Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves

I normally don’t do product reviews. The reason is because often when someone writes one, they seek affirmation that they made the right decision with what they just bought. This is especially true with tool reviews. How many times do people buy a new tool, take it out of the box, use it, and then blog about how much of a piece of shit it is? Very rarely. It’s one of the reasons I don’t put much weight on reading tool reviews in woodworking magazines. The other reason I don’t write tool reviews is that often I don’t have anything to compare the new tool to. When I bought a new random orbital sander, my old sander was twenty years old and obsolete. I can’t compare my new one to the old. That wouldn’t make any sense. Also, when I bought my random orbital sander, I didn’t try out any of other sanders on the market to see how they stacked up to mine so, I just use it and move on with life.

This time it’s a little different. I found these heavy-duty nitrile industrial gloves at Lowe’s a few weeks ago and was intrigued. For awhile, I was looking for something to replace my old exam gloves that would constantly tear while I was working. I tried using industrial latex gloves, but didn’t like how I couldn’t “feel” what I was doing so, I went back to the old stand by. When I saw these at Lowe’s, I opened a box, took a glove out and tried it on. Then I pulled on the glove while it was on my hand trying to rip it. It was a tough glove so, I bought the box hoping for the best.

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These are the nitrile exam gloves I used for years. For the price I couldn’t complain. Two boxes of 100 ran about $15.00. The problem is that I would go through three to four pairs when I spent the day sharpening. Worse yet, when they did tear, they often tore at the thumb turning my thumb black from the sharpening slurry completely defeating the purpose of wearing gloves in the first place.

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Typical dirty thumb even after I washed my hand from sharpening slurry. If you sharpen without gloves or do any type of metal working, you’ve experienced this as well.

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When I sharpen, I use my water-cooled sharpener along with 1000, 5000, and 12,000 grit water stones so, my hands are constantly getting wet.

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These are some of the planes I sharpened within an afternoon. It took about two to three hours to do all of them wearing my new tough gloves.

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After a dozen plane blades sharpened, the gloves took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. No rips or tears and best yet, clean hands! If your Lowe’s doesn’t stock them, you can find them on Amazon.

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Another Surprise Plane

Several years ago I wrote a post about one of the most interesting planes I ever restored. It was Sargent No 6 plane with a note underneath the rear tote with the original owners name and date of purchase. I thought that it was one-in-a-million chance where the owner of the plane would stick a note underneath the tote. Surely I would never see that again. Well, never say never.

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Sure enough, when I unscrewed the rear handle of this Stanley No 8C corrugated jointer plane, laid a small note.

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This original owner was S A Cowan of Port Carling, Ontario. Musk is short for Muskoka Lakes a summer resort town with a population of only a few thousand. I Googled “Cowan Port Carling Muskoka Ontario” and came up with several entries. There is even a Cowan Lake to the east of Port Carling so, finding who actually owned this plane would be tough with as many Cowan’s living in the area.

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It makes sense that the owner was Canadian as you can see by the blade’s logo. I’m not sure when Stanley made some of their plane blades in Canada, but figuring it out will help date the age of the plane. The SweetHart logo was used from 1920 -1935 according to Roger K Smith and there are no patent dates behind the frog which puts it into the 1930’s.

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Mr. Cowan must have been thrifty (possibly bought during the depression) as he bought a damaged plane. Planes that didn’t pass full inspection were labeled as damaged and sold off as seconds at a discount. The casting marks is what probably made this plane considered to be damaged.

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Overall, the plane is in good condition and will make a nice user. I repaired the top of the tote with a new piece of wood and will sharpen the blade before I sell it. This plane deserves to be put back to work and the note is back underneath the tote.

 

Reshaping a Magnolia Home Dough Bowl

Last week, my wife, Anita, and I were walking through Target buying some clearance Christmas crap when Anita spotted this dough bowl on the shelf. If you know who Chip and Joanna Gaines are from the HGTV show Fixer Upper, then you’re probably aware that they have their own line of home decor in Target called Magnolia Home. Originally this Magnolia Home bowl was $50.00, but it was on clearance for only $15.00. Anita asked me to make a dough bowl for her a couple of years ago, but the project never got finished even though I got a piece of wood for it at a local lumberyard. For $15.00, I figured I could reshape this thing to make it look like the expensive antique dough bowls found in antique stores.

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The first thing I did was cut the stupid handles off and try to deepen the inside of the bowl out with a Northwest adze. The bowl is made from paulownia wood, a native to east Asia that grows ridiculously fast. It’s easy to work, but your tools need to be sharp in order to cut the through the porous grain. I was using the adze for a few minutes, but didn’t feel I was getting anywhere so I turned to my angle grinder with a King Arthur grinding disc.

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The grinder worked better, but it threw up a tremendous amount of dust. After a few minutes of that, I said screw it and stopped. The next time I use my grinder with that disc wheel, I’ll do it outdoors. Way too much dust for a basement shop.

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I ended up finishing the inside using a simple gouge. I’m not sure of the sweep of the gouge I was using, but I’m sure it was the wrong one. I bought a carving set at Costco about ten years ago and they are the only carving tools I own. If I was going to make a lot of these dough bowls, I’d buy the right tools for the job.

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After I was satisfied with the depth of the inside, I drew around the edge to mark where I wanted perimeter of the bowl to be. I wasn’t designing this bowl using elements based on the golden ratio or from the proportions of vases from ancient Egypt. I simply wanted a bowl that looked organic in form and handmade.

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I took the bowl over to my band saw and cut the ends off. You can see the rings of the paulownia wood and how fast the tree grows.

