently, and that means zilch to me.

Okay, but what about the t-handled wotsits top left? I put them in there in a sort of tapered-awl-kinda-way, but it's not like they're 'ticularly sharp or anything. Round, tapering, square tang and obviously workshop-made handles. Not really set to on the books with any of this stuff yet, but tentatively wondering if coachbuilder's draw bore pins..?

Bit stock-wise, the box made for it is slightly more interesting than yet another Clark pattern expansive bit. Owning more than one of these bits is hard to justify, but it'd help if just one of them was a different model!

The augers and such are more interesting - lot of Gedge patern ones with the up-turned wings. Washer cutter (seized up and another urgent candidate for the soup) and three taper tanged twist drills. But wait, look closely at the longest. An ordinary twist bit has been brazed/welded/whatever onto the stump of an auger bit - which is why it said "1/2" when actually it's 3/8". Wonder what purpose it served that was worth the effort? All round the bits give the impression that this character was keen to get the most from his tools - old bits ground into screwdrivers and such. I like these little unintended windows into someone's soul :)

For completeness, the other twist bits. But now shaves and such:

Okay, drawknives. Or drawing knives. Or draw shave. Ah hah, see? Method in my madness. The bottom one's worn to a mere shadow of a drawing knife but finger's crossed for the other 'cos I like the 8" blade length. Made by Ward & Payne btw.

The wooden shaves have evidentally been well used. i.e. the soles are worn concave. Irons aren't in too bad condition but I dunno; worth bothering with? Possibly not. About now you could be wondering just what there is worth having, but hey, I'm having fun...

Now we're into real wheelwright stuff and what I belive is a Nelson Shave. Like a Javis Shave, but with one eye... No, no, like a Jarvis but flat soled. Don'tcha like the treatment of the corners of the iron?

Pretty impressed that things weren't so far gone into rusty oblivion that the screws still worked okay and I was able to remove the iron (very thick). Rather interesting way of solving the blade-holding problem I thought. Possibly not beyond the wit of galoot to replicate, with the advantage that you don't need a special iron like other wooden shaves.

Anyway, my eyes are nearly shot trying to make out makers' names despite the enthusiastic Mr Beney who insisted on obliterating 70% of them with his name stamp, but the bulk is now photographed and listed. So what next? Still got saws and measuring, plus planes, enough routers to make their own category and other assorted bits and bobs. Vote now!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Limited edition

S'funny thing, coincidence; got two unconnected emails today assuming I had a Lee Valley Veritas small plough in my hot little hands. No, folks, not so. Had a hot little prototype in my hands, the pictures of which will go great on my LV plough plane page in 30 years time, but not seen the real deal. Must admit if I did I'd find it hard not to, well not exactly review it, but comment. Trouble is really it'd be a comment on ploughs generally I think, and a bit unfair on LV, so just as well I can't even be tempted. Bad enough resisting the call of the anniversary plane, quite frankly. Not that I want it, or have any desire for an edge trimming plane at all, but as you see the limited number ticking away as members on various fora say they've ordered, well it gets to you. And thus the Franklin Mint was born... ;)

Anyway a break from the tools today 'cos I've left this a bit late and kick off in the England vs. Russia game is at 8, but you may amuse yourselves with deciding if you want saws, boring, measuring or shaving tools next. I'll spare you the files and frankly I'm inclined to spare myself the assorted pliers and spanners... (wrenches, 'Murrican reader)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


One of these blogs I'll stop being such a darn fool and resist saying things like "Subject to not feeling the need to totally re-write of course..." in jest. Naturally the need to totally re-write came upon me. But in the same way sometimes you can wake up and see your way clear on a woodworking project, the same occurred here and it went with almost a swing. So now I can either a) relax until the next polite prod arrives. Or b) pre-empt the prod and start thinking of the next thing (which ought to be about rust if I'm a good little galoot). Wouldn't it be nice to think the latter will be the case? Yeah, when they're selling choc ices in the seventh circle of hell...

Now ironically, having braced the reader for the idea of this blog continuing along a tool-related rather than woodworking-steeped course, I find myself rather itching to make with some proper woodwork. Even unto seriously considering the saw till doors. Now don't get excited - many a slip twixt plough and groove - but there's definitely an inkling. It may be partially brought about by a rather nice series of pictures on making a moulded frame posted to the Italian woodworking forum Il Legno. Forgive the rather poor translation via this link but if your Italian's even slightly as non-existant as mine it might help. The planes themselves are interesting enough, but I find the hand planing of mouldings like this endlessly fascinating. One day I'll actually get round to trying it myself, I hope.

