Archive for May 2014
Stormont ChiselsThursday 29th May 2014
Always on a lookout for a bargain I saw these Stormont firmer chisels on that popular auction website. Strangely for me a got lucky and won them for around £20.00 delivered. Stormont seem to be a small maker of "light edge tools". Very nice they are too. Boxwood handles, brass ferrules and minimal use. I've always liked the asthetic of the straight sided chisel over the bevel edge design but I've never really used them. I took a little time to get them as I wanted although I ground my primary on the bench grinder rather than the coarse side of an India stone. Just waiting on a chisel roll and then to the bench.
Thank Heaven!Saturday 24th May 2014
If you're a new to woodworking buying tools can be a real headache. The choice we have today can makes choosing really hard. Access to new, vintage, premium, budget has never been greater. Combine that with pages of opinion and experience in magazines and on the internet your mind is going to be overwhelmed for sure. I think even nation to nation there seems to be variation. One thing I have learned by trying various avenues here in the UK is it's not just about choosing a brand. I have found in the UK the dealer has much to do with helping you select what you need and providing you with informed service. I have tried pretty much all avenues whether regarding purchasing both within my hobby woodworking and my professional woodworking. Having an informed and honest person at the end of the phone is nearly always the key factor.
My first example of a great firm from my job would be Whitehill Spindle Tools. This firm makes all kinds of tooling for spindle moulders (shapers), tenoners, etc to great standards. They also help when we have custom needs. Machine woodworking is just as skilled as any other type of woodworking, the knowledge and skill needs to be just as deep. Any person who thinks you are a button pusher or something that feeds the machines really does not appreciate the skill needed to operate machine tools properly, perhaps even they never got the hang of using them properly. Having one of Whitehill's team on the phone is valuable when discussing new moulding profiles and systems. Without that human touch and knowledge underpinning the product we would not be able to do business.
The same is true on the hobby front. My recent experience with Stanley tools has highlighted what an fantastic job Workshop Heaven do. Stanley were unable to give me any after sale care with my purchase, contrast that with Workshop Heaven who select decent tools and can back it up with very helpful service. If you want to get started with some hand tools give Matthew a call. There are tools to suit most budgets on his site, have a discussion and I think you'll be surprised just how helpful they can be. I think having a core of new properly functioning tools is essential to a beginner. Without this yard stick it can almost be impossible to know if it is you or the tools is at fault. And be assured if you do want to sell and of the tools on should you not like them they nearly fetch full price on the second hand market.
On a slightly different take I'm going to be having a tool cull soon. I've been reflecting on what I really enjoy and what draws me in. I wish I could be uber cool like this guy but I can't. I think I'm as far removed from this as I can get. I still love the vid, wish he'd put some shoes on though!
I'm old before my time, I keep finding myself drawn to simple stuff. Some of my Workshop Heaven purchases will be on the way out. Not because they are bad, far from it. I just have an urge to go real simple. Wooden planes have always been on the shelves at work, I've bought a few too and I would like to use them more in future projects. Most of my project are likely to be historical in one way or another. I'm not a great bold designer so using styles of the past helps me realise projects in an easier way. That's what I've enjoyed about writing this blog and starting my You Tube channel. It's because I enjoy it. One thing I wish I could summon up is more time though! I'm looking forward to finish up the Six Board Chest soon, although "soon" in my hobby world will mean a good few weeks!
Stanley 62 Sweetheart ReviewTuesday 20th May 2014
I have had the Stanley Sweetheart products under consideration for a while now and after clearing out some unused tools I chose to buy......more tools. I was keen to make up my own mind on the range which has come under fire by many reviewers. I purchased the 62 Low Angle Jack, The No4, A set of four Socket Chisels and a Low Angle Block Plane. I'll add my thoughts on those in due course. This first post should be treated as an initial feel for the tool only. A few months of use next to a Record No5 & 5 1/2 should develop a clearer picture. I think "out of the box" reviews can be a little dangerous as we can all get rather excited with a new toy. Also these are purchased with my own money, no deals, and I have yet to have my palm crossed with silver by any supplier (never gonna happen) so I'm pretty independent.
Asthetics are very personal and subjective but from where I'm stood the 62 is a pleasing tool to look at, not too brash, clean lines with a nice blend of wood, metal & paint, a good start Stanley.I purchased the 62 from FFX http://www.ffx.co.uk/tools/product/Stan ... tAodVSAAsw for £85.00 delivered. I would normally go vintage or stop by Workshop Heaven but I felt I wanted to roll the dice..... As a quick comparison the other Low Angle Jacks in the market stack up as follows
Stanley 62 Sweetheart 62 via FFX - £85.00 with one A2 Blade Veritas via Peter Sefton - £239 on offer, normal price of £289.00 with one A2 Blade Quangsheng via Workshop Heaven - £149 with 3 A2 Blades ground for typical low, medium and high pitch work. Lie-Nielsen via Axminster - £219 with one A2 Blade
Although the Stanley is cheapest the QS from WSH is perhaps the best value based on the fact you get three blades. All the logistics and packaging were as you would expect in the modern world, all fine. Only a cardboard box for it to live in along with the various wrappers. All found there way into the bin, the 62 for the time being at least lives on the bench.
After a quick wipe down I got familiar with the plane. It features a Norris type adjuster which includes lateral adjustment, only the Veritas has this feature (I think please feel free to correct me here). To the best of my knowledge the QS and LN us the shaped end of the blade as a grip and or light taps with a hammer for lateral adjustment. I had to fiddle around with the position of the Norris Adjuster as from the factory it would not allow the blade to project, easy enough to do though. However, straight away I had a problem. Within the series of photos below you can see the area the blade is bedded down on.
