old saw


Recent comments

Re: Esherick Museum is a woodworking mecca

What! No pictures of Esherick's cool homemade bandsaw built from bicycle wheels? Aww, man!

Re: Salt and Vinegar: Nature's Rust Remover

I've been using white vinegar for rust removal for many years - learned about it from an antiques dealer - but I've never tried using salt with it. To me, using salt to remove rust seems counter intuitive considering what road salt used in winter does to vehicles. I suppose I'll have to give it a try though. Citric acid powder dissolved in water and even concentrated lemon juice will also remove rust in much the same way as vinegar.

Normally I use 5% strength distilled white vinegar (10% when I can find it,) mixed with equal parts or less tap water. The water dilutes and weakens the action a bit, but it makes it possible to submerge larger items without using quite so much vinegar. I've seldom ever had to soak anything longer than a day - usually less. Warming the solution will make it work faster.

I am not fond of wet steel wool, so I use brass or stainless steel pot scrubbing pads from the housewares department for scrubbing parts. Usually I scrub the item occasionally with a small steel or brass bristle brush the size of a toothbrush, while I hold it under hot running tap water. If necessary, it might go back into the solution to soak some more. If it comes clean, I let the hot water warm the metal, and then I immediately towel it dry. The warm metal usually dries before it can rust again. After the part is dry I polish it a bit with fine steel wool or a fine steel or brass bristle brush. Then I either prepare it for re-painting, or I oil it or paste wax it.

The vinegar contains ascetic acid, which is considered a weak acid. It takes a long time before it will eat away any appreciable amount of metal, although it seems to affect cast and malleable iron more so than steel. However, if the metal is very rusty to begin with, it will be found after removal that the rust has actually eaten away some of the metal. In the case of small springs and other thin cross sections this will weaken them. Also, be aware that soaking in vinegar and other acids will often remove various kinds of plating from the iron or steel. Cadmium plating for example comes off quickly and produces a toxic solution. It will also soften and remove paint. In blacksmithing work I often use a vinegar soak to easily remove forge scale before filing or grinding a piece.

Re: Is a college professor any smarter than a skilled furniture maker?

I never read much Emerson, but I do know that Mark Twain once observed that everyone is ignorant about something or another.

Re: Another Bench Vise Revolution from Hovarter

I'm not sure what is so revolutionairy about a twin screw leg vise - at least one American manufacturer was making them for blacksmiths more than a hundred years ago - not that many smiths could afford such a "new-fangled" improvement to their standard version vise at the time.

Re: 7 Lessons for the Aspiring Furniture Maker

I'll take this opportunity to pass on a bit of advice that was given me by an old foundry pattern maker many years ago: He told me that the measure of a craftsman isn't how good one is with the finest tools and machines, but what one can do with the tools one has at hand. The best tool isn't necessarily the prettiest, the shinyest, or the most expensive - it's the one that does the job the way one wants it done. Sometimes that depends on how well one has learned to use that particular tool.

And lastly something I've found myself through experience: Learn how and develop the skill to sharpen your tools properly - even handsaws, if you use them. Dull tools are the pits.

Re: What hand tools can't you live without?

I suppose what tools to include depends on just what sort of work one plans to do. If I am to do any face planing or edge jointing, whether by machine or by hand, I like to have a simple straight edge available. It can be of metal, plastic, or stable wood, 18 to 24 inches long or whatever will fit in the chest. At least one pair of winding sticks is handy to have as well. With something to lock them together they can do double duty for taking inside measurements and checking inside diagonals of cabinets.

Something I always include when gathering tools for a job is a 4 in 1 screwdriver. Mine is made by Enders and gives me two sizes each of both Phillips and regular tip blades - plus the hollow shank doubles as a nut driver in a pinch. A pair of medium size, round jaw Vise Grips are handy to have, along with a Crescent wrench. A mallet has been mentioned, but a dead blow hammer or other non-marring hammer of some kind will often be found useful.

I don't see anything in the photos for making holes in wood. I would include an eggbeater drill with a small set of bits, and, if there is room, an accurately made ratchet drilling brace with a roll of auger bits and/or center bits. Actually this latter is probably more useful than the eggbeater, if you also have some gimlet bits for it. Spoon bits are nice to have, too.

Lastly a cobbler's four in hand wood rasp will often come in handy. Oh, and if there is any room to spare, have some kind of small panel saw, compass saw, bow saw, or even back saw with rip style teeth.

Re: Solutions for splinters

I can't add much to what has already been said about splinter removal other than to say that an investment in a pair of strong drugstore reading glasses or "cheaters" has been as much help as anything else. The really difficult splinters are metal ones, like from steel wool, and they seem to be smaller and more painful. Also, remember to sterilize your skin and the "instruments" with alcohol before using them - you do not want to take a chance on getting one of those antibiotic-resistant infections that are becoming more and more common.

Related to the subject of using tape to remove splinters and such, I've found that duct or masking tape is just the thing to remover fiberglass insulation from one's hands and arms.

Re: Setting up shop: Which machine first? And why.

If one has to depend on using handtools for most of the work and can afford only one machine in the beginning, I would have to say that a toolgrinder of some kind is the most important machine to have first. It is definitely no fun at all to have to recondition edge tool bevels by hand with nothing but a whetstone or some sandpaper. Even if it's only an old-fashioned treadle-powered sandstone or a handcranked benchtop grinder, it will save scads of time and make it much more likely that all those fine edge tools one plans to depend on are properly sharpened. Hand tools will do a great deal of work when sharp, but dull ones are the b**ch of misery.

That said, there is no reason at all that a toolgrinding device has to be ONLY that. Several woodworking machines can be made to grind tools. Even a cheap woodlathe can be fitted with a grindstone, and a good woodlathe with homemade attachments can be made to do alot more than just turn wood - think along the lines of a Shopsmith. Table saws can be fitted with either a sanding plate or a stone for grinding tools, as can radial arm saws. Even a 12 or 14 inch bandsaw can take a sanding belt and be rigged to grind tools - or fitted with a sanding disk on the outboard end of its main shaft.

I think the question comes down to what sort of materials one plans on working with. If it's sheet goods, then buy a good table saw. I've worked plywood without a table saw, even to the point of handplaning the edges for smoothness or joinery. It isn't any picnic - a table saw would have saved me a great deal of time. If most of what one works with is solid wood, then buy a decent bandsaw - at least a 14 inch model - and keep it well-tuned. It can rip much heavier stock than most table saws and do so much more safely, and if fitted with a miter gauge (and a SHARP blade), it can crosscut.

A good bandsaw will also resaw face-jointed or hand-planed wood to thickness, and at one time I had to depend on milling rough-sawn stock that way. I'd flatten the face on a jointer and saw the board to thickness on the bandsaw; then joint the sawn side. I did alot of that and I was doing it commercially; I learned all about resawing, but even a small table-top thickness planer would have made the operation more profitable. 'Course, in those days there wasn't anything but fairly expensive floor model planers.

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