Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life.

Life in the Village and beyond, based around the interests of my life. Sunset at Telegraph Point.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

 Salvaging Abused Tools - Part 3 - Saving a Ward and Payne Firmer Chisel



OK, this lovely chisel has numerous problems.
A painted and abused blade, a beaten-to-death handle and a generous coating of rust to finish things off.

What did I see in it?

Well, it was made by Ward and Payne of Sheffield England.
As an old craftsman once said to me - "..... it is hard to find a bad chisel out of Sheffield over the period 1850-1950, but Ward and Payne were among the crown jewels of the best of British steel ....."

It is certainly worth restoring.

First, clean up the blade - brass wire wheel to the rescue again.
No pitting - Hooray!


The old handle was in pieces and being held together by a pair of nails.
Since this chisel will become a wide paring chisel, I will add a handle longer than normal.
It will use the existing brass ferule - and I'll round over the end to comfortably fit the palm.
It will never again be struck with a hammer, and rarely with a mallet.
I want it to complement my other parers which are handled in Japanese red oak. The closest that I have is American white oak.


The blade is in need of a re-grind. The current bevel sits at around 36 degrees - far too steep for paring.
I have established a new bevel at about 25 degrees finished.

The steel is hard, This is evident in the grinding process. It sings at a higher pitch on the grinder, and took noticeably longer to grind than the Titan that I did recently.

The back shows a convex profile, so some flattening on the stones will be necessary - a tedious job with harder steel, but worth it.


Here it is part way done - still plenty to do.



The finished flattened back. It is completely flat at the cutting edge and will continue to flatten with further sharpening in use.


Here is the finished bevel and micro bevel - very close to 25 degrees now.


It pares very nicely and the handle fits my hand well.


All in all it is an excellent tool, and will complement my other paring chisels very nicely. Its extra width will be a bonus for larger joints.
Well worth the effort of bringing it back into use.













Friday, November 5, 2021

 Salvaging Abused Tools Part 2 - Saving an Early Titan Firmer Chisel


This Titan firmer chisel was made in Tasmania some time after World War II - most likely in the early 1950's

It is a 1-1/2 inch Titan Firmer Tang Chisel with plain straight edges and wooden handle - one of their earliest designs.

This design very closely resembles that of a Ward and Payne from around the same period, and it may have used the English chisel as inspiration.

Ward and Payne Sheffield

I like this style because of the comparative thinness of the blade compared to the registered firmer types, and the straight edges are an aid to paring square joints.

In the 1951 McPherson's Catalogue, this chisel cost 8/-8d.......... eight shillings and eight pence.

If my maths is correct - and adjusted to average weekly earnings and inflation, that would be about $65 in today's money. So, enough to make you think carefully about putting a set of these together

I happily paid $15 for it in its current condition. Why? Because the blade is almost full length in spite of the added skew, and it is almost unmarked. The handle is another matter entirely.


Titan Tasmania Australia

The angle of the picture doesn't show it well, but there is a skew across the blade of around 1/4 inch from one side to the other. Note that the back of the blade shows the original factory grind marks and no pitting - a huge plus.


This is a better view of the back of the blade - the factory grind is quite apparent here - as is the added back bevel !!!! Why do people insist on ruining a cutting edge like this?


This side view shows the back bevel more easily. Note how clean the edges are. It is not uncommon in chisels of this age to find dents, pits and burrs along edges. This one is very straight - almost original.

So the blade is what excited me in the first place.  The handle, however, is very sad indeed.


It has been pounded with a steel hammer and badly split. Here you can see the circular imprints of the hammer head. The damage is severe.


A whole billet has been struck from one side of the handle - and is lost.


The rest of the handle is fractured along multiple axes. It is beyond repair, and a new handle will have to be made. Fortunately, the ferule is intact and can be re-used.


I won't be able to turn a new handle until I visit the Guild workshop, so I will work on the blade in the meantime.  The skew and back bevel need to be removed - cooling often in water while grinding - so as not to affect the temper of the steel.


