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Restoring old tools

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default Restoring old tools

Post by Chilli-head on 13th May 2011, 2:04 pm

I was tempted to start talking about this in the tea-room with CW but thought perhaps it deserved its own thread.

I have recently had renewed interest in hand tools, and have started to acquire some more. I like old tools for a number of reasons. Some, which have been superceded by power tools in most workshops, are simply not made anymore. Some that are still made are either so poor that they don't do the job, or that there is no joy in using them. Others are great - like Clifton planes - but staggeringly expensive. But there is much more than that to it for me. I love the patina that tools can only acquire through use. I love the idea that other hands have made things with them in years gone by, a kind of tangible link to the past. I particularly love using the tools that were my grandfather's.

As well as tools passed on to me by family, some pretty good buys can still be had on e-bay if you are willing to leap in at 30 seconds to go ! Anyway, latest acquisition was a Record No 151 spokeshave. Being the old, blue painted type marks it out as being at very least as old as I am. And like me, it looked a bit tatty in places and needed some TLC.

So, first off, to pieces. Adjusting screws off and blade out. Then the surface rust off with a wire brush. If I were cleaning an old axe or something a normal stiff brush might be in order, here I used a small wire brush in a Dremmel type mini-drill. This gets the rust off, even from knurled adjusting screws, without damaging threads or removing the maker's stamps from the cutting iron.

Then the sole. I use wet or dry Silicon Carbide paper on a flat surface (plate glass if you are a perfectionist) to clean and flatten. I start with 180 grit, and work down to 1200. With the spokeshave flattening is not so important, with bigger planes you can get a completely flat sole by sticking the abrasive paper (with spray adhesive, or just water) to plate glass. Scribble zig-zag lines on the sole with a waterproof marker, then start lapping. The marker will first be polished off from any high spots; when it has all gone, the sole is flat !

You can wet Silicon Carbide paper with water, but if you do, remember to dry the tool promptly and wipe it over with an oily rag, or the damp freshly exposed steel will rust quickly. Alternatively (my no 1 tip !) wet or dry paper can be wet with light machine oil. If you finish your polishing with 1200 grit paper and oil, you get a nicer finish, and it will not want to immediately start corroding again.

The same technique (wet or dry with oil) cleans up the cap iron, and - with fine grade paper on a flat surface - is used to lap the back (non-bevel side) of the cutter completely flat. You have to remove any significant rust pitting here or, when you grind and sharpen it, the pits will become little nicks in the cutting edge.

Then grinding. Always with a slow, wet grinder for planes, chisels etc so as to avoid affecting the temper of the blade by heating. Holding the blade was a challenge. I used the hole in it to bolt it to a bit ot 2" x 3/16" flat bar to extend it so that I could clamp it in the jig rather than try to hand hold it. I ground it to 25 degrees, then honed to 30 degrees with a oilstone and honing guide.

Back together with a drop of oil on the adjusting screws, and try it out ! Worked like new. You might want to strip and redo the paint, but as I said, I personally like the patina of age and it would be a shame to make it look completely as new !
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Post by Compostwoman on 13th May 2011, 3:22 pm

Great thread! I did wonder if we needed a separate tea room to talk about tools, after the last couple of days... Shocked Laughing

I, too, love old tools...I like the Tools For Self Reliance stalls because they are a good cause and if you email your local group in advance and let them know what you are looking for, they will often bring extra stuff along (useful tip)

Mmm tools which we have restored, which I really love.

#1 Our scythe - I can't recall the maker ( Cm can, but he is out) and its out in the workshop so I can't pop along and look, but I know its about 100 years old. It was a bit of a state when we got it and now its beautiful AND functional.


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Post by Chilli-head on 17th June 2011, 3:29 pm

I set about re-grinding a block plane acquired off Flea-Bay yesterday. It is a Record 0220, clearly been restored quite nicely before, then subsequently abused a bit ...

I was wondering how best to grind it. These things were originally for smoothing off a butcher's block, i.e, planing across the end-grain of wood. A few modern designs use a very low bedding angle (12 degrees typically) to allow a lower cutting angle, which works best on the end-grain. The Record has a pretty high bedding angle of 25 degrees. If the blade is ground at 25 and honed to 30 degrees as conventionally, that gives 55 degree cutting angle - worse than a standard No 4 smoothing plane ! What to do ?

