Monday, November 25, 2013

Toolbox stock preparation and ease of tool sharpening

Strike one off of the list. I made some bases (finally) for some of the sharpening stones that I use at least some of the time...

They aren't lined up for a photo op, there is actually a greater purpose at work here.

I sunk some holes and filled them with silicone to act as non-skid.

Why is it that silicone is so contrary, sticking where you don't want it, but when you do want it to stick....

I first tried wax paper, no love there. I thought about poly-ethelene sheet, but decided to give this a shot. I waxed the work surface about 5 times and the stuff STILL didn't want to let go. Only 2 pads popped out. The silicone has a bit of wiggle to it that I might find too objectionable, though. We'll see.

I roughed out some stock for the toolbox project...

The pile on the left is what I got planed before I decided to stop. The kanna were a bit dull to begin with, due to planing a bunch of black walnut the other day. Time to sharpen!

55mm, 65mm, 72mm or so.

This is the progression that I use, from left to right, thick to thin cut. Secondary blades are not in place for the photo and the one in the middle? That one I am still trying to figure out. It's only set for 1 blade right now and I may keep it that way. I just need to tighten up the throat.

Different dai thickness's.

The middle kanna is a bit of an oddball. The dai is thinner, not from use, it was just cut that way. The wood used isn't the usual red or white Japanese oak. Examples of those species happen to be on either side. The grain is completely different and the feel is very dense. It shows a very attractive ribbon pattern with ray flecks and for whatever reason seems very tiring to hold and use for any amount of time. This might be due to the thinner/lower height, but I've got other kanna made of white oak that are just as thin and are not tiring..... Strange. The "pull" is a bit higher, but it does cut well and the iron is very easy to sharpen and holds an edge pretty well.

You can see from the height of the urasuki (the back hollow) that this blade is practically brand new.

This blade was laminated using lots of steel, what kind.... I wish that I knew. It is REALLY easy to sharpen, but holds a good sharp edge. In comparison, the blade on the right will last for generations, it's that hard. For all I know, it already has.

Nice ren-tetsu kanna blades.

Easy to sharpen------>hard

The stones are out, might as well do a few extras. The relative ease at which these different blades sharpen is remarkable. The tiny 28mm kanna blade on the left is super easy to sharpen and actually holds an edge well. It fits a (probably) cheap kanna that took a lot of work to make functional but now is a favorite. The blade on the right holds a great edge but is a b***h to sharpen. It has a circle stamp on it that I "think" indicates a special type of aogami steel.

The chisel....... ohhhh, my poor little chisel. This 24mm is a joy to sharpen, gets RAZOR sharp and works wonderfully for paring things flush. It had a lot of hand forged character and is well made...... but was tempered a bit too high, making it soft. Cutting anything harder than pine causes the edge to fold.

A tool that is too hard is very bad and will chip and shatter at the edge, but I actually LIKE that situation. That means that I can draw the temper myself and get the steel just the way I want it.... JUST soft enough to hold an edge without chipping. Right now I choose edge retention at the expense of ease in sharpening, but maybe this will change in the future. This chisel is TOO soft and it wouldn't be right to sell something that doesn't work to it's potential.... This one needs to go back into the forge to be re-hardened. Not today, though. I've got more wood to plane.

I cut some of the thinner POCedar to use for drawers and such. I started to plane it down and it felt as though the tools were fighting me, the wood was tearing out, nothing felt right. I went back and cut a bunch more wood on the tablesaw so I would have extra for other projects and this time, when I used the planes, things worked well. This is the stuff that is soooo hard to learn, to listen to your inner-self and KNOW that you are doing something wrong. If I had continued, I would probably still be at it NOW, so I figure that I actually saved time by shifting gears. I know that I did a better job.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A tool box design (finally!), goal.... KISS.

This came up for auction on Ebay yesterday..... Finally, a tool box design that I like!

Japanese tool box, Tansu style.

