Full Chisel Blog

March 31, 2008

Liquid Hide Glue, fracture test

Filed under: Hide Glue,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:12 pm

Now this is by no means a scientific test, but it was inspired by one done on another forum with hot hide glue.  So I quickly prepared a sample by gluing two pieces of wood together in an end grain to face grain butt joint.  After it dried for 48 hours (the weekend), I placed it on the ground like this.

The Test

I then stomped on the apex of the joint and the result was:

Liquid Hide Glue test results

As you can see there was better than 70% failure of substrate (wood broke) and the rest failure of adhesive.  This test differs slightly from the other test in that I did not size the end grain of the wood prior to gluing.  I have another sample in clamp as we speak and this one is sized, so we will see if there is any improvement.

Still this is quite impressive as was the test with hot hide glue.  The wood here is Eastern White Pine for both pieces.

There was some discussion about additives to hot hide glue lowers its strength.  Those additives in question are anti gelling agents or gel suppressants (same thing), and any addition to hot hide glue will effect its strength.  Hot hide glue is just stronger than liquid hide glue.  But the difference is not that much, look the wood failed.

Other additives like filler to improve gap filling and aid in production can be added up to 10% without diminishing the holding capabilities of either hot or liquid hide glue.  Adding small amounts of pigment such as whiting to change the color of the glue has little effect on the strength, up to the 10% limit.  After that the strength does begin to diminish as the percentage of additives increase.  When it comes to liquid hide glue the anti gelling agents do continue to effect the protein bonds of the hydralized collagen (hide glue), effecting the viscosity and strength over time.

Keeping liquid hide glue refrigerated or frozen will slow down the chemical process but there comes a point when the glue fails the legging freshness test and is religated to crackled finishes or thinned out and used in the garden.  If you use hide glue as your regular glue then the expiration issue is not a problem.

Hot hide glue is stronger than liquid hide glue when both are properly applied.  But liquid hide glue is still plenty strong enough, the difference is measureable but I don’t think significant for normal woodworking applications.  I have no problem using liquid hide glue on any furniture I make, including chairs.  When the shop is warm I do break out my charcoal brazier and heat up the glue pot, in the summer the warm weather lends itself to hot hide gluing.  The warmer the more open time.

It is interesting that the warmer the temperature the shorter the open time of liquid hide glue.

Stephen

March 28, 2008

Hand Cut Dovetails; without a saw or chisel.

Filed under: Dovetails,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:26 pm

Dovetail Joint

Alright they aren’t that great but they are my first dovetails, without a saw or chisel.  And no that is not blood on the board, it is a paint sample I mostly planed off.

And how did I make these dovetails, with the tools pictured; a cutting or slitting gauge and a knife.  I dovetailed these two pieces of wood together in about 12 minutes, not knowing what I was doing.  I used the cutting/slitting gauge to cut the cross grain and the knife to cut the rip and split out the waste.

While I usually cut tails first because I gang saw my sides, with this process, it doesn’t matter which is first tails or pins.  While these are in pine, I think in very thin stock this could be done in hardwoods, I am going to try some 1/4″ mahogany just for fun.

And why did I do this, because I could and there was no one to stop me.  Is it of any importance, I don’t know, it was fun and it can be done without a workbench, saw or chisel.  Just thinking outside of the box, which is difficult for me to do as I am a cabinetmaker, a box builder, so I usually just think up to the edge of the box.  I measure diagonally.

Do I think this was done in the past?  I can’t say, but if they had those tools then they would have used them.  Oh, they did have those tools.  Did they use them in this manner, might be difficult to tell without examining a lot of old dovetails.  That is hard to do if they are glued together because you can’t examine the tool marks.

In the future I will pay a lot closer attention to how old drawers are put together.  It is easy to see saw marks on the inside of drawer backs with half blind dovetails.  Sometimes the inside kerfs go beyond the score line for thickness, in order to get more cut on the angle.  Saw marks are sometimes visible as the craftsman went beyond the score line.

I can imagine sawing all the tails or pins, then using the cutting/slitting gauge to make the cross cuts, which with the properly sharpened blade cut or slits out the waste wood, leaving the cross cut very square and ready for glue.   I used the knife to layout the pins and to do the rip, actually more of a split down to the score/slit made by the cutting gauge.  I also used the knife to split out the wood as I slit it.  This relieved pressure on the blade allowing for an easier cut.

