CRAFTS of NJ Picnic update

I have been told that a bridge on one of the approaches to the Picnic site may be closed for construction. The map below shows some alternate routes.

crafts-picnic-detour

 

It’s shaping up to be a beautiful fall day, so I hope to see some of you there!

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Upcoming Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events®

As I type this, Lie-Nielsen staff are preparing for the 2014-2015 season of Hand Tool Events®, and once again I look forward to exhibiting at several of them. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the shows I participated in this spring, as did everyone I met and talked to.

The first of the two Events I will attend in September is at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking in Manchester, CT on Friday and Saturday, September 19 and 20. Admission to this show (and most others) is free. Full details for these and all other 2014 Events are posted on the Lie-Nielsen website.

 

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Manchester, CT

Friday & Saturday, September 19-20

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

The Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking

249 Spencer Street

Manchester, CT 06040

 

 

The second September show I will attend is at Hearne Hardwood in Oxford, PA on Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27.  Admission to this show is also free. I have been to this show as an attendee several times, and the Hearne Hardwood facilities alone are worthy of  a road trip.

 

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event® – Oxford, PA

Friday & Saturday, September 26-27

10:00 – 6:00 (Friday), 10:00 – 5:00 (Saturday)

Hearne Hardwoods Inc.

200 Whiteside Drive

Oxford, PA 19363

 

 

Looking forward a little further, there are two other Events this year that I will set up at:

  • C.P. Johnson Lumber, Culpeper, VA – October 24 and 25 (I will attend on the 25th only)
  • Willard Brothers Woodcutters, Trenton, NJ – November 14 and 15

 

Remember, the admission to these events is free, and you will have a chance to play with a lot of beautiful tools, as well as talk to other people who share your passion for them. Hope to see a few of you there!

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments

Yankee 2101A brace disassembly and cleaning

No other ratcheting brace is more highly sought after than those made under the “Yankee” name. The liberal use of ball bearings, the concealed ratchet, and rugged construction all leave a most favorable impression on the user. Use one that is in good condition, and you will be spoiled for life.

Originally made and sold by The North Bros., these braces feature the mechanical elegance and simplicity for which the firm was justly renowned. When Stanley acquired the company in 1946, they continued to make the brace with only minor changes. This brace is one of those made by Stanley.

Like so many other “Yankee” braces, this one was made expressly for Bell Systems, who valued their rugged, sealed construction. Earlier models are substantially similar. If there is one weak point in these tools, it is that the grease in the sealed ratchets dries out and hardens after a few decades. In many, the grease will be so stiff as to completely freeze the ratchet mechanism. Fortunately, the time and effort needed to clean and regrease the ratchet and pad is not great.

Although the 2101 and 2101A models are far more common than the 2100 and 2100A, there is little difference between the models. To the best of my knowledge, the difference lies in the plating: the 2100′s are chrome plated, while the 2101′s are nickel plated. In 1958, that chrome plating commanded a 20% premium (page 66 of the 1958 Stanley catalog).

A word of warning before starting:  while much of the construction remained essentially unchanged over the years, there are some differences. On older braces, I believe that the cladding and bearings on the end handles were peined into place. Disassembly of this requires modification of the brace which may or may not be worth pursuing. If you run into this, or other differences from what I have shown, consider taking pictures of the disassembly process. It takes time to do this, but makes it much easier to put everything back in its proper place.

Without further ado…

 

Let’s start with the head. Begin by removing the two or three screws on the underside. The plastic or composition handle is threaded, so after these screws are removed, it will not simply pull off, but will need to be turned counterclockwise (looking at it from the above, as if you were holding it to use). Occasionally, these threads will be a little sticky. If this is the case with yours, hold the collar of the metal cladding in a wooden handscrew or vise (pad the jaws of your vise to prevent damage to the plating).

Unscrew the pad (after removing the screws from the underside).

Unscrew the pad (after removing the screws from the underside).

