The Shop - See “Tour the Shop” Post. To zoom tap images, to mega zoom, tap-tap, tap.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Tools That Plug In

The shop is a friendly, quiet place to work with hand tools. But, life is short. Power tools make quick work. Maybe I’m not so good with hand tools? Hot sawdust smells good? I decided to inventory the power tools in the shop. What a shock! Fourteen plus machines. How can that be? How do I move around and work in the 400 square foot space? The shop does not shout, “here be machines”. I guess parking them along the walls hides them. Never in my right mind did I set out to build a machine shop. Nevertheless, there it is. Norm would  be proud of me, Roy not so much.

Here is a list of machines: table saw, router, dust collector, miter saw, planer, band saw, drill press (2), mortiser, sanding station, scroll saw, shop vac, lathe, air compressor, mixed power hand tools.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Old Iron

Who doesn’t love old machines? I have two. A Delta 24” scroll saw, built in 1952, and this W. F. and J. Barnes Co. drill press. We call her Madonna. When disassembled, with her two drive cones sitting side by side on the floor, well... that’s how she looked. She is a Barnes model “15 INCH DRILL”, serial number 5615, with a patent date of NOV 12 1885. Don't know how old, maybe 130 years. She was lacking a chuck, quill return spring, and bearing oilers; easily replaced. Her worn babbitt bearings leak oil  everywhere. At the speed I run her, it is no matter. She had the remains of a foot-operated line shaft clutch. I added an electrical switch to the clutch rod and run an old GE bronze bushing 1/4 hp washing machine motor. The motor is adequate. The foot switch is a luxury. When doing a complex production run, two drill presses, set up, are nice to have. My other press is a modern Jet bench top model.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mini Tools

I made these tools over a 10-year period, one tool per year, in editions of 50+. They have brass wire hooks to hang as a Christmas ornament. Most were sold to members of my tool collecting society at $5 a pop. The proceeds were donated to the club to support operation costs. The non-tool ship was made to commerate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Colony, a big event in Virginia.
The bench vise, marking gauge and hand screw actually work. Saw blades are cut from old band saw blades. Threaded rod was obtained from a model airplane catalog. Beads for handles came from a crafts catalog. Brass strip from an online hardware store. Then there is fencing wire and finish nails. The thumb screw actually came from Lowes. After cutting all those small parts, I am happy to say I still have all of my fingers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Fales Patent Combination Plane

Patented by Amos Fales, Denver CO, 3/7/1882. Manufactured by Otis A. Smith, Rockfall CT, from 1883 to 1914. A good description of this plane can be found at Patrick’s Blood and Gore web site. You will have to use your browser. Enter “supertool.com fales”.


When you become known as a collector, people bring you all kinds of stuff. Free! A friend, cleaning out his basement, brought me the totally bare Fales plane body. It was ugly. I told him to go back home and to look for a pile of wierd parts. He brought me what you see in this photo. There are 26 cutters and 7 sets of forms/skates. The rectangular arm was missing; I made one. One thumb screw was missing; easily replaced. The piece of ash in the photo has a quirk bead edge, made with this plane. It works. Well.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Stanley “Liberty Bell” Planes

I have a collection of these planes with examples of each model and each type. A type study of the Stanley “Liberty Bell” plane may be viewed HERE. Type studies are used by collectors to date a tool. I wish to thank the Richmond Antique Tool Society for hosting my type study on their web site.

I came by this collection by accident. One of us was into antique silver flatware and we visited many, many antique malls. Boooring. I needed something to do while she browsed for silver. On a whim, I decided to see how many Liberty Bell plane examples I might find.

Models 120, 104, 122, front to back.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Where Did That Mahogany Come From

Top panel of Cuban mahogany, carcase of andiroba, another mahogany.
Back story: My neighbor relates that his grandfather brought a mahogany log back from Cuba in 1912 and made a tall clock case from it. Some 25 years ago my neighbor gave me the surviving chunk of the log, maybe 6x6x15 inches. Not a lot of wood. I finally resawed the block into four edge-glued panels, one of which you see here.  Swietenia mahogani is a very dense (s.g. 1.0) and hard wood. Very nice to work with and finish (Watco & wax).

Monday, March 4, 2019

Recent Work

Mahogany presentation case for a Colt Python revolver. Interior is lined in crushed velvet in the French fit style.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Tour the Shop

This is my third, and maybe best, shop. It has a window with a view of my meadow and pond and the Blue Ridge.  It is in a walkout basement and is 400 square feet. The usual machinery is mostly on wheels. Both hand tools and machinery are a mix of collector and user. Yes, I have a lumber rack. My workbench is 7 feet long and has been wih me for over 50 years. The shop power and lighting are carefully designed. A dust proof walk-in closet contains HVAC and hardware storage.