I’ve written previous articles that related to Shoulder Planes (and there is a fresh one in the pipe-line at Highland Woodworking’s blog), but I thought I’d share a few things I do to help keep my Shoulder Planes in good order.
I noticed today there was a couple of small beginnings of rust on the body of my Medium Lie-Nielsen Shoulder Plane. When I say small, I’m talking about something in the order of a pin-head (the sort your mother would use to attach a pattern to some fabric, when making a dress), or possibly twice that size. There were two about the size of the pin head, on the sole of the plane, even though I’d oiled the body between uses. One was within a 1/2″ behind the mouth of the plane, and the other about the same distance from the butt-end of the sole. I took the plane apart, so I didn’t need to focus on avoiding the iron, while I spruced up the body.
I lightly used an Extra Fine Scotch-brite pad, with the pressure focused on the middle of the sole, in those areas. I tried not to touch the outside edges, and remove only what was required to get this under control. It didn’t take long and there was very little removed. I also found a couple of discolorations around the body, which looked to be pre-cursors to full-blown rust. I used the same technique on all of those, but one. The other one had the nice rust color, and was actually like four or five of the little spots in a group. I used some 800-grit sandpaper that I had already just about decimated. Point being, the grit on it was probably more in the 1000-1200 range, if I had to hazzard a guess. Its funny how 800-grit sounds like it is sooo fine, yet it can still feel too coarse, depending on what it is you are doing.
After all of the little areas were back to looking good, I wiped the hole thing down, to get any of the dust or debris left by the process. I decided I’d wax the plane body, wherever it didn’t actually contact the iron in any meaningful way, like where the back of the iron rests on the narrow angled foot. If I had found any trace of rust there, I’d make sure to work that area as consistent as possible, so it stayed completely flat, but then I would leave it without wax. )
During the process of applying wax to the different areas of the body, the combination of the wax and rag I was using, seemed to also remove some leftover oxidation, based on my pre-wiping all areas, and the coloration of what showed on the rag.
While I waited for the wax to dry, which is about 20 minutes or so, I took the iron and re-sharpened it. I was a bit surprised to find it had dulled so much, so it was a needed sharpening. With the shape of the irons on many Shoulder Planes, it can be difficult to find a good way to hold it, during sharpening. I used my Kell honing jig, which is just wonderful. It can handle this type of iron with absolutely no trouble. Just make sure you have the sole of the iron placed against the underside of the two rods in the jig. If you have the bevel-side (not the bevel itself) of the iron against the top side of the rods, I’m not sure it would work, because of a projection issue. As usual, I used my 1000-grit and followed with my 8000-grit water-stones. It only took a few minutes to re-hone the iron, so I got me a cool drink, then went back into the shop.
I used a clean rag and removed the wax from all of the application surfaces. Then it was time to put it all back together, and set the plane for a very fine shaving. Just as I do on my other hand planes, I put a little tension on the iron, and sighted down the sole to get the protrusion close. As I initially replaced the iron, I noticed the adjustable shoe was open a bit more than needed in use, but perfect for the setup stage. After I’d made a few adjustments, the plane shifted from a semi-fine shaving to that of an ultra-fine, which was my target. I can always adjust it deeper, if I have a need, but this will keep it ready to work.
I unlocked the “lock-screw” on the top front of the plane’s body, and turned the shoe-adjustment screw clockwise, to move the shoe towards the iron. I watched the distance start to close, and when it looked reasonable, for the shaving size I set, I re-locked the screw on top. This is a very quick process, in real life, so don’t think it is cumbersome, because it isn’t.
After re-setting the mouth opening, I took another couple of shavings, just to make sure there was no chance the plane would jam in use. It worked like a charm, so that was about it for this freshening up session.
Remember to give the planes a good once-over somewhat often, especially if you have metal planes, just to make sure you don’t let any rust get a strong foothold. Depending on where you live, and where you keep your tools, you may want to use wax or other products, to help prevent the rust devil from eating up your tools. One other by-product of this process, is the plane just wants to glide against the wood, with the added wax. This is something you should think about doing, even if you don’t yet have any rust.
I hope this article helps other to keep their planes in great shape, for years to come. Thanks for stopping by to check out the this out and please do leave me any questions or comments you may have.
I was going through some of the old stuff at my wife’s parents, and ran into something I don’t see every day. As a matter of fact, this is the first I’ve ever seen in person. An old Drill Press that is operated via a hand crank. Here is the beast in it’s historic “clothes”.
