Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stanley #3 Smoother

Last fall I finally finished the walnut dining table I had been working on for the last couple of years.

The main reason I got hung up with this project, is the stock that I had chosen for the top had crazy reversing grain and produced tear out when it was just looked at wrong.

I tried everything I could think of.  I sharpened my blade on LV bevel up jack plane.

No go.

I tried the 37 degree blade in that plane.

No go.

I tried the 50 degree blade, which resulted in a 62 degree effective angle on that plane, which should be enough to tame the worst wood.

No go.

I tried my #80 scraping plane.

No go.

I finally used a hand scraper over the entire top to get a top that had no tear out.  The only problem with this is the table now didn't look flat.

I hated this look.

Don't get me wrong, I am extremely proud of this table, it looks gorgeous -

- In the right light.

It is difficult to photograph, but in the wrong light, it looks a lot like the following picture:
Crazy scraper bumps.  Believe me, it looks a lot worse in real life.
This is the only project I have done in the last couple of years that I couldn't smooth satisfactorily with the tools I had - i.e. my BU jack.

I therefore paid close attention when Christopher Schwarz announced he was going to use a #2 smoother for a year, and Richard Maguire started a series on cap irons and tear out with his #3 smoother.

I decided I needed to find a small smoother with a cap iron rather than one with a high angle and a tight mouth.  After striking out on eBay, I found the perfect plane at Handworks in Amana.  A Stanley type 10 #3.

Planing this table top isn't the catastrophic extremity that you might think.  The finish is just burnished bee's wax.  That's it.  If I decide to leave half of the table the way it was, the wax finish should theoretically be able to be re-applied to the table with none the worse for wear.  Time to get my new secret weapon out.

I monkeyed with my new plane the other day, sharpening the iron and setting up the cap iron like the Schwarz and Richard Maguire said.  Tonight, I decided to go for it and try it out on our dining table.

The first couple swipes showed how not-flat the table is.  However, I was astounded that this plane worked easily where so many of my previous attempts failed.

The secret is the cap iron being set as close to the cutting edge as humanly possible.  I was getting absolutely no tear out, going either with the grain or against it.

Just to prove it, here is a photo of how wide I have the mouth set on this plane:
This is about how far I usually set the mouth back on my jack plane for rough work.
This was utterly amazing to me.  I would say that I am getting to the point in my woodworking that it is getting hard to utterly amaze me, but there you have it.
About 20 minutes work.
I do have to admit that I have very little experience with a bevel down smoother.  One of the reasons I haven't got one, is that with bevel down planes, I think you probably need three:  a jointer a jack and a smoother.  I can do a lot of these tasks only with my BU jack.  I haven't ever run across a wood that I couldn't smooth with that plane.

Until this project.

I decided that this project was worth the investment in a new vintage tool - if it worked.  Boy am I glad I did.

I have a feeling that every once in a while a dedicated smoother is required, so I think that this one will be it.

The only problems I came across is that after a while, a shaving got caught under the chipbreaker.  This was expected, as I couldn't quite get the chipbreaker to fully close up to the original iron.

I also found out that this table top requires the blade to be super-hyper-freaking sharp in order to work well.  I did wind up with some microscopic tear out toward the end of my planing session that wasn't there at the beginning.  Unfortunately I don't have my sharpening stones here, so I'll have to finish this task up another day.

I like the steel on this iron, and I have no problem with using the original thin iron.  The only problem is there is only about 1/4" on the iron left until I run in to some pitting, and the cap iron isn't quite what it used to be.  I am a bit undecided at what to do to remedy this.  I could buy a new cap iron and blade from a company like Lee Valley or Hock, but I could also get a vintage replacement.  I think a vintage Swedish blade and chipbreaker would be cool.  I could also spend some time and research rehabbing the one that is original to this plane.

Anyway, here is some vintage tool porn:
I really like the look of this old plane with the low front knob.

The type 10 was manufactured between 1907 and 1909, according to the internet.  There are some real neat features from this time period.

You can tell it is a type 10 because it has two patent dates (unlike the type 11 which has three), and there is no frog adjustment screw.

The frog adjustment screw would be nice, but I figure once the frog is set, there shouldn't be much need to muck with it on a dedicated smoother.  Plus, my intention is to keep the mouth relatively open.
I thought it was neat that this was a model #3C.  That means the bottom has the corrugations.  I don't think they do much other than look cool.  But hey!  It is cool to look cool.
Just look at the frog:
The money shot.
I think the blade says, "STANLEY - PAT. 4/19/92."  I mistakenly thought that this was a later blade, but it turns out it is from the time that this plane was made, so my guess is it is original.  If it was in good shape, it would be worth as much as I paid for the whole plane all by itself!  I like the steel, it sharpens up nicely.
Overall I am extremely pleased with the plane and it's performance.  The walnut on this project was extremely frustrating to deal with, and this little smoother seems to be capable of taming it nicely.

