We’ve got warp-age

I haven’t gotten back to the school box from class, so while I was getting my basement shop prep’ed for Hurricane Irene, I noticed that the top had decided to move a little after being in its new home.

He’s smiling at me!

Guess I’ll have to flatten the top a bit before attaching the small molding all the way around.

Spicer’s Tool Auction, RI, Aug 2011

After working California hours most of the week (12-9 eastern), I still planned to go to the Spicer Tool Auction held at the Masonic Lodge in N. Kingstown RI.  One of my neighbors works an early shift because around 2:30 AM he/she started up their car to let it warm up.  Now, its August, and warming up your car is really not necessary in CT during August, but apparently in Norwich it is, esp if you are missing your muffler and most of your tailpipe.  The way my house is situated, I am a good 30-4o feet higher than my neighbors behind me and noise seems to travel straight up.  Needless to say, I whacked the snooze on my alarm a few times before rising.

Rhode Island needs some help.  Instructions on how to work a pavement machine would be a good place to start.  Rt 165 in RI looked like the landing zone for the NASA Mars 96 probe, after it crashed, all the way from the CT border to RI 3.  I guess that is one good thing going for CT–“Hey, we’re not as bad as Rhode Island”.

I’ve never been to one of these tool auctions before and wasn’t real sure what to expect.  Basically there are people set up outside the lodge selling their tools (some quite nice), and then all the lots are displayed inside for your perusal.  One my classmates from the H&H class set himself up outside with quite a few planes and chisels.  I had arranged to swap greenish Fed paper for some auger bits and I also picked up one of his Stanley 4 1/2, just because.

Inside the tools were in different lots either by themselves or bundled with other similar items (machinist tools, side-bead planes, etc).  You sign up in their system if it is your first time, get an auction number and a listing of lots.  I didn’t come prepared and didn’t have any reference material or even a pen, though I did scavenge in my car for a mechanical pencil.  I decided not to bid on things I didn’t have a clue about, like many of the molding planes.  I did, however, start up a conversation with one of the vendors out in the lot and it turns out he and another fellow co-wrote an article on a local 19th C. plane maker, J Denison.  I have a side-bead, which is one of the first wooden planes I bought (on fleabay).  He was kind enough to track down the author of a book on ID’ing wooden American plane makers, so I got a signed copy for future reference.  “A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes” by Emil & Martyl Pollak, 4th ed revised by Thomas L Elliott (the nice man I met).  I found info on some of my other planes, included one that is apparently very rare (***), a J & W Webb Plow Plane.

I had a hankering for coffin smoothers, having never owned one, so I checked out the few in the auction.  I bid on four of them and won two, neither of which anyone else bid on.  They might need a little work on the soles, but otherwise I guess they weren’t rare enough (one had no maker’s mark) or interesting enough to bother with.  I left around noon, but the auction was still going on at that point–they were at about lot 390 out 700+ lots.  Bumpity-bumpity, I made my way back to Norwich.

My first win was this cool, old tool chest, listed as “11 drawer patternmakers-type chest”.  I need some small tool storage, esp for all my specialized guitar tools, and while making one is always an option, sometimes you find a nice old chest that few other people were interested in.  I’m not sure I could buy the wood for what I paid for it.  It did not come with a key, so I’ll likely have to change the lock or perhaps just add a little leather pull on the right side–you can see some damage as a prev owner likely used a thin screw driver to pry it open.  Thanks to the auction goer who reminded me I forgot the front-cover to this chest, just as I was starting to leave.  I didn’t even see it.  Auction noob.

Oh yes, we have storage.

And it’s gen-u-ine.

My next win was a repaired brass, infill type shoulder plane.  I bid on a few other items but they got above my personal cheap-o-meter.  I do wish I had raised my hand on a pair of toothing planes, which went for $60, but oh well.  I took a few test cuts when I got this home and the repair seems to not have impacted its performance.  Should be a good user and few others were interested, so I got it at a decent price.  No makers mark that I could find.

