Posts Tagged ‘stanley’
Securing the blade at any given position in a router plane is a simple but critical task the tool must perform. It should be easy, fast, and require no tools as it will be adjusted often. It also needs to hold the blade securely so it doesn’t shift during use. To accomplish these goals a few basic elements of the tool need to be understood. As far as I know, all metal-bodied router planes secure their blades using one of two methods: either using a thumb screw to tighten down a blade-locking collar (typically on larger planes) or by driving a screw directly against the blade shank itself to clamp it against the body of the tool (common on smaller scale planes). Note that wooden-bodied routers often use a wedge to lock the blade.
Next is the geometry of the blade shank itself: round, diamond, and square.
A round shank allows the blade to be positioned at any angle (which is rarely, if ever, necessary), but it can rotate unexpectedly during use which is completely undesirable. It’s the cheapest method of manufacturing, however, as it requires only a simple hole in the body with a screw running into the side of the shank to lock it down. And while this isn’t typically seen on larger tools which see much higher cutting forces in use, it does appear on many small scale router planes where the reduced force is usually not a problem and the blade won’t spin in the body… much. If you are having trouble with a round shank that spins, scuff up the sides of the shank along its length with course sandpaper, that will typically do the trick.
The Diamond shank (where the shank face is rotated 45 deg to the cutting edge) is the most common configuration for large router planes for two reasons. First, the non-roundness of the body means it won’t rotate during use. Second, the diamond, which gets drawn into a V-notch in the body, is self centering and self aligning. It can’t rotate, tilt, or shift side to side.
The only downside is that when the collar is loosened so the depth of cut can be adjusted, the collar tends to fall down the body, sometimes binding on the blade making the adjustment a bit of a headache. Modern manufacturers have resolved this in two ways. Veritas uses a spring-loaded collar so that while the clamping pressure is removed during depth adjustments, there is enough pressure to hold the collar where it belongs and it functions very well. Lie-Nielsen did away with the collar entirely, opting to apply pressure to the shank directly with a brass screw which again, works perfectly. Preston fixed their collar problem by trapping the collar in position with a locating pin which is incorporated into the collar locking screw itself.
The Square configuration (where the shank face is parallel to the cutting edge) is rare. Lie-Nielsen uses it, but they drive a screw against the edge of the shank, not its face. This pushes the blade into the back corner of the body, essentially clamping it against a V-notch just like the diamond shank blades. Preston, however, typically used a square shank with a collar that simply pulls the shank tight against its back face.
The problem with the Preston method is there must be clearance between the side faces of the shank and the notch in the body. As a result, nothing constrains the shank except the friction between the shank and body which is produced by the collar. During heavy cuts, the blade can shift laterally or tilt slightly, neither of which is acceptable. For our design, we’re using the preferred Diamond configuration, but we are going to utilize Preston’s clever pin locator on the collar screw to keep the collar in position when loosened.
Next time, blade positioning. It’s exciting stuff…
So if you read this you’ll know why I decided to gut my folding rule. I’ve been playing with the idea of making these rules from scratch and after my restoration debacle I figured I’d take a closer look at how Stanley made theirs. Disclaimer: I am not a folding rule expert, these are simply the observations I made while examining the only #62 rule I had at my disposal.
First, some overall dimensions. The length of a 4 fold rule is 24″ broken into four equal sections (6″ per section, duh). Each section 1/2″ wide and 11/64″ thick (I think 11/64″ is an unusual number to land on, but it was exactly that dimension and it does feel correct in use, so 11/64″ it is).
The binding is made from strips of brass that were slightly over 1/32″ thick. They are held to the wooden body with steel pins (~1/16″ diameter) that run through the entire body and are deformed, or swaged, at the ends to prevent them from falling out. One thing I found curious was the location of these pins varied greatly. They were not perfectly or consistently centered along the thickness of the tool and the spacing between pins was also very inconsistent (it averages around 1-1/4″). There were, however, five pins used per section so at least that was constant. This variability makes me assume the pinning was done manually which is surprising for the number of 4 fold rules Stanley turned out, but maybe trying to automate the placement of so many fine holes was unreasonable at that time and manual labor was just easier…
The far ends of the rule are also capped in brass, the side strips run right to the end, but a C-shaped cap is sleeved over the faces for added wear protection.