Familiar no-hardware lid

4 simple drawers

Design brief, get the damn tools off of the workbench. I've got tools piled on top of tools, chisels rolling all over and anytime that you reach for something, you have the very real possibility of losing a finger (or at least some blood). This guy should keep me and the edges separate and, even though this will still live on the top of the workbench, it will reduce the clutter somewhat.

Actually, I'm not a fan of having drawers in a tool box. The sound of metal drawers being slammed open and shut while accompanied by loud cursing....... Yeah, been there, done that. "Where's the FRACKING 19/56th's WRENCH?!!". I've also got a problem with open boxes, too. Bottomless pits, they are. Possibly worse than drawers, I haven't decided. Well, I've got to do something and it might as well be this.

These last time the pile threatened to overwhelm, I built this in anger....

Pine box

I love to build simple boxes.... my problem is that I have a hard time KEEPING them simple. It always starts with the simple chamfer, then spirals out of control. How a simple beveled edge turns into a carved, rolling bevel is probably a worthy subject for a psychology dissertation. I love simple restraint when it comes to design, and I hope to someday be able to achieve it.

I went to the lumber yard, saw a big stack of nice pine 1x12's and thought... SIMPLE PINE BOX (SPB). This is what happened. Finger jointed and pinned, elliptical carved base trim and handles, shellac and wax. The size is 12x16x32 and it was supposed to be a tool box of sorts. Now I don't know what it is. My wife says that it does a good job holding sweaters and stuff, so I guess that it's not a complete failure. It got too fancy, though. It's supposed to be a wooden crate, for gawds sake. I might like it better if it had a stand.... hmmm. That's how it begins.

I made this the other night, for a remembrance. I had some ideas, some of which worked, others that didn't. The first version got scrapped entirely. Wishes/fishes/horses/beggers.....Nothing showed up in photos, of course, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Family heirloom walnut. The underside of the top is a reverse cove, very shallow. That worked. The base cove is more pronounced, with a slight chamfer on the arris. This ended up being too much, muddying the whole. The horizontal lines, are also too prominent.

Soooo close. The top is a simple beveled plane on one side, and an elliptic curve on the other. On paper, the elliptic looked nice, but in 3D it really flattened what would have otherwise been a very nice line. "I curse you, Z axis!"

The trick with the tool box will be to keep things simple. KISS principle applies. I want a chisel drawer, a deeper place to put planes and long enough for saws. I plan to follow the plan for the box at the top of the page pretty much as-is. Maybe I'll add another drawer for carving tools.... And bamboo pins..... Forge some nails and pulls, maybe a lock set....... Now might be a good opportunity to learn urushi..... Yeah, and hidden dovetails....... So it goes..

Sunday, November 17, 2013

DMT vs. Suehiro, sharpening mania and "True grit"

Why can't we all just get along?

Some kids just can't play well together.

Not just scratches, but specks too! Zoom WAY in.

I don't know what the deal is but these two just don't work together. HUGE scratches nearly every time I use the DMT diamond stone to flatten the  Suehiro 3000. Even worse are the occasional spec of whatever. I'm not sure if it is diamond or just a metal shard. Whatever they are, they DO chip blade edges.

This is a real bummer because I use the DMT quite a bit. In less than a year, the surface has become feathered out at the edges, with just base metal remaining. The thing never was particularly flat to begin with, being bowed along its length and slightly undulate. I use it to flatten the backs of irons, chisels, waterstones, pretty much anything that needs to be flat. Oh yeah, the DMT is also making the"Thunk!" of death which signifies incipient delamination. Before I resort to buying an Atoma diamond stone, I'll probably try a kannaban as I definitely have a thing for the old and obscure. You can't get much more oldschool than grit on a piece of steel. Yeah, kannaban and a chunk of cement....... that's the ticket!