The answer is in this article, from "The Complete Guide To Sharpening" by Leonard Lee. The blade is mounted "bevel up" in a block plane, so the cutting angle is the bedding angle plus the honing bevel angle. So to make the cutting angle lower, a shallower bevel on the blade is needed. But less than 20 degrees leaves the edge too weak. The solution is to add a back bevel to the underside of the blade. I went for an 18 degree griding bevel, then honed using a 10 degree back bevel. Hey presto, my bargin basement block plane has a cutting angle of 18+25 = 43 degrees. Quite close to that of an expensive fancy new low-angle block plane with a bedding angle of 12 degrees and honing angle of 30 degrees (A2 stainless blade best not ground too low). And very nicely it works too.
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Post by mr_sfstk8d on 17th June 2011, 8:13 pm

I too love old iron. I'm always on the look out for new-to-me tools too! Garage sale season is like panning for gold, lol.

As far as cutting lubricants go, I've been recommended to use Baby Oil. It's basically a very clean grade of mineral oil, but super cheap. Well, I suppose if you compared gallons to gallons, it'd cost a bit, but how long would that take you to use?

Anyway, the best reference for blade sharpening I've run into for a while has been Brent's Sharpening pages here. He covers plane irons in depth. He also has pages on chisels and saws. Not only does it cover the process, but also the theory behind it all if you care to look into the deeper pages of the site. I'm currently mid process with reworking a Sargent 307, I think. I don't believe it's a frankenplane, but you know manufacuters used a bit of this and a bit of that from one line to the next back in the day, lol. Got it for $2 at a garage sale, woo hoo!! It'll be a user, but really could pull a decent price on tool sales, if I were so inclined. I'll get back to it when I get settled into another place, I think.
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Post by Chilli-head on 18th June 2011, 9:31 pm

Interesting site, Thanks for the pointer, I'll delve further some time. I see he is a fan of silicon carbide paper on glass for sharpening, AKA the "scary sharp" method. I prefer oilstones, but silicon carbide paper is great for the plough plane irons for reeding, and carving gouges - you can wrap it around any size dowel or metal rod to sharpen a curved edge.

I'm glad to hear your plane will be a "user", I only ever buy tools with the intention of using them, I can't see the point of putting them in a glass cabinet - that's not what they were made for ! Mind you, if I paid the price someone did for this Norris plane I think I'd be hesitant to even take it out of the box !
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Post by Adrian on 18th June 2011, 9:44 pm

Chilli-head wrote:Interesting site, Thanks for the pointer, I'll delve further some time. I see he is a fan of silicon carbide paper on glass for sharpening, AKA the "scary sharp" method. I prefer oilstones, but silicon carbide paper is great for the plough plane irons for reeding, and carving gouges - you can wrap it around any size dowel or metal rod to sharpen a curved edge.

I tend to go for scary sharp as well - in fact I am constantly covered in cuts at the moment due to my new and scary sharp Hori Hori..

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Post by Compostwoman on 18th June 2011, 10:42 pm

Can't see the point of blunt edges, myself... Wink

WHY would anyone buy a tool and not use it...?

I really do not understand that idea? OK I have tools I DO NOT let other people ( apart from Cm) use...but that is because they are special/v expensive and I don't want them damaged...but *I* do use them...

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Post by stephen Critchley on 25th May 2013, 1:43 pm

Due to the fact our tools have change so little over the years I use chisels passed down and bought from car boots that are over 100 years old every day. It's a tradition to pass chisels down to your apprentice that have your mark on them (mine is XII) I have a couple that have the mark on of my apprentice master give in the 80's, his master's 1940's, his 1920's and finally his master given around 1890.
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Post by Chilli-head on 25th May 2013, 7:58 pm

My most treasured tools are not necessarily the finest, or most expensive, bot are the ones passed on to me by my father and grandfather. There is something special about using them, I love the connection with the past that old tools bring.
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