Apple handle and small tenon saw: Finished

I spent about a million years applying varnish to the handle, and despite many distractions, I finished and rubbed it out today:

Since I was on a roll, I decided to finish the job today, too. First, I cut off the old handle, filed out the notch where the back fits into the handle, and drilled the holes:

Finally, I filed off the rough edges, put the blade into the saw, and inserted the mounting hardware.

I haven’t had time to really test it out yet, but it seems to feel okay in the hand.

Scrub plane: Starting the finish

I did the final shaping and glue-up of the scrub plane’s tote a while back. That, along with the edge chamfering, left me with this:

I tested it, and found it much to my liking.

Because the tote will likely see heavy use, I decided to varnish it, and before doing that, I decided to stain it. I had a can of “golden pecan” (a pigment stain) in the cabinet, so I tried it out on a test piece of beech. It didn’t seem horrible, so here is the plane after two coats (with sanding between):

There is a little blotching. I believe that I should have probably done a washcoat. It seemed to have avoided a lot of problems on that old saw handle.

Though passable now, I feel that I should sand and do another coat of stain. The second coat evened things out a lot, so a third should do it most of the rest of the way?

After that step, I would like to even it out with clear varnish. Satin polyurethane again? It’s worked well for me so far.

Winchester Saw: Finished

My Winchester No. 16 handsaw has been sitting around waiting for me to do something to it since time began. I’ve had this saw for nearly five years. When I finally decided to do something about it, it was back in March, when I discovered that it was a Winchester:

I didn’t know what to do with it at that point. It’s a mildly rare saw, so one option was to try to sell it for something useful, for example, a pile of Disston D-8s. But the handle was in crap condition, and it had the less-snazzy “Warranted Superior” medallion, so I decided to restore it and keep it as a user. I don’t know when I decided to do that, but it was a long time ago, and as such, I’ve had the blade sitting around, derusted and waxed, waiting for sharpening. I took the handle off, and procrastinated on the refinishing.

About three weeks ago, I decided to do something about it. I finished today:

The saw was filed to 6TPI. That’s pretty coarse for a crosscut saw, so I was originally going to make this a ripsaw to replace my beat-up D-7. However, the handle has that funny notch on the top that would make ripping uncomfortable with two hands, so I figured decided that this would, in fact, remain a crosscut saw. The rake angle is 15 degrees, with the fleam angle at 20 degrees. I had initially filed a 20-degree rake angle, but I screwed up pointing it (of course), so on my second try, I decided that since it was so coarse that I should make it a little more aggressive. It was probably a good idea; it does saw very efficiently. The cut is fairly clean for 6TPI.

I spent about a million years refinishing the handle. It was dented, nicked, and beat up. This photo also shows how the top horn was mangled:

The first thing I did (several months ago) was strip the original finish. At the same time, I cleaned the sawnuts:

And then it sat. And sat. And sat, until about three weeks ago. Even after stripping the original finish, it was still really uneven, so I sanded around the curved parts. For the flat parts, I just skimmed it with a smoothing plane. At this time, I also learned what the wood in the handle was for the first time–American Beech (fagus grandfolia). OK, well, that’s not a big surprise.

Then there were decisions. Should I stain it? With what? I finally settled on few thin coats of a “Colonial Maple” pigment stain. I used a washcoat beforehand. Though it would result in accented nicks and dents, it would even out the flat parts, and who’s going to try to hide the fact that this saw hasn’t been used, anyway?

Finally, I decided to use the same flat-sheen polyurethane that I used on the mallet as a protective top layer. I went from a thin coat to thicker coats, then back down to thin coats for the final one. Several coats were necessary, because the varnish would run down the surfaces that were vertical, depending on the way you held the handle. I did the first coats with the handle held upright, then the later ones held flat. A close-up of the finished handle:

I used a progression of 320 grit sandpaper, #0000 steel wool, 1500 grit sandpaper, and rottenstone, all lubricated with mineral oil, to rub out the finish. There’s still a scratch here and there from the coarse-grit paper (because polyurethane is tough), but overall, it looks nice, and it’s very smooth to the touch.