I broke out the  artificials so that I would best know where any scratches were coming from. That is always a trick when testing a new set of stones. Say what you will, the man made stones are consistent in grit...... or are they? Even the artificials make their own distinctive pattern of marks caused by the relative size range of the particles used. Yeah, range. Not all one grit size. OR......the type of binder. A different binder will cause the abrasives to release at different rates, leaving a different finish.

I am testing out the new Siletz river shale and the finish that it left on a chisel was pretty good, but not perfect. Just a trace of scratching, but is it REALLY coming from the shale or somewhere else? I also wanted to see how it would finish a plane blade made using wrought iron as the base iron, so back to work I go..... but I keep getting these random but very distinct scratches, like something is imbedded in the stone/s. I had a nice, fast progression but would be left with a near perfect smoky mirror look.... with just the trace of scratches remaining.

Now this is COMPLETELY immaterial, it was a VERY good edge, but my curiosity ya know. Did I need to spend more time at the lower grits (like 2000)? Was the scratching from natural/synthetic/diamond? Back and forth, one stone at a time using contrasting indicator scratch patterns, using known (haha!) stones to polish up the edge, then back to square one again. And again. And again....

Suffice it to say that even MY mania has limits, and for the time being ALL stones are being put away....

Time to build something.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Siletz river canyon shale

Testing all of these beach stones made me think that I need to get to the source, as it were. Deciding to take advantage of the sunny weather, Ellie and I took a drive up the canyon. I was looking for sharpening stones (surprise!), Ellie was looking for amphibians. Success was found in one search, the other remains to be seen...Ellie found lots of salamanders. We forgot the camera, of course.


Lots of layering, I lapped numerous areas to test.

Very green stone. I need more homogeneous samples.

This layer was interesting, faintly purple and very smooth.

Interesting.... Definitely some polishing going on here.

What are those weird looking things? Bet you thought that I never used artificials, did you. 5000 grit. Hazy mirror finish.

Yep, definitely polishing. The stone makes a bit of slurry, but wanted a nagura so I used the ODC. It feels like my ink/sharpening stone, kind of sticky but you can feel it working. I sharpened on the long axis. All of the scratches that I can see are from the artificials. I will lap these samples to make a larger sharpening surface..... interesting!

I will go back and get more samples. These are too layered. The stones are very attractive but the layers add too much uncertainty, too much opportunity for very coarse scratching. You will have a layer of nice smooth green shale followed by a layer of what looks like sand. It doesn't seem to BE sand but....I passed on some bright green, thin stuff that in retrospect may be perfect. I wanted to try this stone cross grain, so I got thick pieces. The greener stuff is softer, too. That would be just fine.

As often happens, after using the man made stones I question the whole endeavor. For about 5 minutes. That's about how long it takes to erase the deep scratches and clean up the mess. I pretty much only use them outside where I have a hose and the funny colored grit won't hurt anything. They are pretty fast, though. As I may have mentioned, the naturals are splash and go and don't really make much of a mess. It feels a bit like searching for the holy grail, sometimes. For whatever reason, the naturals just FEEL right.

OK, after a sleepless night (well, I'm not THAT obsessed), I lapped a larger surface to make for a more thorough test...... but first, the man made stones, even the 5000 grit left too many scratches. To be as certain as possible about the origin of any scratches that may occur, I polished the edge using 2500 grit wet/dry paper to get a nice mirrored surface. That left pretty impressive marks too, but it's the best that I've got. Really easy though. The stones did all of the heavy lifting. Why not just use paper for the finish? It IS more consistent, gritwise. P2500 is the equivalent of about JIS 2300, so this is a step back in grit, but the paper leaves a very even pattern that appears more polished.

Nice dark slurry ( need to finish lapping the stone, though)! If you zoom in, you'll see the camera lens reflected in the steel.

The stone definitely polished out the P2500 grit scratches. For reference, I made the P2500 scratch pattern 90 degrees to the cutting edge. The stone did leave a few new scratches. They are pretty much the only marks left and you can see them if you zoom in. There must be a few sharp bits in the stone, or MAYBE some diamond grit got shed and imbedded. More on that later. This is looking VERY promising..... Not particularly fast, but finer than the other stones that I've got. 