I got a decent New England coffin-shaped smoother.  Apparently no one else was interested and I was the only bidder.  Maybe they know something I don’t, but if nothing else it will be a fun future project tightening up the mouth or maybe adding some purple heart to the sole. E. Smith Rehoboth (MA) 1823-1849.  I like the fact that it is older than my house (1850).

Maker’s mark of “E. Smitth Warranted Rehoboth”.

I sense a mouth patch in your future Mr Warranted.

This next one had no makers mark, and is listed as a “handled 9″ rosewood smooth plane with a beech wedge”.  The blade and cap iron are both British, so I wonder if it might be a cross-pond import.  A previous owner looks like they decided to lacquer it (I can see the sags in the finish), so it might need some cleaning up.  I sharpened it up after getting it home and it will need some fettling still to take nice shavings, plus there is some operator experience that needs to be built up.  I seem to recall reading someplace (Bernard Jones, “The Complete Woodworker” maybe?) that these handled smoothers were often found in manual training schools.  Again no one else was interested, and I was the only bidder.

Stamp on the iron, “W. Marples & Sons Hibernia Warranted Cast Steel”.

And the cap iron, “John Hearnshaw Sheffield”, possibly with some missing bits in the imprint.

Looks dashing.  If it can’t make itself into a decent smoothing plane, it might look nice in a Krenov-style display case in my house.

And my final conquest of the day, though I think it came before either smoother, which I bought strictly to own and bring to another Christopher Schwarz class: a Starrett micrometer.  It is in a nice case and seems in good condition, but I honestly don’t even know how to use one.  But after about 4 or 5 other micrometers in a row, no one else was interested, so as a gag, I picked it up.

I had fun and wish I had allocated a bit more $$$ for some of the nicer tools.  There were several that looking back on it, I wish I had decided to leave my yankee cheapness behind.  A nice Norris handled infill smoother, a Spiers infill panel plane, and a J. Denison rosewood plow plane, each of which went for 200-300 from what I recall.

The big ticket item when I was there?  A Jon Ballou Yankee-style plow.  He was one of the first plane makers in Providence RI, and operated from 1751-1769, extremely rare (****).  $2600 was the last bid I heard.

Moxon Vise, revisited

The Moxon double-screw vise we made for the “By Hammer and Hand” class worked great, but since we didn’t have a chance to apply any finish to it, the maple got a bit dingy as a result of the classwork.

So when I got it home, I decided to clean it up a little and apply a very basic finish to it, Watco Danish Oil.  A few hand plane swipes on the front and rear chop took care of most of the grubbiness, but I think my sweat got a bit soaked in (yeah, not so pleasant, I know), so I couldn’t get it all out.  With a block plane, I relieved the corners very slightly so that the edges were not as sharp.  I then applied a single coat of danish oil with a 3M gray pad, rubbing like it was Aladdin’s lamp, and let it soak in for a while. Remove the excess.  Hang up rag to dry.  Come back a few hours later and feel the silky smoothness.

The handles, as you might expect, showed the most wear.  I used a sharp card scraper and got most of the filth and muck off. Before:


And the entire assembly with a coat of danish oil.  I also put some paste wax on the screw threads.  Looking at this photo, I think I might also put some finish on the back chop from the screw threads out.  Seems kind of bare and grub-i-fied.

Now I just need to find a thin leather piece to glue (hide glue, of course) to the back chop…

BTW you can see a purple heart piece in the bottom-right background that I bought off this crazed ‘retiring luthier’ that came by the back of the woodworking school (he was maybe 30.  Early retirement I guess).  He was a bizarre fellow, and every piece of wood he had was ‘hundreds or thousands’ of years old.  Not sure what I’ll do with it, maybe rip some pieces and make some purty winding sticks.  Strictly so I don’t get banished to the Isle of Misfit Woodworkers for my milk paint and shellac winding sticks–the ones that look like I used them to scrape off my boots after tromping through a pasture.