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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It’s Back

Last month I was fortunate enough to sell my massive Langdon Mitre Box and Disston Saw on eBay after it was listed on the site for over a year.

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Just a few weeks before, an article I wrote for The Gristmill, a publication of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, was published in their December 2017 issue where I discussed the origin of the tool.  A few years back, a member of the MWTCA wrote about the Disston saw, but couldn’t determine if there was ever a miter box that went with it. My article cleared up the controversy. Apparently the guy who bought the miter box from me on eBay, read my article and made me an offer for it. Deciding I had no real need for the tool, I accepted his offer.

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I went to u-haul to buy a box, wrapped the miter box and saw in bubble wrap, and carefully packaged both into the shipping box. I took it to UPS and paid for shipping and insurance which cost me $60.00. The girl at the counter told me that UPS insurance only covers damage in shipping if UPS packed the item. Going against my better judgment, I went ahead and bought their insurance anyway since I was the one who packed the tool. In hind sight, I should have just walked out the door and went to USPS to ship it to the buyer.

Sure enough a few days later, the buyer contacted me saying that the bottom foot cracked in half during shipping and he wanted to return the tool. I told him to send it back and I’d give him his money back, which he did. When it arrived back to me, the bottom cast iron foot was indeed broken in half. I took some epoxy and glued it back together just so I wouldn’t lose the piece, but the foot is now useless.

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The other foot was already broken before I bought the miter box which leaves me with the dilemma; do I try to fix the feet or just leave it be? If I try to fix them, how do I do it? I assume I could make a sand casting of the foot and make two identical feet from the casting, installing them back onto the miter box but, I don’t know how to make a casting as I’ve never tried that before. Additionally, I really don’t want to pay someone to make them for me. Even if I did make new feet, they wouldn’t be original and may detract from the value of the tool. I think my best bet is to find another Langdon miter box for parts and take the feet off that one. They may work as long as the depth of the boxes are the same.

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I wish I had this box to begin with. The buyer of the saw did a much better job shipping it back than I did shipping it out. He had a perfect fitting box with a bunch of packaging peanuts inside.

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Even the saw was well packed up. I’m glad the saw was never damaged in the shipping as that is what has the most value. I thought about just selling the saw by itself, but I know that’s not the right thing to do as it really needs to be with the miter box it was created for. As far as I know, there are no other miter box and saw combo like this around as they are truly a one of a kind tool. What do I do?

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The Tool that Changed my Life

It was thirty years ago this summer. I was thirteen years old visiting my grand parent’s house on my Mom’s side in Detroit, Michigan when I walked into my Grandpa’s garage and spotted this little drill press on top of his cabinet.

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It’s was a little German-made drill press. It had no manufacturer’s name on it, so I have no idea who made it, but I thought it was the coolest tool I ever saw. I played with it for a few minutes, and my Grandpa seeing I took a liking to it, gave it to me. I was stoked.

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My Grandpa was never really a woodworker. He was a mechanic who restored old cars like Ford Model T’s and Maxwell’s, so he had no use for the press. I just started to work with wood in my parent’s basement, so I was glad to have it.

A few days later, my Mom, Grandparents, and I went to the flea market. While there, I started hunting for more cool tools. I found some old wrenches and a Ohio Tool Co wooden razee fore plane that I still use to this day. The only money I had was a few bucks I saved up from my allowance of cutting the grass, so I bought all my tools dirt cheap. Nevertheless, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of my antique tool collecting.

As the months and years went by, I started buying more and more old tools. I’d buy planes, chisels, drills, saws and clean them up. As my tool collection grew, my woodworking skills developed right along with every tool I bought as I learned how to use it. I enjoyed the process of restoring old planes so much that I kept buying more of them and before I knew it, I had collected nearly 100 old tools by the time I was sixteen years old. I used to have white bookshelves in my parent’s basement filled with all my tools. My friends would come over, take a look, and asked what the hell was wrong with me.

At the height of my collecting I had over 600 tools. Then one day, I stared at all of it and decided that enough was enough. I took some of the tools I didn’t care much for and threw them on eBay. I watched the auctions end and realized that I enjoyed that process as well, so I threw more tools on eBay. Before I knew it, I was buying and selling tools on a regular basis.

