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Archive for November 2013

  • Chisel Steels

    Thursday 28th November 2013

    Baby Oil Honing

    How we are spoilt for choice! Post WW2 there has been a broader range of all things woodworking whether that be sharpening mediums or the the variety of hand planes we have from which to choose. Chisels are not exception. Before WW2 most chisels would be a cast crucible carbon steel. Full details on that process can be found here. The vast majority of steel alloy used in chisels today will be one of the following types.

    Chromium Vanadium (CV) – To be found in brands like Irwin, Faithfull etc.

    Chromium Manganese (CM)- Narex

    O1 & A2 – Offered as an option by many leading brands such a Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley.

    PM-V11 – Specialist steel developed by Lee Valley.

    All of these steels have their pros and cons. A2 and PM-V11′s trump card is edge retention while being slightly more tricky to sharpen. O1, CV and CM are easier to sharpen and some feel that they initially have a sharper bite than A2 or PM-V11. I will level with you I have no idea if A2, or PM-V11 are worth the extra time and effort, I have yet to try one. What I can tell you is that edge retention, within reason, is not too much of an issue to me. Sharpening regimes should be fast and easy in my view so touching up something to keep it sharp is more appealing to me than something that may be slightly more fussy to hone. Each to their own though.

    I was very interested by Narex as a brand so did some searching and found buried a “fan site” of sorts which gives you a very comprehensive rundown of the steel used in their chisels and some company history. Curious to try these relatively low price point chisels I placed an order for a set of general purpose Narex 8105 Bevel Edge Chisels from Workshop Heaven.

    Narex Chisels 8105

    Initial impressions are pleasing and I will share my thoughts on these with a thorough review. If I’m pleased with them I will be giving away my set of Faithful Chisels to anyone who’s reading the blog and wants them. More on that later.

  • Chisels

    Sunday 24th November 2013

    With these next few articles I’m going to take a look at some of the most simple but yet essential tools woodworkers use. Pictured above are the tools we strike chisels with (yes that is a claw hammer) and the variations on the typical chisels in common use.

    Bench Chisels

    Working from left to right the first two chisels are mortice chisels. When hand cutting a mortice these are the chisels you reach for. The thick blades and hefty proportions allow it to resist the bending forces applied to it. Mortices can be briskly and successfully formed using firmer chisels too although more care must be taken when using a firmer chisel for this work.

    Mortice Chisels

    Next in the line are three versions of what are called Firmer chisels. A Firmer chisel is designed for heavy work such as chopping, occasional morticing and just about any other task you can think, truly an essential tool.

    Firmer Chisels

    The old Firmer chisel at the bottom of the image above is what most people think of when they think of a Firmer with its straight registered sides, thick blade and hoop ironed handle. But a bevelled edge chisel makes a great workhorse too and is still classed a Firmer. Look at the modern versions shown above, both have thick blades and thick edges, the handles are made from ultra strong plastic and one of them features a metal strike cap. This makes them ideally suited to chopping and heavy blows. Both a hammer and mallet can be used with a great deal of success on these chisels.

    Chisel Lands

    As you will see from the photo above the three Firmers, even when featuring a token bevel have very heavy lands. This is no problem in many tasks apart from when you need to work on fine and very precise joinery. For that you will want a true Bevelled Edge Chisel. In the photo above you can see the two chisels on the right have very fine edges or lands when compared to the others . This fine edge allows for accurate paring and cleaning up of fine dovetail joints and the like.

    Ashley Iles MK2

    The chisel shown above is ideal for those types of tasks. It’s delicate nature and beautiful design not only yield great results but inspire you to produce the best you can.

    The next article in this series will cover steels, sharpening mediums and a comprehensive guide on sharpening.

  • How did I build the vice?

    Sunday 10th November 2013

    Any chance of a few pictures and a bit more detail as to how you made the vice. I’ve recently made a similar bench and I’ve got a cheapo quick release vice that I’m not that happy with and if I can replace it for £20, I’d be a happy man. Matthew Moore.