 

Once the head is removed, you will see a C-clip that holds the cladding and bearings in place. (ab)Use a screwdriver to remove this clip, then lift off the cladding. This is best done with the brace in the upright position so that the now exposed ball bearings don’t make a dash for freedom (hard to blame the little buggers, though – who wouldn’t want to explore the world after toiling away for decades in a confined space?). The bearing cup, races, and bearings can now be removed from the handle and cleaned.

Remove the clip that holds the cladding in place.

Remove the clip that holds the cladding in place.

With the cladding removed, the ball bearings are exposed. Actually, there is an upper race between the cladding and the bearings, but this often sticks to the cladding when you remove it.

With the cladding removed, the ball bearings are exposed. Actually, there is an upper race between the cladding and the bearings, but this often sticks to the cladding when you remove it.

Pull the cup and bearing assembly off the frame.

Pull the cup and bearing assembly off the frame.

Most of the parts before cleaning (there are a few bearings that didn't show up for the picture)

Most of the parts before cleaning (there are a few bearings that didn’t show up for the class picture).

 

Reassembly of the pad is simple, so long as it is done in the correct order. The bearing cup goes on first, followed by a bearing race (flat washer). Next, install the grease and bearings. If you give the race and cup a good coating of grease (I use axle grease), the bearings will stay where you stick them. If you managed to lose some of the bearings along the way (there should be 16), take a deep breath and visit a good hardware store and ask for 1/8″ bearings there. If you can’t find them locally, you can order them online. The other bearing race goes on top of the bearings, followed by the cladding and the C-clip to hold everything together. Finally, screw the pad on and reinstall the two or three small screws from below.

Reassembly begins with putting the greased lower race in teh cup.

Reassembly begins with putting the greased lower race in the cup.

Install the bearings and the upper race.

Install the bearings and the upper race.

Replace the bearing assembly on the frame.

Replace the bearing assembly on the frame.

The cladding goes on next.

The cladding goes on next.

Install the clip to hold everything in place.

Install the clip to hold everything in place.

Finally, screw the pad back onto the frame, then replace the screws.

Finally, screw the pad back onto the frame, then replace the screws.

 

With the pad done, it is time to tear into the shell (the assembly that houses the jaws) and ratchet. Begin by unthreading the shell completely. No tricks here; just turn until it falls off.

Unscrew the shell from the rest fo the brace. This is the easiest part of the entire process.

Unscrew the shell from the rest fo the brace. This is the easiest part of the entire process, so don’t feel too smug yet.

 

Hold the shell in a handscrew or padded vise jaws and use a wrench or handscrew to remove the end cap. This usually requires little effort. The threads are a standard right hand form.

Hold the body of the shell in padded vise jaws.

Hold the body of the shell in padded vise jaws.

Use a handscrew, monkey wrench, or something else to remove the end cap.

Use a handscrew, monkey wrench, or something similar to remove the end cap.

 

With the cap removed, look down into the shell, where there is an internal spring clip. This clip needs to come out so the cone shaped race and ball bearings can be removed. I use a machinist’s scribe and pick to remove this clip. Patience and persistence are your friends in this step. With the clip removed, the cone race can be removed. Remove carefully, as the ball bearings (there are 31 of them in there) beneath it are no less eager to taste freedom than were those in the head. Remove the bearings and the thrust washer below them.

A machinist's scribe and pick is an invaluable tool for this and many other tasks. Just be careful, or you'll put your eye out, kid.

A machinist’s scribe and pick is an invaluable tool for this and many other tasks. Just be careful, or you’ll put your eye out, kid.

Use the pick to remove the internal clip. Expect to spend a few minutes fishing this out.

Use the pick to remove the internal clip. Expect to spend a few minutes fishing this out.

Remove the cone race.

Remove the cone race.

Remove the clip.

Remove the clip.