I had to fettle a bit, but it was a rewarding experiment.  I think with a little practice, especially in softwoods or maybe thin hardwoods that it might be a time saving method.  The slitting gauge with the knife properly sharpened with the bevel on one side only produced square joints as they are formed from both sides and the fence keeps the line straight.

Stephen

March 27, 2008

What were they thinking?

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:21 pm

 

  

This is what we attempt to find out as students of history.  We try and figure out how our ancestors did what they did with what they had.  We examine the historic record and that gives us a good idea of what materials were available, in some cases their words on their work and of course the fruits of their labor, the existing woodwork.

  

Today we have much more information available about any historic subject than at any time in history.  And that can be the problem.  Today we know that surfactants in a brine quench will make the steel much harder than a water or oil quench.  And this isolates the steel from water vapor created by the red hot steel/water combination, by effecting the surface tension, not allowing the bubbles of steam to form.

  

Did they know that back then, well a few of them made, and certainly scientists of the period would have, but the common blacksmith?  The answer is no, when a traveling (probably itinerant) blacksmith was working in another shop, first thing he did was to taste the buckets to see which was the brine quench.  They needed to know.

  

Did they know back then that the electrostatic bonding of hide glue creates London forces, being the wave-forming basis for the valance bonding approach to quantum mechanics?  No.

  

When we look at history from what is available to study and are attempting to further our understanding of the past we can not have in our head modern ideas.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t know the information, just when explaining the past you can’t have a modern perspective or your results will be tainted.

  

There are many, many processes of woodworking and other trades that were never delineated as they were such common knowledge that people just never bothered to write them down.  Most of the information is about the tools, and the techniques are not often mentioned.

  

It is reverse engineering, we have the tools, we have the objects made with those tools and the last part of the equation is the technique.  When considering the technique we can not think of how we would do it today.  We must consider the tools that were available in the past, then figure out how they would accomplish the same task.  The broader your knowledge of the tools and examples will give you a better idea as to how those particular tasks were done.

  

Those that do woodworking or other traditional trades professionally realize that it is important to get the job done quickly.  That is modern thinking that has been around for centuries.  When it is your bread and butter, you get it done with as little trouble as possible.  The elegant solution is always the best; it is also the most simple.

  

I am fortunate to work in an environment where I am ‘forced’ to use traditional tools and make furniture, because I work in a Living History Museum.  I operate an 1857 Cabinet & Chair Shop.  I use the materials of the time period, pine, fir and spruce and make my own paint and varnish.  Being forced is a little too harsh as this is what I have done all along.

  

On one occasion I made stop rebates (rabbits) on styles of a couple of doors with a cutting gauge and chisel.  The wood that was removed in one piece.  Do I think I came up with that technique, no, the tool lends itself to that technique.  Now that explains why some stop rabbits don’t look fashioned with a rebate plane.

  

I recently did some tables and they all had drawers, I will be posting something later on the process.  But on the last drawer I made, I picked up a cutting gauge, the one mentioned above and used it to cut the depth of the half blind dovetails and through dovetails on the back of the drawer.

  

I use thinner sides and the dovetail is marked to the thickness of the drawer sides, thicker front.  So I used the cutting or slitting gauge, which was very sharp and it cut out the waste.  It was a little tricky, very short stroke but on the pine it wasn’t a problem.  I alternated from side to side and did get it through.  I had to clean up with a chisel, but the blade was double bevel sharpened, I think a single bevel would produce an even cleaner cut.

  

Experimental history at work.  I will sharpen up a new cutter and give it a try.

   

Stephen

March 25, 2008

Expensive Furniture

Filed under: Furniture,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:02 pm

I do make a lot of chairs and it is a good business, for my fancy adult side chair I can get $6.00, a rocking chair $9.00, a simple Windsor for $4.00, Ladderback with a rawhide seat $3.25 1/2.  Now for my bedsteads I can get $16.00, a bit more if they want it fancy, but the most expensive piece of furniture I make is a Bureau.  (Chest of Drawers).

Mahogany Bureau

These are expensive to make and have a good deal of material.  This one has four drawers, that is four boxes dovetailed together, with a bottom.  Then the four boxes are contained in another box, with sides, bottom, top, back and feet.  And this is a working piece of furniture that is used on a daily basis so it needs to be strong.

