Just Tool Things

Veritas Combination Plane

The Veritas Combination Plane is a tool that I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time now, and it’s finally arrived!

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large plow plane

The Veritas Combination Plane and storage box(es)

The Veritas Combination Plane has been a long time coming (though not as long as another fabled combination plane…hehe) – the woodworking community first heard of it a few years ago on various forums, and was initially being called the Large Plow Plane.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plow Plane, Large Plough Plane, Stanley No. 45

The Veritas Combination Plane in it’s box

The plane was demonstrated at Handworks in Amana this year, where Veritas took pre-orders, and is being released in Lee Valley stores (and website sometime early September). Here’s Fine Woodworking’s first look at it.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Beautiful torrefied maple handles

Mine arrived at the local Lee Valley store for pickup earlier today (yes, I am one of the fortunate/unfortunate ones that have a local Lee Valley store), and despite having a very busy day, I had to go pick it up. It arrived with the plane box, and two blade boxes – fenced planes with lots of different blades can be a pain to store so this should help. The boxes are cnc machined out of baltic birch, and fit the blade, the extra fence rods and blade boxes.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Side view, showing the main body of the plane and torrefied maple fence

I haven’t had the opportunity to take this for a whirl yet, so this isn’t a review, but first impressions of the Veritas Combination Plane are fantastic – it sure looks to be made with the typical Veritas attention to detail and quality craftsmanship. The 17 brass knobs add some bling to otherwise sleek body, and while it has a heft to it, it doesn’t seem to be as heavy as a Stanley No. 45. A big factor in my decision to purchase this plane was the compatibility with Stanley combination plane blades, which I plan on testing out soon. It also came replete with a torrefied maple fence, a nice touch, as the fence matches the handle and torrefied maple is a very stable material.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Yes, it has a lot of knobs

Speaking of the Stanley No. 45, I never really liked them much, and in preparation for the arrival of the newcomer, I sold both of mine – and if first impressions are anything to go by, I won’t be looking back.

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

The box is very well made, from baltic birch

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Veritas Combination Plane, Large Plough Plane, Large Plow Plane

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 0 comments

More Tool Wall Photos

Last post I wrote about my new shop organization aid/self indulgent decor, a tool wall. Here’s a few more photos.

Squares, Combination Square, Engineers square, protractor, bevel gauge, starrett, veritas

All sorts of square(s)

Chisels, woodworking, veritas chisels, stanley sweetheart, mortise chisel

Yes, I have a bit of chisel (and mallet) problem.

Bit and Brace storage, marking tools

Bit and various marking tool storage

framesaw, bit, brace, hand drill

Brace and Drill storage, and my framesaw making a cameo too

 

Veritas MKII sharpening jig

Sharpening jigs

Folding rule, sectore, starrett, dial caliper, stanley

This is the inside of the stanley tool pouch I posted last time. Starrett dial calipers, sector ruler and folding rules

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, 0 comments
Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Shop Organisation: Tool Wall

Ah the interwebs. Such a great source of ideas, information, inspiration…and procrastination. Sometimes I feel like I read more about woodworking than I actually do woodworking. Anyways, one of the things I love seeing is other woodworkers shops, and specifically how they store (and display) their hand tools. I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of a tool cabinet vs a tool chest for a while. Either option would be at least a few months into the future given my current list of projects, so in the meantime I decided to go with a tool wall.

Woodworking shop storage for vintage hand planes

Shop storage for vintage tools.

While my power tools reside in an unheated garage, my hand tool shop is in the basement of our house, which means my tools are for the most part protected from the ravages of rust. In the last couple years I have had a couple close calls where rust somehow magically appeared on a couple planes, so I think I’ll build a tool chest capable of holding all of my new planes and forego the wall hung tool cabinet. That leaves the wall free to hold the rest of my tools and keep them readily accessible.

Sawtill for panel saws and backsaws, disston, bad axe, veritas, lie nielsen, knew concepts

Recently completed sawtill

For the last year or so I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about owning so many tools that I hardly get to use, as a hobbyist woodworker. A couple months ago I read the Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz, which only made me feel even more guilty about my burgeoning tool collection. I’ve already parted with all the tools I could bring myself to part with (and it was a lot of tools) and now I want to make sure I use all the tools I own. I’ve spent more money than I like to admit on tools, and my finest and favourite tools tend to get stored in a chest with various rust preventation measures…which means I reach for not-so-fine-tools most often because I don’t need to bend over a chest to get at them. My hope is that keeping all my tools readily accessible on a tool wall will make me more likely to use them regularly – and also put them away more frequently, leaving my shop less cluttered.

Tool wall chisel rack

Figuring out placement for chisel racks

Steve Branam’s tool wall is one of the finest tool walls I’ve come across. The simplicity and aesthetic qualities of what he created is just wonderful. As someone who loves all things hand tool related, having a wall full of tools perfectly organized and ready to go serves more than just a utilitarian purpose – it serves as workshop decor too (though my wife disagrees). Anyways, I used some of his principles in deciding on the tool layout. I wanted a single degree of separation between myself and all my tools, i.e. have every single tool accessible without having to move another out of the way. The easier it is to remove and replace a tool, the more likely I am to use it and replace it after I’m done.