Today, I’ve figured that I have bought, restored, and sold almost three thousand tools on eBay. It’s become a hobby within a hobby. Something that I would never have believed would have happened thirty years ago when my Grandpa gave me his little drill press.

Springfield Antique Show

Last Friday, my wife and I, went to Brimfield, Massachusetts for their antique show. This Friday we headed to Springfield, Ohio for their Extravaganza. Even though the amount of vendors attending is a third of who sets up at Brimfield (2000 vs 6000), I was hoping to find better deals as I usually don’t do too bad at the Extravaganza.

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There are a lot of professional dealers at Springfield, however the majority of them are concentrated in the center of the fairgrounds. As you venture out onto the outskirts of the show, that is where you’ll find people just setting up tables to sell some of their junk. These are the places where I find the best deals. It’s always nice to visit the tables with a bunch of tools from tool collectors, but that’s not typically where the deals are.

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On this table were a Stanley BedRock No 604 for $150 and a Stanley No 8 for $100. Not bad prices if you wanted to pay retail, but I’m always looking for a deal.

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Occasionally you’ll find good deals at these tables. Here were a couple of Stanley planes and a Keen Kutter No 5. The two No 5’s were $15 and the Stanley No 4 was only $21. I passed up on these planes as I wasn’t feeling it for some reason. I only had $40 left in my pocket and still wanted to walk around and see what else was available before I spent all my cash, so I walked away.

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I always love checking out old anvils even though I haven’t set up my blacksmith shop yet. The big boy anvil in the front was a mere $1000. Too rich for my blood.

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After we walked around the fairgrounds for six hours, I came home with a few nice tools. Two Stanley miter boxes, two Stanley No 3’s and two Hartford Clamp Co clamps. The clamps are the most interesting thing I bought as after I researched them, they were primarily used for gluing up thin panels. The bars ride on both sides of the panel so the wood won’t bow while being clamped. I’m going to clean them up and see how well they work.

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As far as deals, I believe I did better at Springfield than I did at Brimfield even though I spent a little bit more money. Now I need to go back to the bank and get some more cash for the Burlington Antique Show in Kentucky on Sunday.

Brimfield Antique Show

Last weekend, my wife and I drove to Massachusetts to go to the Brimfield Antique Show. We heard about Brimfield for years, but finally decided to take the plunge and drive out there to see it for ourselves. With 6000 dealers attending, we were excited to see the show.

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We drove to Connecticut the night before and woke up Friday morning at 5:00 am to drive up north to the show. We arrived into Brimfield around 7:30 am and the first thing we noticed was that it reminded us of a very large stop on the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Dealer tents were set up on both sides of the street which stretched down for nearly a mile. We came up to a gate where a few people were waiting until 8:00 am for it to open and noticed that there was a $5.00 entry fee to get inside. Given we had a half an hour wait, we walked across the street trying to see if any ther dealers were already open, but only a handful were.

About a half an hour later, we came back to the gate where a large group of people were now waiting. We thought to ourselves that this area must be the place to be, so we handed the attendants $5.00 and waited for the gates to open. As soon as they did, we saw people literally running in like it was a black Friday sale. Anita and I started laughing thinking what in the world could be inside the show area worth running for.

Once we got inside, we looked around to see what all the fuss was all about. There were plenty of dealers selling quality antiques, but they came with dealer prices. After about an hour of buying a few things inside, we went out to see what the other areas had to offer.

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The majority of tools that I saw were being sold by collectors, so there was little opportunity to snag a good deal. I was hoping that since I was on the east coast, I would see a lot of good deals on old Stanley planes, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

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I used to think that all the old tools were on the east coast since that is where Stanley plant was located, but I now think tool collectors have all the old tools, not the east coast. It’s just getting harder and harder to find them in the wild for a good price. Most of the planes on this table were $40-85 in price. Even the broken casting block plane was $30.00.

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It’s impossible to see the whole show in one day, but after spending seven hours all over Brimfield we saw 80-90% of it. Unfortunately, these are all the tools I came home with. An old razee smooth plane, a Stanley No 4, a Ohio Tool Co No 4, a Wards Master No 7,  a Sargent block plane, an egg beater drill, and a turn screw. Not terrible, but I’ve done better. Anita faired better than me as she ran out of money and had to borrow mine. It was still a lot of fun and is definitely worth it, if it is on your bucket list.