The edge LOOKS sharp, but if you look very closely, you'll see that the P2500 marks are still present at the very edge. THAT'S why I don't use paper for sharpening tools. I can't get a truly flat bevel using paper. Or a strop. PSA backed abrasive..... maybe, but I haven't used it. Micro bevels and PSA film.... that would be my plan C (plan B would be India/hard Ark/wood strop). This edge would be fine for most tools, but won't cut it for Japanese planes. Not if you want thin shavings. For that you NEED the back flat. If you can't get the bevel flat, you can't get the back flat either.

While I was frantically trying to remove scratches from metal, Ellie made a fish trap and caught some fish.....

Here fishy fishy fishy..

A wonderful day!

Rockin out at the beach!

Still lookin.....

Beach rocks, Ona beach, Beaver Creek, Oregon coast.

5 rocks, good lookers all....

This is familiar by now. DMT XF diamond to start.

30 seconds using a diamond nagura slurry to start yields.... Not much. Some polishing action.

Different stone, same result.

This one seemed to work well. I lapped 2 small areas to test.

Last stone and the most likely looking one..... and the worst performer. The slurry is light in color because the particles are not abrasive enough. There is no metal in the slurry to turn it dark. Just stone particles.

So I went back to the best of the bunch, lapped a larger section and worked for about 2 minutes. What happened?! Almost no action and sloooooow! You can see a bit of slurry developing.

As a control, the GSS hard gray shale. 30 seconds, full even scratch pattern. FAST! I love this stone! Soooo easy.

As usual, most of the stones that I selected are too hard and don't release their particles fast enough. I think that I am subconsciously choosing the stones that I WANT to work.... "If this one works, I'll have a lifetime supply!", that sort of thing. Still, it's not like I am just picking up any old rock. These are songs that look and feel right, but obviously there is still a finer quality, something that still eludes me. I did notice that none of these stones gave me that gritty aluminum foil tingle that I am beginning to associate with good performers, even though they ARE gritty and have small quartz particulates that are visible using a hand loupe lens. Funny/strange.

Still, it's fun to go to the beach and NOT look at the ocean. I never noticed how many people are out there looking for stones. They are the ones that look at you out of the corners of their eyes, thinking that you must be stealing all of "their" agates.


So one week later, I keep thinking...."But what about that....". So. Grabbed 2 more.

A small remnant of a too fragile stone but....

It worked quite well. T=30 seconds, made it's own slurry and felt like it was working. Looks very scratchy, not sure if it really is, though.

This MAY have been the parent rock, the composition seems similar. Not at all like the other stones that I see at the beach. Elongate crystalline structure... trying to recall geology 210.

This didn't work as well though. It felt slightly sticky, a nagura might have helped. Maybe another day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Still haulin' (haul part 2)


I need more chisels like I need, well......surely I need SOMETHING more than chisels but I still want EVERY one that I see. I really don't know why. I use about 4-5 every day, and a few others occasionally....the other 482? Almost never. Just kidding about the 482, Renee ):-0. 

Here is what I see.....3 mm mortising chisel. 

VERY nice wrapped steel lamination. This will look very nice after sharpening it with the natural stones. The jigane will really stand out.

 2 mm mortising chisel.

 Can't see the lamination line, so I am curious as to the quality of the smithing. The tool looks fairly well made, with a good shape to the iron....I can't yet tell if this is a factory made item or was made by an independent blacksmith. It still has the factory grind. It's probably never been sharpened.

 Different chisel, a broken 9 mm.

This is a nicely made chisel, a "real" chisel, made by a non-factory blacksmith. The shaft of the chisel is still black, as is the back hollow of the blade. The black coloring is the result of the steel oxidizing as it is plunged into the slack tub (water bucket) after heat treating. On cheaper tools, the blade back hollow is then ground down to ease sharpening and the shaft is ground to create a matching fit to the ferrule. On REALLY cheap tools the chisel is cast steel. I have seen these painted to look like they were forged. Buyer, educate thyself!