Finally the hinges. There are two types of hinges used, one for the center joint that acts like a pair of scissors and another used in two places to fold the end sections inward over the middle sections. The scissor joint used is similar to a rule joint used on tables. One section of the ruler has a brass plate pinned to both faces. This is the only time brass pins were used instead of steel. The brass pins are virtually invisible which means they won’t distract the user when reading the markings on the face. These outer plates are sandwhiched (if that’s a word) over a thick piece a brass attached to the opposite half of the rule. The layers are then pinned in the middle and the joint if free to rotate.
The two folding joints are similar, but not the same. There are again two outer strips of brass attached to one section of the rule (it’s actually just part of the edge banding), but the opposing section then has extra brass strips added below the surface of the edge banding. These extend about 5/8″ into the body of the rule and are pinned. Finally, a floating brass barrel takes up the space between the upper and lower brass strips. A steel pin passes through the joint.
The final step would be to add the markings which would be challenging without a stamp. Lasers don’t cooperate with brass and any form of “painted on” markings would wear off, especially where the brass needs marking. A difficult tool to make properly for sure, especially in small batches. As I said in my last post, it’s back to the vintage market to find a functional #62 for the shop.
Have a great day. -WMT
Things don’t always go as planned… so here was a failed attempt at cleaning up a Stanley #62 brass bound 4-fold rule.
I purchased the tool for $10 and it was in decent shape, just missing the pins that help keep it aligned when closed. That’s easy enough to fix, but the face was a little dirty so I thought I’d try cleaning it up. I knew it would be a gamble given that I would be working with thin brass, wood, and printed letters, but it was only $10 so I took a shot (and missed completely).
I didn’t want to use an abrasive method for cleaning as I knew I would wear through the lines and numbers quickly so I started with a chemical treatment. I had some oxygen bleach on hand from cleaning my cedar siding and was hoping it wouldn’t effect the print much… it did.
I figured I’d had it at this point, but the printed areas were pressed to a reasonable depth in the wood so I took it a step further. I tried painting the face with black paint then quickly wiped off the excess, leaving the bulk of the remaining paint in the indented areas, right where I want it.
This made the 4-fold rule look as bad as when I bought it, maybe worse. Finally, with nothing left to lose I gave abrasive cleaning a shot. This left the tool a mess; some areas looking like new, some just okay, and some downright terrible. My $10 and 45 minutes were wasted, but at least I learned a few things.
Rather than simply throwing it out, I decided to cut it apart and get a better look at the binding and joints. I will share the details of how these rules were constructed in a following post.
Guess I have to find another rule for the shop… -WMT
Scrapers are the secret weapon of many woodworkers in the fight against tear out (a quick overview of their function can be read here). Many woodworkers have never heard of them and in my experience the few who have struggle to get them to perform as they should. Once you become comfortable with them, however, they become one of your best friends in the shop. If you are already using scrapers with great success pat yourself on the back, you’re part of an elite woodworking minority.
Scrapers fit into three major categories (at that’s how I view them). First is the simplest, least expensive, and most useful form of the tool, the card scraper. Just a piece of steel typically rectangular in shape, though curved scrapers exist for handling (not surprisingly) curved profiles. The edges are sharpened and honed like you would a chisel or plane iron, but unlike other hand tools these edges are honed 90 degrees to the faces. A burnisher is then used to turn a hook, or burr, which is what actually allows the tool to remove a small shaving (not dust) and leave a tear-out free surface. Many good card scrapers exist from companies like Lie-Nielsen, Bahco, and more.
The second category is basically a card scraper held in a jig (I’m not sure what to actually call this category), the most famous arguably being the Stanley #80 which Veritas did a wonderful job recreating (and improving). There were dozens of these contraptions put out by Stanley and others over the years, their advantage being that the handles keep you thumbs from burning (which happens with heavy use on a card scraper), they leave a flatter surface (card scrapers can easily dish out a localized area, this is both an advantage and disadvantage of card scrapers), and they are easier to sharpen since the cutter looks like a traditional plane iron (though a hook is often added after sharpening).
Finally, the third category is that of the scraper plane. The large sole keeps the surface being worked extremely flat, they are comfortable to use, and unlike the category 2 tools, scraper planes have an angle adjustment that allows the user to optimize the cutting angle based on the hook. Since turning a hook/burr is typically done by hand it will tend to vary slightly from one sharpening to another, being able to adjust the angle in the tool to account for this is an excellent feature not offered by the category 2 option.