There are 31 ball bearings beneath the cone race. Remove these carefully to avoid losing any of them. You will pay dearly for them if you need to buy them at a hardware store.

There are 31 ball bearings beneath the cone race. Remove these carefully to avoid losing any of them. You will pay dearly for them if you need to buy them at a hardware store.

With the bearings removed, the lower race can be taken out.

With the bearings removed, the lower race can be taken out.

 

Clean, grease, and reassemble.

After cleaning and greasing, install the lower race, ball bearings, and cone race.

After cleaning and greasing, install the lower race, ball bearings, and cone race.

Push the clip back into place. This is a snap compared to removal.

Push the clip back into place. This is a snap compared to removal.

Screw the end cap back into place. Snug it up lightly with a handscrew or wrench.

Screw the end cap back into place. Snug it up lightly with a handscrew or wrench.

Squeeze the jaws together, then thread the shell back onto the brace.

Squeeze the jaws together, then thread the shell back onto the brace.

 

Now that you are warmed up, it’s on to the ratchet. This is the most challenging work, but very doable. Pay close attention to how things fit together, and take pictures to help you remember the proper order and orientation.

Begin by removing jaws, then the cap on the end of the ratchet housing. Once again, use wood handscrews or padded jaws to do this. The cap has right hand threads, and usually comes off easily. Use a pick to remove the exposed pawl.

yankee-brace-ratchet-01

Remove the jaws. I’ve never had much luck removing the spring, and just leave it in place. It is easy to clean around.

Clamp the ratchet housing in padded jaws.

Clamp the ratchet housing in padded jaws.

Use a handscrew to rmove the ratchet cap.

Use a handscrew to rmove the ratchet cap.

Alternatively, use slip-joint pliers to remove the cap.

Alternatively, use slip-joint pliers to remove the cap.

This exposes one of the pawls.

This exposes one of the pawls.

Pull the pawl out.

Pull the pawl out.

Close up of the pawl.

Close up of the pawl.

 

Now turn the brace over to work on the other end of the ratchet housing. Remove the knurled collar using – yes, you guessed it – either a wood handscrew or paded jaws. With this collar unscrewed, use a pick to remove the clip that is now exposed, then lift out the entire shaft and collar.

Flip the brace upside down.

Flip the brace upside down.

Carefully remove the knurled collar.

Carefully remove the knurled collar.

Even after the collar is entirely unscrewed, it remains captured by the threaded shaft.

Even after the collar is entirely unscrewed, it remains captured by the threaded shaft.

The ratchet and shaft are held in place by a clip.

The ratchet and shaft are held in place by a clip.

Remove the clip with a pick or similar implement.

Remove the clip with a pick or similar implement.

The clip that was removed in the previous step.

The clip that was removed in the previous step.

Now the ratchet shaft and collar can slide out of the ratchet housing. There should be no resistance.

Now the ratchet shaft and collar can slide out of the ratchet housing. There should be no resistance.

This is what you will often find. Here, the green grease has dried out and hardened. With the grooves filled in, the ratchet function does not work.

This is what you will often find. The green grease has dried out and hardened. With the grooves filled in, the ratchet function does not work.

If a brace has seen heavy use, there may be some burs on the edges of the ratchet grooves. These can be removed carefully with a fine file.

If a brace has seen heavy use, there may be some burrs on the edges of the ratchet grooves. These can be removed carefully with a fine file.

 

Now push the ratchet selector down (towards the head) and remove the second pawl. With both pawls removed, the flat spring will slide out.

Press the ratchet selector down.

Press the ratchet selector down.

Because of the way it sits in the housing, the second pawl cannot be pulled straight out. Pivot it first, then pull it out.

Because of the way it sits in the housing, the second pawl cannot be pulled straight out. Pivot it first, then pull it out.

With the pawls removed, the flat spring can be pulled out.

With the pawls removed, pull out the flat spring.

The pawls and spring.

The pawls and spring.

