Ok, sorry again for the lack of recent posts, but my last post hopefully informed everyone as to why I’ve been away from the site.
I bought some more material for knife blades, even though it wasn’t quite as thick, and had a different “feature”. The blanks I bought had some holes in them, and the location of the holes presented an issue, where I would need to either make the tang much more narrow or include a section of a hole. I decided on the latter, which had some positive aspect (stronger), and not quite negative, but I suppose challenging (tang shape other than rectangular adds some extra work) aspect to it.
As I do regularly now, I placed the tang of a blade on the inside of one half of the handle, and trace around the tang with a pencil. As this batch of knives is a little bit smaller than the most recent knife I wrote about (here, in case you haven’t yet read about it), the tang isn’t as wide. Both the width of the tang, as well as the shape (with the small portion of a circle), changed my work strategy a bit. On the last knife, the tang was wide enough to comfortably use the standard iron in my Lie-Nielsen No. 71 (Large Router Plane) to excavate the waste wood, and providing a flat and level “floor” which the tang rests upon.
The smaller tang on the current knives is too narrow to effectively use the No. 71, unless I was to shift to one of the small blades made for the Lie-Nielsen No. 271 (Small Router Plane), but I currently only have the 3/32″ Pointed Tip blade which wouldn’t really be very efficient. They do offer a 1/4″ Square Tip blade, and with the area nearest the hole/circle pinching in to even more narrow width, it would still fit nicely.
I don’t presently have a 1/4″ Square Tip blade, for my No. 71, so it was time to improvise. I recall seeing an old home-made tool, that used a small block of wood for its body, and a narrow chisel as the blade, to create a router plane. I quickly went through my off-cuts and found a small piece of white oak (this could have been a section of 2 x 4, or other softwood, as well), and an old Stanley chisel. I made sure the chosen chisel would fit into the tang recess areas, and then compared the chisel’s dimensions with my drill bits, and made sure the bit was just slightly smaller than the chisel. On a regular router plane, the blade is made from an “L” shaped piece of steel, and the cutting portion of the blade is held so there is a clearance angle between the heal of the blade and the work surface. Knowing this, I held the chisel I planned to use as my router plane’s blade, and when I saw a similar clearance, I set my adjustable angle gauge so it mimicked the angle of the chisel’s shaft. I held the angle gauge up against the side of the oak body, making sure to pay attention to where the blade would come through, which I wanted to have just behind the leading edge of the body. After determining where the blade would exit, I again used the angle gauge to locate the entry point for the blade, and the drill bit. Before I started drilling, I placed the angle gauge off to the side of the entry point, so I could use it as a visual guide to make sure I drilled the hole at the correct angle, similar to what Peter Galbert does when drilling into his Windsor seat blanks.
With the hole drilled (which is the basic path the chisel will follow), I used the same chisel planned as the blade, to remove some of the excess wood, but also used some narrow Japanese chisels to speed up the process. I worked mostly from the top side of the body, but as it got closer to coming through the bottom of the body, I sighted in a few well placed strikes with my most narrow Japanese chisel, to create an opening much closer to the size of the chisel. This helped prevent the wood breaking out, when the main chisel first came through the sole, and the location of the smaller chisel cuts made sure I didn’t create a loose fit. The chisel/blade will only advance with a firm strike, which gives me confidence the “blade” won’t shift either in or out, during use.
After I had the blade all the way through, I traced out an area surrounding the blade, which I removed so it wouldn’t jam up as quickly.
Using the new tool
After I chiseled away bulk wood in the tang-waste area of the knife handle, I used this new tool to make sure all of the tang area was the same depth. When I shifted to the second half of the knife handle, I decided to see if I could get the tool to behave decently, with it already set to full depth. I simply rotated the whole tool up on it’s leading edge, which raised the cutter away from the wood. I slowly pivoted the tool down until it was lightly cutting, and went over the whole tang area. I pivoted the tool’s sole down closer to the work, removing material until even again, and repeated until I was at final depth. This made for a fairly rapid process, without the need to stop and change the projection of the blade.
While this purpose-made tool worked decently, I still prefer the blade presentation the adjustable metal router planes provide, as I noticed more chattering on my new tool. One thing I did, after I was finishing up, was to take another similarly small chisel and use it as a scraper. I held it almost vertical, then tilt it slightly towards myself (around 15 degrees), making sure the flat back of the chisel was facing me, and pull this “scraper” towards me, to take super-controlled “cuts”. You really don’t need to create a hook on a chisel’s cutting edge that you put into use as a scraper, and I think you’ll find it amazing just how much control you have, and how fine the resulting surface is. One must, and this is for both the router plane build as well as when using it for scraping: make sure your chisel is sharp! It truly makes all the difference.
Thank you for stopping by to check out the article, and I hope you will find the information useful. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
A few days ago, I wrote about starting two racks to house some more of my chisels. I’ve been a bit stretched this last week, and unfortunately I didn’t take nearly as many photos of the process as I would have liked. Those of you who also follow my Twitter account, @LeeLairdWW, saw my brief tweet yesterday evening showing the smaller of the two racks I’d planned.
The smaller of the two racks (photo above) is storing three of my chisels that have extra long handles, or are overall longer than standard chisels, two of which are Japanese paring chisels. With the location of each chisel marked with a pencil, I followed that with a deep dimple with an awl. This helps to provide solid registration for the center point of the drill bit, to prevent the bit from potentially “walking” to an unintended position, before entering the wood.