Also all of your joinery needs to be square to fit in a square box and everything has to work smoothly.  Drawer runners for the drawer sides to run against, drawer guides to keep the drawer moving without binding and a kicker to keep the drawer from dropping as the drawer is opened.

Then there are the dust panels between the drawers to reduce dust and vermin and insects from entering, all adds up to the cost of the chest of drawers, commonly called a ‘bureau’ in the nineteenth century.  And the historical record indicate that these are among the most expensive pieces for sale by the local cabinetmaker.

The carcase is both mortise and tenoned and dovetailed together, there are some turnings and moldings that must be fitted up neatly.  I did import the locks from the states and that adds to the cost as all 4 drawers have working locks,. this was an up-charge, as I usually supply just one.

 How much do I get for this Bureau, $26.00.  This example was made of pine , this is an original that I restored for a collector friend.  It had been stripped but had traces of the original paint so I painted it to look like crotch mahogany as was common out here in the West in the mid nineteenth century.  This type of painted of furniture was also popular around the world in the nineteenth century.  I even painted on the escutcheons.

After examining several old examples, I was able to determine that they did the same thing I do today and that is gang cut the drawer sides.  They would stack up all of the side boards (8 in this case) and cut the tails all at once.  The drawer fronts are half blind dovetails and the backs are through dovetails. 

The thin panels required for flat panels, drawer bottoms and dust panels all add to the work in making these complicated pieces of furniture.  It is easy to see why the addition of one drawer to a table increases its cost and putting 4, 5 or 6 drawers together and it gets costly.

So if you were a skilled craftsman in the nineteenth century and made $2.50 a day, after a little over ten days of labor could easily pay for one of my Bureaus.  And if you don’t have hard coin, and I don’t take that paper or card money from the States, I do take produce from the farm in trade for my furniture; oats, corn, pork, beef cattle, onions, wheat, anything of value in trade for my furniture.  Of course Cash Orders are attended to promptly and Coffins made on the shortest notice.

Stephen

 

March 24, 2008

Hide Glue: proper application

Filed under: Hide Glue,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:55 pm

Here are some recommendations to applying hide glue, either hot hide glue or the easy to use commercially available liquid hide glues such as Patrick Edwards Old Brown Glue and that made by Franklin/Titebond.  Now both require particular conditions for gluing, such as proper temperature for open time of the particular glue.

Hot hide glue requires that the surroundings and materials need to be warmed.  In a 60 degree shop you have about 30 to 60 seconds of open time when you must get the stuff under clamp.  The warmer the shop the longer the open time, in a 90 degree shop you have over 10 minutes.

The opposite is sort of true for the liquid hide glue formulations.  You want a warm temperature, but the higher the temperature the less open time you have.  This has mostly to do with a skin forming on the glue at really warm temperatures.  Not as critical as hot hide glue, but a consideration.

What is very important is that both surfaces of the joint are thouroughly covered with hide glue.  Now this is not just a bead and then clamp it out, it is very important that the glue has covered the surfaces of both faces.  You can brush or use a squeege or comb or roller or putty knife, anything to make sure both surfaces are completely covered or ‘wetted’ to insure a proper glue joint.

Even though hide glue is more expensive than the modern crap (did I say that?), use plenty of hide glue, ‘squeeze out’ is your friend.  And if your joints are toothed or keyed, as they should be, there is little chance of ‘starving the joint’ with too much clamping pressure.  Actually after about 10 or 15 minutes you should re-tighten the clamps to compensate for the glue absorbing into the wood and shrinking as it does as it dries.

There are several schools of thought as to when to clean up hide glue squeeze out.  My preferred method is to clean up immediately with a wet rag and putty knife.  The knife is used to get the wet rag into the fine inside edges, changing the cloth as it gets filled up with excess glue.  However you can clean up a bit later after it has turned a bit rubbery.  Or you can wait until the next day or next week to clean it up.

Glue Scrapers

If I wait and let the glue dry, which I do on drawer guides and other applications, I use a glue scraper to remove excess, then a wet rag to clean up the remaining.  This takes a bit longer to get the glue soft enough to wipe it off, but it is a very effective and useful function of hide glue.  The reason I wait to scrape off the glue on drawer guides and kickers is that I just use a ‘rub joint’ and no clamp.