So anyway, the coach/carriagemaker's tools. At the least this should be an education for one of us - either you in that even decrepit-looking tools can be made lovely again. Or else for me when they can't... I'm trying to be systematic and take batch pics and then write down details of type, size, maker etc in the same order. I did the same with the Newlyn chest and hopefully when I eventually come to add to that page said organisation will save my bacon. Got to be a first time, huh? For some perverse reason I elected to start with the gouges and chisels. Why that should be when I find easily the greatest difficulty working out how to catagorize chisels especially, I know not. Put it down to a desire to get the worst over with early on.

Gouges (get away). A motley crew but the socking great socket gouges by Gilpin appeal to me. I think the wider carving gouge fourth from right is by Addis - just as I'd finally got rid of all my Addis carving tools. Sigh. The flat sweep of the I Sorby firmer second from right will make it a handy user if it cleans up okay.

Big chisels, oh and a bruzz at the top. One or two octagonal handles of the old fashioned variety been fitted to some of these tools, which is unusual. Lots of user-replaced handles altogether, and lots will need this user to replace them again as well unfortunately. Anyone got any ideas on the two at the bottom? One is totally bolsterless and the other has a groove round where the bolster should be and a, well, a sort of washer (loose) that's presumably supposed to register in it as a form of bolster. One's by Nurse and the other I & H Sorby and they seem to be deliberately made like that. I'm perplexed. Think there may be a registered chisel in there too - one in the next batch as well.

Yes, well, a very motley lot indeed. The one on the end is a mere 1/16" wide and hopefully can be persuaded back into line without busting... I'm never sure of these; are they narrow mortise chisels? Or deep bladed (for strength) firmers? I've always assumed the former but this darn example really doesn't strike me as up to even mortising into soft cheese.

Notice anything? Yep; bevel-edged chisels need not apply.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Size isn't everything

So it looks like I'm going to be a trifle wrapped up in going through this Tool Haul for a while - anyone interested or should I keep it to myself? If the latter the blog may be a tad on the quiet side.

While you decide here's the text of the etch on the Spear & Jackson "Spearior 88" I cleaned up last week - not often I get to see saws with etches. Saw etches seem to reflect national characteristics, and thus those on British-made saws seem to be a little self-effacing and generally not inclined to intrude on the saw as opposed to the ones on Disstons which seem sufficiently deeply etched to withstand nuclear war... Anyway, the bulky bit of it says:

The Balance, Grip and Temper
of this saw
conform exactly to a specification
based on Special Test Reports from
over 100 Skilled Carpenters

So there.

I suppose the Spearior 88 is the equivalent of the Disston D8? It's certainly a nice saw, taper ground and so forth. It'd make a change if British wodworkers appreciated what they've got on their doorstep instead of what the 'Murrican market tells them are worth having based solely on what's available in 'Murrica. Heigh ho.

But fear not, gentle reader, I'm not going through a bout of dodgy nationalism, despite the England cricket, football and (just about) rugby teams all winning over the weekend. In fact I'm thinking very international as I translate the metric measurements I use to make mini bashers into LV newsletter-friendly fractions of an inch. The ever-polite Kate, should she read this, will be glad to know I had my nose to the literate grindstone over the weekend having been politely prodded as to whether I had anything "in the can". Well naturally I didn't when asked, but a polite but insistant prod goes a long way towards inticing the muse it seems. So I have too many words (as ever) now stored away to be re-read with a fresh eye on the 'morrow in hope that I can see my way clear to employ my own blue pencil for a change. Subject to not feeling the need to totally re-write of course... Even then Kate will do a better job of trimming it than I can ever do, for which I will be eternally grateful. Apparently something on removing rust would be welcome too, but that's causing me some angst. It's one thing to say what I do to my own tools, but quite another to suggest it's something to do on some unspecified tool. What happens if one's advice results in a rare and valuable tool biting the dust? I worry about these things (quote from David Kossof in "Indiscreet" fyi).

On the subject of knowing what you're doing with tools, I see the charity called Tools for Self Reliance doesn't. Putting up a Stanley #1 on Ebay without knowing what it is, forsooth? What other tools have passed through their hands that could have raised serious money to help their worthy cause of sending tools to help craftsmen in Africa support themselves? A brief look at one of their advisory documents on rehabbing saws made me shudder too. Chuck the saw if there are any teeth missing in the middle section? Ouch. Concave - chuck it. But it'll have to be jointed and sharpened anyway, won't it? Rivets or only three screws? Poor quality and it gets binned. Glad I'm not an 18thC saw, aren't you? Urgh. Okay, so you may argue it's not likely, but who'd have bet on them getting a #1? 'Zactly.

