Rust-hunting serendipity—A year of searching turns up “Precious” parts

About a year ago, I restored a Goodell Manufacturing Co. miterbox. It was lacking both of its accessories when I originally bought it. A slide post to facilitate crown moulding cuts, and a length gauge slide. It was also missing a slide retention clip and a thumbscrew.

That nagged at me. So much so that I made a clip and bought a jig thumbscrew to secure it. I also started making wooden prototypes of the slides.

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That didn’t help. The missing parts weighed on me like a Chinese water torture. The dripping even drove me on a quest to hunt down vintage accessory parts. That journey hit a dead end but pronto. So I fiddled with the idea of having a machinist make them. But I couldn’t find one in my area to fashion the pieces at a reasonable price. And with that, the whole notion moved to a back burner.

Then one day, I was clicking through Ebay’s listings for miterboxes when I came across this pic.

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It’s a spitting image of the one I restored. Only it looked much sexier for a few very important reasons.

For one, it had the post slide accessory. Which was held in place by a vintage thumbscrew and bracket.

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And on the right, there was the length gauge.

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These were just the parts I needed to end my torture. I submitted the winning bid, though at the time the shipping seemed a bit low at $13.00. Sure enough, soon after, the seller informed me that he had made an error. He would either refund my money or bill me $25 more to ship it, my choice.

I paused a moment to consider my options.

Option A: Get my money back. Like hell. By this time I was fixated on the parts like Gollum was to the Ring in Lord of the Rings. “Come to me Precious.”

Option B: Pony up the extra cash. That would have brought the price of the things I needed to about $50.00. Ouch! It also would have brought a fifth(!) miterbox into my workshop. That might be a problem. You see SWMBO might start to think—justifiably if you want to put a fine point on it—that I had a miterbox hoarding problem. There must be an….Option C!

Option C: Counter the seller’s fair offer with a win-win proposition. I told the seller that he could keep the cash I had paid, and most of the miterbox. I specified which parts I needed and enclosed digital pictures of each. And while I was at it, I asked if the miterbox came with a saw. He agreed, saying that he had a saw that he would send.

When the parts tumbled out of the box onto my workbench, I uttered a single word, “Precious.”

The slide retention clip was painted black to match its restored counterpart. Then it was attached with one of the vintage thumbscrews.

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It took some time to remove the rust that was caked onto the other parts. Inserting the first slide felt like slipping a .45 shell into a special-edition Colt revolver adorned with silver plating and decorative carving.

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“Precious.”

Reuniting the length gauge with its period-correct sister felt just as good.

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“Oh my Precious.”

After pausing to admire the tool in all its restored glory, I turned to the backsaw.

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Turns out it’s Disston with a 10” plate. No good for the miterbox, but I love it anyway. I’ve sharpened her for service as a dovetail saw.

And with these parts my Depression-era miterbox is complete!

Well. Almost complete.

You see, while I love the miter saw I bought for it, the etching identifies it as originally being paired with a Langdon miterbox. And that nags at me. Drip, drip, drip. So I’m on the hunt for a saw that originally came with these boxes. A Disston stamped with an etching that reads, “Made Exclusively for Goodell Manufacturing Co.

I know now to bide my time. Because one day, a period- and model-correct saw will be cradled in its posts. And when that day comes, my restoration will, at last, be complete!

So that my descendants can sell it for peanuts at my estate sale. Well, at least there’s hope the next owner will enjoy a lifetime of untortured use from it.

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Into each life a #4 must fall: Stanley #4-T11-pictoral essay and rehab

On a recent rust hunt, I happened across a Stanley #4.

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The very reasonable price and three patent dates behind the frog motivated me to have the nice lady open the display case.

Once it was in my covetous little hands, I started ticking off the distinguishing characteristics of a vintage Type 11.

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I’ve been burned before. So before forking over good tool money, I made sure that all the parts were present and in good working order. Check, check, check and—here’s my check.

At home I took a closer look.

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The experiential archaeologist in me likes to look over how the previous owner configured my new plane.