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Saving a Millers Falls No 9 Plane

Last month my wife and I were at an antique show in Columbus, Ohio when I passed by this Millers Falls No 9 plane. I looked at it and decided that the rust on the right side was too much to deal with, so I walked away. About ten minutes later, something told me to go back and examine the plane better to see if it was worth saving. I thought to myself if nothing else, it could be used for parts as the handles and frog were in good shape. I asked the dealer how much he wanted for it and he told me $10.00 so I handed him a ten-dollar bill and walked away.

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The first thing I do when restoring an old plane is to take everything completely apart spraying PB Blaster on the parts if necessary to break free the rust.

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Once apart, I soak the plane in a citric acid bath for a few hours. I use an old planter box as my tub and fill it half way up with water. Then I’ll scoop out about a cup of citric acid and spread it over the water. Sometimes you can buy citric acid at the grocery store in the spices section, but I buy mine by bulk on eBay. I buy about ten pounds worth for $30.00 which is much cheaper than the grocery store which is usually about $7.00 per pound.

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After a few hours, I take the parts out of the bath and use a wire brush to scrub the residue off the parts. The acid does a great job of removing the rust from the tool.

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I then polish all the parts with sanding sponges and apply my own homemade rust protection solution which contains, mineral oil, orange oil, and beeswax. I also steel wool the handles of the plane and apply a couple of coats of shellac to them.

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Once everything is cleaned and polished, I put the plane back together to see how it looks.

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If all the plane was to do is to sit on a shelf and collect dust, then I would be done. However, I want this plane to be used again, so I needed to focus on the blade. As you can see in the picture, the blade was roasted and desperately needed a new edge. Some people feel a blade that is in this bad of shape would automatically need to be replaced, but I like to see if I can get it to work again first.

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I took the blade over to my high-speed grinder and ground a new edge making sure not to overheat the blade making it lose its hardness.

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After the major grinding was done, I switched to my slow speed water-cooled grinder and worked on the edge some more. I also flattened the back of the blade on my grinder at the same time.

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After I was satisfied with the grinding process, I switched to my water stones to hone the edge. I sharpened the blade with a series of 800, 2000, and 5000 grit water stones.

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I set the cap iron about a 1/8″ from the edge of the blade and put it back in the plane. After adjusting the blade up and down, I was able to get the plane to cut off a nice thin shaving.

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I took one of the shavings and measured it with my calipers. The shavings produced were .002 of an inch thick.

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The shavings are nice, but the real proof is the way the plane leaves the wood with a nice sheen. No sandpaper needed. Not too shabby for a rusty $10 plane.

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The Skinner Irrigation Co Hand Drilling Device

I’m not sure how unusual tools find me, but another has landed on my lap. This time it was an odd-looking drill press. I spotted it in a local antique shop and knew it was some sort of drill press with its flywheel and depth handle, but it was a drill press like I had never seen before. I could tell it was for drilling through pipe because of the claw like clamping pads that could wrap around pipe after adjusting the bottom arm.

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I brought the drill press home and after cleaning it up, I clamped one of my bar clamps across my workbench and attached the press to one end of the pipe.

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After studying the press a little bit, it dawned on me that I actually clamped the drill press upside down. The arm clamps down on top of the pipe, then the user turns the flywheel while pulling up the depth adjustment arm drilling a hole.

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I realized it was upside down because of a small level on the bottom of the press which guides the user to place the tool level.

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Here’s another view of the press in its rightful state.

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Luckily, there was a maker’s plate on the back. The tool was made by The Skinner Irrigation Co in Troy, OH. I googled the company name and found they were a turn of the century company that specialized in laying irrigation systems. Apparently this tool was used to tap into pipes to attach some sort of nozzles in a direct line with each other. Also, on the plate there was a patent number 893667 so I googled that as well. I found out that the tool was patented July, 21, 1908. You can read about it here. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/0893667.pdf\

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The bit that came with the tool looks like a broken threaded tap. You can see that the collar doesn’t have a chuck so this must be a very specialized tool to do one specific job.

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Who knows how many of these hand drilling devices were made, but I’m glad this one found me.

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