Full Chisel Blog

June 28, 2012

Double Flax Spinning Wheel Flyer – done

I started this documentation of the restoration of this flyer here.  And continued here and here.  The flyer was broken in two around the mandrel, which I repaired with Hot Hide Glue, I also served linen thread around the base to strengthen, secured with a couple coats of shellac.

I could not bend the hooks the way I normally do as they are too small.  So I had to bend them in the reverse order than normal.  I used the thickness of the needle nose pliers to determine the length of the hook shank, then bent it over and hit it with a hammer to create a sharp corner.

I then bent the hook end and nipped them off.  I had to be careful as I only had a short length of old iron wire the correct size to match the other flyer.

After making 20 iron wire hooks I had plenty left over, see the 1/2″ piece on the gnomon?  I was sweating the last five, but when I got down to 3 I knew I had it made.

I then had to file all of the ends of the hooks to remove any sharp edges and flatten out the shank of the hook.

The lower hook is flattened on an anvil with a hammer and has not been sharpened to a triangular point on the end.

And here it is completed, I did use Fish Glue to secure the hooks, I also etched the iron wire with garlic prior to gluing.  I used the little clamp from Lee Valley to push down a couple of difficult hooks, most went in by gently pushing with pliers while very gently twisting.




June 25, 2012

Double Flax Wheel Flyer repair 2

I have been working on this flyer as mentioned previously.  Today after making a proper quill bit from a bit of correct sized piano wire [I filed it by hand, much easier than trying it on my hand crank grindstone].

I used a reciprocating push drill from Lee Valley [they don’t seem to carry it anymore but I do have one ‘similar‘ from them I use on smaller holes] and it works great but it is a lot of work.  I had to drill 20 holes, it took 100 strokes to drill each hole for a total of over 2000 strokes.

Now it is a matter of bending 20 small 16 gauge wire hooks and installing them.


June 17, 2012

The Best Tack Cloth in the World!

Filed under: Finishing,Historical Material,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:15 am

When finishing a tack cloth is important to prepare the surface and remove any residue that could interfere with or effect the finish.  Over the course of many years I have gone through a number of those slightly sticky, some sort of petroleum distillate impregnated bits of cheesecloth.  They fill up, dry out and sometimes leave a bit of their stickiness on the surface it is suppose to clean, especially when new.

And there is the problem of storing them and remebering where they are.  While you may loose these, they don’t go bad.

While researching Shellac, Linseed Oil, & Paint – Traditional 19th Century Woodwork Finishes, I discovered the ultimate tack cloth, that had been in use for centuries, the Washing Leather.

I like this one from Lee Valley, you get two of these marine oil treated pieces of leather that are not from the endangered and protected South American antelope.  When ready to use they are moistened with water [I use distilled water, so as not to introduce minerals or chemicals].  The water is then squeezed out of the washing leather, then using it slightly damp to remove any surface residue.

They can be cleaned by washing with soap and water.  I use one regularly to clean my eye glasses as well as keeping one in the shop.  One of those things I wished I had  discovered earlier in my career as I would have saved a lot of money by using these renewable, all natural, no petroleum distillates, permanent and much more versatile.


June 14, 2012

One Good Turn, A Natural History of the Screwdriver and Screw

A small book by Witold Rybczynski based on an article for The New York Times about the most important tool of the millenium 1000 to 2000 AD.

A friend lent me a copy which I read immediately, it is a short book and doesn’t take much time to get through.  I did have to check a few facts during the reading as is my want.  And I did notice a couple of minor mistakes.

But it is a good read and the author does make a case for the screwdriver [and the screw] was one of the greatest inventions of that time period.  I always thought the greatest invention was the off switch, but that doesn’t count as a tool.

The book is available on Amazon.


June 11, 2012

Double Flax Spinning Wheel Flyer

While examining the unbroken original flyer for the Double Flax Spinning Wheel, I noticed that the iron hooks were replaced.  And they were replaced in new holes.

Look closely and notice the tiny plugs next to the wire hooks.  Never know what you will run into when repairing old pieces.

I have the broken flyer cleaned, etched and glued with hot hide glue and under clamp.  Tomorrow I will refit the shaft.  I noticed that the shaft only goes in one way to remain perfectly centered between the arms of the flyer.  The shaft is responsible for the fracture as the wood had shrunk causing the fracture that was repaired with wire.  There was evidence of hide glue on the repair as well, lucky for me.