The two premium options available today are from Lie-Nielsen and Veritas and both are modeled after the Stanley #112. I recently picked up the Lie-Nielsen and Alan (Walke) owns a vintage Stanley, so I decided to compare the two and pass that information along.
The LN is almost identical in size and shape compared to the Stanley. Some notable differences were the slightly larger angle adjustment knobs (from 1″ on the Stanley to 1-1/8″ on the LN) and two ribs added across the body for rigidity.
To test their performance, I used each tool on Bubinga and curly Maple, both prone to tearing. Each tool was capable of delivering good results, but I had an easier time on the LN, largely due to the blade. The blade in the Stanley was very thin and was so short it was difficult to adjust… this may not be the original blade, so I don’t want to fault it too much, the tool itself is well made and felt solid in use. On the downside, I tried using the LN blade in the Stanley tool, but it was too thick and would not fit in the Stanley. The blade on the Stanley was also thin enough that I could feel it flexing in use which limited how thick of a shaving I could get from it.
When using scraper planes, you’ll want a few extra accessories compared to standard hand planes. A 4 oz hammer (brass prevents dinging up the blade) is crucial for fine depth and skew adjustments and waxing the sole helps to reduce the force to push the tool in use (same as with a hand plane). I found a small brush to clear the mouth to be essential as well. Unlike hand planes where shavings tend to flow out of the tool, scraper shavings bunch up and are often so thin that they break apart. And because such a small amount of material is being removed, even the slightest shaving hanging out of the mouth can get pinched under the tool and lift the blade off the wood. I found my self brushing the mouth clean every four or five strokes. This is a bit tedious, but if you’re using the tool appropriately you shouldn’t have too many strokes to take before you’re done so it didn’t really bother me and the results were worth it.
And how were the results? Well, I was able to take full shavings that measured just over 0.001″ thick. This is about as thick as you’d go with a scraper plane, it gets very difficult to push the tool if a thicker shaving is being taken (remember you’re scraping the wood, not slicing it, so you can’t take nearly as thick of a cut as you could using a hand plane). In general, I was scraping shavings a little under 0.001″ and leaving clean, smooth surfaces behind. I also found you could hold the tool comfortably by gripping the front knob alone, or by wrapping your fingers around the knob and placing your thumb behind the bronze blade holder, which lead to a little trick I am calling the “thumb trick”. If the shaving is a bit on the light side using a normal grip, try placing your thumb behind the blade holder and applying some pressure during the stroke. This deflected things enough to give the blade just a bit more bite in use. It doesn’t sound like much, but it allowed for some control over heavy vs light shavings without having to reset the tool (not the easiest operation to complete with a scraper plane). I should note that I don’t over-tighten the blade clamp wheel, if you do you may stiffen things up so much that the thumb trick is not effective.
So should you go out and buy a scraper plane? For most the answer is probably no, at least not yet. They are a bit tricky to master, both in their setup and their use. If you aren’t comfortable with card scrapers yet, start with those. They are cheap and will be used far more often than a dedicated scraper plane. If you’re comfortable with card scrapers, do you work tricky woods, particularly larger surfaces you want to keep as flat as possible? If not, again there is probably little benefit of owning a scraper plane. However, if you’re answering “yes” to the previous statements, a scraper plane might really be useful for you, just be patient with them, it may take some time to come up the curve.
A few final comments, I purchased the LN #112 used and it arrived with some damaged handles. I contacted Lie-Nielsen about getting some replacements and they sent them for free. What a great company to work with and purchase tools from. Also, I focused on the #112, but LN sells a smaller version, a rabbet version, and offers toothed blades if you’re trying to rough up a surface slightly for veneer work. They also have helpful videos on their website discussing the setup and use of their scrapers.
The biggest issue when getting started in working wood with hand tools is wondering, “what tools do I need?” I remember thinking I needed all bench planes #1 – #8 and every saw or chisel size sold by a given manufacturer. After all, if I didn’t need all the sizes they wouldn’t be offering them, right?