Oh yeah, took a trip to Hayle yesterday, for one of the largest car boot sales we have in Cornwall. My mum was dodging Chapel and desired to go (for shame - if she doesn't look out for my immortal soul who else is going to?). Anyway, slogged our way round the lot and bought not one jot. Stopped off at Carn Brea on the way home to drop off some books with the Tall Scotsman that he'd lent to my dad and nipped round the car boot sale there that's about a quarter of the size. Came away with a nice little patternmaker's hammer and a pre-metric edition of the Woodworker's Pocket Book. Oh, and my mum bought me a copy of the August 1939 edition of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworker's monthly journal. So the moral of the tale is dodge Chap-, er... I mean, the moral of the tale is, despite what everyone may tell you, "size isn't everything"

Friday, September 07, 2007


Names were duly put in the hat this morning and copies of the LV catalogue are winging their way to MikeR and Phil-with-the-good-surname-for-a-woodworker :) Enjoy, chaps, and don't tell the loves of your lives who sent it, d'ya hear? Lucky I had the forethought to not put on a sender's address...

And congrats also to Ian and Mike for guessing coachbuilder. The gentleman selling them said wheelwright, but there really isn't much evidence for that while coachbuilding tools abound. For instance, did you ever see a firmer chisel with a blade 3/8" thick? Surely making it qualify for the definition of a Coachmaker's chisel - "An extra strong Firmer Chisel".

As is my wont I asked the history of the tools, only to discover that the seller had been asked by a work colleague to take them to the dump as they were being cleared out of the colleague's late grandfather's house. Bless him, he asked "can I keep them?" and did so for some years even to the extent of bringing them down from Sussex to Cornwall when they moved a couple of years ago. So really this should have been a catch for some lucky Sussex dwelling person... Anyway, space was a problem and voila, now space is a problem for me instead. Not a single metal plane or spokeshave amongst the lot btw, which is fairly unusual in my general tool-buying habits, but a few familiar names nevertheless.

Oh, and for those of you who like irony and were with me through the drama that was Building the Welsh Stick Chair last year, guess what I found amongst the boring tools? Would you believe an auger bit extension? No, I didn't believe it either...

Thursday, September 06, 2007


First up - still got until midnight to enter your name into the draw for an LV catalogue. At the moment it's hardly worth getting the hat out...

Secondly, a truth I had momentarily forgotten when I boasted of only clean saws chez Alf. Viz:

Those whom the tool gods wish to destroy they first let boast that they're getting on top of the whole tool cleaning situation and than - wham. They put some more across their path that simply can't be ignored.

Okay, so as aphorisms go it doesn't exactly flow, but by gum, it seems to be born out time and again. Took a little tour into that southerly bump of Great Britain called "The Lizard" and came away with one or two items. Can't really even justify most of these as "users" 'cos many are a tiny bit specialised. House points for the clever person to "name that trade" - I think there are clues enough. My money's on BugBear to get it...

Only had a cursory look so far but already it looks like the Preston Clump still has legs. Can a Clump have legs...? Well you know what I mean.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Want something for free?

Bet that got your attention, huh? I'll come to that bit at the end...

I think - only think mind you - that all the saws currently in my possession are now clean. If we don't count the nest of saws that came in the toolchest and may be past recovery. Maybe they'd be a candidate for trying out citric acid on saws myself? Trouble is the dried on linseed oil would have to be scraped off first, and by the time I've done that might not the whole job have been done by hand? Anyway, should anyone want to see what sort of results you might get there's an informative post on WoodNet that may be helpful. I'll put aside the fact that Glen's "throwaway" would be my "plenty of use left yet". Either he's fussier or luckier in his saw purchases. :)

And I know what you're thinking. Just as soon as this blog transforms back into a woodworking one instead of tool cleaning I daresay the saw till doors will be right up there as a priority...

In the meantime, this morning I bought a pair of springs for the spokeshave more in hope than expectation but (as I secretly feared) they were too big and will have to go back. "Go back?!" I hear you ask? "A couple of tiny springs?" Folks, these things were 55p a piece! Unbelievable in itself, but ones ten times the size were the same price which just plain annoys me. So returning them and getting the money back is a matter of principle as much as anything. Cheap at the price if they'd fitted though, to be honest. Further to a comment elsewhere I can't help thinking maybe an ad in the local paper "woodworker seeks tame but adventurous model engineer, NS, GSOH" would probably solve three-quarters of my tool re-habbing issues if it resulted in a sensible answer (probably unlikely). Heigh ho.

What else...? Oh yeah, got me a Lee Valley catalogue by the cunning ruse of saying "yes, please" when asked if I wanted one. Actually more than one - so in the spirit of passing on such wallet-ish temptation I hereby announce a Free Prize Draw. Yes! You could already have won £10,000 in the Blog Readers'...