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Wow. Either a youngster gave cambering the ole’ college try, or an Irish workman decided to do it first thing in the morning on March 18th. The cap iron was also set a country mile (3/16”) from the edge. Let’s see. A course camber and set to the iron, plus paint streaks and drops everywhere, plus some plywood chips ensconced under the frog. To me that all adds up to a lifetime dedicated to general purpose work.

That left a cosmetic layer of rust, tarnish, grime and dust everywhere.

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The disassembled parts plopped into Evaporust. Everything else was treated to steel- and brass-wire brushes, cue tips, mineral spirits and that Spice-Girls-fluorescent-pink naval jelly rust remover.

After that, I followed the plane rehab regimen that I detailed in my restore of a #3. That includes lapping the iron, sharpening it with a hint of camber and polishing the leading edge of the chip breaker to a mirror finish.

The sole was in pretty good shape. A total lapping time of five minutes through the grits was all that was required.

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I left the sides alone other than to remove some rust to reveal the patina beneath.

Before/After tool porn
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With the cleaning and sharpening complete it was ready for the test.

My minimalist rehab must have been sufficient, because it only took a few minutes to dial in some solid, smoother performance.

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Mmmm. Billowy, gossamer shavings. That’s good, but what kind of finish does it leave on a piece of cherry?

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Nice! A glassy-smooth, reflective, no-sandpaper-needed surface.

I’m satisfied with that. More so, considering that I only spent 30 minutes on tuning activities.

From display case to my shop. This one’s a keeper.

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My Stanley 60 ½ block plane makeover-PM-V11® blade upgrade

This is one of the first woodworking tools I ever owned.

Stanley #60 1/5 with new PM-V11 blade

According to Patrick Leach of Patrick’s Blood and Gore Stanley plane pages, on the one hand “The plane is a must-have for woodworkers,” while on the other hand, you should, “Definitely stay away from the maroon colored block planes; Stanley must have hired some Greenwich Village arteest to come up with this hideous color.”

Personally, I LOVE it. Mostly because it’s one of the few woodworking tools that my Dad owned. I think he bought it in the 1970s. And it saw so little use in his possession that I can still read the handwritten $8.95 price on the finger rest knob.

P07-Stanley-No-60-and-half-block-plane-Price-on-thumb-knob

When I first got it, I tuned it up and have loved using it ever since. Then, Lee Valley came out with their new steel alloy, the PM-V11. I wanted to try it, and decided to upgrade my maroon beauty with a blade forged from the new metal. Here’s a side-by-side look see.

P08-Stanley-No-60-and-half-block-plane-side-by-side-blade-comparison

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The iron that came stock with the plane is a bit over 1/16” thick while the new LV blade is 1/8″ thick with a 25° bevel.

P09-Stanley-No-60-and-half-block-plane-side-by-side-blade-thickness-comparison

 

Minutes after the postman’s delivery, I finished polishing the back and bevel to a mirror finish, and put it in.

P05-Stanley-No- 60-and-half-block plane-Inserted-blade

 

Then I applied it to some mahogany end grain.

P03-Stanley-No-60-and-a-half-Planing-mahogany-end-grain

P01-Stanley-No-60-and-a-half-Shavings P02-Stanley-No-60-and-a-half-Shavings-closeup

The new iron sliced quite nicely through the end grain, leaving a very fine finish. It handles it with ease. And it’s been able to take a more aggressive cut than what I could shave with the stock blade.

P06-Stanley-No-60-and-half-block plane-mahogany-end--grain-surface

It’s also nice not to have to sharpen it as often as the O1 blade it replaced. So far, the only drawback was the $36.00 + postage price. That needs to be balanced against the lifetime’s use I expect to get out of it. And it’s an improvement that future family members will benefit from as well. Though by the time it gets to them, the magic marker price will have worn off.

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What were the best gifts you ever received?

No doubt, you have your own short list. Gifts that found their way into your eager little hands come Christmas, your birthday or at your bar mitzvah.

But not just any gifts. I’m talking about the ones that you remember vividly to this day. The rush of tearing the wrapping paper. The exquisite moment of recognition when ‘could it be?’ turns into ‘It is!’ A moment that froze in time when you opened the box to look upon your precious desire for that first lingering moment.