Veritas, Ashley Iles, Chisel roll, tool wall

Veritas PMV11 chisels nestled safely in the jean chisel roll stolen from the Ashley Iles chisels…

For a backer board I went with veneered particle board. Each board was screwed into wall studs at 4 points. Chisel/screwdriver/rasp racks were made from 3/8″ strips of Cherry and Walnut, simply two strips laminated along with a couple small spacer blocks. The racks were counterbored and screwed into the particle board, taking care to ensure the chisels enter and exit them easily. The rest of the holders were made from scraps around the shop, other than the jean and leather chisel rolls my Ashley Iles MKII and Stanley Sweetheart chisels came in. It took a bit of fiddling, and a lot of rearranging, but I now have most of my non-handplane tools hung up right where I can see them.

chisel rack, tool wall, ashley iles, stanley sweetheart

Some more chisel storage. The leather ‘spacers’ really help keep the chisels straight, and protect you from the sharp tips.

The tool wall currently holds:

  • 4 sets of bench chisels along with a bunch of miscellaneous chisels
  • A large set of english mortise chisels, and a couple Narex mortise chisels
  • My mallets and plane hammers
  • My squares, dividers, marking gauges, bevel gauges, protractors
  • Dial calipers, rules, sectors
  • Card scrapers
  • Braces, drills, and bits
  • Rasps, screwdrivers, burnishers, files
  • Marking knives, awls, pens and pencils
  • Spokeshaves
  • Sharpening jigs
  • Drawknife
  • Straightedge
  • Framesaw (kind of)
Tool wall, veritas, spokeshave, vintage tools, storage

Simple spokeshave storage

My nicer planes get tucked away in a little rust proof micro environment and my sets of vintage planes (woodies and bailey pattern) sit on uncovered shelves along with a bunch of other vintage tools. The oxidation and patina on those tools seem to protect them from further rust. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Stanley, chisel, sweetheart, tool roll

I’ve never cared much for the chisel rolls some manufacturers include, but they come in useful! The stanley sweethearts come in a beautiful leather roll

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 0 comments

English Mortise Chisels/Pigstickers/Oval Bolstered Mortise Chisels

The Brits really do get the coolest woodworking tools – Scottish infill planes, anything Preston and English mortise chisels, also known as oval bolstered mortise chisels, or pigstickers on this side of the water. These mortise chisels are apparently quite common in the UK, less so in the US, and even less so here in the Great White North…so much so that I never actually ran into any English mortise chisels in the wild here, and the old tool dealers in these parts don’t seem to have any either.

Pigsticker, Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolstered

(Most of) My set of English Mortise chisels

For the last couple of years I’ve been using Narex mortise chisels …they’re very reasonably priced (almost too much so) and the steel sharpens easily and holds a decent edge. I have the 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ sizes, and the first two handle most of my needs – I don’t think I’ve ever used the 1/2″ size. Despite their decent performance, these chisels lacked the fineness and spirit of an old tool, or a finely crafted new tool….so I found myself craving replacements.

Ashley Iles, Mortise Chisel, Ray Iles, Pigsticker

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ pigsticker chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

I had my eyes set on the new Veritas PM-V11 mortise chisels or the Ray Iles pigstickers, but figured I’d check out ebay first. Long story short, I ended up winning 3 separate bids, and now have what is basically a full set of 11 english mortise chisels, ranging from 1/8″ to 5/8″…yes, you read that right, a 5/8″ pigsticker. Six of the chisels are Sorby’s, and the rest are Ward, Marsden Brothers, Thos Ibbotson and I. Cutler.

Some of the sizes seem a little odd at first, like the 11/32″ chisel, until I read Joel Moskowitz’s excellent 5 part article on this topic, which I suggest you read if you are looking into mortise chisels. I know some sizes will be used way less than others, but a benefit of having a wide variety of sizes is that if my tenon is off by about a 16th or a 32nd of an inch, I can still create a perfectly fitting mortise.

Pigsticker, English Mortise Chisel, Oval Bolster

‘The Beast’ – a 5/8″ chisel by Ward, beside it’s cousin from Sheffield, a 5/8″ Ashley Iles

The mortise chisels are wonderfully suited to their function – the blades are tapered to prevent jamming, the curve of the primary bevel helps lever out chips and the oval shape of the bolster and handle help align the chisel in the hand without looking. The handle tapers outwards in both directions, providing a wider striking area that concentrates the force on the smaller area of the bolster. The bottom of the handles are rounded to prevent chipping or cracking. And most of all they look super cool (my friends think I’m a dork for finding these things cool, but that’s another matter altogether).

Pigsticker, Oval Bolstered, English Mortise Chisels

English Mortise Chisels

Most of the chisels appear to have their original handles, which are things of beauty. I considered making matching handles for all of them out of jatoba, but the originals are so well made that I can’t justify it. A couple of the chisels will need rehandling however, and I will post about that soon!