    Face Vice

    Thanks for asking Matthew. I will stress once again that this type of vice is in my experience is inferior to a decent quick release vice which we use every day in our production workshop. However it does work well enough, it’s cheap, easy to build and looks really great on a bench like this. First thing your going to need is a vice screw. I purchased mine from Axminster Tools & Machinery , the rest of the bits were scrap from our workshop. I can appreciate that if you don’t have any suitable scrap to hand you might want to budget a further £10 to £15 for the wood required.

    I used the following sizes, all sizes shown are the finished timber size. As mentioned above I used material from the scrap bin, I have noted also a change based on “if I had to do it again”. For the runner and vice face choose a reasonably dense hardwood, ash, sapele, oak, maple, anything like that would work just fine.

    Vice Face 600mm x 225mm x 38mm – If I did this again I would go for 600mm x 200mm x 45mm

    Runner, Full width of bench + 300mm for setting x 45mm x 45mm – If I did it again it would be Full width x 70mm x 45mm

    Various sections needed for boxing in the runner will be based on your bench and where you position the mortice.

    The reduction in face size and the increase of its thickness combined with a heavier runner would contribute to a more rigid vice. The next step for me was to cut a mortice into the apron for the runner, a bored out most of the waste with a brace and bit and finished up the edges with a chisel, making sure the runner ran smoothly through the mortice. I then bored a hole for the metal screw on the same centre line as the runner. The space between the runner and screw should be not more than 300mm. I went for 280mm, and if truth be told I would go for closer to 250mm if I did it again. You will most likely need to add a packer to the back of the apron to allow the vice nut to be fitted.

    Bench Stop Housing

    Twin Tennon

    Twin Tennon Wedge

    Screw Runner

    Then I chopped a hand cut twin mortice into the vice face and cut a twin tenon into the end of the runner. The twin tenon gives a really secure joint here. Once that was completed I glued and screwed a packer to the underside of the benchtop which made a level surface with the the top edge of the apron mortice. I then slid the runner in to the apron mortice. With the runner left 300mm longer it projected nicely from the apron allowing me to square it’s location. I then boxed it in by screwing some cheeks each side of the runner. A bottom section was then added into which I drilled some holes to allow any dust build up to find it’s way out (that’s the idea anyway).

    Runner Boxing

    I then cut off the runner allowing it to project 10mm from the vice and slid it into it’s housing. I did this to make gluing the runner and cheek as easy as possible. I also screwed on the vice screw to aid the cramping up. I applied the glue and slid it on tightening up the vice screw and using a variety of cramps to hold it a consistent 10mm of the apron and then drove in the wedges. Once the glue had set I cleaned up the joint, cut the end off the runner to allow the vice to full close and applied a coat of furniture wax to the runner to aid smooth running. Vice done!

    In Use

  • Done!

    Thursday 7th November 2013

    In Use

    So there it is, finished and ready for work. The last item of the build was fitting the vice. These very simple face vices are not popular for a reason, they are just not that good unless you invest in one of The English Woodworkers offerings. However, even with that harsh comment on my own vice choice it is actually just fine and cheap and easy to build. Made from off cuts and a basic vice screw it cost no more than £20.00 to make, less importantly it looks rather nice. I was flummoxed as on what type of adornment to add to the vice edges, luckily inspiration was at hand in the form of an old moulding plane.

    Moulding Plane

    Sight Lines

    Moulded Oak

    Moulding planes will most definitely be featuring in future blog articles. So with the whole thing finished I took it for a test drive. The chunky bench stop provides an option I had not considered which is and anchor point for morticing. It’s ideally situated to positioning the stock over an apron so there is no bounce or wood slipping around in a vice.

    Bench Stop for Morticing

    It’s great for it’s intended purpose too which is to support timber whilst planning.

    Bench Stop in Us

    It also performs brilliantly as an anchor point for the Holdfast and Batten method which works so very well and eliminated, for now at least, the need for me to fit a tail or wagon vice.

    Holdfast and Batten

    And those aprons that I had some reservations about, I have found them to be an asset.

    Working on Board Edges

    If you’re looking for a simple, easy to build workbench that won’t break the bank look no further.