Well, as you spend some time in the shop and read a few books you will quickly learn that is very wrong. And while there is a lot of information out there on which planes or saws you should get, I’ve seen little to no words of wisdom around what drills are useful and why. So here is what I’ve found most useful:
First, no single drill will handle all your hole-boring needs (or to some, your boring hole needs, but I digress). The diameter of the hole you want to drill determines how much torque your drill will need to provide. A traditional hand drill (or “egg-beater drill” as they’re often called) can only handle small holes, up to about a 1/4″ in diameter. They are fantastic tools that can be easily found on the vintage market at a very affordable price. Take the time to get a decent one that is complete and in good shape and/or fix it up yourself (see my restoration advice here). I own two of these drills, one smaller than the other. The larger (a Millers Falls #2) is my workhorse. It does the bulk of the drilling in my shop and if I had to live with the absolute minimum number of tools, this would be one of the two drills I would own (I actually own five drills total). My second hand drill is smaller (a Millers Falls #5a) and is nice to have on hand for very delicate work or if I’m alternating between different drill bit sizes, I can dedicate each of my drills to a different bit size rather than switching bits back and forth between the same drill. I also find these drills easier to keep vertical compared to a cordless drill which is always trying to tip over due to the offset handle and battery weight.
When I need to drill small holes horizontally, I prefer a breast drill. The name is derived from how the tool is used; the pad at the top is pressed under your… well… breast and your hands align and crank the drill. I own a two-speed version (a Stanley 905) that allows me to choose between faster drilling or more torque, just like with a battery powered drill. I find this drill easier to support, keep flat, and crank when drilling horizontally, but as this is not something most woodworkers do very often I wouldn’t go nuts trying to track one down.
Now for the larger holes. From about 1/4″ – 1″ diameter holes, hand braces are awesome and readily available… the bits (called auger bits), on the other hand, can be a little tough to find in a complete set (sets typically range from 1/4″ – 1″ sizes in 1/16″ increments).
The term “brace” is based on the older wooden versions of this drill which were reinforced with brass plates, or braces, to avoid cracking the wooden frame during use. Hand braces have two major features that differentiate one from another. First is the sweep size. A 10″ brace, for instance, is one which has a handle offset 5″ from the chuck, thus creating a 10″ diameter circle you must sweep the brace around to turn the bit. The larger the sweep distance, the more torque you can generate (nice for your largest drilling needs), where smaller sweep distances allow for faster drilling (preferable for smaller bits). The second feature to look for in a brace is ratcheting chucks vs solid chucks. Ratchets allow for reversing the direction of rotation when an obstruction prevents the brace from making a complete circle. This sounds like a big advantage and indeed if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t make a full sweep of the brace you will want a ratcheting chuck. However, this shouldn’t be a regular occurrence and the ratcheting mechanism can add a sloppy feel to the drill (depending who made the tool and how well it’s been cared for). Thus, I have two braces. The first is an original (before Stanley bought them out) North Brothers Yankee 2101A brace with a ratcheting chuck and 12″ sweep. This would be the second of my two essential drills and can handle any large-hole-drilling need I may have. However, when drilling a smaller hole (maybe 5/8″ or less) and assuming there is nothing in my way, I will often reach for my Millers Falls brace without a ratcheting head. These tools are so cheap it’s worth having a couple around, especially if you vary the features they bring to your shop. These tools work well drilling vertically or horizontally, but the way I use them differs based on the situation.
A few tips on the bits themselves. For hand drills, you can use the vintage bits that accompany some drills, but I just use brad point bits. They are just easier to find and cut cleaner. For the auger bits, two common styles exist: Jennings and Irwin. I can’t say I prefer one over the other, but if they get dull they can be tuned up with an auger bit file (check Lie-Nielsen’s website to buy one, they are only $8.50). Finally, if your auger bits are blowing out the back of your board, stop drilling as soon as the lead screw pokes through the back. Then flip the board over, line the bit up with hole, and finish drilling from the backside.
Have a great day, -WMT
Roughly six months back I purchased a Stanley Mitre Box off eBay (buying these on eBay is a bit of a gamble, but it had basically all the parts and was the size box I wanted, so I took a shot). I didn’t get around to restoring it until recently, but now it’s up and running and I couldn’t be happier with it. In any event, I’ll let the pictures do the bulk of the talking… enjoy.
After disassembling the entire box, every piece of metal was submerged in Evapo-Rust for 24 hours. This stuff works better than any other rust remover I’ve tried. You can read more about it here. The wooden deck was also replaced with some quartersawn Sapele I had left over from another project. The Beech handle was stripped down and refinished with Watco oil.
Thanks for reading and have a great day.