The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

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The Good…

I found myself in somewhat of a strange circumstance this evening; I was in my garage and it was woodworking related. Normally, I go to the gym on Wednesday nights. This night, however, I went into my garage for a little tool maintenance, and for good reason. I’ve finally decided to start my next furniture project, which will be a painted blanket chest. I’m hoping to pick up the material in a few weeks, likely poplar but possibly birch plywood, and start the construction the week before the 4th of July. I have a few days off from work with nothing major planned, so I should be able to get the project up and running. So I decided to get a head start and get some more tools sharpened, including a little more work on the iron of the moving fillister plane.

To get the ball rolling, I honed the iron of my block plane, jointer plane, rabbet plane, and a few chisels. All of those tools were in pretty good shape to begin with, but I wanted to be certain that they would be ready to go without delays. I gave them a few passes on the 8000 grit stone, and then stropped them. As far as stropping is concerned, I’m fairly new to it. A few months back I ordered a few carving chisels from Lee Valley as well as a sharpening kit which included a slip stone, leather, and some honing compound. Stropping has been a revelation. With just a few extra passes chisels and plane irons go from sharp to razor sharp. I strop free-hand; I’m not sure it can be done with a guide (at least not my set-up), but it is dead easy and a guide should not be needed. Nevertheless, stropping has become part of my sharpening routine and I’m sorry I didn’t start doing it sooner.

Charged leather ready for stropping

Charged leather ready for stropping

IMG_0964[1]

A stropped chisel razor sharp. The orange color is the reflection of a poster on my wall


The Bad…

There was a reason I was in my garage tonight and not at the gym like I usually would be. It started approximately six years ago, when I found out I had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder. One day I had my little girl at a creek skipping stones across, the same evening it felt like somebody had stabbed me in the shoulder with an awl. After a few days of excruciating pain and a few sleepless nights I finally went to a doctor to get looked at. He told me the bad news, many years of playing baseball and repetitive lifting had worn down my shoulder. I was told to rest it for a few weeks, slowly build back the strength with some light exercise, and go from there. I did just that and haven’t had any major problems since, that is until last Friday night at the gym when I heard a loud “pop”. My shoulder began to tingle, then ache, and I knew right away that I had aggravated the old injury. There is nothing I can do but take it easy for a few days, so that is what I am doing. It feels better already, so I am not overly concerned. The next test will be a return to the gym.

The Ugly…

When I mentioned honing some of my tools, I left off the moving fillister iron. In truth, it was the first iron I honed. For the last several weeks I’ve been working with my moving fillister plane because I would like to use it on my next project. I’ve been having trouble getting the iron to hold and edge, so tonight I gave it a light honing (though it shouldn’t have really needed it) and stropped it. I put it to work on the same piece of scrap walnut I tested on the last time I was in the garage. It produced a nice fillister, so I took the iron out to examine it and found that the edge had rolled (again). I gave it another honing, did another test, and had the same results. I’m not sure if the iron needs to be tempered, but I am willing to give it a try even though I know very little about the process. In any event, if I cannot get the current iron back into shape I will either need to attempt to find a replacement, or purchase a new (as in brand new) moving fillister plane. I’m not looking forward to either solution, but I like the fillister plane so I will do what I must. Nobody said woodworking was always pretty.

My last clean fillister?

My last clean fillister?

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11 Comments

  1. Seekelot says:

    Sorry to hear about your shoulder. Things like this can be dishaertening. makes you feel old.

    About the blade in the filister, I would first try a more obtuse honing angle. that would strengthen the edge and maybe just enough to avoid the folding of the edge. Otherwise indeed read up on hardening and temepering tool steel. It shouldn’t be too hard. Buying a new plane would be the absolute last resort.

    • billlattpa says:

      Thanks, my shoulder feels okay, and thankfully is only sore when I really push hard. I learned in the past to not push it in the least, and luckily as soon as I felt it happen I knew enough to stop immediately. I think that saved me.

      I have a video that shows how to temper an iron, but I’ve never tried it. At this point it is worth a shot, because I would certainly hate to give up on the tool because it is otherwise in very good shape and looks great. Though buying a new tools is definitely a last resort, at the same time I wouldn’t necessarily feel bad about it if I had to go that route, but I would rather spend that money on material.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  2. Alex A. says:

    Ug, shoulder injuries are a pain. Mine will never quite go away. Had to give up push-ups and military presses and I do PT exercises really everyday and it will causes problems.

    Good luck on the recovery.

    • billlattpa says:

      I found that push-ups and bench pressing seem to be the worst for it, which is a shame because they are two exercises that I enjoy doing. I’ve been able to off-set it somewhat by inclining the bench as well as using machines rather than free weights. It hurts, but it’s hardly anything debilitating. When it originally happened I didn’t sleep for 3 days, this has just been a minor inconvenience in comparison.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  3. Brian Eve says:

    Good luck with re-hardening the blade. I just did something similar on my balconey.

    You might test your setup on a scrap piece first, just in case you aren’t able to get everything hot enough. Your filister blade is much wider and will need a lot more heat than the 3/4″ moulding plane blade I did.

    If you do get it hot enough, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

    • billlattpa says:

      Somebody suggested regrinding the bevel/edge first and seeing if the edge held up any better. I think I’m going to give that a shot as it should only take me 30 minutes with the diamond stones and the water stones. It was suggested I go back 1/8 of an inch, which is certainly doable with diamond stones.

      Otherwise, I have a mapp gas torch which I use for plumbing, but it should be able to get the iron hot enough if that is the route I need to go.
      Thanks.
      Bill

  4. bloksav says:

    Hi Bill

    Sorry to hear about your shoulder.
    I hope it won’t prevent you from using some of the labour intensive hand planes like a jointer.

    I had the same problem with the edges of my Crown chisels, but I have never taken the time to investigate what could be done about it.
    I think your idea sounds very sensible, first try to sharpen, next try to reharden/temper. And finally buy another iron or plane.

    Brgds
    Jonas

    • billlattpa says:

      My shoulder actually feels a heck of a lot better than it did when I wrote this post; thank you for asking! I’m actually going to hit the gym tonight and see how it goes. Even so, it really only bothered me while at the gym, Otherwise it was just a dull ache that came and went and only really hurt when I tried to push off. I used hand planes several times in the meanwhile and had no issues.
      I’m going to try the regrind/rehoning tonight and see how it turns out. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try reheating the iron, honing it, and then putting it in the oven. Worst case scenario is a new tool, which is hardly the end of the world 🙂
      Thanks.
      Bill

  5. It isn’t that hard to re temper a good piece of steel if you have a torch or even some charcoal, a can and a hairdryer to make a quick forge to get the iron up to about cherry red. Then drop in old motor oil. When it is cool try and hone it again.

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