Sunday, 31 January 2016


I went into the shop this morning to start a day of work. I opened my plane cabinet and noticed a shoulder plane with rust on it. When I looked closer it was covered in rust despite me always oiling them (or thinking I do!) when I put them away. Then looking at all the other planes they too had a thin layer of rust albeit a little less severe on them. So out came the sandpaper, WD40 and Boeshield T9. Two hours later they were back to normal.

It appears that over the last few days humidity and external temperatures had deviated quite a lot in England. I remember going into the shop at the start of the week, opening the plane cabinet and seeing my breath inside. The shop heating was on but wasn't at full temperature. I thought nothing of it at the time and all tools were fine. The plane cabinet is fairly airtight but me opening the cabinet let in the moist air from the shop and the resulting formation of rust over the next couple of days ate at the tools while I was out of the shop.

I have some silica gel packets that are in all closed compartments/drawers in the shop but they needed recharging (been in a year or so). I put them in the oven for 30 minutes at about 100C (212F) and have put a bunch back into the cabinet.

Ironically of all the tools like chisels, saws etc. that I have in a open tool rack exposed to the air of the shop, none of them have rusted at all! So much for a "protective" tool cabinet!

So just to underline - Please DO oil any steel tools or cast iron before putting them away.

A nice pair... of saws

I was recently browsing a vintage tools website and came across these two beauties. I couldn't resist them so bought them. They were the not unreasonable £45 + shipping each.

CT Skelton small saw

The first is made in Sheffield by the CT Skelton company. It's a short panel saw 18" long with UK 8TPI. I'm not sure of the date but know they made saws from 1879 to 1953. My money is on the more recent date.

A slight amount of damage to the top horn of the beech handle

Monday, 25 January 2016

Veritas Bar Gauge Heads - Review

This is a simple but well made idea. In the past I have strapped a couple of lengths of thin scrap together to make what is essentially a variable length comparator stick. I would normally use a little blue tape to hold the two sticks together. This is cheap and works really well but Veritas came up with this simple idea a few years ago.
Each head is a circular billet of aluminium with a rectangular hole machined in the side. This part has been black anodised. There is a turned brass knob in the top of one of the clamps. Both heads are secured to their respective timbers with brass machine screws.

Like most items from Lee Valley Veritas the item is very well engineered and finished. They simply clamp two pieces of wood 3/4" wide x 1/4" thick against each other. The below photos are from pictures available on the internet (my camera is away for repair!)

In practice you make two 1/4" thick x 3/4" wide sections of wood whatever length you want. Cut a point on one end of each piece. Then slide the pieces into two of the clamp heads and tighten both screws. Each point should face away from each other. Then to use you simply loosen the screws and slide the wooden lengths so they fit inside what you are measuring. It is great for comparing across corners of a drawer, casework, cabinetry etc to square for squareness.

Also you drill an 1/8" diameter hole about 1" from the stub end of one and the pointed end of another. In the holes you simply screw some brass threaded pins (supplied) and you can cover all internal dimensions from about 1/2" to just slightly less than the length of the gauge.
So the gauge essentially has a capacity from 1/2" to the extended length of the bar. Very impressive and a very simple, effective solution.

View showing clamp heads

Using the threaded pins

What is in the box

I made mine from a few pieces of scrap beech and oak I had lying around in the shop. I made two sizes, 1 pair at 19" long. 1 pair at 30" long. This covers most of the case work I do. If I need longer, shorter or intermediate sizes it is really easy to rip another couple of lengths. I finished them with a little left over oil based finish I also had lying around the shop.

In the UK the clamp heads are available from Axminster and cost £8.46 + shipping.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

You can never have enough horizontal surfaces - A Roubo workbench

Normally woodworkers repeat the old maxim "You can never have enough clamps" well I do have enough. However one thing that I have been adding over the years is horizontal surfaces. I have
  • a snazzy low assembly table
  • a couple of workmates
  • a re-purposed mitre saw table
  • a router table
  • a table saw with a hardboard protective cover
  • a commercial workbench
all of which can be pressed into service when needed.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Veritas MKII Narrow Blade Honing Guide review

Having been an owner and user of the standard Veritas MKII (Mark 2) honing guide for a number of years I was aware of a few of its shortcomings.

  • Not being able to hold any of my mortise chisels
  • Poor holding of narrow blade chisels.

With the addition of the Narrow Blade attachment these limitations are no longer an issue.
I decided to buy a complete 3 piece assembly rather than the head only as I often hone wide plane blades and wanted to dedicate my original MKII to the task.

I ordered my new honing guide from Axminster in the UK and a day later received the original guide. This is not what I ordered and a quick phone call to the good people at Axminster brought the narrow blade guide in the next days post. The barcode number at the end is -10 for the narrow blade and -01 for the regular guide. An easy mistake for a supplier to make.