A rub joint is made by coating both surfaces (as mentioned above) thouroughly with hide glue and then rubbing the piece back and forth to make a good bond.  The surfaces or edges are lined up and then allowed to dry, no clamping.  One property of hide glue is that it shrinks, so if there is good contact between both surfaces, no clamp is necessary.

I use the rub joint quite often to avoid the problem of skating when a clamp is applied.  Careful attention needs to be paid when clamping as the hide glue will cause the pieces to skate or move if the clamp is askew.  If a proper joint has been made between two mating surfaces and toothed or keyed, then this method works well.  The hide glue shrinking as it dries, is the property that can be easily exploited.

Hide glue is also easy on your tools, doesn’t cause swarf in sandpaper, files or rasps, and easy to clean up.  Do I need to say again that Hide Glue is the best glue in the world for woodworking and other applications, apparently I do. 

Stephen

March 23, 2008

1877 Cabin Party

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:37 pm

Well, I was slow getting an image at the Party on Saturday Evening at an annual party of some friends.  There were probably 30 people at the event.  I will post a group picture as soon as I have a copy in my possession.

The Lady in the middle hosts this annual party, usually at Christmas time, but I am out of town that time of year, so she had the party on the Easter weekend so I could attend, at least I would like to think that. 

Ladies

Everyone that wasn't taking pictures

Photograph courtesy Gilded Age Productions, Sir George Stapleford.

Now my friends raise wild animals for movies, there were only 3 grizzley bears and a dozen wolfs at the party.  I need to clarify that there were only 12 Canis species wolves at the party, there were a few of us 2 leggeds there.  Some of their friends are the Hollywood type, but they were a bit out of their element.

Great party, interesting people and live fiddle and harp music, good food and wonderful discussions about history.  I need to talk Doug out of a cooper’s bench ax that a good friend of his gave him.  I asked him how good that friend was, it will take some doing to get it, but I will pervail.

This weekend, the annual Easter Ft. Buenaventura Rendezvous, held in Ogden Utah on the site of Miles Goodyears fort of 1845, always an interesting gathering.  A chance to see old friends, buy good stuff and have a marvelous time.

I met Hadyn Call and his lovely wife and they saved my life by feeding me breakfast and the fellow next him had an item that caught my eye.

Brandy Keg

A white oak Oval Brandy Cask, missing a couple of rings, a tip off I could beat the guy up on the price he was asking.  I walked over and picked it up.  He pointed out the missing hoops and I knew I was in a good negotiating position.  So I asked him how much he wanted for it and he said ‘$5.00″, well he actually said ‘five dollars’.  Avoiding a gasp, I calmly and cooly went for my coin purse.  I just couldn’t bring myself to get if for less, I would have paid much more for this lovely piece.

A few new hoops and I will have a fine cask for various liquids.

Busy Weekend, I will get back to woodworking on the morrow.

Stephen

March 21, 2008

Using Hide Glue

Filed under: Hide Glue,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:24 pm

I do make a fair number of chairs and have a ‘truing table’, a surface I know is absolutely flat, where I sit chairs after I have glued them together and allow them to dry on a very flat surface.  If you don’t have a truing table, take some time and with a whiskey stick (bubble level) find a spot on your workbench or floor of the shop where you know that the surface is flat.

Sometimes on drying or removing from clamps the furniture is not quite right, one of the legs is not long enough to reach the ground, so I use the ‘truing table’ to correct this problem, which happens on occassion.  An unbacked saw with a piece of veneer against the table I can trim the arrant wrong leg.  Hard to do on the floor.

Someone asked me ‘how do you get the legs on a kitchen table all the same length?’

I responded that you cut off the legs until they are level.  If you are good you end up with a kitchen table, if you are not so good you end up with a coffee table and if you are not any good at all you end up with a pallet.

Today when I was gluing up some small tables that fit on my truing table, I made an interesting observation.  I had glued and clamped the table, the glue was of course hide glue and the clamp was a tourniquet, rope and stick.  I also had a wooden bar clamp to pull everything together on all sides, then retightened the rope clamp.

I placed the small table on the truing table and it set flat on the surface, so it was good, I had already checked and it was square.  I measured on the diagonal and when both were the same measure, my carcase was square.  I removed the bar clamp and one leg lifted up off the truing table.

I then noticed that the rope was on a bit of an angle down on that leg, so I loosened the toggle and the leg went down.  I tightened it and it came up again.  I straightened out the rope and retightened the toggle and everything was good, all legs flat on the table.