As a teen, I used to play a boardgame called Wooden Ships and Iron men.

P6-Wooden Ships and Iron Men

It was set during the age of sail when English, French and Spanish grappled each other with shot and cutlass. So when I unwrapped the 1846 French Naval Cutlass laying under the Christmas tree one year, it felt like I was standing on the deck of a frog frigate.

P7-French Naval Cutlass 1846

As an adult, I got that chill up my spine when the slow tearing of wrapping paper revealed an Italian Aurora fountain pen. I had been coveting the finely-crafted writing instrument for a year solid. And it was the solitary item on my wish list. So, when I opened the wooden presentation box and caught the first glimpse of my future favorite writing tool, I swear that I saw a star twinkle shoot off its silver cap to the accompaniment of a distinct *ping*. As if someone had plucked a crystal wine glass with their index finger.

P5-Aurora Fountain Pen

I remember thinking that no physical object would ever make me feel that way again. A few birthdays later, I was proven wrong when my unwrapping revealed the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks lettering upon a pristine box. Could this be the No. 4 I had asked for?

P1-LN Box

Moments later, the box lid opened—yes!—and a smile crossed my face to utter a single word: bronze.

Lie-Nielsen #4 bronze smoother

Pulling it out, I let its factory cocoon float to the floor. Then I set it down to marvel at her.

Lie-Nielsen #4 photos from different angles.

She made a fantastic first impression. First, she’s hefty, but I like a bit of mass to help push through smoothing strokes across hardwood boards. Second, she’s “all dolled up”. Every detail to her fit and finish is finely crafted.

And it didn’t take long to get her ready for the prom. I spent a few minutes polishing the iron’s back and bevel and put it to wood.

Lie-Nielsen #4 bronze smoother taking some shavings.

Since that time, I’ve used her consistently. And I’ve been happy with the glassy surfaces she’s left behind.

Thin planing stop project.

New Traditional Woodworker Thin Planing Stop project

Chisel mallet project.

Wood plane mallet

One thing’s for sure, we’re mates for life. And long after I’ve departed this crazy world, I imagine she’ll be working wood in the hands of my decedents. Until then, every time I use that brass beauty, I’ll be reminded of my parents. For their thoughtful gift brightened my Christmas, along with many woodworking days since. My No. 4 is the most beautiful piece of bronze and cherry I’ve ever owned.

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A Problem-child Stanley Transitional #26 Jack Plane

While meandering through an antique store, something toolish and vintage wooed me into a stall. It was a Stanley #26 transitional jack plane. Not that there’s anything remarkable about them. But what set this one apart was its just-came-off-the-assembly-line looks. Even the tote and knob were intact with but one chip to show for its long life. Here’s what I brought home, $20.00 the poorer for it.

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It had no checks.

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And the Stanley logo dates it c. 1909-1912.

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So it fits right in with my favored 1910-1918 vintage tool time frame. You Stanley plane collectors will recognize that range as the type-11 period. I really like the retro styling and STANLEY lettering font.

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At home the metal parts got dunked in Evaporust while the wood pieces slurped up a coat of BLO. The reassembled plane went into the vise upside down. Then a few light passes with a #8 trued up the sole. After sharpening the iron, I put the rehabbed jack to the test on some pine.

Stroke—clog. Clear clog. Stroke—clog…and so on. “What the…oh. That’s why.” The chip breaker wasn’t mating fully to the iron and shavings were getting trapped between them. After fixing that, I took a few more passes. And clogged the mouth big time. After an hour of fettling I gave up and it collected dust upon my home office tool display shelf. Every once in a while I’d see it there, mocking me, and be egged on to try again. Clog. Clog and clog were the results. Each time back to the shelf it went.

Then, I watched Shannon Rogers’ video “From Boat Anchor Junk to Fore Plane.”

And that got me to thinking. I already have three jack planes including this one. So why not configure it as a fore plane like Rogers does?

When I got to the step to open the throat, I scratched my head. I could have sworn that my previous fettling attempts included moving the frog backward. But as I inspected it, there was clearly room to spare. So I adjusted and tested it.

