Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Time is NOT on my side.....

Junji in Japan (Ebay seller yusui) sells WAY more tools than I can hope to use, but even so, I want them all. The discovery that accompanies a new-to-you tool, the quality of its manufacture, the way that it has been used over time.... all of this is fascinating. Some of the items are nearly new, but most have seen use. Some are looking for a place to retire... these are often the ones that I most love. A tool that has been used with care, used until it is nearly gone, these are often the best (the worst ending up in a swamp, hopefully). If I only had enough time.....

If you are looking for good value in vintage Japanese tools, I highly recommend him. Honest, helpful, polite and patient, his buy-it-now prices are usually VERY good. He has excellent English language skills and ships at cost, so a 2kg package costs about $30 and take 10 days. That's only a few days more than, say, A Lee Valley Tools order. $30 dollars might get me to the nearest Home Depot and back again, but it would be a near thing (AND they don't have what I want, either). For some reason his auctions don't see the action that they deserve. It must be a foreign purchase sort of thing. FWIW, it's totally painless, no duties or anything weird, and you get to track the package as it makes its way to your door..... A VERY good value!

New (nearly) tools are fun too...

30mm Umehiro kote-nomi

Ooooooh, I can't wait to sharpen this one! 20-30 year old price tag of 3400 yen. That's about $33 USD..... time IS on my side, for this at least.

So, time......

I follow some pretty obscure blogs, one of which is the Nao natural whetstone (soon to be Tamura Mountain, I believe) that I mentioned in a previous post. New natural waterstones!! Nice ones, too, and word is getting out....http://kunimoto.blog. I think that my hope for getting inexpensive Wakesa grindstones is.... too late.

Kuni is who is referred to, by some, as the magician, at least I think that this is the guy. If he isn't, I don't know who is....

It's good to have role models ( this from kunimoto's blog).

The blacksmith was Mr. Kengo Usui..... Usui Kengo, and for the last 25 years, Kuni has been working to perfect himself, to bring honor to the maker of this fine tool. 25 years of REALLY intense thought and commitment to excellence..... 25 years.

Kunimoto has one blog about, for lack of a better term, extreme sharpening that completely pales anything that you will find in English (A while back I hit a wall regarding information pertaining to Japanese tools, sharpening, using.... so anytime that I find some new info it makes me so excited that I have a difficult time sleeping. I barely sleep, as it is, so this isn't a big deal. What would it be like to WANT to sleep your life away?). He also makes beautiful furniture, and has another blog about his day to day work. If only I had more time....

I'm still working on the 'ol workshop renovation.

The new lumber rack is already buried (which was what got me started in the first place, haha). It's on the left. I haven't seen this much floor in years.

This is more like what I am used to, although this is still cleaner than it was.

I want to build something. I want to do something REALLY well. 25 years.....

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Time is on my side - petrified wood sharpening stone

So, since I've recently been working with Sheetrock, plaster, and tape, my poor little brain has been getting all twitchy because a few days have passed without me sharpening anything.-- *sad*--

I had heard somewhere that you could use petrified wood as a sharpening stone. Hmmmm......

The small piece was a test and.... it actually did something! Go figure. It is no surprise that it would scratch the metal since petrified wood isn't actually wood at all, but more of a wood shaped piece of quartz. The process is called permineralization and the Wikipedia gods will tell you all you need to know about that. I, on the other hand, can tell you how to sharpen a chisel using a fossil. Maybe I can contribute an entry?

Anyway, what surprised me was that the scratch pattern was actually fairly even with a slow, but respectable, rate of metal removal. It even felt like a sharpening stone. Decent feedback, a tendency to"squeak" and grab-the-earth at times, and VERY little slurry production because the stuff is pretty hard. That said, it only took me about 15 minutes to turn this chunk of fossil into a sharpening stone.

I polished the flat grain face to 1200 grit and when I get around to it, I'll stick it onto a piece of stone to anchor it.
While not the fastest stone around, it is definitely a keeper. My wife's grandfather picked it up who knows how long ago, so it has history in more ways than one. And it looks cool!

How did it work?

We'll start with the Frankenstone (3000-5000)

Too hard, needs slurry.

DMT 1200 diamond nagura.

Black swarf ( it's working!)

Not too bad...kinda slow, but pretty smooth, some scratches but shallow.

Not a full mirror, but close. Definitely shiny steel and some superficial shine to the iron/jigane.

