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.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pre-Owned and Pre-Loved

Since my last post, I have been asked many times where did I find the pre-loved tools that I use.  I would love to be able to say that they were passed down through my father.  Sadly, I only have his hand saw - a Warranted Superior 26 inch 8 point cross cut. It is very much like a D-8 and was probably made by Disston.  And I love using it.

Others, I have found in all sorts of places.  Garage and boot sales, Sunday Markets,  second hand and bric-a-brac stores, online and other auctions - to name a few.

It helps enormously to have a working knowledge of hand tools before looking.  Familiar names of quality tool makers, and the styles of their construction are a walk up start.  Often you can recognise a quality nameless tool because of its obvious parentage.

Here is a little gem that I found today - pre-owned but definitely not pre-loved.

Sad, isn't it.  If you saw it on the street you would probably step over it.  But .......  made by Robert Sorby, and in a useful and rare size 1-3/4 inches wide, this chisel was worth trying to save.

First step was to get rid of the rust and scale, and see what damage to the steel lurked beneath.

Hmmm ... lots of pitting to both sides.  Pitting on the top is ugly and deep - but is only cosmetic, pitting on the bottom is a real problem.  At this stage, the back is so bad that only the bottom half will be given help, as this is where all the cutting action will take place.


The pitting is quite deep here, and to hand flatten this would take days.  I used an electric linisher with quite coarse grit to begin the flattening, keeping the blade cool during the process so as not to affect the temper of the steel.

Here is the back of the blade after  introducing it to the linisher.  A big improvement, but the scoring from the coarse grit now needs to be removed. Also, the cutting edge has been radiused in the past for some reason and has a distinct roundness.  I don't want this rounding, and will grind the edge back to square.  This will necessitate re-grinding the bevel as well.                                                Many modern woodworkers now approach the back flattening, by working their way through four, five or even six ever-finer grits.
I don't believe that this would have been the practice for craftsmen in the era of these tools.  It simply would have taken too long, and I'm not even sure that such a range of grinding grits was available to them in any case.

 I am using only two stones.  The first is a commonly available at any hardware store combination oil stone - coarse/fine.  First, the coarse side.  This is used to begin removing the linisher lines and also to shape the bevel.

 Next, the finer of the two sides of the stone.  To lubricate, I use a kerosene/oil mix of around 5/1. Works well for me, and doesn't clog the stone.  

Once again I work on the back and the bevel, but this time I add a micro bevel. I have become accustomed to the position of my hand and wrist relative to the stone when doing this, and I do it now from muscle memory without checking.  I guess this is the benefit from hand sharpening a few thousand times over the last forty years.  It would be an advantage to anyone starting out to use a bevel guide.

Finally, I use a very fine white arkansas stone that was passed down to me from my wife's father.  It is very hard and very fine.  Same lubrication as before.
And that's it.  The blade is good enough to use and will cut well.

Of course the chisel needs a handle, and this piece of local Eucalypt will be suitable.  I don't know what species - maybe white mahogany, but it is sturdy timber and I know it will turn well.   I'll have to leave that until another day.  

This same process can be followed in resurrecting all chisels.  Saws and planes are another matter, and I'll address those in the near future.

Happy woodworking to all.


  1. Nice save Tom. Plenty of years left in that one.

  2. Hi, I just read your comments (only a year and a bit late)about cleaning oil stones with a 5:1 Kero: oil mix and wiping them clean. I thought you may be interested in a system I use with oil stones that is very simple and almost self cleaning.
    I have my stones in a stainless steel tray with a lid ( apyrex dish would also work). I have placed a 1" thick piece of appolstery foam in the bottom and saturate the foam with kero/oil mix until the stones makes a squishing sound when pushed into the foam.
    After using the stones place them on the foam and push them down into the foam 5 or 6 times and the ground metal and crud is "sucked" out of the stone and into the foam. The foams open structure allows the crud to pass through it to the bottom of the container.The stone are incredably clean and ready for immediate use when taken from the container.
    The foam does not deterioate (well not in the 12 or 15 years I have been using it)and the system just needs an occasional kero/oil top up and a once a year wipe out of the metal/crud mix. I am always amazed by just how well it cleans the stones and how clean it makes an inherently messy process. I hope this is of some interest to you.

  3. Thanks Jeff.
    Sounds like a great system.
    Can't wait to give it a try.