The spring shoul have a nice even curve to it. If it does not, it is usually possible to bend it gently. Gently.

The spring shoul have a nice even curve to it. If it does not, it is usually possible to bend it gently. Gently.

 

Finally, remove the ratchet selector by pushing it in one direction or the other. Once this is out, the spring and pin are free to fall out.

Remove the ratchet selector by pushing or pulling it to on end.

Remove the ratchet selector by pushing or pulling it to one end.

The three grooves are the detents for the selector.

The three grooves are detents for the ratchet selector.

From left to right: spring, pawl, and ratchet selector (this is the proper order for reassembly).

From left to right: spring, pawl, and ratchet selector (this is the proper order for reassembly).

 

Reassemble after cleaning and greasing everything. Again, I use axle grease here. Reassembly of the pawls and springs is a little tricky. Not complicated, but you will often wish for a third and fourth hand to hold everything in its proper place. Take your time and don’t force anything.

After cleaning and greasing, reassembly starts with the ratchet selector mechanism. After installing the spring and pawl, slide the ratchet selector in. Use a pick or slender tool to hold the pawl back so that the end of the selector can slide past it. The three grooves need to face the pawl.

After cleaning and greasing, reassembly starts with the ratchet selector mechanism. After installing the spring and pawl, slide the ratchet selector in. Use a pick or slender tool to hold the pawl back so that the end of the selector can slide past it. The three grooves need to face the pawl.

Use tweezers to put the spring in its place. It is symmetrical, so don't worry about putting it in backwards.

Use tweezers to put the spring in its place. It is symmetrical, so don’t worry about putting it in backwards.

Install the pawl on the lower end of the housing. It needs to enter at an angle. Be sure that the square-shouldered groove faces the spring (the spring rides in this groove). The two pawls are identical, so don't worry if you forgot which one came from this end.

Install the pawl on the lower end of the housing. It needs to enter at an angle. Be sure that the square-shouldered groove faces the spring (the spring rides in this groove). The two pawls are identical, so don’t worry if you forgot which one came from this end.

The pawl will be cocked out by the spring, but will pivot into place when the shaft is installed.

The pawl will be pushed out by the spring, but will pivot into place when the shaft is installed.

Slide the shaft into the housing. Make sure the collar is on the shaft, and facing the correct direction.

Slide the shaft into the housing. Make sure the collar is on the shaft, and facing the correct direction.

Replace the retaining clip, then thread the collar back onto the housing. The upper pawl can now be replaced. It will be necessary to use a pick to pry the spring away from the housing to provide clearance for the pawl. Make sure that the spring rides in the square-shouldered groove.

Replace the retaining clip, then thread the collar back onto the housing. The upper pawl can now be replaced. It will be necessary to use a pick to pry the spring away from the housing to provide clearance for the pawl. Make sure that the spring rides in the square-shouldered groove.

Replace the ratchet housing cap, and snug this and the collar up. Do not overtighten them.

Replace the ratchet housing cap, and snug this and the collar up. Do not overtighten them. Replace the jaws and shell.

 

And here is the completed brace.

The completed brace. This should outlast all of us.

The completed brace. This should outlast all of us.

 

Posted in Tool cleaning and repair | 7 Comments

Email subscription to the blog

I’ve had a few people contact me about adding an email subscription to this blog. After a bit of research, I have chosen and installed a plugin to make that possible.

If you enter your email address in the box at the top of the right hand column, all future blog posts will show up in your mailbox. There is no charge for this, and your email address will never be sold or used for any other purpose. If you tire of my writings in the future, you can unsubscribe at any time.

RSS feed is also available for those who use an RSS reader.

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CRAFTS of New Jersey Picnic and Tailgating 2014 (September 14)

Please read this recent entry for important information regarding a possible detour.

This Sunday (the 14th of September), one of my favorite old tool events in New Jersey will be held in Tewksbury. Yes, it is time for the CRAFTS of NJ Annual Picnic.