My plan is to smooth the top until it looks good enough, then re-finish it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Progress on the Plate 19 Moulders

Yesterday I had a little bit of time in the shop.  Instead of working on these, I spent the time getting my new Stanley Type 10 #3 smoother sharpened and working.  That plane is awesome.  I can't wait to write about it.  It went so well, I rehabbed a few chisels, too.  No time for these moulders.

Skip to today, and I was able to sneak in the shop for about an hour and a half.  I think once I get a couple of these built, it will go a lot faster, as it always takes a bit to learn something new.

Today I spent some time belatedly fitting the wedges and bedding the irons.  It turns out the irons bed a lot easier if the wedges are dead-nuts perfect.  I didn't bother shaping my wedges yet.  I'll probably regret that later.

In this photo you can see where I was in the process when I left off last time.  One wedge is roughly fit, and the other is way out.

You can see from here one wedge is way off.  You can also see my chisel-rehabbing mess from yesterday.
A bit of time fitting the wedges.  This open mortise makes it easy to see everything that is going on with the wedge.  I have no idea if the wedge is square or not, but it fits the mortise.  I then used the dry erase marker to determine where to remove wood on the bed to seat the iron as best as I could (as per Larry Williams).
The pair with fine tuned wedges.
I forgot I had a singleton #12 hollow in my tool chest.  This is the exact size I am making here, so I used it as a mother plane after touching up the blade.  It worked a treat.  If you are going to make planes, it might be beneficial to make friends with someone who has a plane or two the size you need.
I found a mother plane in my tool chest.
For the hollow, I used my plow to set the depth I wanted for this profile, then used 80 grit sandpaper wrapped around my new round body to establish the profile.
Don't tell anyone I used sandpaper!
Here are a couple of pics of the completed profiles.   I like this first photo because it shows a little more clearly that the blade is full width the whole way.
I admire people who keep their shop and bench clean while they work.  I don't
Here's a close-up of the profiles including what the irons look like peeking out of the bottom.  Obviously they aren't shaped yet.
The last thing I did was use some machinist layout fluid and a shop knife to mark out the profiles on the irons.  These are the lines I need to grind to.
I think I need to try a different brand of fluid.  Although it looks like you can see the line well enough.
Unfortunately, My shop isn't set up well for grinding and metal work.  I will go to the Army woodshop to do the grinding.  I then will go to the Army's do-it-yourself Auto Crafts shop.  They have a welding torch that I will use to heat treat these irons.  I figure that's quicker and easier than mucking about with fire bricks and propane torches.  At least, that's what I'm about to find out.

For a bonus, here are a couple photos of what I did yesterday:
Here's my new Stanley smoother.  I planed the wrong way on this walnut board, and there was no tear out.
 I also got a little re-habbing in.  The two smaller chisels are now sharper than they probably ever were, and the big one and the Mora knife are grinding projects in-progress.
I hate lapping, so I'll do it until I get sick of it, and I will come back to it next time.  Sooner or later they will all be done.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


What a weekend!

I'll try to sum up what went through my brain last weekend, but there was so much, I'm sure I'll only get a fraction in.

Plus, my laptop charger is broken, so I only have as long as my battery lasts while I am waiting for my eight hour layover in Atlanta to be over.

Here goes:

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as I didn't really need any new tools.  The only thing I planned on bringing home was a plane blade from Ron Hock to build a small smoothing plane, as my luck on getting a #2 or #3 from eBay has been thwarted.  I thought I would be able to come up with something better anyway.

What I really wanted to do here was meet and talk to fellow like minded woodworkers.

As soon as I walked up to the Festhalle barn at about 9:20 or so on Friday morning, I knew I was in the right place.  There was a big line that went half way to the street already.  For some reason I thought they opened the doors at nine, but it wasn't until ten when they opened the doors to the great unwashed.

The wait was OK, as the next guy to arrive after me was Bill Schenher from Billy's Little Bench.  Shortly after that was a nice guy by the name of Hamilton who loves to read woodworking blogs.  Chatting with these two was a nice way to pass the time.

Since I really didn't have much interest in buying new tools, I walked in and was amazed with the number of people there.  I fiddled with Benchcrafted's traditional French vice (I really might have to think about upgrading someday to this, as I like it), and admired Chris Schwarz's chest with Jameel Abraham's fancy lid.

This really looks good.
My "no substantial purchase" embargo lasted about 12 minutes, until I realized it wasn't only new tool pushers, but old tool dealers, too!

