When I built the tool chest for “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” my goals were both selfish and hereditary. My chest is an ark, a way to carry my tools forward in time to protect them for my kids or – barring that – my grandchildren.
People ask me all the time if they should buy either new tools or vintage ones. The answer is: neither. If you can acquire tools that have been properly set up and cared for, you will have acquired one of the greatest treasures of the craft.
So this morning I was heartened by a blog post by Joshua Klein, a Maine furniture restorer and excellent photographer. He and his 3-year-old son, Eden, have just finished building a tool chest for the young one.
“1. Never encourage the manufacture of any article not strictly necessary, in the production of which Invention has no share.
2. Never demand exact finish for its own sake, but only for a practical or noble end.
3. Never encourage copying or imitation of any kind, except for the preserving of great works.”
Before Charles F. Hummel published “With Hammer in Hand” in 1968, he was obviously spending a lot of time researching the Dominy family and their tools.
In 1965, he published a great 19-page article in the “Winterthur Portfolio” about the Dominy’s tools that were made in England. This piece is in the same pattern as “With Hammer in Hand” – very interesting narrative followed cool photos of the Dominy’s tools and a discussion of each one.
The “Winterthur Portfolio” is a hardbound book that was published annually by Winterthur Museum. Hummel’s article appears in this second annual edition, which also includes articles about the portraiture of John Singleton Copley, and two articles by Nancy A. Goyne (a familiar name!) on a desk and the metal called “Britannia.” Plus much, much more content that I am too lazy to type here.
If you are a book nerd, an old tool nerd or a double nerd like myself, you will enjoy reading Hummel’s article on the Dominys and will want it to sit next to your copy of “With Hammer in Hand.” It’s like having a copy of the movie “The Searchers” next to “Star Wars.”
All proceeds from this auction go to benefit The Wood Whisperer to defend against a nasty and expensive DDoS attack. We will ship this book anywhere. To participate, simply state your bid in a comment below. The bidding starts at $10. The highest bid as of midnight Sunday, March 18, wins the book.
Thanks to everyone who has been helping out this last week. You are making a difference.
Some people use back bevels on bevel-down planes to increase the cutting angle up from the standard 45°. This reduces tear-out. However, some sources recommend these back bevels for block planes only.
Yesterday evening I read “Carpenters’ Tools” by H.H. Siegele (Frederick J. Drake, 1950), which is a fascinating little book filled with surprises. In the chapter on block planes, Siegele recommends honing the tool’s bevel at a very low 20°. Then he says you can either sharpen the back flat or raise the back 5° off the stone.
Siegele says this 5° back bevel is more common than sharpening the back flat. Why is it useful? He doesn’t say exactly, but he states the back bevel is an improvement when the bevel has been hollow-ground on a grinder with a small-diameter wheel.
To me, that says Siegele is trying to improve the edge life of his block plane – especially because he is honing at 20° to 23°. But there’s more at stake than edge life alone when you look at all of Siegele’s advice.
In the book’s section on bench planes, Siegele recommends again a low 20° hone for easy woods, but he says you always sharpen the back flat. No back bevel.
So why use a back bevel on a block plane but not a bench plane?
Easy. The wear bevel. When you use any handplane, the part of the blade that gets the most wear is the little bit of metal that faces down against the work. On a bench plane, that means the primary bevel takes the most abuse. That’s not a big deal because the primary bevel also receives most of the work when you hone it.
But with block planes, it’s the back of the blade that gets beat up and worn away. So a back bevel on a block plane is a very good thing. Yes, the back bevel will improve edge life, but it also ensures that your edge will actually be sharp by getting you to hone away the wear bevel.