Archive for June 2014
So you bought an Anant Handplane........Sunday 29th June 2014
Perhaps you didn’t but I did. I was lured into a promotion by a UK supplier who was offering them a big discount. I had been wondering if it’s still possible to buy a decent Bailey pattern handplane and on first glance the Anant looked promising
It arrived and my first impressions were no longer of promise. The finish was crude and rough. The main problem areas were handles that had big nibs in the finish, the sides of the frog casting were rough,lateral adjustment lever was also stiff with signs of rust around it’s union with the frog, the yoke or Y lever was a very cheaply made pressed to part affair. Also both the blade and cap iron had very deep grinding marks.
All of these problems can be sorted but for nearly £50.00 and comparing what other planes available it was disappointing. To contrast the Anant I have photographed it against a vintage Record No4.
I chose to ignore the poor finish on the handle, if I were to keep it and turn it into a regular user I would sand them back and treat with some boiled linseed oil for warmer feel. The sides of the frog were also ignored
I removed the blade and cap iron to check the position of the frog which needed a bit of adjustment to make it sit square. The frog retaining screws were pretty cheap and nasty. The blade and cap iron are both quite thick but needed significant work. I tried to remove the grinding marks on the fine side of my stone but it was taking too long so I turned the stone over and worked it on the coarse side which improved progress. I then honed and finished the cutting edge. The steel seemed ok, not really soft which looked promising.
The cap iron then needed work, as with the blade I had to revert to the coarse side of the stone to improve matters before moving onto the fine. I then put the whole thing back together for some trial cuts. I then noticed that I had to offset the blade within it’s gaping wide mouth to allow the lateral adjustment to work. Something was clearly not square, the frog and frog seating seemed the likely culprits but I decided to leave alone.
I set up to do some trial cuts on some European Oak and the plane performed OK. There was enough lateral adjustment left to enable a good set up and the surface finish left in the planes wake was also fine. Bearing in mind how long it took to get the plane working nicely and perhaps the further steps that would be desirable to improve thing further this was overall a poor performance. If the price point had been lower or the quality a little higher it might be worth considering but this is not a tool I would recommend. However if it does not able to sell this within my tool purge I will most likely keep it and take advantage of it’s big mouth and use it as a scrub plane or alternatively put it in the bin
Different Strokes for Different FolksFriday 20th June 2014
The cull of tools continues with nine items gone or in the process of going. None of the tools going are family owned tools, simply just items I have purchased to try out so I feel I'm well informed on what options are out there. I had a choice to make between these two chisels. Both excellent, not one of them would hold a woodworker back or limit them. So you are faced with a burning workshop and you can save only one chisel, which do you go for? Do you go for perfection, free from any blemish and an expression of the repeatable quality required to satisfy legitimate expectations? Or do you pick the one with imperfections, traces of the tool making process, blemishes and a bit of history? For me at this moment I save the imperfect.
When I'm at clients homes on surveys I have been asking permission to review pieces of furniture they own that appeals to me and what I'm looking for is the echo of the making. The overcut dovetail, the surface that is softened by the finishing process of the day and the simple methods and unfinished areas that are not seen by the owner of the furniture such as backs, bases and internal surfaces. I don't see those thing as mistakes, they are valid, appropriate and in no way reduce the quality of the piece. Of course this approach is not appropriate for all woodworking. If you like the perfect, you're drawn to exposed joinery and the like then those ways of working mentioned will clash.
Consider the image above, both chisels are pretty much identical in the key areas. However the transition from blade to ferrule on the Ashley Iles Mk 2 is perfect and has a beauty of it's own whereas the Ward & Payne is more crude. But I am drawn to that "crudeness", I welcome and embrace the contrast and accept it willingly. I can assure you the steel in both is of an equally fine quality and the balance and poise of each chisel is the same. But returning to the original point it's all down to which one you save? If both these items were for sale new today what would the popular press and the consumers say? As ever, I'm not trying to sway anyones view or to say that one is better than the other but it's surely good to reflect on what we perceive as perfect and if that perfect is better. And for the record I think the Ashley Iles Mk 2 is the best value fine bench chisel available today and this post is not a dig at the tool at all. But I had to save one, which one would you save?
Six Board ChestThursday 5th June 2014
It was a joy to get back to the bench yesterday evening and I enjoyed every precious second! Time was spent finishing up the steps I covered in Part 3 with the addition of smoothing the internal surfaces. All things being well I can start filming part four this weekend.
On a different note, during a recent family holiday I had time away from the bench and chance to reflect a little. Many projects came into my mind (as well and just enjoying the holiday), most of which will be pieces for home which enables killing of many birds with one stone. The only project I will not share is the garden shed! Heaven knows how I'm bored of that job :-). Nevertheless onward and upwards.
In the main part I avoid any kind of lifestyle preaching on this blog but I will share with you as video posted by Vic from the Tumblewood Creations Blog via a facebook post he made. It was a video that grabbed my attention and focussed my thoughts. Now I know it's bit much, yet another bloke with more ideas and he's not saying anything new or clever but I was ripe for the message. One thing I have done of late is try out various tools so I could be better informed writing this blog. And you know I do feel better informed but some of that stuff I bought has to go. This is the look of my work area just now. The tool chest is still there, just not in view.
After trying out the various offering out there I think these items perhaps make me the most happy. Simple, uncomplicated stuff. None of it's that great. Both the planes are at best late 19th early 20th century fare, same goes for the chisels. Please don't think I'm suggesting these are "better" or you should "only use these" or "craftspeople of yesterday blah, blah, blah". They just make me happy and that's all I want really. The first tools on it's way is a lovely Record No7. A wonderful tool. Did I use it and enjoy it regularly, nope, not nearly enough. It just sat there taking up space and giving me something else to look after. I bought a whole load of vintage Record stuff a while back, I thought (and they are) sexy as hell but I don't really have the space to keep them and they would be much better in someone elses hands to enjoy in whatever fashion they wish.
If all this sound like a copy and paste from Christopher Schwarz's book the "Anarchist's Tool Chest" and you'd be forgiven for thinking so (I did copy his tool chest design pretty closely and his version of traditional workbenches inspired me) you'd be wrong. I'm still yet to read it. Having the bench time yesterday evening made me realise fully that is what I want to do, not have a plethora of tools. One thing I urge you to do though is to ignore me, this is not a call to arms or a change your ways post, it's just about the evolving thoughts of my hobby woodworking. If you like owning a good few nice tools then continue to do so. Karl Hotley's recent block plane is a sure sign we all enjoy different aspects within woodworking.
So what was the point of this rather aimless post? Well just to check in and let you know I'm still here working on projects and a gentle reminder to stay happy. If your happy is buying some nice tools, or choice timber or restoring furniture and tools just keep doing it and doing it how you like it.