Restoring a Chisel/Slick

Apparently, my last restore was somewhat lame, so I’ll step up my game a little bit and show you how I restored this slick.

I bought this blade on the Worlds Longest Yard Sale a couple of weeks ago. I saw it on the ground and thought it was just a big ass chisel. The guy selling it told me he got it from the Amish. I noticed it was made by the Ohio Tool Co, so I bought it figuring it wouldn’t be too hard to make a new handle for it. When I got home, I examined it next to my other chisels when I realized that I probably had actually bought the blade for a slick.  It was 2 1/2″ wide x 6″ long and much thicker than any of my 2″ firmer chisels. The top of it was mushroomed and the blade was blunt like someone used it as a cold chisel, but I was confident that I could bring it back from the dead.

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I started cleaning the slick the same way I start all my restores, by soaking it in a citric acid bath for a few hours, then cleaning up the metal with a brass wheel on a buffing machine.

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The pieces of the handle still remained inside the socket of the slick, so I had to drill it out in order for the new handle to fit.

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In order to get rid of the mushroomed socket, there was no way I was about to heat up the end of the slick and reform the socket, so I decided just to grind the mushrooming away on my bench grinder. I figured I lost about a 1/4″ to 3/8″ of the total length of the socket grinding away the mushrooming.

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I grabbed a piece of 1 1/2′ maple and turned a handle that was about 16″ long. I looked in an antique tool catalog for a picture of a slick’s handle that I could use as a pattern. It was a very simple design with a knob on the end and a slight curve in the middle. This photo is the wood before I turned it to shape.

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The trickiest part about making a new handle for a chisel or slick is to measure the angle and thickness of the taper to properly fit in the socket. I took a 1/2″ thick dowel and placed it down the center of the socket and marked the top with a pencil. This gave me the length of the taper.

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Setting my calipers to  1/2″ to turned the bottom of the handle until the calipers slipped by.

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Next, I measured the diameter of the hole at the top of the socket and set my calipers to that measurement, then shaved down the wood until the calipers slid pass. This gave me the length and the proper shape of the inside of the socket.

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After I cut the handle from the lathe, I sanded the end of the knob and hit the handle down into the socket with a wooden mallet. This is the trickiest part of the operation as you really don’t get a second shot. Once the wood seats inside the socket, it’s not coming out. The socket was slightly oval inside from all the whacking by the Amish guy, so the handle was tough to fit all the way down, but it still solidly seated in there.

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Next, I focused on the blade and sharpened it on my grinder and honed the edge with my water stones. I used 1000, 6000, and 12000 grit water stones respectfully.

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I bet it’s been a long time, if ever, since this blade has been this sharp. You can see how the top of the blade is all chewed up. It’s as if the guy used the top of the blade as a plate for tin punching.

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I flattened the back with my water stones as well. I didn’t go over board with the flattening. Just enough to give a good cut.

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Here’s the slick in use. It cuts wood like butter.

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I added hemp oil to the handle to give it some protection. I’m not sure if I will ever use this slick, but it’s nice to have it in case I do.  The best part is restoring it wasn’t that hard as it only took a couple of hours, but the tool will last me a lifetime.

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My $1.00 Plane

A couple of weekends ago, I went on the World’s Longest Yard Sale on US 127 looking for old tools and other things to sell. Sunday, I ran across a guy selling junk just north of Cincinnati and saw this plane on a table. The guy told me that his prices were negotiable so I asked what he wanted for this plane. He told me $2.00, but I countered that I would give him a buck for it and he accepted. I really didn’t need it, but I wanted to buy something during the day. The blade was marked Van Camp which I believe was a hardware store back in the day however, the plane was more likely made by the Sargent Tool Company.

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Every time I restore a tool, I start by sticking the parts in a tub of water with a cup of citric acid. I let the parts soak for about an hour and then wipe them clean once I take them out of the solution.

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I took the time to fettle the bed since the plane’s body was so small. Honestly, I don’t think the bed was that bad to deserve to be fettled, but I was in the mood. I went through a series of wet sand paper grits, from 220 to 500 to 1000 grit.

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You can see the smoothness of the bed when shown through the light. The bed doesn’t have to be completely free of pitting, just flat enough from front to back.

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After the bed was fettled, I soaked all the parts of the plane with my custom solution of mineral oil, orange oil, and melted bees-wax.

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Next, I sharpened the blade by using my Tormek sharpening system and a set of water stones. I was able to shave the hairs on my arm with this blade.

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All tuned up, the plane takes nice curly shavings. Not bad for a buck.

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For years I used this squirrel tailed plane. It works okay but the shavings are not that clean and it’s a pain in the ass to set properly with the screw and cap.

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You can see the difference when you flip the two over. The area of the mouth is a lot tighter on my buck plane than the squirrel tail plane. The tight mouth keeps the wood fibers pressed down just until they hit the edge of the blade giving me a nicer shaving.

