Archive: » 2020 » April

New In The Shop – Crocodile Dundee’s Scissors?


At a recent gathering of the Potomac Antique Tools and Industries Association I picked up some goodies at the pre-event tailgating session.  Among them was this gigantic pair of $5 scissors, a bit dirty and tarnished but still working excellently (shown in comparison to another recent pair of new-to-me scissors). To paraphrase Mick Dundee, “Now THAT’S a pair of scissors!”

I do not yet know all the ways I will put it to work in the shop, but already know they are perfect for card stock, machine-made veneers, leather, etc.  I’ve owned metal snips that were less robust.

Japanese Marking Gauge – The Block

The block for the Japanese marking gauge was, well, just a left over oak block from making some finish samples many years ago.

Since the irons were 1/2″ wide and needed to penetrate the block with an opening that allowed for them to be clamped in place I simply punched a 1/2″ square hole through it with my mortising machine.

Once that was done and I was sure the irons fit through nicely I marked an arc across the top of the block, to cut later.  The line of the arc just happened to coincide nicely with the perimeter of my trash can lid.

In order to make the tool the most useful as either a single cutter or a double cutter I surmised the need to have the first (inner) iron to be able to become invisible to the marking process.  I accomplished this by cutting a recessed housing in the block for the first iron to reside.

Now the inner iron nestles away inside the block (upper picture), and even with the outer iron in place (lower picture) the tool profile is minimized.

Next time I’ll describe my iron clamping system, there are many to choose from but since I am incurably lazy I went the simplest way.  It was the source of some embarrassment but worked out in the end.

Stay tuned.

Sign Of TheTimes

I suppose it is a sign of the current state of affairs that I spent a little time yesterday gathering the supplies necessary and then making several bottles of hand sterilizer.

I mixed equal amounts of Everclear 151 proof grain alcohol with 70% rubbing alcohol, then added Carbopol 941 polyacrylic acid as the gelling agent, about two spoonsful per pint.  My Carbopol had hardened into a block so I needed to toss a nugget into a mortar bowl and pulverize into a powder with the pestle.

I added the Carbopol powder slowly through a strainer for better dispersion into the mixing bowl with the stirrer going just enough to move the materials (alky, the distilled water portion, and the powdered gelling agent) around for about ten  minutes to fully hydrate the powder, then let it sit.  Since it acts by gelling only the water the gelation was quite slow, several hours, since the water portion of the solution was only around 1/4.  This was actually very helpful as I could then decant the slightly-thickened-but-still-gelling liquid into the dispensers.

This morning I have three dispensers sitting on the dining table with the contents looking perfect, two 4 oz. bottles to carry in our pockets and one 8 oz. jar for use wherever.  I also refilled my spout top dispenser in the barn, which I will not use much now that the water is turned back on and I can wash my hands with soap and water.

Stay isolated and safe in this time of martial law, er, mandatory house arrest, er, whatever, folks.  (“A rose by any other name…”)

Workbench Wednesday – Tim’s Bench II

As Tim and were discussing his new bench he expressed a strong interest in a bench that was both oversized (10-feet long) and would serve as a “partner’s bench, in other words both faces would be front faces set up fully for use.  Since the bench was two-faced I needed to make sure that both aprons were double thickness to accommodate holdfasts.  Normally I only double one face for a Nicholson bench.

In addition, since the bench is going into a shop modeled on a late 18th C working space my usual method of tossing one together with decking screws was not an option.  Instead I ordered several lengths of #14 flat head slotted wood screws from my reliable supplier, Blacksmith Bolt.


I still used decking screws when assembling the pieces, but only to tack things together until I was ready to drive home the #14s.  I almost always start with the legs and did so again here.  I will admit to using PVA glue since the environment for the bench might be a bit dicey at times.  I slathered on the glue and clamped the two pieces together with decking screws and fender washers  It is a system that is fat and works perfectly, allowing me to maneuver the clamping pieces easily.

I wanted the edges of the boards to be nice and clean so I planed them once the glue was dry and the decking screws were removed.

I also planed the faces to get rid of the planer chatter from the original mill.  If the pre-hand-planed surface is any indication it must’ve been a rough day for the machine.

The apron bottoms needed to have crisp corners too.  The corners were really rounded, so I tossed them onto the apron of an eight-foot Nicholson and got them cleaned up.

Before long I was assembling the front and back sides of the bench in preparation for attaching the inner aprons, the end aprons, and the ribs.  I predrilled and countersunk all the holes then sank in the flat head screws.

Stay tuned.