Once the blade is ground back to square, I established a new bevel. I chose approximately 26 degrees - which with a further microbevel will finish close to 30 degrees. Note that the skew grind that I inherited here has left a small part of itself behind when the new bevel was established - this will eventually disappear as the chisel is re-sharpened after each use.  Currently it is only cosmetic.


Next step is to flatten the back of the blade.
This was a chore!
Here it is after about an hour and a half on the stones, and not finished yet.
This blade is the exact opposite of a good Japanese bench chisel which has a concave back.
This one is convex, and needed a mountain of work to get it to this stage..
What shows up clearly here are the original factory grind marks, this chisel has never been flattened before. The steel is good - I can't wait to use it.


Along with the back flattening, the new bevel needs sharpening. This is a fairly simple passage through the stone grits to final polish on a hard arkansas stone. - Yes I still use oil stones.


Here is the back nearly finished. I ran out of steam at this stage, but there isn't too far to go.

Next - the handle.

I found a piece of osage orange that will suit.
It is hard and dense and finishes nicely.


Osage orange is native to the United States and it grows as an exotic on the northern tablelands of NSW.
A good friend gave me a couple of pieces.


It turns easily and finishes well off the turning chisel.
The existing ferule can be re-used and has been nicely made, with a tapered end to lead onto the handle.


Certainly a huge improvement over the poor battered original.
It will also take a mallet without splitting so promises to be practical as well as beautiful.


The finished chisel will earn its keep and look good in the tool chest.





























Monday, November 1, 2021

 Salvaging Abused Tools - Saving Classic Chisels

Some people should never own quality tools, as they are unworthy of them.

Case in point:

Three chisels came my way over recent times and begged for a chance to perform again to their full potential. These all have proud pedigrees - William Marples and Sons & Ward and Payne of Sheffield - and our very own Titan from Tasmania

Looking at them - their current state is an offence to the artisans who crafted these tools, and to everyone who used and cared for them over the course of their lives.

Let's start with the Marples.


It once was a two inch wide fine bladed joinery chisel, suitable for taking the finest of shaving cuts from tenons and lap joints and the like. It shows an extremely fine cross-section, and it wears a brass ferrule - signs of a premium tool.

It has been reduced to a much abused putty knife and paint tin opener.


A survey of the damage brings a tear to the eye. The whole chisel is coated with paint and putty residue.
The corner of the blade has been broken off - presumably from said paint tin lid.


The edge of the blade shows a pronounced back bevel - hopefully there is no pitting under the paint. We'll see how flat it is as well.


The handle is a mess.
It has been pounded with a hammer to the point of splitting and fibre destruction.


A whole billet has been sheared off the side and was re-attached with small nails.


A small billet is missing from the other side as well.

In spite of all of this, I am going to try to preserve the factory ash handle, as it has an imprint of the original owner - one W. H. Miles. Clearly this was not the same person who abused the tool, as the name stamp denotes pride in ownership. I think he would be heartbroken to see it now.


The Restoration

I've started by removing the paint, scale and rust from the blade.
A brass-wire buffing wheel works well.


The blade needed squaring again, and this involved removing about 3/16inch to get rid of the broken corner.
The bevel for the blade was also too shallow at about 15 degrees, and in re-grinding I tried to establish a 21 degree bevel that would finish at about 25 degrees with a secondary bevel. This is somewhat more shallow than standard bench chisels, but not for paring chisels, which this is meant to be.
The cutting edge won't degrade so quickly as would the old 15 degree bevel.


The regrinding also removed the back bevel - enabling easier flattening of the back.
The flattening shows a hollow behind the leading edge, but this will disappear with continued sharpening. It could be that the chisel was used as a lever in the past and this has imparted a slight bend to the blade, but it isn't an insurmountable problem.
The back shows some pitting, but it is a long way back from the cutting edge - closer to the tang than to the toe. 