Oh, and I’m really looking forward to using The Beast (the 5/8″) during my bench build!

 

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Tools, 2 comments
Veritas Custom Bench Planes: New Shop Additions

Veritas Custom Bench Planes: New Shop Additions

Anyone who knows me or has visited my instagram knows I’m a big fan of Veritas tools. Part of the reason why is the commitment to quality and customer service that they’re known for, but there’s more to it than that – I won’t bore you with all of it, but I’ll mention a few. Veritas still manufactures their tools right here in Canada, and they have one of the lowest CEO:ground level employee pay ratios around. They are also the only high quality mainstream woodworking tool manufacturer (there really are only two of those right now, but anyways) who innovate with their tools, adding features that make their tools easier to use or work better. In 2014, Veritas released a new line of bevel down bench planes, the Custom Bench Planes.

Veritas Custom Bench Planes

Veritas No. 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 Custom Bench Planes

 

As the name implies, these can be customised with a variety of frog angles, two different choices of blade steel, and 6 different totes and knobs to choose from. I recently treated myself to two of the custom bench planes, a No. 4 1/2 with a 55 degree frog and a No. 5 1/2 with a 45 degree frog. I pondered getting a Lie Nielsen 4 1/2 for a while but decided to go with the Veritas instead. I plan on writing a little review on the planes soon, and I’ll go over why I chose the Veritas then.

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Wispy transparent shavings

For now, heres a few images that’ll show you why I’m pretty delighted with the performance of these two new additions so far. These were the first shavings I got out of these planes on some Bubinga and Pine with only a bit of honing on the blades.

Fine shavings less than a thousandth of an inch.

Wispy thin shavings less than a 0.001″ thick.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Reviews, Tools, 1 comment
They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

I love old hand tools. I am obsessed with them – planes, chisels, drawknives, squares, braces/bits, saws, I love them all. Despite this I usually pass up on old wooden levels when I find them in the wild. Partly because they aren’t usually very useful at this point – the wood moves and cracks over the years, bringing it out of straight. Partly because the people selling them don’t know this, and tend to price them very high. But when I came across this particular vintage level, I had to buy it.

Stanley no. 30 vintage level

The levels are adjustable and are set in beautiful brass accents

The level was made by Stanley Rule and Level Co., which most likely puts it in the 1850- 1900 range. It was grimy and dirty to the point where the wood was an unidentifiably dull brown and the brass was tarnished, but the build quality of the level still shone through. Also, the glass levels were all intact. It sat around in my workshop for a few months before I had a very unusual evening with nothing to do, so I decided to clean it up. I sanded the whole thing down using 150 grit sandpaper, and used a chisel to carefully pare off the glue that solidified over the last century. I then sanded the whole thing again using 220 grit, and used 400 grit to bring some shine to the brass.

Stanley Vintage Level

Stanley Rule & Level Co. No. 30 Level

At this point it became clear that the level was made of Cherry – but I was definitely not prepared for what it would look like after a coat of tung oil. The tung oil brought out a very intense redness in the Cherry, a redness that comes from over a 100 years exposed to light. The rich, deep redness and the shiny brass accents are just a fantastic combination. It may not be very useful, but it’s a testament to the quality of the old Stanley tools, and it sure looks great on top of my tool cabinet.

Stanley vintage level

The Cherry wood has a beautiful redness to it that goes really well with the brass accents

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Restorations, Tools, 0 comments
A Straightedge in the Rough (Moore & Wright No. 311B)

A Straightedge in the Rough (Moore & Wright No. 311B)

I moved in to a new place a little over a year ago. While the garage (which has since become my workshop) was cleaned out quite diligently by the previous owner, there were a few wooden rulers and a 2′ long steel heavy bar of steel still left hung up by the door. The steel bar was heavily rusted on the surface, so I never paid much attention to it, using it as a paperweight once or twice and hanging it right back up.

Moore & Wright Straightedge, vintage straightedge

Halfway through my clean up of the steel

A few weeks ago I was changing the blades on my jointer and needed a long and heavy straightedge, one that wouldn’t move too easily as I spun the cutterhead. The only thing that could meet that criteria was that old rusty piece of steel, so I tried putting it on the jointer bed and found it to be perfectly straight. This surpised me, so I decided to clean it up a bit.

Old Moore & Wright, Vintage straightedge

Moore & Wright No. 311B

After some careful sanding with some 220 grit sandpaper, followed by some 400 grit, I realised it was an old Moore & Wright no. 311B straightedge. Moore & Wright were tool manufacturers based in Sheffield, England, and were known for high quality tools back in the day. I say ‘were’ because like so many other manufacturers, in recent years they’ve shipped out their manufacturing abroad and have lost their reputation for quality.

Restored Vintage Moore & Wright Straightedge

The straightedge cleaned up very nicely

A little metal polish and some buffing later the straightedge looks fantastic and is a definite addition to my regularly used tools. I later found out the previous owner was a retired machinist, and the rusted old bar of steel he left me turned out to be a real diamond in the rough.

Posted by Prairie Artisan Woodshop in Just Tool Things, Restorations, 0 comments