Mallet: finished

In a previous episode, I had just given the mallet an oil/varnish blend finish to give it its color. Then I left for two weeks of vacation, and a week ago, I came back, ready to hit it with some polyurethane.

I wanted to use polyurethane for two reasons: first, I’d never really done much with varnish before, and I thought it was about time to start. Second, it’s good stuff against dirt and sweat, and it’s tough. So off I went and thinned it way too much, so it took a week to get all of the coats on.

I used a “satin sheen” on it, because I’m not big on shiny stuff. Today, I was able to finally hit it with some rottenstone and get the final result:

It’s sitting on top of a piece of the same roughsawn european beech board that it was made from. I guess that’s progress.

Here’s a shot of the top. I managed to get the ray fleck there, so I left it as-is. I’m fairly pleased at the way the end grain turned out.

There are a few flaws. But this is, after all, a striking tool, and I don’t know how pretty it’s gonna look after a period of using it as intended. Incidentally, I am pleased at how it has performed in a few tests so far. The real test comes when I try to make a mortise and tenon (or pretty much anything) again, and I reach for this thing.

Vacation stuff

I’m back from two weeks of being in PA. For some strange reason, I paid a lot more attention to the trees this time. Gee, I wonder why. Penn State’s campus has some great native trees.

I fooled around with polyurethane on the mallet today. No pictures yet, but they wouldn’t be earthshattering, especially since it isn’t a gloss version. I used way too much thinner, so I’m not getting a very thick film on there. On the upside, I’m not getting any bubbles or brushstrokes or anything.

Something is happening, at least. I’ll probably need at least four coats with this thickness. That’s okay, I’m not in a hurry.

Stanley #6 Tote and Knob

I’ve been working on the knob and tote of the Stanley #6 for quite a while now. Here’s how they looked when I got the plane:

The original finish was pretty much shot; chipped off in many places, cracked all over, and generally lousy. I guess that’s not too bad for 70 years of wear, but it wasn’t going to be very comfortable for a tool that I actually wanted to use.

Being very conservative about this, I first tried rubbing only some mineral spirits around the wood to see if the finish would crack and fall off easily, as it’s purported to sometimes do. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. The weak parts of the finish fell right off, sure, but a little less than half was really stuck on there. Here’s how it looked after the mineral spirits:

I don’t know if this was better or worse than before. However, even though I relish driving around in a beat-up-looking car, I do not want the same to be true of my bench planes.

So I waited for an appropriate time and place to get out the ol’ paint stripper. That stuff always gives me the heebie-jeebies, because it usually melts your gloves to a point where you generally throw them out after a strippin’ session. Scary or no, it is effective, as this photo shows:

I should make one note about paint stripper–make sure that you clean and rub the wood over with mineral spirits when you’re finishing up. Don’t use water. You see, wood expands and contracts based on its water content, and you risk cracks, raised grain, and all sorts of awful stuff. Wood won’t readily absorb mineral spirits like that. It will evaporate slowly over time and leave the wood in a fairly even, dry state.

So, with the paint finally off, I had a decision to make: what to use for a new finish? Traditionally, varnish or lacquer is used for this stuff, but I’m not much of a fan there. I’ve always really liked the oil finishes, but I wasn’t too sure about this because it is rosewood, after all, and it’s a pretty dark wood already. Not to mention that the tool collectors would scream bloody murder.

Eh, screw those guys. The wood was nicked up anyway, and I really like the way that oil finishes feel in the hand:

This is after two treatments; one more tomorrow and it’s ready to go. It’s hard to tell much because of the glare from the flash, but this is really looking good. The knob is darker than the tote (you can tell this pretty clearly from the stripped photo above), and is now a very rich hue, with the growth rings adding a subtle accent. This should hold up fairly well. I guess if I’m unhappy about it later, I could always draw the oil out with the yummy paint stripper and go at it again with something else. But it’s unlikely that I’ll do anything else except maybe replenish with a different oil.