The day starts at 8 am with tailgating, where some real deals and gems can be found. Non-members are welcome to buy at the tailgating, but selling is restricted to members (you can sign up there – an annual membership is $15, and is a bargain).

While the deadline to sign up for the noon picnic has passed, the tailgating alone is worthwhile, and is a great way to meet fellow tool collectors.

If you do make the trip, stop by and say hi. I will have a few saws there, and the elves may bring along some of their cookies to tempt you.

 

CRAFTS of New Jersey Picnic & Tailgating 2014

Sunday, September 14 2014

Tailgating begins at 8:00 am

Picnic begins around noon

Life Camp

McCan Mill Rd Tewksbury, NJ 07830

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments

Roubo frame saw hardware now available for sale

I have made blades for Roubo frame saws* for over a year, and to my mild surprise, they have proven to be a popular item. A surprise, but a pleasant one to be sure, as it is heartening to know there are others who share an interest in this aspect of the craft.

I have ripped many feet of wood with handsaws, and my Roubo frame saw puts them all to shame. It will not make resawing an easy task, but does make it much less daunting. To make it easier for others to make their own Roubo frame saws, I now sell a hardware kit to complement my blades. This hardware kit is robust, easy to work with, and fairly faithful to Roubo’s illustration.

Several weeks ago, I took my 48″ Roubo frame saw to the Lie-Nielsen Open House, where it sat next to my bench for passersby to see and try. Those seeing it for the first time in real life were inevitably struck by its imposing size and distinctive style. Many stopped to ask questions about it, and more than a few ventured a test cut or two. Judging from the smiles on the faces of those who tried it, the experience was not an altogether unpleasant one.

The Roubo frame saw hardware is available as part of a complete kit that includes a blade ($113-$182, depending on blade selected, until September 1, $119-$188 afterwards), or as a hardware only kit ($57 until September 1, $63 afterwards). Except for wood, the complete kit includes everything needed to build the Roubo frame saw; you will need to supply both the wood and the blade for the hardware only kit.

Building the wood frame is an easy woodworking project that provides ample opportunity for customization and embellishment.  For those who want a starting point in making this saw, a scaled pattern of the arms is available.

 

Robo frame saw hardware and blade kit.

Roubo frame saw hardware and blade kit.

48" Roubo frame saw built from hardware kit and blade.

48″ Roubo frame saw built from hardware kit and blade.

Closeup of Roubo frame saw hardware tensioning bracket.

Closeup of Roubo frame saw hardware tensioning bracket.

Closeup of Roubo frame saw hardware bracket.

Closeup of Roubo frame saw hardware bracket.

Roubo plate of frame saw.

Roubo plate of frame saw.

 

*The blades I make are slightly different from those described by Roubo:

The blade of the saw, as I just said, is 4 thumbs [inches] size at least, tapering barely toward the back [away from the teeth]. We do not put a set on these sorts of saws, because that would eat up the wood excessively with an unnecessarily wide kerf, and one takes great care that the teeth be perfectly straight on the horizontal, and that their teeth be also perfectly equal in height, so that they grab all equally, and that they do not chatter… (To Make as Perfectly as Possible: Roubo on Marquetry, as translated in the Lost Art Press edition)

The saw described by Roubo was used to cut veneer. Because veneer is thin, little clearance in the kerf is needed (the veneer flexes easily, so there is little friction and no danger of the blade being pinched in the kerf). The taper in the blade would have provided ample clearance.

Most of the blades I sell are used more for resawing large boards into smaller planks. Because of this, there is significant friction and the possibility of the kerf closing in on the blade. To counter this, I add set to the blades.

Even with the set, it can be used to cut veneer. You will lose a little bit more to the kerf, and the surface finish will not be as smooth, but it is very doable.

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On vacation next week

I am headed to Wisconsin with  the saw elves for one last summer trip before school begins. We will be gone all of next week (August 10-17).

