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.

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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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Hillbilly Tool Stand

My wife hates this thing. She hates the noise it makes as well as the little wire bristles that fly off the wheel and land onto the floor only to be stepped on with bare feet. Can’t say I blame her as I too have had the fun of pulling a wire out of my foot from time to time. So, it’s been delegated to the garage from now on. The problem was when I used the thing in the garage, I had to step on the end of it with my foot so it wouldn’t spin away, and then bend over to clean my tool parts. Not exactly ideal working conditions.

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I was going to buy a tool stand from Harbor Freight for $40 but, I was too cheap to buy one. Seems like the money was never available since it’s been tight around here for awhile. I kept thinking of what else I could use as a tool stand when it dawned on me to use one of my old sawhorses.

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I simply took three 3/4″ boards that were 6″ wide to lift the buffer to a comfortable height, and laminated them together. Then took two more to straddle the side of the sawhorse and bolted the buffer onto a base. So simple it’s stupid, but it works.

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I guess if I worked for a woodworking magazine, I’d make this fixture out of nice cabinet grade maple plywood and stainless steel woodworking screws, but since I don’t, I just whipped it up with some scrap wood and drywall screws. Terrible I know. If you want, you could probably submit this tip to a magazine and win a cordless jigsaw. haha. You can thank me later.

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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