Slav Jelesijevich was sharing a booth with a nice guy by the name of Jeremy (whose last name I didn't get).  There were some gorgeous tools here.  There was a guy there fondling the two Stanley #3s when I got there, and as soon as he bought one I snatched the other one.  It was gorgeous and a good price, so I bought it.  It turns out it is a nice and clean enough to use without much mucking with Stanley Type 10 #3C.  Since Richard Maguire has been discussing the #3 I have decided I needed one to address some problems with my walnut dining table that I haven't been able to take care of with the planes I currently have in my tool chest.  I now no longer have an immediate need to build a Krenov smoother.  For some reason, I don't have pictures of this plane yet.

I went about three paces to Slav's portion, and there he had a gorgeous Swedish chisel that looks to be more than two inches wide.  I couldn't resist and opened my wallet again.

I then went to Patrick Leach's booth and about went into a coma.  I have never seen so many desirable old tools in one place before in my life.  I feel like I was lucky to get out alive, with no purchases from him.  Although, there were two nice sets of Swedish chisels I had my eye on.  Unfortunately for me, he knew their true worth.

There are many pictures of this elsewhere on the blogosphere, so I'll spare you and only show one:
For God's sake, who has ever seen such a huge box of mortice chisels?
I wanted to talk with and meet as many cool people as I could, but I especially wanted to meet Bengt, Jeremy, Ralph, Ethan, and I wanted to catch up with Christopher Schwarz.  I got to see everyone on my list in the first hour or so of the event, except Ralph.  I kept my eye out for him the whole time, but never bumped into him.  Maybe next time.  The Schwarz was of course running around like a chicken with his head cut off, but he promised that we would get a few minutes to chat on Saturday.  Unfortunately he was under the weather and missed the show that day.

It is great being able to wander around and chat with the various vendors.  One of the first I was able to watch and speak to was Mary May.  She was demonstrating her carving, and mentioned she loved to work with walnut.  I asked if she preferred air-dried walnut, and she said she didn't really know.  A client will give her a chunk of wood with a commission and she just works with it.  I think there is something to be learned here, that there is no need to be snobby with the woods you work with.  If it carves well, then it is good carving wood.
Mary May carving a chunk of walnut.
It was right after this that I started speaking with Chris Kuehn of Sterling Toolworks.  He convinced me that I needed to spend the rest of the money I had with me on a new 1:4 dovetail marker.  So much for not spending any money.  This little gauge is cool, though.  I look forward to using it.

I got to have lunch with Bengt, and spend a good deal of time with him.  He comes to Germany every time Chris Schwarz teaches there.  If you don't read Swedish, run his blog through the Google language translator and be patient as Google's Swedish to English isn't quite perfect. 
Bengt and St. Roy.
The second day I arrived at about ten after nine, and was shocked to see the line of people already there to see Roy Underhill's speech.

Almost an hour early, and here is the line.
Roy's speech was fantastic.  The guy is a 1st class performer.
There were a LOT of people there to see Roy.

I think everyone could see and hear him.
I found myself out at the green woodworking barn a lot.  It was a lot less busy than the Festhalle.  I had a nice conversation with Peter Galbert when he had a few minutes.  What a nice guy.  It was neat to talk to him about his book.  He spent a lot of brainpower trying to figure out how to write in a book what can be shown in person so much easier.  I think he did a great job (from what I have read so far).  It also seems he is open to questions and communication regarding what is in his book, so feel free to look him up with your questions.  I am sure he will be gracious in answering them.
Peter Galbert demonstrating sharpening a drawknife.
Claire Minihan was there, too.  It was fun to watch her teach people to use a travisher.  I must have watched her demonstrate sharpening a travisher blade three times.  Too bad I didn't get a video.  I'm glad I haven't sharpened mine yet, as I would have ruined it.  It really looks easy.

Another "A-ha" moment I had was watching Tim Manney demonstrate his adze technique.  He clamps his board on a sawbench, braces it with his leg, and swings the adze down (just behind his leg for safety) pivoting at the elbow.  The idea is to make a smooth, cross grain cut.  He says the hardest part is coming out of the cut, going up the grain.  If you can do it this way, you save a lot of time as you don't have to turn the board around and re-clamp just to work down-grain on the other side.  I bet he could hollow a wooden serving bowl in no time flat.
Tim Manney demonstrating adze technique.
Jeremy from JMAW Woodworks seemed to bump into me every five minutes.  The Frau and I even got to go to dinner with him and his lovely wife.  He and I have been thinking about entry level moulding planes (or the lack of them).  I am working on some French, open mortice ones, and he has come up with a design all of his own.  I got to see his prototype, and I think it is clever.  Keep an eye on his blog to see how it turns out, as it will be very cheap to make.
Here is Jeremy with Jameel Abraham of Benchcrafted discussing the lid to the CS tool chest.
The undeniable highlight of the weekend was the Studley tool chest.
Don Williams speaking to our group admonishing us to keep our grubby mitts off!
The presentation was as professional as any museam exhibit I have ever seen.  There were some guides in the room discussing different aspects of Mr. Studley, his chest, and his bench.
The pictures we all took suck.  Get the book.
Even though I have been following this project on the Lost Art Press blog, as well as Don's own blog, I was amazed at the amount of research and preparation put into this exhibit.
Don Williams giving his spiel for about the zillionth time.
My photos are just a tease.  From what I have seen of the book so far, I am impressed with the photos in there.  However, nothing is like seeing it in person.  My condolences if you missed it.
Even the bench was stunning.