With liquid hide glue, I knew I had some time, so I played around with the position of the rope and experimented with the bar clamp again and I was able to raise or lower any leg by merely adjusting the clamping angle.  Most of the times in the past I would force it, wait until it dried then adjust the length problem.

No more, now I can adjust my clamps and get the legs right the first time, no more trimming off that one long leg.  Having an area where you can determine if your work is plumb, level and square will help producing work that sits flat on perfectly flat floors.  Now if we can convince people to build buildings with perfectly flat floors, our furniture will be fine.

A number of years ago I had an opportunity to restore a piece of furniture that belonged to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It was a small two drawer dressing table, made of cherry, somewhere in the Midwest or East coast in the early nineteenth century and had finely turned legs.  One of the rear legs was different.  The flat round ball that formed the foot was tenoned into the leg with an integral dowel.  It looked just like the other three legs but had this loose tenon about 4 inches into a socket in the leg, probably 5/8″ diameter tenon turned onto the flat ball foot.  The fit was very tight but it could be twisted and ‘adjusted’ to be level on an uneven floor.  What a clever idea.

Cherry Dressing Table

Right rear foot is the one that adjusts.

Of course my furniture with three legs, always sit firmly and squarely on the ground.  And all of my furniture with four legs also sits firmly and squarely on a perfectly flat surface, which are hard to find.  I put thick leather round pads on the bottom of chairs, tables, &c., and that helps somewhat.  And I glue it on with what else?  Hide Glue.

Stephen

March 20, 2008

Hide Glue; hot or liquid, the best woodworking glue

Filed under: Hide Glue,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:03 pm

Not just for woodworking alone, other trades like paper making, book binding, &c. use hide glue or size as well.  Hide glue in its various forms has a modulus of eruption slightly less than (pardon me) epoxy but it is not waterproof.  Now this is what everyone says when it comes to hide glue, it is not waterproof.

Well how often does your furniture get wet enough so that the glue in the joints fail?  With tight joints and a good finish, hide glue is an excellent adhesive for outdoor furniture.  There are also a number of things you can do to hide glue to make it waterproof, yes waterproof.  Adding alum or skim milk will make hide glue waterproof, other techniques work to do the same thing.

Other benifits of hide glue is that it does not suffer from creep, it is largely transparent to stains and finishes, it is easy to clean up even after it dries, it washes out of clothing and it is reversable.  Heat it up to 145 degrees F. and the joint will come apart.  It is easy to repair old joints glued with hide glue as the new glue re-dissolves the old glue.  And all antique furniture was glued together with hide glue.

Repairing old furniture should only be repaired with the appropriate glue, hide glue.  Using modern white or yellow glue or other modern adhesives will damage and reduce the value of antique furniture.  Besides hide glue, especially liquid hide glue is easy to use, an incredible woodworking adhesive and has many other characteristics, not to mention it is all natural, and not made from petroleum distillates.

Because the glue shrinks as it dries you can do rub joints which do not require clamping.  Hammering veneer down is another unique method of applying veneer to a substrate, using the adhesive characteristics of hide glue to hold the veneer to the substrate.

And any old glue can be diluted an put in the garden as it is high in nitrogen.

I had wondered how craftsman in the nineteenth century put a bead of glue down a board or in tongue and groove joints.  Then I ran across a reference to a glue spoon and had one made.  It is about 8″ long over all with a narrow body and nice spout.  Made of tin by Shay Lelegren, Tinsmith, This is the Place Heritage Park.

Glue Spoon

I could go on and on, oh wait I have and will get my Hide Glue Book out soon, I have misplaced about 14 drawings and that is the only holdup.

Stephen

March 19, 2008

Liquid Hide Glue, expiration date and freshness test.

Filed under: Hide Glue,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:35 pm

Webbing, this glue is fresh

Hide glue that can remain liquid at room temperature has been around for over 150 years and is the very best easy to use liquid glue on the market.  Now its bigger brother Hot Hide Glue is the finest glue in the world and has been around for over 30,000 years.

The discussion is liquid hide glue, made by adding anti gelling agents to hot hide glue to allow it to remain liquid under normal conditions.  With  these additives, the glue begins to break down through a chemical process that I will not go into here.  I do go into it in great detail in my forth coming book The Hide Glue Book. This puts a shelf life on the admixture and early recipes indicate a 2 year shelf life. 