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 A few passes on some pine produced thick, clogless shavings. That was good, but I still had a third jack plane. In order to make this a fore plane, its iron needed a camber. Rogers puts an 8” radius on his jack. I wanted something a bit less pronounced and opted for an 11” radius.

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With that done, I tested the camber by cross-planing a rough-sawn board. Open Sesame.

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That did the trick. And I’m glad. Because now I have a woodie jack to fore plane with. “But Brad, what are you going to do with two fore planes?” Well, Grasshopper, I’m going to use the lighter #5 transitional for strenuous cross-grain flattening duties and the #6 along the grain to take out its predecessor’s track marks.

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Thank you Shannon Rogers for helping me get the you-can’t-tune-a-transitional-plane monkey off my back. And for clearing space for another tool on my display shelf.

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Destoration of a Stanley #80 Cabinet Scraper

A couple of years ago, I was rummaging through a dusty box of vintage tools at an estate sale. My wish list at the time included a Stanley #80 cabinet scraper. I wanted something for wily-grained woods. That’s because my smoothing planes did as much tearing out as they did smoothing of those species. So when I saw this beauty, I dug deep in my pocket for the $3.00 dollars we agreed upon.

P01-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-as found from estate sale P02-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-as found closeup of rear-c1907 trademark P03-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-as found back side retention strip

It had a few peculiarities. Like this homemade “iron” that obviously came from an old sawplate.

P04-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-homemade iron from sawplate

And a sole that clearly was out of flat.

P05-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-uneven sole spells trouble

 

Still, there was nothing to do but clean her up…

P06-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-After rehabbing-full shot P07-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-After rehabbing-rear shot

…and lap the sole.

P08-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-After rehabbing-sole shot

After sharpening and burnishing the iron with a screwdriver, I set it in and put a piece of pine in my vise. And got crap results. A shallow depth setting made dust. A thick one left gouges in the wood surface. A bit deflated, I set it aside. Then, off and on for the next few months, I would fettle this abomination some more in the vain hopes of restoring it to working condition.

No dice.

The not-so-flat sole bugged me. And since I couldn’t lap out the 1/8” of difference between the front and back of it, I figured that I would bend the cast iron sole into flat.

P09-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Fixing bend in sole

And I must say. This approach worked perfectly…to break my prize.

P10-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Broken sole-parts

As Forrest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does.” I think that it took a whopping 0.0005 foot pounds of pressure to snap the sole. And the sound of the iron breaking, that high-pitched “pink”, made me sick to my stomach. And the knowledge that I had destroyed a vintage tool with decades of history etched upon its soul gnawed at me.

I tried to put it out of my mind, but found that the only thing that would ease the feeling would be to buy a new one and start from scratch. So it was to Ebay I went, where I picked up this honey for 10 times what I paid for my original.

P11-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Replacement-full

I’m fond of Stanley type 11 planes made around WWI. I believe that this time period represents a zenith for tool makers. Those were the days that they combined patented tool features, superior materials, and craftsmanship to give birth to millions of quality tools. Implements of such excellence that three generations hence they still sit atop woodworkers’ benches amidst shavings and sawdust. Well, except for the one I got ahold of…

So when I saw the V-logo on the back blade retention strip, I knew it dated this plane to around 1912-1918. I had to have it.

P12-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Replacement-c-1912-1918-V-logo

It didn’t come with a blade, but that suited me just fine because I purchased a LV replacement blade for my now broken tool. And of course, I still have the user-made-sawplate blade that came with the original.

The new #80 sole responded well to lapping.

P13-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Replacement-much better sole

Excellent. That removed one potential variable from the reasons-I-can’t-get-a-decent-shaving-with-a-cabinet-scraper list. The next variable that came to mind was burnishing. Chances are I wasn’t turning a decent hook. My reading on the subject suggested that I was using burnishers that were too soft to affect today’s hardened steel. So to eliminate this as a possibility, I picked up a harder-than-steel, carbide burnisher.

P15-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Replacement-Able to turn a hook with carbide burnisher

After using it I was, miraculously and suddenly, able to take decent shavings.

P14-Stanley No 80 Cabinet scraper-Replacement-Able to produce shavings

Decent, but not great so there’s room to improve my technique. But at least now, I have a tool to reach for when the wood’s grain gets to tricky for my smoother.

