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Thread: How a Chisel made me think

  1. #1
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    How a Chisel made me think

    This pdf is devoted to all those who have spent time battling with old tools to get them working.

    Not just planes or chisels a few thoughts and some links to wisdom.

    Hope you enjoy its in the interest of contributing to the debate.

    See the pdf attached or read on and you will find the PDF contents in post 6 and 7.

    Would love all to share their own experiences or link in this thread to posts they have done on battling old tools or substandard tools.
    Last edited by Rob Keeble; 02-14-2011 at 02:53 AM.
    cheers

  2. #2
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    Thanks Rob. That was great.
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  3. #3
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    Alot of info there rob that website was very enlighting..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
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    Rob, writing your postings offline and presenting them as a pdf does not foster conversation in my mind. Because your post is in another format and not readily quotable, I don't think you will get people taking the time to respond and that is a shame because you have many good points for comment in your pdf. The result I am afraid will be a one way dialog. Please reconsider writing then posting as a PDF. I would reserve a PDF to a tutorial style of posting.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Rob. I have to agree with Bil, though. The PDF format is perfect for tutorials or similar non-discussion topics, but this article (a good one, BTW) could more easily serve as a catalyst for the discussion I suspect you were hoping to generate if it was in quotable text.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
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    Yeah I realize but do you really think it will stand up as a long post.?

    I will give it a try.

    How a Chisel made me think

    By The woodchip philosopher



    Yeah it’s me again still at it with the old chisels. This is somewhat a sequel to my previous experience I documented here and somewhat a move forward to other items you can find here.

    So yesterday after a real humdinger with my son over making him get up and come with me to help out at his football club storage facility, I was not exactly in the mood for fine woodworking. Luckily I am still on my chisel sharpening mission but a series of events that occurred led me to thinking about some things which led to me sharing these thoughts in this post.

    So here goes.

    The issue is after having proven to myself along with the reading of the wise words of Mr. Leonard Lee, I settled on a bevel angle of 30 degrees or higher for my Dads old WW2 chisels. But I still was not happy.

    Why? These were Sorby chisels. Supposedly an acclaimed manufacturer. What’s more we talking tapered steel and in some cases I believe after some research forged steel.

    What led me to this conclusion is the testing. See I feel its worthless to acquire tools of this kind, spend the time to sharpen and tune them (as in the case of plane) and then not knock around with them on various woods. I have proven this model well and as documented previously it paid off specifically in the case of my chisels.

    So when I returned to sharpening having secured the 30 degree bevel on the previous 11/4 inch chisel I decided to try it out in a piece of cherry as opposed to trying to shave end grain red oak. Well I thought I would try to cut a mortise since these are essentially mortise chisels. Now yes I know if we going to do that we want to hog out the center with a drill or some other device that will achieve rapid removal, but in my case I aint looking at making a huge mortise rather just getting a feel for how this baby will cut and where and when I am going to use the darn thing. Otherwise it might as well be an ornament and not take up space in my draws.

    Well although the edge stood up, the issue was that cutting into the wood was tough going. This got me to thinking something aint right here. If it cannot be used in a low angle without breaking down the edge and it aint going to do much damage without real heavy mallet blows, then how the heck am I going to get use out of it. I decided this probably had to do with its width so resorted to doing something else. I picked up a 7/8th inch version of the set, which was in line for sharpening to the final decided angle and which at the time had a 25degree bevel on it. Instead of regrinding I decided to see if this chisel suffered from the same problem because there is the possibility that the steel in the one has lost its tempering and that could be adding to the problem or the steel has been tempered but incorrectly and is so brittle.

    Ok so on to lapping the rear and then redoing the bevel using my now decided method with sandpaper and granite slab.

    Then onto doing the red oak end grain test and….wait for it sure enough the edge failed in the same or similar way. So I sharpened again and tried it out on some other wood all to no avail. Now I was stymied. What’s the point of this heirloom.

    Then I stopped and sat down and thought but this is crazy when my Dad was in the Royal Navy, the decks of the battleships were made of wood. In fact he got to Boston during the war specifically as part of a refit undertaken during the war to change the decks out to steel. See if they fired the 9 sixteen inch guns on his battleships the deck buckled under the recoil so they were limited in how they had to be positioned to do this mass firing.

    The kind of wood used in those applications that is going to stand up to all the abuse and have strength etc aint going to be soft pine. So if they were to use these chisels for anything (and I was now beginning to think these were recreational tools) then they would have to carry their edge.

    So with that I closed the shop and came to the computer to do some research.

    I started with Robert Sorbys site and frankly even if I won the lotto I would not buy their chisels and I don’t care how good they are, its now a spinny tool company and flat workers would be advised to stay clear. Why? I could not find a darn thing about the bevel angle or squat about old chisels on their site. They sure have a ton of stuff about their great pedigree but they need to wake up if they going to sell to flat workers on more than a reputation after my experiences with their old tools.

    So I started a search and the fine woodworking blog of someone popped up with the very issue. Phew I was relieved. I was not the only one experiencing this issue. Many others had the same problem described as if I was doing the writing.

    Turns out the solution is pretty easy and yet I have not read it mentioned before so this was the first point that led me to write up my experience on our forum.

    First you grind the traditional 25 degree and then you go an put a second bevel on the front edge by honing a 30 or even better 35 degrees angle and in some cases even higher depending on the wood. So today given I have the full day in the shop I am off to try it out.

    First though I thought I would share this and a further site here for some of you to ponder because the subject has raised its head a number of times recently.
    cheers

  7. #7
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    Continued from previous post

    OLD TOOLS.