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Chopping off the backside of the bowl was the toughest part. I used everything I could from axes, to chisels, to a drawknife. Whatever it took to get the job done I did as long as the tool was sharp as to not crush the end grain. The drawknife ended up working the best.

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After a few hours, this is how the bowl came out. Turned out to be more of a pain in the ass than I thought it would, but my Anita likes it which is all that really matters. I doubt I’ll ever do it again unless I have a piece of green wood to start with.

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Making Black Shellac

Several years ago I heard about making black shellac out of an old 78 record. At the time, I didn’t have an old 78 around so I never gave much thought about it, but a few weeks ago, my Dad gave me some old records he had lying around his garage. In the pile were some old 78’s that were broken. I thought this would be a good opportunity to try to make black shellac.

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The first thing I did was make sure that the 78, even while broke, wasn’t worth anything. I scanned eBay to see what a good condition Darktown Strutters Ball was going for. At $3.00 plus shipping, it wasn’t worth much, so I was willing to destroy the record. I would only try this with broken 78’s that aren’t worth anything. Doing this to a 78 that is in good shape is considered sacrilege to audiophiles. Plus, you can only do this with old 78’s. Any newer records are made of vinyl and won’t work at all.

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I broke the record apart like snapping a KitKat. I couldn’t believe how easily it snapped in half. I then stuck all the pieces into a plastic bag and crushed it more with a hammer.

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Next, I weighed the pieces into a mason jar and measured out 4 ounces of shellac since I was making a two pound cut with 16 ounces of denatured alcohol

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If you get confused on much shellac flakes you need for certain pound cut of shellac, here’s a simple chart I’ve been using for years. Since I make 2 cups of shellac, I double the amount of flakes I need for a two pound cut on the chart. Pretty simple.

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Like any other shellac, I let the solution set for a day or two stirring the mix every few hours to help break it down. With the black carbon in the old 78 record, there will always be a sludge at the bottom of the jar. I shake and stir the black shellac before I use it to make sure the black dye is mixed well in the solution.

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Below is a sample of three coats of black shellac on four different species of wood. You can see how the soft maple and red oak look a bit muddy however, the southern yellow pine and poplar highlight the early wood and late wood of the grain. As of right now, I’m just playing around with the shellac. I need to see how it performs on a project I make. What I like about the shellac so far is that it’s very quick to add more coats not having to wait very long between coats as the shellac dries very fast.

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This is one side of an old rosewood tote from a Stanley plane with normal blonde shellac applied to it. Below is the other side of the tote with a coat of black shellac. Even though, the blonde shellac pops the grain, you can see how the grain on the black shellac is much more subdue and looks more natural. It’s all in what your intentions are.

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Have you ever played around with black shellac? Let me know what you think about it.

 

Popular Woodworking’s New Look

I received the latest issue of Popular Woodworking today. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew things had changed big time with the magazine. I read on Lost Art Press blog a few weeks ago that Chris Schwarz will no longer write articles for them. That, and the fact that since a lot of the old contributors like Megan Fitzpatrick, Bob Lang, and Glen Huey are long gone, the magazine is a complete a new rag.

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The new look just looks like a typical run of the mill woodworking magazine that appeals to the masses. Something like a Woodworker’s Journal or American Woodworker. It definitely lost its old hand tool feel charm. As far as the projects inside, don’t get me started. I asked my wife about the projects in it (basically two of them) and she said “who builds this shit? Why don’t they put furniture in there that people want to make?” It’s been an ongoing conversation with us for years about why I subscribe to woodworking magazines with uninspiring projects in it.

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The new look has a lot of photo boxes where they describe what’s going on in the picture. Not a bad idea as it’s kind of the same idea of how I write this blog, but the layout seems a bit impersonal. On the plus side, they did have an article about welding. I’ve always thought that woodworking magazines should focus more on mixed mediums. Plus, Peter Follansbee’s Arts and Mysteries and George Walker’s Design Matters are still there.

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I also noticed there are a lot of ads in the magazine for people who are old. From hearing aids, to walk in tubs, to a plethora of ads for medications. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind ads. If anything I learn from the good ones, but damn, don’t make me feel like I need to go get my dentures fitted.

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Did you get your copy? If so, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are the days of the old Popular Woodworking concentrating on hand tools techniques long gone? It’s frustrating because Popular Woodworking was my favorite magazine. I guess I’ll have to start subscribing to Mortise and Tenon instead.

Fixin’ Up a Buffet

If you follow my blog, then you know that my wife and I have a couple of booths in antique malls where we buy and sell antiques. Occasionally we’ll buy old furniture and fix it up. This is a buffet we found at a yard sale for dirt cheap. It had some issues, but the price was too good to pass up, plus I knew I could make it usable again.

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The first issue I had to take care of was the stretcher on the bottom looked like a dog gnawed on it.

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The easiest thing to do was simply cut it off. Since Anita was going to paint the piece, I wasn’t too concerned about the dowel cut offs showing. Removing the stretcher didn’t cause the buffet to lose any stability.

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The biggest issue the buffet had was the runner on the large drawer on top was  completely broken off. There was no way  to properly repair it so I decide to make a new one out of some scrap wood.

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I milled a new piece to size and then used my Stanley No 45 plane to plow a 1/4″ groove down the middle on both edges.

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I then cut a wide groove down the face of the piece with my table saw and cleaned it up with my router plane.

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With a tenon cut on the end of the piece and a rabbet cut on the other end, the new piece worked perfectly in the old drawer. I tacked down the runner to the back of the drawer with a couple of small nails.

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After the drawer was fixed, I shaved down the edges of the doors with a block plane so that they would close better. Once the buffet was functional again, Anita painted the piece with milk paint.

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You can see how the milk paint gives the buffet old world character. This piece should sell quick in the booth.

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