Sunday, August 07, 2011

Some New Tools

After I got back from NH, I decided that I needed a couple of things.  I ordered up a plane sack for my Veritas plow plane, because it's a bit awkward to store safely.  I'm thinking about getting sacks for my other planes as well now that I've seen that these are pretty nicely made.  I could also just buy gun sacks, made from the same stuff (3 for $15), and cut and stitch them to the appropriate lengths.  Because I left my framing square up north, I also decided to try out one of the Japanese squares that Lee Valley sells, in addition to a nice precise 12" rule (made by Shinwa, not pictured).  While I was on the site, I saw that Lee Valley was running a special on Narex bevel edge chisels, with even lands.  I could use a decent set of chisels, all of mine are crummy butt chisels I've collected.  I decided to pull the trigger, since I have the Narex mortise chisels and have been pleased with them.  I went for the set of four, because I don't need any more (and these four are probably more than enough).

You can see here after a couple of flattening strokes on each what kind of shape they were in.  Apart from the 3/4", all of these flattened up relatively easily.  The 3/4" will flatten out gradually as I sharpen it in the future, but for the time being I used something resembling "the ruler trick" to just flatten a narrow strip right behind the cutting edge.  I sharpened up to 600 grit DMT, stropped and packed them away in my new canvas roll.  Interestingly, the 1/2" felt the best in my hand as far as balance...hard to put into words, but it just feels incredibly elegant and nimble.  The lands aren't quite as narrow as I was hoping (and as appeared in the renderings on the site), but they will do.  I also wouldn't mind seeing a steeper angle on the bevels, as it is they wouldn't go too far for clearing the insides of dovetails, which is the only joint that I commonly cut where a bevel edge is a boon.  But maybe I'm asking too much of a set of chisels that I paid less than $10 a piece for.

A few words on the square: I bought this thinking it would make a nice lightweight framing square.  As soon as I went to use it to lay out some datum on a stick, however, I discovered that it's no good for the way I work.  In NH where I learned to lay out datum (the ideal reference planes projected through the timber), we worked from the inside of the square, using the scale on the inside of the tongue for marking the top and side measurements.  The Japanese square is only graduated on the outside edges, making it difficult to use in this fashion.  It will still be a handy small square, but will probably see a lot less use than my regular framing square because the framing square will be around for other tasks anyways.

I handled a couple of the Shinwa 12" rules in NH, and so when I decided I needed to replace my Staedtler rule (nothing inherently wrong with it, but it's not ideal for carpentry) I thought first of the Shinwa.  I decided to go ahead and order the Lee Valley cabinet maker's rule, and when it arrived I was surprised to see that it was in fact the Shinwa.  Very nice rule.  Precision graduations to 64ths on one scale, just in case, and overall a nice precision stainless steel rule.  I forgot that I had ordered it at all, until I was pulling my receipt out from under the packing paper in the box and discovered it, hence the exclusion from photos.  I even got to put it to some use setting the fence on the table saw at work, much more accurate than the tape measure. 

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