    I am I have decided a romantic in terms of woodworking. I like old tools and like to think about the old days and how the guys worked with these tools and challenge myself to see if as a new modern generation I am up to the task of using them. Are we better and more evolved version of our species is what I am interested in. Have we learnt anything?

    My answer thus far is darn sure we have and darn sure we are.

    Steel for one thing has come along way. And you only need to examine the LV and LN planes and tools to recognize that.

    Even so I have wrestled with the aspect of paying these prices regardless of whether I have the money and like others and Jim Bradley summed up my feelings in his post the other day.

    But I also had an offline chat with another friend that prompted me to share this site I came across because for newbie’s like I am in woodworking and for hobbyists I feel it is so easy to end up loosing out and being put off a hobby which has more complexity to it that just holding a controller and pushing buttons and killing imaginary figures repeatedly, by the fact that they never succeed at some of the basic stuff. Fine if you have the determination or luck or got a kick start at school or in dads shop but what if you did not as many ladies might have experienced of our generation (guys around 50). Shop in my school was guys subject, and at home girls typically never entered Dads shop unless it was to bring him a cup of tea and sandwich or piece of cake.

    So imagine being challenged financially yet wanting to get into woodworking. You lurk on a few pages on the internet or you go out and by based on price alone some either old or really cheap woodworking tools. ( where does not matter). Thinking you will “tune up that plane” or sharpen up those old chisels as some of us have undertaken to do and save your pennies in favor of “sweat equity”.

    If you have the inclination and tenacity maybe just maybe you succeed. Some might say if you don’t have this characteristic you aint going to succeed in other parts of woodworking so the tools might as well be your filter. But in my learning experiences success in small steps early on leads to greater interest and more desire to tackle the bigger things. It builds confidence. Not everyone can just be thrown in the deep end and expected to swim. Not everyone will work their way through a puzzle like I am doing.

    So check out this guys site, it does have some ambiguity in my view, but I am trying not to be nit picky because I think there is a good lot of real worthwhile messages in his site and its more than just buying decent tools with recommendations from him and why. It’s even deeper to realizing that even the best toolmakers like a LV or LN make mistakes at times and even have an odd defect that slips through.

    For those that want the easy take on this the bottom line is don’t buy old tools until you have got into the woodworking and are well on the way to understanding what you doing.
    You could well find yourself being discourage for no fault of your own but lots of fault to the manufacturers of junk tools.

    We have had lots of posts say in the past month at least of even guys with experience of many years struggling with an old plane to find that parts on it were not even all from the same model or wanting to force fit obtaining endorsement to buy a “branded new plane” when the stream of advice is flowing in the other direction.

    If you like me enjoy a challenge well continue on and swim upstream but at least know this you have been warned of the downside potential.

    Last point in this post, for a hobbyist at some point you have to put a value to your time. I don’t mean an earning income value but a weighting of how precious the time is you get in the midst of our busy lives, to spend on woodworking. Were it not for the fact that these chisels are heirlooms handed down and of the origin they are, I would have tossed them out or relegated them to display to remind me not to mess with things that aint worth it.

    Yeah I have learnt a lot in my quest, but as Bob Gibson said the other day output is also nice. I would like to get back to finishing some of my many projects I have started and been diverted to because my tools were not up to scratch to use when I needed them.

    This point does not only apply to chisels and planes by the way, Carols book on routers comes immediately to mind in as far as selection of router bits and Vaughn cutting some fine consistent wood strips of accurately and repeatedly with his Incra fence fitted to a Rigid table saw also comes to mind off hand. Then take Charlies honest article on his site of his experiences with various dust collection solutions. Do you see the pattern I see here?

    I see another point here for a further thread but I will save that for another time I am off to the shop now.

    Enjoy the day.

    Ok so since I did and it’s Sunday you all can now continue to Fess up to your own tribulations in this department.
    cheers

  8. #8
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    Ok just in having a break so another issue popped up with these old chisels.

    The English dude with his site recommending tools in the previous post of mine talked of these chisels being banana shaped.

    Boy is he ever right. I been working on the whole bunch this afternoon and now i know why i had issues previously trying to lap them. Thank goodness i did the research last night it was all so so helpful. Why Sorbeys has not got a section of their site dealing with this and why they expect people to phone in to get this advice beats me. All i know is they off my list now, pedigree or no pedigree my street special dogs were always better than pedigree anyhow.

    Just another update put the secondary high bevel into the troublesome chisel and what a dream what a different tool. Now i just go so many to do and when you discover the banana bend boy it takes some work to get the back straight.

    At least the Japanese make theirs concave just goes to show there is more to some of their tools than meets the eye. So much for empire.
    cheers

  9. #9
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    Hi,

    I received an error message, "Error in file, could not post document."

    Didn't get to Enjoy,

    Jim
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim C Bradley View Post
    Hi,

    I received an error message, "Error in file, could not post document."

    Didn't get to Enjoy,

    Jim
    Jim, based on this and the fact you were only seeing a blank page on another recent PDF file, I'm guessing something broke in the Adobe Reader software installed on your computer. You might try uninstalling Adobe Reader, then going to the Adobe site and downloading the most recent version.

    Or...you could just wait for that computer genius son of yours to drop by and fix it for you. Heck, maybe even Glenn could do it.

    By the way, Rob posted the contents of the PDF file in posts #6 and #7 above yours, so the text you're seeing here is the same as if you have been able to open the file.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

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