The obligatory photo of me with the chest.  I was glad to see one of the exhibitors photo-bombed this pic!
The vices on the bench were well worth seeing, too.  It would be cool if Benchcrafted offered a silver plated model.
Wouldn't it be neat to have a silver-plated vice?
One of the funniest things of the weekend in my opinion, was looking at the parking lot.  There was only one yellow Beetle there, which was my rental car.
This made it easy to find my car in the parking lot.
Overall the weekend was a success for everyone.  I don't know, but my guess is that a lot more people showed up for this even than were expected.  People were spending money like crazy.  I'm sure Patrick Leach did well, as every time I saw him at least three people were trying to buy tools from him.  Lost Art Press sold out of their first printing (3000 copies!) of the Studley book.  Most other vendors sold out of many things, too.

Congratulations to everyone regarding this event, as I'm sure it will be remembered forever.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Amana Eve

Sorry Ralph, I stole your post title fair and square.

I spent the last ten days or so in Denver hanging with the fam.  Good times.  We even got to spend a couple days in Buena Vista, CO.  If you ever have an opportunity to go there, do.  While you are there go to the Eddyline brewing company and have a Jolly Roger Black Lager.  And the yak burger isn't bad, neither (more Ralphisms).

Today, we (the Frau and I) flew to Des Moines and drove a rental car to Cedar Rapids.  What a great rental car, we wound up with a yellow VW Beetle.  Perfect!

Near our hotel is a Mexican restaurant.  We each had a big-ass margherita, and a plate of Mexican perfection.

I hope to see you all in the morning!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Estate Sale Finds!

My modest haul.
I would love to be writing about how I finished my Plate 19 Moulders.  However, not so much that I would postpone my vacation.  I am visiting family in Denver, and am lucky enough to be able to tack a couple days in Amana on the end of my trip.
You never know what can happen when my mother poses for a photo with me.
One of my sisters who has always been addicted to garage sales went with me to an estate sale.  I have never been to one, and wanted to check out one.  Living in Germany is definitely a handicap, as I would have to take anything I found back with me in my checked luggage.

Luckily, I found a couple of things that I couldn't resist picking up.

First up is a really cool side hatchet by Plumb.

The only thing I could read on the hatchet.
It is a really cool shape, and I was able to get it for half what it was marked.
I like this shape.
The cool thing about a side hatchet is it is flat on one side, which I imagine will be handy for my style of woodworking.  In my mind, it should make it easier to chop down to a line on a board for quick removal of material amongst other uses.
The back side.
Unfortunately it has a handle that needs replacing.  It looks like it has been abused.  It also looks like someone put this handle in after buying it at the store, as it is wedged with nails and doesn't fit well.  A side hatchet also should have a bent handle for saving your fingers, but this one is straight.  Lastly, the balance is off.  I think I would get very tired using this hatchet for any length of time.

Perhaps someone at Handworks would like to do a demonstration on re-handling a side hatchet!

My next find there was this large rat-tail file by Johnson.  I think it perhaps could be unused, as the teeth are very sharp.  Only a tiny bit of rust from rolling around in the tool box I found it in for who knows how long.
A nice large file.
The other good thing is it says "U.S.A." on it.  I have never heard of this file manufacturer, but the USA makes me think it is quality.

One way to find out!
"Johnson U.S.A."
Last, I found a made in U.S.A. steel rule.
Steel rule.
It is marked in 1/8" and 1/16" on one side, and 1/16" and 1/32" on the other. 
More quality.  There isn't a maker printed.
The file and rule I got for $2.  I could always use a deal on a file, and I don't like continually removing the rule from my square when I want to measure.  I don't measure often, but when I do, etc...

The last bit here is not a tool, but it is fairly old.  A U.S. penny from 1855 my Dad just gave me from his Dad's collection.

You have no idea how cool this coin is.
Due to the nature of this coin, I wrote about it on my family's blog.  Follow this link at your peril, as there is some adult content that shouldn't be viewed by anyone!

I warned you, this link expands on this ancient American penny.