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My new plane still fits nicely in the holder where my old squirrel tailed plane sat. Maybe I should have given the guy $2.00. haha

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The World’s Longest Yard Sale 2018

This weekend, my wife and I went back on the World’s Longest Yard Sale. If you’re not familiar with the sale, it runs the first weekend in August on US 127 from Michigan down to Alabama. In years’ past, we would head down to Chattanooga, TN to stay the night, then work our way home staying another night in Lexington, KY, but this year we decided just to make day trips and head back home at night.

This banner hangs in Mainstrassa Village in Covington, KY just a few blocks from the Lost Art Press. Many years ago, the yard sale started here, but in recent years Ohio and Michigan started to participate.

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Heading down US 127, there will be areas set up every few miles down the road with vendors. Since we’ve done this sale for years, we know where the good stops are, but some of the smaller areas may have some of the best deals as those are true yard-salers selling their crap and not professional antique dealers selling their prize possessions for top dollar.

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You’ll get a bit of everything at this sale. From antiques, to used tires, to baby toys, to a whole bunch of used clothes. It is after all a yard sale, so take your normal Saturday afternoon yard sale and times it by 690 miles.

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Since we stayed away from the antique dealer mega stops, I didn’t see many antique tools from collectors. I did spot this old scroll saw in central Kentucky with a $350 price tag on it. Probably not a bad buy, but I wasn’t in the market for one, so I passed on it.

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The most unusual piece I saw was this picture frame miter saw box just north of Cincinnati. There was no manufacturer’s name on it but it looked professionally made. I assumed it sat on top of a three-legged stand because of the length of back, but that is just a guess.

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It came with a Disston saw, but there was no way for me to date it. If I had to guess, I’d say it was late 1800’s early 1900’s from the look of the screws.

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The weather was nice, hot but nice. Every year it usually rains as we have to walk and drive around in the mud which is no fun. Everyday this weekend it was in the 90’s and humid as hell. We started at 8:00am and by 6:00pm we were suffering from the three B’s. Beat, Burnt, and Broke.

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At the end of the weekend, this is what I came home with. A few Stanley planes, a veenering plane, Langdon miter box with a Disston saw, a set of Stanley No 105 forstner style bits, Millers Falls eggbeater drill, and a 2 1/2″ wide Ohio Tool Co chisel/slick. Not too bad considering what I paid for everything. There are a few hard to find tools in the group.

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The prize of the bunch is the Stanley 5 1/4 C corrugated plane which is one of the rarest planes Stanley ever made. I found it in booth in Ohio from a young couple who were just selling random stuff. It was the only tool they had in their booth so I have no idea where they got it. They told me they looked up its value on the internet, but they were just trying to get rid of it, so I gladly took it off their hands.

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I already spent the last couple of days cleaning it up. I already own a Stanley No 5 1/4 so I doubt I’ll use it. It’ll more likely be one of my top shelf tools.

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A Quick Harvest Table

My wife, Anita, wanted me to make another farmhouse table for her. She sold the last one I made several months ago and missed how it looked in her booth. So, I went to Home Depot and bought three 2×12’s and two 4×4’s.

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Two of the 2 x 12’s I bought, I planed down to 1″ with my surface planer. It did a fine job, but I had three garbage cans full of shavings that I had to burn in my fire pit in order to get rid of.

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I ripped the last 2×12 in half on my band saw, then ran kerfs down each side on my table saw 7/8″ wide so I could use them for the frame of the table. Ripping them down to 7/8″ would allow me to plane one of the pieces to 3/4″. Then I took the 1/2″ off cuts and glued them together to create a 1″ thick stock to mill down to 3/4″ back at the surface planer.

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In the past, I ripped kerfs down the sides of the board and then take it over to the band saw to finish up the ripping. However, this board gave me some real trouble as it kept binding up the band saw blade. Frustrated, I tried everything, even giving it a go with my rip saw, with no luck.

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I was so disgusted I threw up a picture of my struggles on Instagram and then a follower of mine gave me the idea of finishing the ripping with a sawzall. Curious, I gave it a shot and sure enough, it worked perfectly only taking me ten minutes. Social media is awesome!

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With the ripping done, I was ready to get back to business milling and gluing up the off cuts so I could still use them to build the frame of the harvest table.

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With the wood gluing, I turned my attention to the legs. Taking the 4×4’s I cut them to 30″ and turned a leg that my wife was pleased with.

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I then repeated the steps of the first leg to the next three. I ended up with four legs that were identical enough to one another.

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I wanted to use mortise and tenon joinery to attach the frame to the legs. so I set my mortising gauge to 3/8″ wide, the same width of my mortise chisel.

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I ran my mortising gauge down the side of the leg where I wanted a mortise and used the chisel to chop out a shallow area.

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Next I used a 3/8″ forstner bit and drilled down the depth of the mortise. Doing the mortise this way allowed me to not have my drill bit sway outside the mortised area.

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I then finished up the mortise back with my chisel making the ends of the mortise nice and square. This is an unconventional way to make a mortise,  but it allowed me to remove a lot of the waste much quicker than with the chisel alone.