Modern manufacturers of liquid hide glue are Partick Edwards Old Brown Glue (excellent in my opinion) and Franklin/Titebond, which is better than any other liquid glue on the market.  There is a fish glue out of Canada (Lee Valley) that is also a fine quality glue with a fast tack.  The latter has a longer shelf life but the two previous will have expiration dates on them, generally 12 months after manufacture.

And under ordinary circumstances, I follow those expiration dates, my glue is always gone before that time comes up.  However lately I have discovered something that got me thinking, and you know where that leads.  I had got a couple gallons of glue from a friend that buys 5 gallon buckets of liquid hide glue for veneering.  It was in another bucket but in a building that was not heated.

The glue was difficult to get out of the bucket, I had to use a putty knife, then thaw the glue, but after the above test, low and behold, it passed and I finished using up the stuff, with no problems.  I did a failure test and it was failure of substrate, not failure of adhesive bond.  The wood broke, not the glue.

The test is placing a drop of liquid hide glue on your thumb or index finger and touch them together repeatedly.  If it is fresh then the webbing, cottening or legging will occur.  If not the glue has expired and is only good for crackle paint finishes or it can be diluted and put in the garden, high in nitrogen.

If you find you are throwing away a half a bottle of liquid hide glue that has expired, then first thing when you get a freshbottle is to pour off half and freeze it, then use up the other half, then thaw out and use what is left.  By freezing the liquid hide glue, it slows down the chemical process of degradation caused by the gel suppressants.  What other glue can you freeze?

And of course I couldn’t go without saying that Hot Hide Glue and Liquid Hide Glue are the only glues that should be used in woodworking.  The others are merely cheap petrochemical imitations of real glue.  Modern yellow and white glues should never be used on good furniture or woodwork.  Hide glue is the best glue in the world. 

Stephen

March 18, 2008

Laminated Plane Irons and other Edge Tools

Filed under: Laid Steel Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 6:46 pm

Laminated Plane Irons

After some careful consideration, examination of some historical records and discussions with others, I have come to the conclusion that I am right on this one.  It is not the economics at issue, although I believe that played an important role, the issue is physics.

You can just get a much harder edge on a laminated or laid steel blade, in any tool, if welded to wrought iron body.  Wrought iron is an important part of the equation in that first it can’t be hardened like steel because it contains little carbon and second it has grain similar to wood (a result of its manufacturing process) which is always oriented along the axis of the tool.

Wrought iron has not been made in this country in the last 100 years or more but it is still being made in Europe.  It is more expensive than steel.  Interesting how things change, like linen and cotton, the former was cheaper than the latter in the nineteenth century, the reverse is true today.  The iron is folded over several times and the surface slag is incorperated into the iron forming the grain.  The slag resists rust, helping preserve old iron artifacts.

At one time I owned an 1/8″ laid steel plow plane blade.  It is the only one I have ever seen, but then I don’t get out much, and it was bent when I bought it and the steel was cracked straight across the back up about an inch from the edge.  I straightened it out, sharpened it and it worked just fine.  Had it been made of solid steel the broken part would have been missing and I would not have purchased the item.  I got a good price for it when it was sold.

One must ask if the economy led to a better tool, or the tool led to the better economy.  Was the scarcity and price of steel the factors that lead to laminating or was a laminated blade just a good idea and by the way you don’t use much steel?  Laminated blades continued to be made after improvements in the smelter process brought the price of steel down and the quantity up.

As with hide glue, the saw nicker nib and other good ideas, laminating tools is much more expensive to manufacture than making them out of solid steel and just deal with a softer steel, as it can’t be hardened like a laminated blade.  And laminated blades are easier to sharpen because much of the surface, except the back is soft wrought iron.

Laminated or laid steel tools, being; plane irons, chisels, gouges, axes, scissors, shears, &c., as well as other tools, hoop drivers, hammers, anvils, all benifit from very hard steel forge welded to very soft wrought iron.  The working edge or surface of the tool can be hardened and not tempered to produce the hardest possible surface, brittle yes, but dead hard.  Best of both worlds.

And I for one am perfectly happy saying that ‘sometimes it is impossible to improve upon the past.’  I am also willing to go out on a limb here, I think that for woodworking, the laminated tool, wrought iron with cast or crucible steel makes ‘the best tools in the world!’

Stephen

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