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Pegboard Tool Storage Epiphany #4: Hand drill storage rack

If you’re like me, your workshop space is at a premium. Situated in an L-shaped portion of the garage, I have to make every square inch count. One day, I woke up and decided I was fed up with “drill sprawl.” My hand drills and braces were strewn hither and yonder across my pegboard landscape. So I sat down to design and build a pegboard brace rack to organize them.

My criteria were as follows:

  1. Minimize the space taken up on the pegboard.
  2. Include enough space between tools so that they don’t hit each other when docking and retrieving.
  3. Ensure that each tool can be retrieved without moving any other tool.
  4. Accommodate two hand drills and four braces. In other words, only tools that I use. This is not a display case for a boring tool collection, no pun intended. Here’s the lineup:
  • Stanley eggbeater No. 624 (5/8” slot)
  • Goodell-Pratt Hand Drill No. 53 (½” slot)
  • Skinner 6” brace (½” slot)
  • PS&W 8” No. 1203 (½” slot + ¾” spacer)
  • Skinner 10” brace (½” slot)
  • Millers-Falls 12” No. 321 (5/8” slot + ¾” spacer)

5.  Make an attractive design.

Storage Designs
Six boring tools can get heavy so I opted to make a sturdy construction. My wood of choice was alder-the poor-man’s cherry-to match the other storage racks I’ve made so far. My search for eye-catching brace storage designs turned up this one.

P1-Brace Rack Design I liked

Now that’s some good woodworking to be sure. But for me, it was overkill. I prefer to keep all my bits at hand in existing drawers. That obviates the need for any storage rack drawers. And because my pegboard includes ample space in the z axis (think from the wall toward yourself) I chose to dock my braces with the handle pointing out perpendicular to the wall. That would be consistent with criteria 2 and 3 above.

One of the critical questions for any storage rack is what is the spacing between the centerline of each tool storage slot? To get that answer, I measured the head diameters of the braces, as well as the shafts to determine the lateral space requirements of each tool.

P6-measuring head and shaft

To conserve a few more lateral inches, I opted to add ¾” spacers on top of two of the slots so that the head bottoms could sit above the heads of their adjacent neighbors. That yielded center-line to center-line spacing between brace slots of 2 ½ inches. In retrospect, that made things a bit tight when reaching for tools. So if I had it to do over again, I would allow 3 to 3 ½ inches between slots.

Here’s the design I came up with.

P2-Hand brace storage rack design

The cut list
1” x 6” x 24” alder (1)—(3/4” x 5 ¾” x 24 actual)

1” x 4” x 24” alder (1)—(3/4” x 3 ¾” x 24” actual)

The top shelf is 18 ½” long and supported by a cross brace along the bottom back edge along with two end brackets.

The build

–Rack

Based on past experience, I do any work on the rack before cutting the slots. That way I don’t get any tear out or, worse, a break. With that in mind, I broke the sharp edges by chamfering them with a block plane, then I ran a smoothing plane over it. Next, I laid out the slots, then glued ¾” spacers over the last and next to last slots from the right. The spacers would allow the tops of two braces to sit under those of their spacer-elevated neighbors.

P5-Rack spacers to keep heads from hitting each other

After that, I cut the slots followed by chamfering the edges a wee bit with a very sharp chisel.

–Rack shelf support

For the perpendicular shelf support, I cut it nearly to length then zeroed in on the final dimension on the shooting board. To make the joint between the rack and support more pleasing to the eye, I ran a 3/8” bead along the top (criteria #5.)

P7-Bead detail shot

–Brackets

To eliminate a blocky appearance (criteria #5) I cut one corner off each bracket front.

P3-Side Bracket

After the pieces were cut and fitted, I finished them with Danish oil, being careful to mask the to-be-glued edges. After the finish dried, I glued up the pieces and reinforced the joints with screws.

P4-Finished Rack

Now that I’ve used it, I like the look and the brace rack works well. It’s a bit tight between braces, and I have to take a bit of care to see that the heads don’t collide. But it’s compact and holds everything just fine. Drill sprawl be gone!

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