I will attempt to get out all orders placed by Thursday (August 7) before I leave. Orders placed after that will not ship until the week of the 18th.

I will try to check emails periodically during that week, but responses may be delayed.

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RakeMaker II status update

At the risk of delving too deeply into personal details, let me say that it has been a frustrating (but very enlightening) journey to bring this saw filing guide to market.

Months ago, it became apparent that I was unable to keep up with demand by myself, so for some time I have been searching for a machine shop to make some of the parts for me. After striking out at more than a few shops, I believe I have finally found one that will work with me, and to my standards.

I am getting the money together to place a sizable order (well, sizable for me). It’s a big leap, but because a large order is the only real way to keep the unit cost low enough to make it economically viable, it’s one worth taking.

To answer the real question that most of you have:  once the order is placed, it will be two to three months before the finished guides are ready to ship. Thanks to everyone who has expressed interest and support, and thank you to all for your patience. I believe that it will be worth your wait.

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments

Lie-Nielsen 2014 Open House dispatch

When I was first invited to make the trip to the 2014 Lie-Nielsen Open House, I could not believe my good fortune. I had no idea what to expect, but after talking with several friends about it, knew that I was in for a treat. I was not prepared, however, for just how lucky I was, and how special it would be.

For two days last week, Warren, ME felt like the center of the woodworking universe. That may be a bit of hyperbole, but the attendees, demonstrators, weather, food, and a common and binding interest did all coalesce to create an unforgettable event.

The mood was set when I pulled into the LN headquarters, several red and white buildings amongst the green Maine woods. I set up in their classroom, a delightfully timeless room with vaulted ceilings and large expanses of windows that admitted copious natural (and very dramatic) light, and spent the next two days taking in the highlights. There were so many of these that I could not possibly relate them all. These are but a few.

  • Meeting a few of my customers and readers. It’s easy to wonder if anyone reads what I write, and so it never fails to surprise me when someone introduces themself and says “I read your …” Putting faces to names is always good, though I am not sure my readers share that sentiment.
  • Meeting Frank Strazza. His work is amazingly precise, and he makes it look easy. If I ever make it to Texas, Heritage School of Woodworking is on my short list of places to visit.
  • Watching Deneb Puchalski and Roger Benton (of ReCo Lumber) put on an impromptu dovetail demonstration. There is a video out there of this, and as soon as it is shared I will post it here.
  • Using one of my Roubo frame saws to resaw a small piece of wood with Christian Becksvoort.
  • Talking to Megan Fitzpatick again (my daughter is insanely jealous, as Megan is one of her heroes), and meeting Matt Kenney for the first time. It is obvious that both of them care deeply about the craft and their respective magazines.
  • Meeting and talking with the Lie-Nielsen staff. Simply a great group of people.
  • Peter Follansbee’s short presentation at the lobster bake. To call it captivating is an understatement.

In my rush to get on the road, I left my camera at home. I will not try your patience with my cell phone pictures, as there are many good pictures up on LN’s Facebook page, as well as the short video below (from the LN YouTube channel).

Thanks again to everyone who showed up to make this a memorable event, and especially to the Lie-Nielsen staff for all of their hard work in making it happen.

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Headed to Maine in a few days

Years ago, I took a pleasurable jaunt up the coast of Maine. Circumstances, regrettably, did not permit visiting the Lie-Nielsen headquarters, a site I have long wanted to tour. Although I had hope of making it back someday, little did I know that my first visit would be as an exhibitor at their Open House.

In a few short days, my car will be packed and pointed to the Northeast for two days of tools, salt air, lobster bakes, woodworking, and more. In the meantime, there is a lot of prep work to do.

Lie-Nielsen Summer Open House

Friday & Saturday, July 11-12

9:00 – 5:00 (both days)

264 Stirling Road, Warren, ME 04864

Posted in Announcements | 5 Comments