Thanks to our two new employees – Gabe and Mark – we now have 250 more GoDrillas in stock and ready to ship.
The GoDrilla is a bit extender that works with any 1/4” hex tool and any 1/4” hex rod (a 12” hex rod is included). The GoDrilla locks on your bit with fearsome strength, eliminating any wiggle or runout. I still have our first working prototype (shown above) and it is going strong after drilling thousands of holes for my chairs and those of my students.
Here’s a quick movie that shows how the GoDrillas work.
GoDrillas are made in Tennessee. And are never made using bits of gorilla.
We use pencil gauges as much as marking gauges or cutting gauges. That’s because a pencil line is sometimes the better choice, especially when marking out bevels or curves.
When we construct our shop-made pencil gauges, we include a “face plate” or “curve attachment” to one face of the gauge’s head. The face plate – basically two bumps – allows the gauge to mark both inside and outside curves. You can also use the gauge against a straight, flat edge. The face plate is an incredibly handy feature that was patented by Stanley in 1886 (the patent has long expired).
For years, I’ve wanted to make a Crucible pencil gauge with a face plate, but we have never found a way to manufacture it economically. During the pandemic, however, I devised a way to make an inexpensive gauge by MacGyvering a British marking gauge made by Joseph Marples.
Marples agreed to sell us 200 basic gauges at wholesale for an experiment. When the gauges arrived, we pulled out the steel pin (it’s included in the package if you want it). Then we drilled a hole in the gauge’s beam that will hold most pencils with a tight compression fit (and we’re including a pencil). And we added a stainless steel face plate (a part that we sourced from the kennel-making industry).
The result is our Crucible Redneck Pencil Gauge that works like a charm and fits your hand beautifully, thanks to the half-round shape of the head. But it is a little rednecky (I can say that because I’m from the Ozarks). If I were going to design the gauge from scratch I would use a brass thumbscrew and machine the face plate from solid brass. It would look nicer, but it wouldn’t function any better and it would cost you three or four times more.
Occasionally we have customers who are bewildered that we use Chicago screws to adjust our Crucible Type 2 Dividers and Sliding Bevel. Why don’t we use a thumbscrew or wing nut or some other device that doesn’t require a screwdriver?
The answer is simple, but not what they want to hear: Because nothing works as well as a slotted screw and a screwdriver.
During the development of these tools we tried a variety of thumbscrews and other devices to lock the tools in place. Nothing even came close to using a simple Chicago screw and a driver. With a small twist of the screw, you can lock the setting in so it is almost unmovable.
I say “almost” because I tried an experiment where I locked the screw and then threw the tool across the workshop like a baseball. About half the time the tool held its setting. The other half it moved a bit. So, I don’t recommend throwing tools across the shop.
This week I found a few more thumbscrews worth trying in the tools. I am always looking to improve things. The screw thread is a 10-32, and the threaded section needs to be about 3/8” long.
Here are three thumbscrews worth discussing (a few others were total fails).
The Knurled Head Tumbscrew (above), looked promising because it also offered a slot for a screwdriver. Unfortunately, the head has such a low profile that you cannot tighten it by hand enough to lock the blade. You have to use a screwdriver to get a good lock.
The Raised Knurled-head Thumbscrew was easier to grip, but it still didn’t lock the blade. Plus, there was no way to further tighten the thumbscrew with a screwdriver.
Finally, the Hex-head Thumbscrew looked cool. But you can’t grip it with your fingers. The only way to tighten it is with a box wrench (which worked really well).
If you resist our tools because they require a screwdriver, consider this: Many early bevels, marking gauges and mortise gauges were locked with a screwdriver. Plus, when I use these tools (and I use them every day), I get immense satisfaction locking them down all the way. It reduces any anxiety I have about the tool moving by accident.
This anxiety, I might add, was caused by other tools going out of adjustment and ruining a piece of work.
The Crucible Cross-Peen Hammer is in production, and the first tools will go up for sale in a week or two. This has been a year-long project that required a lot of programming, plus finding a new handle supplier. The result? Craig Jackson, our machinist at Machine Time, said about the finished hammer “I’m happy for once!”
Here are the details on the hammer, which has the in-house nickname “Peeny Weeny.”
The hammer head is milled from a solid block of hardened steel. Weighing 4.5 ounces, the head is 4” long overall with a 5/8”-diameter striking face. The cross peen at the opposite end has a striking surface measuring 1/8” x 1/2”.
The handle, made for us by Hoffman Blacksmithing, is hickory and is 11” long overall. The neck of the handle is a scant 3/8” x 1/2”, which was a challenge to cut without chattering. The handles are all sanded and hand-finished with oil. The wedges are walnut.
Overall, the hammer weighs 5 ounces, and is an ideal weight and size for small workshop tasks. In addition to sinking small brads and pins, the cross peen is ideal for starting headless nails without mashing your fingers.
The head and the peen are also ideal for adjusting handplanes. For my entire career, I have used one of these hammers to tap my irons laterally to get the iron centered in the plane’s mouth. I also use the cross peen with side-escapement planes, knocking the iron in place against the blind side of the plane’s escapement.
Antique versions of this tool can be hard to find in the United States, especially with a decent handle. Modern imported versions are – sorry to say – not a pleasure to use.
We don’t have a retail price yet. It likely will be about the same price as our standard lump hammer. Though there is a lot less steel, the machine time for this head is considerable. The handle is custom-made and is about three times the cost of the lump hammer handle.
As always, we will first fulfill all domestic orders for the hammer before we can offer it to our other retailers.
With the release of our 1:4 Dovetail Template, which is now in the shop alongside our slightly older 1:6 & 1:8 combo Dovetail Template, I’ve received a few emails from folks lamenting there’s no way on our site to tell the difference both in how they look and how the resulting dovetails perform.
The second is easily answered: they perform the same – or close enough. Each of those three angles – and just about anything in that general vicinity, will outlast you – even if relatively poorly cut. Just look at pre-industrial drawers if you don’t believe me; on drawers that are still working just fine after more than a century, some of the dovetails look as if they were gnawed out by a beaver.
The first is fairly easily – if not particularly elegantly – answered, too. Above is a corner of joints, two each per angle, that I hurriedly cut using some scraps from the burn bin. Note that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the look of the 1:6 (9.5°) and 1:8 (around 7°) joints. I prefer the 1:6, simply because it’s what I first cut, and have done so pretty much ever since; my wrist now has that angle ingrained. So while it felt weird to cut the 1:4 (around 14°) and 1:8, it’s certainly doable. If you can mark the line, you can saw a line.
But I also think it’s kinda funny that we sometimes fret over those angles. Do you always cut exactly on your lines? I don’t – not for the first half of the joint (in my world, that’s usually tails). The second half of the joint must (ideally) perfectly match the first half, no matter what the angle. So if my wrist tilts to, say 10° or 8° instead of 9.5° on one side of a tail, oh well. (That said, to me, the 1:4 looks a bit hefty…’cause I’m such a delicate flower.)
Anyway, above, you can see the difference in the template angles we offer. Both templates are in stock as of the moment I published this (and if we run out, I’ll order more!). Click here for the 1:6/1:8 (my favorite), and here for the 1:4 (Chris’s favorite).
p.s. Why doesn’t the 1:4 offer, say, 1:5 on the other end? The square end of the tool allows you to also use it as a saddle square (and to not get turned around by two similar-looking angles).