I will fit the shaft, clean it off and etch it with a clove of garlic and glue it in place.  Then drilling the holes, bending and installing the hooks.


June 8, 2012

Double Flax Spinning Wheel – Flyer repair

This pair of flyer’s for a Double Flax Spinning Wheel* came in from Washington State, from someone who found me on the Internet, what a wonderful invention, both the spinning wheel and the World Wide Web.

One is an original [on the right below] and in remarkably good condition only one hook showing excessive wear.  It is made of beech with an iron mandrel and iron hooks.

The other appears to be a replacement made of walnut [on the left above] and with no hooks.  Possibly made to balance out the look without being functional.  It shows no evidence of a single adjustable hook.  The mandrel is original and matches the other, this flyer is broken and ‘repaired’ with some iron wire.

I first need to refit the mandrel into the wood to close up the crack and then I will make the repairs using Hot Hide Glue.  I will then make the hooks from iron wire and drill the holes for them in the flyer..  The iron hooks are flattened with a hammer on an anvil, this helps register them in the correct position.  I will etch the iron with a fresh clove of garlic and a bit of Fish Glue in the holes to hold the iron.

Once completed a coat of Moses T’s Reviver and ship them back.


*Double Flax Wheels were sometimes called Gossip Wheels where two spinsters would spin and talk at the same time.  However I was also informed that a talented spinner, spinning from a distaff could spin two yarns simultaneously.

June 5, 2012

Horsetails [Equisetum spp] – Primitive Abrasive

Horsetails, joint grass, shave grass or scouring rushes, the same name for an ancient plant that has some remarkable properties.  High in silica content it is capable of scratching a hard steel file which also means it works great at polishing iron, brass, copper, silver, etc.  It also works on hardwoods, bone, horn, ivory, and antler

The stuff grows around streams and rivers and a couple of friends went fishing on Sunday and I asked them to pick me some if they saw any.  Well on Monday these were delivered.

I will let them dry out, this allows the chlorophyll to go away and keeps from turning whatever I am working on, green.  When it is dry I will soak the pieces in water, split them and flatten them out.  They are like segmented straws, hollow except at the nodes.

Being impatient I split out some to polish a silver dish I am working on, then polished a few iron and brass items, not worried about any green color here.

A ubiquitous plant, easy to identify and an inexpensive abrasive.  Also great for camping, a hand full can scour the the frying pan after you have burned breakfast.


June 3, 2012

The Next Question about Traditional Woodworking

Filed under: Historical Material,Moxon,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:33 pm

In the past I have asked questions about traditional 18th and 19th century woodworking and found answers.  Sometimes it takes a bit of time to finally ferrate out the answer, I had heard of European gypsies traveling around re-tinning pots over a fire using a stick and rag, yet it took me 30 years or so to finally find the answer.

Vernice Martin was another enigma; the legendary ‘Varnisher to the King’ had come up with a varnish that was appreciated all over Europe.  I had to find his formula.  It also took better than 30 years and now I have 3 of his recipes for varnish.

I had wondered why old laminated steel tools were better than modern all steel tools and discovered that the steel wasn’t any better it was the process of forge welding and quenching in brine that made the laid steel tools so good. When I first saw pictures of the puzzle mallet in the Chronicles of the Early American Industries Association, I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to figure it out.  After some experience with x-rays of wood joints, I realized that it had been misinterpreted as folding wedges when in fact it was a ramp dovetail.  I published my article in Woodworker’s Journal before Roy Underhill did an episode on his show.

By carefully reading Moxon’s text I was able to determine what his bench looked like and how the crochet and vice were actually used.  And by carefully reading Moxon’s text I don’t know what to make of his description of using a saw set?

I know what the nib on the end of a saw was used for, but no one agrees with me, so it is an answer for me alone.  I know the saw was never used backwards to start a saw cut.  I know to lift the saw slightly on the non-cutting stroke of the saw blade.

I know that rebate and rabbit are pronounced the same.

Traditionally spalt wood was considered a cull and highly figured woods were considered inferior until the Fedral period.

I know what I know about 18th and 19th century woodworking but that doesn’t interest me as much as what I don’t know.  I don’t know why they went from single plane irons to double irons?   Is it a cap iron or a chip breaker?  How many different plane types are there?  I don’t know if drawboring was ever used on furniture?  I don’t know if a scrub plane was ever used to thickness a board?

There are also questions that I and others haven’t even asked.  That is the challenge and what keeps it all very fascinating.



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