Control/reality-check. Ozuku asagi. Faster, smoother, and only the finest of scratches. Perhaps not a fair comparison?

The green mystery inkstone. This feels very similar in use and the scratch pattern is similar. This IS faster, though.

Let's mix it up even more. I'm going to try using the P-wood with the ODC nagura.

Faster metal removal, smoother action and just all-around easier to use. The ODC gives a nice even matte finish to the jigane. I like that.

Still WAY better. Ozuku asagi w/ODC. Faster, smoother, easier. Nice definition. 

Well, you can't have too many sharpening stones. This was just sitting in a shoebox and, surprise surprise, it works like your average super-hard Japanese natural waterstone. Not the greatest, but definitely interesting. I looked at some other pieces of petrified wood at a store in town, most of which looked like rocks. Agate or something. This piece is probably an example of incomplete metamorphosis and still looks a fair bit like wood. A conifer of some sort.

When I first got interested in natural sharpening stones, I thought that they were very rare and special (well, the best ones ARE!) but it turns out that the darn things are everywhere. The trick is to first learn how to use natural stones and having a "real" sharpening stone will help. That way, if you are having problems, you will know that the fault lies with your technique. The stone is a known quantity. The second thing would be that a nice stone makes sharpening fun ( well, some of us are easily entertained....), but a bad one will keep you from ever learning anything because you won't use the darn thing. Then you're back to the whole dull tool situation. Also, as you get better, your preferences and priorities will change, so don't sell the farm just to buy into some system. Ebay is full of "systems" that someone else outgrew. At the least, buy used and let someone else pay the depreciation.

I wish that I had learned some of this stuff sooner.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Blank slate for 2014 - Time to finish what I've started

"Great starter!" Might have been written on one of my earliest report cards, and while not being afraid to tackle new projects is a good thing, the inability to finish is not. I have the attention span of a 5 year old child, at least when it comes to building things, and the natural outcome of this is..... great heaps of stuff. Piles on top of piles, till the towers fall....



My friend Charlie is scrapping out an old ketch and before it hits the burn yard, I am trying to save as much of it as possible *Renee cringes*.

Teak, some copper.

Plywood face is almost 6mm thick.

That's 7/32's for the metrically challenged.

Making small piles from large. At least that is a step in the right direction.

I had started building a huge honking workbench because I have always wanted a giant monstrosity that makes a comforting "THUNK" when hammering things. Lots of vises. Drawers. Maybe a Roubo, like all of the cool guys?

This is a case of reality outpacing dreams. NOT having a vise for so long taught me to work in a way that makes gravity and geometry my friend.....I don't really need vises too much. Chemo wreaked havoc on my legs, so standing at a bench for a while is, uh, not pleasant and I find that I am a lot more comfortable just sitting on a piece of carpet on the floor. It's also easier on the tools, carpet being far more forgiving of my clumsy hands than the concrete is.

Drawers. Those I DO still need!

Ugly pulls, but quick/done. I badly need the storage so that I can....

Move every damn thing in the shop, finish an  unfinished wall and build some new racks for wood storage. This project is 2 days old and already I am itching to make a box (maybe one of the 30 out so, piled everywhere?), sharpen some tools, do anything that isn't mud-and-tape. Write a blog?


To do:

  • Lumber storage
  • Tool racks
  • Finish coat closet/ make Renee happy
  • Build a bench for the front porch. Ditto.
  • Try to remember what these piles of wood were intended to be... Japanese style tool box.... Bent-wood boxes... Sharpening bench....???? Gaaagh!
  • Build a better forge and anvil. Junji ( in Japan) is sending me some old tools, one of which will be reworked into a small yari-ganna, an ancient predecessor to the Japanese wood plane. It has a curved, leaf shaped blade, a long handle, and is used in a drawing/slicing movement.

This is my inspiration, although mine will be a laughably poor imitation.

Usui Kengo work ( sans-handle). Pro-shop Hokuto sold this one a while back. This is beautiful work from a true master.

Different blade. Yokoyama Yarri-ganna from Japan Tool. So-san has a page devoted to sharpening this blade and making a handle for it. It is amazing to see the transformation, from rough to... sublime. So is my tool-sharpening sensei!

Rough state, as received from the blacksmith.

Ahhhhhh......  beautiful.

Nice handle too.

Again, this is NOT my work, just what I will be working to emulate. But first I need to finish some stuff.