I was so excited to find this stashed away, that I texted my wife, wondering if she knew it was around. It turns out this old guy spent most of it’s life in South Dakota, inside a barn that was on her Grandfather’s farm. If you zoom in (and even if you don’t, for those whose eyes are nice and sharp), you can likely see some of the mixture of grease and time, in and around most of the gears. Don’t misunderstand, as I see this as a sign of many years of good, hard work, and not as disregard. I’m sure this tool was a great addition, and likely was used in not only the construction of the family dwelling, but all barns, coops and fencing they built.
As the handle on the Drill Press (right side in the photo) is rotated, the drill bit spun, and the heavy wheel on the left side helped provide momentum. In the mechanism, the drill bit would also advance downward, as you turned the handle, so unlike the modern electric Drill Press, it didn’t have a handle that just fed the bit towards the work. Seems like a pretty smart design, as it could quickly take more hands to operate, than one person had available, if the crank for the power didn’t also feed the bit.
It is an interesting design, which I’ve seen on TV once before, or at least one that is somewhat similar. That was on The Woodwright’s Shop, with Roy Underhill. It’s been quite a while, but I’m fairly sure he showed a hand-operated Drill Press, during an episode on people-powered tool.
I still haven’t had time to dive deeper into the full operation on this tool, and I’ve yet to find anything on it that identifies the make or model, but that doesn’t really matter that much. It is a piece of history and who knows, it may just give up a secret or two, as I dig into it. I’ll be sure to update they blog, when I’ve had time to give this tool some care.
If someone happens to recognize the make and/or model, I’d appreciate you sharing the information. I always enjoy learning as much as I can about an old tool.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out the article. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
After I finished some work last night, I knew I’d have a bit of free time, so it was time to put the new Saw Vise through it’s paces.
I pulled an old, fairly unremarkable saw from my inventory, that is about 24″ long and has cross-cut teeth. It looked like it may not have ever been re-sharpened; Ever! Ok, I know many buy and own hand saws, and never even think about re-sharpening, and with the possible infrequent use, don’t really notice the steady but gradual decline in overall sawing ease or quality. If you’ve never seen anyone sharpen a saw, or been around someone that even talks about saws needing re-sharpening, why would they even think about it? Perhaps my talking about this topic will help bridge a gap for someone. (stepping down from soapbox, hehe)
I clamped the long leg of my Saw Vise in the face vise on my bench, and loosened the tensioning knob. I inserted the saw into the jaws, and with light tension applied with the vise’s knob, I could finely adjust where I wanted the saw’s teeth. Once situated, it only took a couple of turns of the knob to apply enough tension to hold the saw very secure.
The new vise’s dimensions, in conjunction with the bench’s face vise, also put the teeth of the saw no more than a couple inches below my regular site-line. This was wonderful and made it much easier to see what I was doing (with my Magni-Focus headset of course), without much bending over at all, which kept my back feeling good. I picked up a small triangular file that didn’t yet have a handle, and decided to try it in my a super-fine pin vise I bought from Bridge City a number of years ago. I usually just make a wooden handle for the files, but I enjoyed the feel of the pin vise’s extra heft. This extra mass felt like it may have helped make the file a bit smoother, when it was in the cut.
I made a pass down one side of the saw, holding my file with it’s handle swung about 15-degrees, compared to the straight across action when filing rip teeth on a saw. This angle is to follow the shape of the cross-cut teeth, which have a bevel on the front/rear edge of each tooth, so they sever the wood fibers as you cut across the grain. The file is held so it is still parallel to the floor, not to confuse the 15-degrees I mentioned, as tilting the file’s handle up or down. (I hope that is clear)
I unclamped the saw, flipped it so the handle was then at the other end of the Saw Vise, and quickly re-clamped it. I made the second pass down the saw teeth, filing the teeth that weren’t touched from the other side of the saw plate, so all surfaces were sharp.
It can be surprising just how much metal is removed, during a sharpening, as you might make out in the photo below.
It’s amazing how the mass of this Saw Vise made such a huge difference, as there was absolutely zero vibration, even when I tested filing a few teeth that were outside of the jaw’s reach.
Thanks as always for checking out this article. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I tweeted late last night a photo of what might look like the newest wooden watch prototype. Well, I’m hear to tell you I’m in no way trying to test my entry into the watch market! Haha. In actuality, the photo (shown below) is the 3-D cutout, from a block of maple, that will be […]
During the recent build of the saw sharpening vise, I’d already dimensioned the front leg to the final size, and wanted to score the rear leg to this width, so they would match exactly. I grabbed all three of my marking knives, and with the front leg 10/4 Pecan, none of the blades in the marking knives […]