So as far as excuses for not woodworking are concerned, I’ve had a good one.
I mentioned in my last post that old guy Bill has been having some back problems lately-mainly muscle spasms, not that I’m happy admitting the truth, but that’s what it is. I did not go to see a doctor, though I probably should have. Instead I stuck to my standard remedy: a back brace, Aleve, and rest. Normally in these situations it is recommended to avoid heavy lifting, repetitive motion etc. and while I unfortunately cannot follow that advice while at work, I can at home, so that is exactly what I did. The fact that I was also preparing to participate in a charity run (another activity not recommended while having back issues) kept me from woodworking as much as I would like, and for once I didn’t mind.
Although I was injured, and busy on top of it, that still didn’t keep me away from my workbench completely. The first thing I (we) did was begin the construction of my daughter’s doll furniture. A while back I had prepped most of the wood and yesterday started some of the assembly along with my kid. The only thing that kept us from completing the table was running out of material, so we went to Lowe’s to pick up the missing piece. Hopefully we’ll finish the table this week and I’ll post some photos.
The other woodworking attempt did not go nearly as well.
Last summer I purchased a beautiful coffin-style smooth plane. I went through the cleaning/flattening/restoration pretty much without a hitch, but as per usual with old tools the iron needed some work. When I received the tool the iron wasn’t mangled, but it was poorly ground (very likely with a grinding wheel) that left an uneven hollow and gave it a slight skew. When I initially sharpened the iron I did not completely remove that skew. A few weeks back I used the coffin smoother to clean my workbench top, and I noticed that it had become “toothy” in the area of the skew. I guessed that the steel there lost its temper (or something to that effect) and will no longer stay sharp. So to make a long story short, I spent a good hour first straightening, them cambering, then polishing the plane iron.
First I would like to say that this operation was not good for my back. Second, I was very pleased with the results…until…I noticed the corrected area still had a few “toothy” spots. They were very minute, but enough to tell me that that area still had some tempering problems. At that point I had already had enough. This issue once again illustrates my absolute loathing of (anyone) using a grinding wheel to sharpen fine tool steel. Despite what most woodworkers will say, using a grinding wheel is not easy and takes more than hand to eye coordination; it takes a delicate touch. What I can’t seem to figure out is why the previous owner would attempt to grind a plane iron when he or she clearly had absolutely no ability to do it
. So the moral of this story, in particular to new woodworkers or woodworkers new to purchasing vintage tools, is be wary. Inspect vintage tools if you can, in particular the iron. Check for poor grinding, really shiny spots on the bevel etc. Also check the flatness, because if an iron can’t be reasonably flattened it can also lead to issues such as this. The iron on my plane happens to be fixable, but it is going to take a lot more work. I quite honestly do not want to spend another two hours regrinding this tool, but in order for it to work correctly that is what needs to be done.
If you enjoy sharpening then none of this an issue. But if you’re like me, and you do not enjoy spending hours fixing the mistakes of sharpening past, yet you still cannot resist the allure of vintage tools, my suggestion to you would be purchasing a Tormek T-7(and no, I’m not kidding)