Ha hum, well you may have, but not here. Nope, strictly for a copy of the Lee Valley & Veritas 2007/8 catalogue to your (UK mainland-situated) door, free, gratis and for nothing, get your entry into my inbox (email address on the website) with "Drool" in the subject line and plenty of grovelling in the body of the text ;) and I'll draw two lucky recipients from the hat. Entries close at midnight on Thursday.

Don't thank me. If you think browsing the website is dangerous, having a catalogue at hand is much, much worse. Easier to circle certain items and leave it lying around in the run-up to Christmas though, to be fair... ;)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Cool saw

So, saw refurb then. Pretty easy example this one, because the bolts were easily removed and replaced. Not even close to always being the case in my experience - when in doubt leave 'em on! Anyway, as you can see looking a bit grotty:

Someone had applied some sort of unguent on the blade at some time to prevent rust, which didn't work that well and left a nasty tacky residue where it hadn't been worn away around the handle.

The handle is shapely and bedecked with the usual paint spatters, dabs of cascamite glue and just for laughs, a paper label. Can sort of make out a bit of an address, so perhaps a previous owner, possibly for the benefit of the saw doctor?

First tip-ette to pass on - if you're going to remove the bolts it can save unhappiness if you keep track of which bolt went where. Not that it matters that often, but when it does it can cause grief, so I find it a good habit to get into. Putting them inside the handle in their relative positions while you tackle the blade works for me.

With the handle removed you can see the crusty rust often found there, even on otherwise pretty spiffing examples.

With that and the gunge, a little light scraping before starting with the abrasives is in order. It's terribly easy to scratch instead of scrape, so exercise caution.

Um, yeah, bit of an older picture here - wasn't entirely switched on for WIP shots... But fwiw it's the same cherry offcut I've been using for years. Nothing special about it, it just suits me. There are probably as many choices of grit and lubricant (or not) as there are saw cleaners, but fwiw I like to use 320g wet 'n' dry and a slight preference for paraffin oil, but methylated spirts and white spirit have both seen service before now. Go "with the grain" down the length of the saw and watch out for any etch that may be present. You feel a right idiot if you sand it into oblivion.... Tip-ette number two; a piece of ply to support the thin blade while the back can overhang the edge is very useful.

And here's one side of the plate done, clearly showing the contrast with the untouched back. For steel backs I just use the used pieces of w'n'd without the block to clean them up, occasionally getting a rush to the head if it's a well-finished back like this one and polishing them. Of course that's a matter of taste, equally if not more so when it comes to brass backs and the saw nuts. By now you probably know I like shiny brass, and as it doesn't take that long to tarnish again I usually indulge myself.

The handle got the same treatment as I use on wooden planes - as shown here. The Liberon wax really is excellent for this and I've actually ended up buying some more specifically for tool cleaning; too soft for finishing! After a lot of trial and error it seems a square-bladed bradawl is as good an all-round handle-cleaning tool as any other. The point can "pop" the previously softened paint spots and the edges of the square point can be used as small scrapers for other areas. A brisk rub with the wax and fine non-woven abrasive can shift most of the rest.

So "afterwards"; steel minus crud.

Beech minus paint and with a quick polish of beeswax polish. Feels great now.

Whole saw finished, sharpened and set with a sort of combo cross-cut/rip set up I copied down from one of MikeW's forum posts at some point. Pretty heavy saw, but in a pleasing way. I fully intended to part with it when I started, but it might be a bit harder than anticipated...

Time now to look into W Douglas & Sons Ltd. Hand-saw Makers of Britain is Douglas-less, but then given that Putney in London doesn't immediately spring to mind as a hotbed of saw makers, that wasn't much of a surprise. So perhaps a dealer? Rebadged to be sold on? Never heard of them but that doesn't mean anything. To the Batmobile! Okay, Google then... An outfit with a whole wharf must be big enough to show up. And it did - but only when I stopped trying to search for "Douglas Wharf" with "saw".

"Douglas Wharf" with "Putney" got me a circular walk from Putney Station including the information that "The Boathouse was formerly Douglas Wharf, premises of William Douglas & Sons (refridgeration machinery)" Huh? Another hit gave me a link to a patent for "Improvements in fasteners for doors of cold storage rooms, such as ice safes and the like". And finally an antiquarian bookseller is trying to get £50 for a third edition of "Douglas's Encyclopaedia. The Standard Book of Reference for The Food Trades" by William Douglas and Sons. These characters were evidently deep into the ways and means of preserving food, particularly with reference to refrigeration. I currently presume that despite that they had cause for enough of their employees to be using back saws that they got them stamped with the firm's name. You might also conclude their employees were otherwise a bit on the light-fingered side...

So then, don't groan, but surely this qualifies this saw as being especially "cool"...?