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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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.