A better blacksmith will spend the time to individually hammer the shaft to fit the ferrule and grind the blade back before quenching (why? I don't know yet. Perhaps so that the buyer knows that the temper of the tool hasn't been ruined by hot grinding...). The blade warps from the tensions of cooling sooo quickly, inducing a reverse bend to the blade. Hopefully not too much....


I don't want to correct the (hopefully) occasional mistake, hoping that anyone reading this might understand that this is a progression, but.....

Quenching a laminated tool can cause the steel to expand, resulting in a blade that warps to the iron side. I had this totally backwards. This is important and warrants an edit. Oops!

******END EDIT*****

Too much. This is what happens when someone who doesn't know any better tries to bend the blade back to being straight. You can't do that. This is what happens, sigh..The pictures that Junji took showed this condition very well, so I knew exactly what I was buying. I'll cut the end off, grind it back and it will be good to go. The chisel looses a few years of life, but will still be a fine tool.

Different chisel, a  20mm.

This one is a mystery. Very hefty, dense metal, good thick Japanese white oak handle. The finish is odd, though. Kind of an incomplete patchwork of sanded (not polished) and black. 

This is a REALLY good handle. The end grain shows a heart center. That means that the handle maker took a branch (yes, a stick of wood) of perfectly straight grain and thickness, aged it carefully so that it wouldn't crack and peeled the bark off when he deemed it ready to use. A heart center handle is the strongest because the wood grain is continuous and the force is directly channeled to the cutting edge. Very efficient. 

The back of the chisel blade is a horror, completely sanded. This would be considered shameful, to do this to a well made tool. If you were the guy who made this....well, I would be disgusted!

Here is the cutting edge and the patchiness that I mentioned. This is a great lamination line -AND- the iron used for the body of the chisel has some weird layering to it, a bit like wrought iron. I have some other chisels that show the same effect and they sharpen soooo easy, but take a wonderful sharp edge. This will look REALLY nice after I sharpen and polish. I like the forged/black look, but this will still be nice polished. A bit bright for my tastes, but......

6.5 mm. Good?

Nice balance, fits my hand and the handle is nice, unfinished white oak. The best "user" tools have white oak handles. It's my favorite, though if you don't put a finish on them, they get all gray and dirty. I use shellac, but bare is better. Some people wear gloves so their handles stay clean. Wow! That's commitment! 

White oak is a more expensive option (more expensive than red oak, anyway.), but strong and resilient. The flashy and/or crap tools for export get rosewood and ebony...terrible for tool handles that get hit.

Or is it cheap? Sanded shaft/ferrule, shiny lacquer on the metal parts...

..and a sloppy lamination line, VERY uneven. This was in a 3 chisel lot...I wouldn't buy one this sloppy, normally. On the positive side, it was actually forged by a human being, by hand and probably not in a factory. Maybe he was having a bad day...

Again, a "real" tool. Black-back. Pretty even, nice curved flow where the blade transitions into the shaft. This is one of those tools that you just have to reserve judgement and use for a bit.

Some of my favorite tools are the seemingly junkers. My favorite chisel is a 20 mm that looks like it was soaked in a bucket of piss, then attacked with an angle grinder. The back is completely flat (bad) and deeply rust pitted (worse). Super easy to sharpen, dense "rich" iron and hold an edge crazy long and doesn't fold or chip.

 Last one....37 mm.

Not too much to show. Its heavy. Very nice shape to it. Nice file work (files are cutting tools, like many small blades, and when skillfully used become a decorative tool) and the lamination line is very interesting. A bit uneven. I wonder if it is intentional? The iron looks very "rich" to me. I am looking forward to sharpening it....

So.....2 kg of joy on a rainy day.

Domo Arigato, Junji!