Before drilling, I took measurements on each chisel, of the hosel/socket approximately 1/4″ down from the widest point. This measurement would ensure the chisels would fit into, and then sit down into their respective slots, providing a good home. I also measured the minimum size of each chisel’s shank/neck, to make certain the chisel would fit into the intended slot in the rack. I documented each of these measurements (shown in photo below) directly to each chisel position, so there was less chance I would create the incorrectly sized hole at any of the locations, while at the drill press.
After drilling all of the holes for all planned tools, it was over to the band saw to cut the slots that allows the chisels to enter from the front of the board instead of dropping down into each hole. As you can probably imagine, if you decide to go with a “drop-in” solution, the hole must be large enough for the cutting edge of the chisel to fit through. On smaller chisels, this works fine. On larger sized chisels, the size of the cutting edge can easily eclipse the diameter of the handle, which obviously prevents hanging larger chisels via the drop-in method.
After I made all of the cuts, to open up the slots, it was back to the workbench (on the smaller rack, this left little to do before mounting). I used some 1 1/4″ self-cutting Kreg screws, to mount the small rack, to the previously mounted plywood. This size screw was reasonable for this application, as they didn’t need to pierce drywall before contact wood. These square drive heads provide such a solid connection to the driver, that there are few other types I generally use, especially in a storage solution. I pre-drilled the holes through each end of the smaller rack, large enough so the screw’s threads didn’t bite into the rack itself. As these are self-tapping screws, and they screwed into plywood, I didn’t drill pilot holes. Just before installing, I noticed the end of the screws were only about 1/4″ beyond the rear edge of the rack, which wouldn’t penetrate deep enough to have the intended strength. Back to the bandsaw. I drew a line approximately 1/4″ in from the rear edge of the rack, as that would let the screws reach to full thread-depth in the plywood, and just followed the line. I hand planed the rear edge, to create a smooth, flat surface. When I tested the screw’s projection length again, all looked good. Before attaching the small rack with screws, I wanted to make sure it was level. I removed the head from my large adjustable square, and with it sitting on the top surface of the rack, used it’s bubble to confirm level as I drove the screws home.
The larger rack had quite a bit of the same processes, but since I wanted the chisels to sit farther out from the wall, I used a second board that is 90-degrees to the first. The rear board has a face-side against the drywall, while the board the holds the chisels, is set so it’s edge is against the rear board’s outer face-side. The studs in my shop are on 24″ centers, so I cut the rear board to 28″, providing a 2″ overlap of the stud on each end. I cut the front board to 22″, so it wouldn’t interfere with the screws I’d use to attach the large rack to the studs.
After I drilled all of the chisel holes, and cut the necessary slots, I used my Auriou Model Makers 15-grain rasp (does it seem like I use this rasp on every single project?) to remove soften some edges. I also used a paring chisel to cut chamfers on the edges of the slots, which helped refine the fit on a few, but it is also a nice visual.
I placed the two boards together in their final orientation, and made marks on the rear board, centered on each of the remaining thick sections between the holes/slots. I measure half the thickness of the front board, and marked along the rear board to intersect with each of the centered marks, which will make sure the connecting screws hit their target. I used the awl to again make marks deep enough so the drill bit (and I) could “feel” them. Using my 1/8″ drill bit, I pre-drilled holes at each of the marks on the rear board. With the front board held in my vise, I placed the rear board against it, so they lined up as planned. I re-chucked my 1/8″ drill bit and while holding the two boards aligned, carefully drilled the middle position, and then drove a screw, and lightly snugged it up. I did the same at one end position, and snugged the second screw. Now I drilled the rest of the holes as deep as the bit would reach, without worrying that one of the boards might move. This drilling operation only created a starter hole in the front board, since 1/8″ bits are fairly short, but the alignment is also transferred besides just the location.
After removing the rear board, I drilled each of the starter holes, on the front board, as deep as the bit could reach. With the rear board out of the way, the bit easily reached the depth needed for the intended 2 1/2″ screws. Since this larger rack carried additional weight, these screws seemed prudent, both to hold the two boards together, and to attach the pair to the studs. Before I drove the screws to mate the two boards, I put a bead of polyurethane glue on the front board’s mating edge. I didn’t take a photo of the glue on the board, but put a little bit on a paper plate just before applying to the wood, and then a second squeeze on the plate immediately after the rack was installed (below, second photo). I used a damp paper towel to put some extra moisture along the mating surface of the rear board, and then drove all of the screws until the heads were flush with the rear face.
I used my stud finder to mark the two wall studs and their outlines, and with the rack held up to the wall, I determined and marked the location of the screws for attaching. I again pre-drilled the holes through both ends of the rack, for the screws that would attach to the studs, and chose to use three on each side for this larger piece. After I drove the first screw lightly into one stud, I verified level using the square’s bubble, before sinking a screw at the other end of the rack (below, top photo). After a quick look to make certain the tools fit, I drove the other four screws into their respective holes (below, bottom photo), and it was time to load the chisels.
Even though I hadn’t actually planned to have any other tools on the larger rack, I noticed there was plenty of room to put both my winding sticks, and my micrometer case, on top of the rack behind the chisel handles. I love to realize extra efficiencies when making a project.
It is great to have this many of my chisels so close to the bench, yet each with it’s own home. The time spent adding these racks was certainly well worth it, and will pay back in time saved in the future.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I’ve had this hardware for a number of months now, but as many of the regular readers probably know, I’ve just had too much on my plate to make it happen. I was stoked to have some time yesterday, so I got after it. I like to reuse wood that might have some visual imperfections, […]