To show the fineness of the blade, here it is between a standard Japanese bench chisel - Oire Nomi - and a standard bench chisel by Erik Anton Berg - itself sometimes considered a paring chisel.
The extremely fine cross section and slim taper are apparent.

This chisel has decades of life still left ahead of it.


The handle I have spent some time on. The billet and its cavity were cleaned and re-glued with two part epoxy. The nail holes filled with glue and provide a set of tiny keys now that they are dry.
The handle was rounded to remove the crushed wood fibres, and so provide a comfortable grip for the palm. In the unlikely event that this will ever be struck, I will only be using a wooden mallet.  Most often this will be used as a paring chisel, so hand use only.
A clean, and a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil diluted with turps, and we're good to go.


The proof of the pudding is in the paring.
This lovely old chisel really sings. It is nearing a century in age, and is good for another hundred years at least.

I'll show updates on the Ward and the Titan as they happen.
Happy shavings to all..................





















Sunday, October 24, 2021

 Making a Fishtail Chisel - Bachi Nomi Style.

Well the title may be a little pretentious, as this chisel will not be a beautiful laminated white paper steel work of art, but it will resemble the bachi-nomi in shape,  and function.

Fishtail chisels are extremely useful in getting into tight angles - mortices and dovetails, as well as cleaning out the corners of butterfly inlay. See here:

Butterfly Inlay

For cleaning up the pins in half-blind dovetails, they are essential.


For the butterfly inlay mentioned above, I used a workshop made skew chisel, which worked well enough, but was not ideal.

I wanted a chisel in the Bachi Nomi style, something like this one from Japanese Tools Australia

I dug around in my old chisel drawer and found a couple of fine bladed chisels that would suffice.
One is a much used Alex Mathieson made in Glasgow, the other a Robert Sorby, made in Sheffield.


Both have excellent steel.


The first task was to mark out the edges of the chisels to be removed. I did this on the back where the steel was uniformly flat.


I ground these back on a bench grinder, making sure I did not allow heat build up in the steel that might change its temper. Constant cooling in water is a sensible precaution.


Once the shape had been established, I ground back the edges to re-establish the side bevels - sometimes called the lands.


I was careful to leave the backs flat, but a wire edge developed along each edge on the back side during grinding, and had to be gently taken off to prevent cutting of fingers in use.


The cutting bevel was carefully checked and re-worked a little to get a slightly lower angle, and each chisel sharpened.


Here they are with my dovetail chisels. (Blue Spruce and Shinogi Nomi)
I have the feeling that the larger one is going to be the most useful for its more angled blade, but time will tell.

Until next time - happy shavings to all........................
















 Building a Small Chest of Drawers - Part 4 - Butterflies and Cracks

The silky oak that I have managed to find for the chest of drawers isn't without its imperfections.

Both pieces that I have available for the sides of the carcass have drying/seasoning cracks that need attention before I can proceed.

I decided to add a butterfly check to each of them on the inside of the carcass where they will not be seen.

First step is to cut out a butterfly using a piece of long grain timber. Offcuts from the silky oak will do nicely, as they won't be seen.


Use the butterfly as a template, and draw its position across the crack.


I use a sharp chisel to score just inside the lines. I will work back to these and then pare down to final size.


I start in the middle and work my way to the outsides.


Sharp chisels are a must. A skew chisel helps to get into the acute angles of the corners. A fishtail chisel would also work well, and might even be a better choice - I'll make one for next time. Sneak up on the sides, and do several trial fits until the butterfly fits perfectly.


To get the depth exact, and to establish a perfectly flat floor for gluing, a small router plane is ideal. This one is made by Lee Valley, but there are plenty of others now available in the marketplace.


Glue, clamp and leave to dry.
After the glue has set, simply plane the proud timber back to level with the surface.
The crack is now checked, and placed where it will be out of sight.

Until next time ........... when I'll outline how to make a fishtail (bachi-nomi style) chisel
..........................happy shavings to all.