Monday, October 17, 2011

Woodworking Lingo

According to my mother, my style of speaking changes when I've been reading old Woodworker annuals. More emphasis on detail, apparently. Hopefully the effects of 1930s workshop practice won't spread to my appearance, because I'm not sure the tie, waistcoat and moustache look is really me...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A chisel by any name would cut as sweetly

Apologies to the reader - didn't intend to leave things for a week without further postings. Things cropped up, not least the thorny subject of chisel nomenclature. That, as you're probably aware, is a deep, dark swamp into which many have ventured and few have emerged with credit. In fact I now attempt to dodge the bullet and offer up a chisel or two and ask the reader what he/she would call them.

Because I'm cowardly that way.

So, two examples of the type - narrow tang, widening out an inch or so to maximum depth of blade, before tapering down again. Usually pretty short, always narrow. Usually 1/8in. or so, but the bottom one in this case is a bare 1/16in. That, my friends, is mega narrow for any chisel.

I've never thought of them as narrow bench chisels, simply because my old man has a 1/8in. chisel by Mr Marples and his boys, and it's nothing like that. I've always sorta assumed they're a variety of mortise chisel, possibly for some specific purpose (not a rare one, because they turn up frequently enough), but having found myself in possession of that ultra narrow one, I'm rather more uncertain of their use than before. Cursory inspection of Salaman and an old Marples catalogue has provided no enlightenment. I'm not saying the answer isn't out there, just that presently I don't have the spare brain power to go looking for it. So now is your opportunity to shine, gentle reader - what sayeth you? The comments box is open.

Meantime, I may have just succumbed to the joys of secondhand books via the interweb (again) and another volume of the Woodworker for my, um, collection. All being well, 1933 should this way come shortly. That'll keep me busy...

Monday, October 03, 2011

From Ancients to Modern

Now this could be incredibly brilliant planning on my part (except it's not) but while we're in chisel mode chez Alf, first pics of the eagerly (and long) awaited chisels from Lee Valley/Veritas whisper their way onto the interweb. Viz, here and here. Unfortunately both posts on WoodNet, who's archives go to the big virtual wastepaper basket in the sky after one calendar year, so I hope the OPs will forgive me if I yank them onto here for the benefit of posterity.

Okay, for my benefit then.

Ah, the joys of the blurry mobile phone camera - just enough info to be tantalising, but not enough to see clearly. But to me, at least, they look better in the "flesh" than they do in the poster. Although I must admit my pulse is not racing with desire even then.

These are much clearer, but smaller. *sob* Guys, what are trying to do to us here? Kill us?!

So what can we learn from these? Well less than from El Presidente's follow up post, which I will thus also shamelessly append (Hey, this is the least typing I've ever had to do for a longish blog post. Sweet!)

"The chisels themselves were designed to have a centre of gravity at or below the tang/socket connection. the tang is turned and barbed, and has flats to prevent the handle from rotating. The socket is turned from solid, and has a closed end (except for where the tang comes through. It seats directly onto the shoulder of the blade, which is completely lapped on the back. The blade has virtually no side lands - I say "virtually", as we don't actually leave them with a knife edge. The handle are a caramelised maple (and smell like maple syrup!) at an very very low moisture content ( they've been baked at about 170 degrees to convert the sugars in the wood during the caramelisation process); so when mounted to the blade, seat well into the socket, and held with the barbed tang.

"The handle also have shallow flats parallel to the the blade back for purposes of tactile cues. This is a feature that many people like (myself among them). I'd sure like to hear other we may consider offering a choice..."

Can I just admit that the first thing I took away from this was "caramelised maple" and it made me hungry just reading it?

Anyway, O-1 steel first, ready for Christmas or *whimper* soon after. Fancy, all-singing, all-dancing vunder steel more like the middle of next year, it seems.

Now it's monstrously unfair to judge a tool on some blurry/small pictures, but that's never stopped me before... At the moment, I confess I'm... well, it's not love at first sight. I'm having aesthetic issues with the way that blade is blending (or rather not blending) into the socket. It's also kinda disappointing that the handles don't seem particularly user-friendly replacing-wise. Tang and socket is generally a PITA to get right. However I love the completely lapped back thing, and it sounds like they tick many a desirable box technically; bevel edges, point of balance, attention to detail on the handles. But.

Well let's put it this way - I know many, many people love their Ashley Iles bench chisels, but every time I've seen one at a show and thought "Self, you don't have one of these yet. How about it?" I've never yet been able to bring myself to actually buy one, because I just hate look of their socket-like bolster/ferrule combination. In other words, despite my abiding love for all things chisel, I am fundamentally very shallow and easily swayed by appearance. So, at the moment, I confess I'm not feeling quite as much excitement for these chisels as I was before.

And that, gentle reader, actually kinda sucks :(