The area that has been milled is sweet, however the bed has not been made wider at the top near the adjuster. There is a shelf that should not be there or at least it should be smaller. The issue is the blade is bedded so tight, lateral adjustment is only about 1mm, barely registering and change on the blade at the mouth. I'm not the only one with the issue. After some searching I found this http://www.ghostmill.net/?p=30. I gave Stanley UK a call to talk it through but although the person from Stanley was polite they knew nothing about the tool or any issues. I dropped Stanley USA a call too but they referred me back to the UK! I must admit the customer service here was poor. I was interested to know if the plane I have was an early version and the more recent ones are OK? Sadly nobody at Stanley wanted to engage in a conversation. Unlike the guy in the link I'm going to try and very carefully file away the shelf to allow lateral adjustment. Yes, I know, I should send it back but I don't want to save it from oblivion.
On a more pleasing note the blade is nice, my first time with A2. That stuff is hard! It comes from the factory sharp and ground at 25deg. This combined with the 12 deg bed gives a low angle of attack ideal for end grain. When alternative pitches are required a small secondary bevel is added or in the case of the QS you drop in another blade (ever get the feeling you backed the wrong horse)! I further honed the edge so it's on the same playing field as my other planes. Looking further into the future I'm not sure I'd want to maintain this blade without a powered grinder of some kind. The blade is so thick and hard trying to grind it by hand would be very boring. The adjustable mouth works very well indeed, it was easy to close the mouth up very very tight indeed or even closed. The only reason I mention that is some folks have had issues with closing the mouth. Much easier than adjusting a frog.
The lever cap has come in for some stick because it's made from Aluminium. I don't personally have an issue with this. The only potential problem could be with many, many ham fisted tightenings of the lever cap perhaps a thread could fail but personally I don't think that'll be a problem. If you own a 62 and have had a fail on the lever cap please drop a comment and let me know.
The Norris adjuster works well but has too much backlash. Once it engages it's very accurate and what lateral adjustment was on hand was easily set. So onto the fun stuff. I had some old sample blanks of worktop in Wenge, Zebrano, Bamboo and also some easy working European oak offcuts. I tried on end and long grain.
This was my first time with a Low Angle Jack and I rather like it! The tool feels well weighted and balanced when contrasted against my wooden, bailey and bedrock planes. The tote and knob seem fine and comfortable and feel well finished. Shavings were made easily on the long and end grain. The mouth was set really tight and light shaving only so surface quality was great. The easiest to plane was no surprise the Bamboo composite thingy and the European Oak, the hardest was the Wenge. The things that stand out more broady with this and other low angle planes is you can adjust the mouth without having to remove a blade and move a frog and in the Stanley's case and I'm sure the others too I found the norris adjuster more precise than the Bailey style.
Like I said these are first thoughts only but there is the basis for a good tool here. If Stanley had machined the bed width properly I would strongly recommend the tool to those on a tight budget. However all things considered if all these planes have a bed issue they would only be suitable for those on a tight budget and who are able to fettle their own tool. However with the poor customer service I would encourage those on a more modest budget to take a look at the QS 62 from Workshop Heaven . You will be sure of good service and an informed retailer. If Stanley want a part of the quality market staff training at the factory and at the customer point of contact will need to improve a lot.
Six Board Chest - Part 3Monday 5th May 2014
The more this project progresses the more I can see the attraction of simple furniture like this for the beginner or for those who need quick and durable items. In Part 3 the "Ends" receive a housing joint, notches cut to receive the front and back boards and also the shaped feet if you will. As you'll see in the video all of the stuff is really simple and needs only modest tools to get the job done.
To set out the housing joint I used the front board we rebated last time. I like setting out jobs using actual components where possible, it tends to avoid errors. Sure, it's not always practical but when the work allows it I do it. The shoulders of the housing are marked with a knife and the depth of the housing set to 8mm, just enough to give it some decent location. A wide chisel is then used to define the edge of the housing making it easy to saw the edges of the housing. To help with accurate sawing some people like to add a guide batten, if you're finding it tough to cut straight or you want to be extra sure on accuracy this might be a step you consider adding.
To remove the bulk of the waste from the housing I attack it with the bevel down. Forgive any awkwardness in the video, I'd normally come from both sides but I tried to speed the process up a bit! It's amazing how accurate you can be just doing this freehand. To finish up the housing use a hand router. In the video I'm using a wooden version. This is not really a preference, it's just nice to mix it up now and again. It might be fun to look at making one of these simple tools one day but they can be had so cheaply there would be little point doing so unless for the joy making your own tools.
If you recall on the design I'm following the front of the chest is set back to allow the fitting of a moulded plinth. I gauged the front 20mm and the back at 12mm (what was left after the rebating) which will allow the back to fit flush. I cut these very close to the make just allowing a small amount to tidy up. I normally cut this kind of thing on trestles so it was good to experiment cutting at the bench.
A bit of final paring was then done to refine the fit. I set the ogee in a loose freehand way using the waste from one half to set out the other half. I used a coping saw for the shaped cut. I prefer to use my coping saw on the pull stroke as the action of cutting adds tension to the blade. If you push is tends to slakken it. Truth be told I don't mind a bit how you use your coping saw, I just thought you might like to know how I use mine. Finishing up the shape is then a case of what you have at hand. Rasp, file, spokeshave, scrapes and sandpaper are all welcome and get you where you need to go. Just remember to work with the grain as I point out in the video, it makes using a spoke shave much easier.