Detour Number 80

…return evil for evil to no one. Take into consideration what is fine from the viewpoint of all men. If possible, as far as it depends on you, be peaceable with all men…

Hmmmm. Still not feelin’ it. The enthusiasm for the lathe, that is. There’s something stopping me getting on with the next stage, which is to set it to work. Perhaps it’s because I don’t know what to make? Or perhaps it’s because I’ll need some calibration devices to get all the axes (not the chopping axes; the plural of axis) aligned and I don’t fancy spending money at the moment (apart from buying a Lie-Nielsen No 48 from Classic Hand Tools – more about that soon). Maybe, I’m just not sure how to integrate a messy metal working machine into a purely hand tools wood working workshop?

A detour is needed.

We bought a table from friends. Nothing special, basic but robust. We pressed it into service right away, but just before the 25th of December, I decided to see if I could brighten it up a bit.

Here’s a picture of the underside…

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With the top still attached to the legs (by “buttons”) I took a test swipe with a cabinet scraper and it took the dark patina right off in one swipe, much like this…

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So I proceeded to work on the whole top. After a while, I remembered I have a Stanley Number 80 Scraper tool which I’ve never used. Here it is…

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I found it in an antique shop on The Quays in Exeter; I think around the beginning of last year or the year before. That shop has a great collection of old tools in good condition. Occasionally one finds “just the thing”. When I found this, I bought it, even though I had no immediate use for it. It was £18.

The blade was a Record blade, and wasn’t in good condition at all. I knew Ron Hock of http://www.hocktools.com made some replacement blades and that http://www.classichandtools.co.uk sold them, so I bought one. Of course, it sat in the box for months, until now.

Fettling the Number 80

I was in such a rush to get this thing put to work that I didn’t take photos of some of the key processes, so some of the following pictures are staged.

First, I flattened the sole. This was done on a reference block with SC (silicone carbide, wet or dry) paper, beginning with 180 grit, used dry and finishing with 1500 grit…

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Next, the blade was prepped on the 1000 grit stone, starting with flattening the back. I used the blade holder to hone a primary bevel at 45 degrees…

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…then increased the angle a shade, then polished a secondary bevel on the 10,000 grit stone…

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David Charlesworth’s Ruler Trick was used to polish a little back bevel, still on the 10,000 grit stone…

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With the edge now as sharp as Spock In A Crisis, I could create the “hook”. The blade is set up – but protected – in a vise and the burnisher run to and fro lightly…

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…gradually increasing the angle (from negative to neutral)…

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…until the “hook” can be felt with the fingertips. Then it’s done. Now to fit the blade and try it out. Referring to this picture…

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…I find the easiest way is to set the tool on the bench with the knobs at A slack. Then drop the blade in carefully, with the hook towards the arrow – which is the direction in which one pushes the tool – so that it rests on the bench. This means it leans forward, as shown, with the bevel rearwards. Tighten the knobs at A until they just bite, make sure the blade is nicely seated, then tighten the knobs securely. Turn the thumbscrew at B until it just bites the blade. Then take a test scrape. This was the result…

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…only just touches. Tighten thumbscrew B a touch. This bows the edge a bit. Because the blade leans forwards, this has the effect of pushing the edge downwards, increasing the depth of cut. Try again…

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…getting there, but with another touch…

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…that’s nicely agressive! Here’s the kind of shavings it produces…

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This is the underside of the table top, finished…

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There’s no point in scraping all of it. The edges, though, had thick paint on them. The No 80 took this off with seemingly no effort. This is the top with all the patina scraped off, then smoothed with paper…

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Normally I dislike using paper to finish because of the dust, but the No 80 is a coarse to medium tool and left a touch of tear out here and there. I tried my No 4 smoother, but the surface was so irregular in grain direction that that only created more tear out. I could have honed a steep back bevel on the blade, but I didn’t want to change that blade, so the last resort – paper. I’ll finish it with Danish Oil.

I was amazed by how well the No 80 worked. It certainly cuts in well and makes short work of a mucky surface. But, as I said, this tool seems medium at best. Maybe with experimentation, I could get it to cut finely? What if I honed a bevel on my card scrapers? Hmmm…

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