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Test fitting the joint, I was pleased with the results. It took me less than an hour to cut all eight mortises.

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Using one of my beading planes, I planed a 3/8″ bead down the bottom of the frame boards. Cutting a bead on a seven-foot long board takes a bit of patience.

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Using pocket holes, I glued and screwed the frame to the legs and top. My wife wanted this table to be quick and easy which it was.

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I flipped the table over and was happy with my work. The top is just two boards lying next to each other, not even being glued together.

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My wife stained the wood with steel wool and vinegar solution and then applied a couple of coats of milk paint to give the table an old world look.

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Here’s the table in her booth with some of her antiques on top. Quick and easy.

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Whipping Up a Reclaimed Tray

Last week, Anita came home from Home Goods with a tray that she bought for $18.00. I took a look at it and thought to myself ” I coulda made that, but whatever”. Well, after she had it on our dining room table she decided that the sides of the tray were too high and asked me to make her one with shallower sides.

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I went into the basement and looked in a box that I filled with wood that came from an old pallet I tore apart. I know using pallet wood is frowned upon in the woodworking world, but it was free and has the character Anita was looking for.

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The first thing I did was grab a few pieces and planed them down only on one side to make them about 3/8″ thick. I then milled the boards to 3″ wide and glued them together. I used two old panel clamps that I bought last year at an antique show that excel at gluing thin boards together.

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The bars on each side prevent the boards from buckling up when clamping pressure is applied. I originally bought the clamps to sell them to make some quick cash, but I’m glad I never did. They work great!

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After the glue dried, I sanded the planed side on my Performax drum sander to make the bottom of the tray perfectly flat.

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Anita wasn’t thrilled with the gray color of the wood, so I used my Porter Cable Restorer and sanded the gray off the panel perpendicular to the grain. This allowed the wood to get cleaned up yet not lose its character.

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After the panel was sanded, Anita applied Weathered Oak stain to the pieces. You can see how the stain pops the grain, but still makes it look old.

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After the stain dried, I glued and nailed the sides to the bottom. The sides are 1 1/2″ wide x 1/2″ thick reclaimed pine.

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Anita installed some blacksmith made handles to the sides and placed it on our dining room table. A super quick and easy project that was made within just a few hours.

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10 Signs You Might be a Woodworking Snob

10. When your friend tells you about his awesome CNC machine, you walk away.

9. You think all the employees at Woodcraft are idiots.

8. You use liquid hide glue on everything.

7. You claim to be a hand tool only purist, yet you stream all your favorite TV shows on Netflix.

6. You think using Kreg pocket screws are beneath you.

5. You use the word “bespoke” because “custom” is too pedestrian.

4. You haven’t been inspired by an article in a woodworking magazine since 1996.

3. Your workbench is nicer than your dining room table.

2. You think smelling like walnut sawdust is a good thing.

1. You own every title from Lost Art Press even though you have no idea where Estonia is.

Cheers!

Happy Easter.

Mike

Restoring a Beading Plane

Beading planes are some of the most common molding planes you’ll run across while hunting for old tools at antique shows. I found this 3/16″ beading plane in Augusta, GA for just $14.00. Some people feel that it isn’t worth the time and effort to tune up old molding planes like this however, with a few simple steps, you can easily bring these guys back to life.

An important thing about buying an old molding plane that you want to use is to buy one that is in good shape. You need to make sure that the plane’s body is straight and the boxwood is in good shape (if there is any). If the body is curved or the boxwood is missing, then it’s best not to even bother with it as it will be too much work than it’s worth.

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When you decide that the plane is worth restoring, the first step is to clean off the dirt. With a little elbow grease and some steel wool, you can clean the body of the plane in no time flat. It took me about ten minutes to get rid of all the dirt and grime.

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After everything is clean, I coat the plane body with my homemade oil and beeswax. Now, if all I wanted to do is display this on my shelf and collect dust I’d be done, but I want to put this baby back to work so, I need to work on the blade.

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To start cleaning the blade, I soak it in a solution of water and a little bit of citric acid. After an hour, I took the blade out and scrubbed off all the rust with a fine sanding sponge.

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Once the rust is removed, I sharpen the blade by honing the back over a series of sand paper and water stones. I started with 400 grit sand paper then move to 1000 grit, to 4000 to 12000 grit water stones. Only takes a few minutes to go through the process.

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After the back is honed, I sharpen the bevel angle and the profile of the cutter with 800 grit sand paper. Chances are, the profile of the iron is still in good shape when compared to the profile of the bed of the molding plane. If the profile of the blade is out of whack with the plane bed, then you’ll have to re-grind the shape of the iron to match the bed which is a taunting task, but I doubt you’ll have to do that if you took the time to examine the plane well before you bought it.

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With the blade sharp and back in the plane, I tap the iron down until enough of the edge is popping out of the bed to make a nice cut.

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With a little effort, you’ll have a nice plane that’s a joy to use and much easier to make a bead on a piece of wood that using a router.

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