Full Chisel Blog

May 16, 2008

Warning: Naked Tools

Filed under: Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 7:53 pm

Got your attention?  I thought that might.  Well back to woodworking and this is related to a post I did when I first started to record this web log.  The post was about using tools in the winter time in a cold (wood heated) shop.  I talked about metal tools like my favorite Fray & Pigg Spafford pattern brace, which is entirely iron and I don’t use it in the winter time.

Another thing I noticed was that tools with hard ‘lacquer’ or varnish finish were almost as cold as the metal tools and I vowed to remove that shine.  It is kind of dull on most pieces, especially rosewood, does noting for the grain either.  But the smoothness has other problems.

Anyway here are the tools that needed to have their modern spray or dip finish removed:

Naked Tools

The Warrington pattern hammer is a cheap one made in the Orient and has what appears to be Japanese Oak for a handle.  The screwdrivers have beech handles as are the handles of the small carving knives.  The awl and the brass backed Gent’s saw have Rosewood handles and under the lacquer they looked dull.

Here are the tools after a bit more scraping and a coat of Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish really brings out the grain and will be the only treatment which I generally renew as needed on a yearly basis.

Proper Tools

I did my other Warrington and found a Miter square that needed attention.  I liked the way the Japanese oak worked, I reshaped the handles to remove that silly bulge after the handle necks down from the grip.  I don’t think I have ever worked it before, it doesn’t behave like American oak, not even white oak, seems much finer grain that isn’t as open as the Western stuff, I like it.

One other thing I don’t like about a slick smooth lacquer, varnish or shellac finish on tool handles is that they are smooth and slick, and in no time it is easy to raise a blister.  While this smooth surface has a lot of friction because it is smooth, it may have too much.  The same screwdriver with its hard finish removed and replaced with linseed oil finish will work just as well and will not raise a blister as easily.

Slick smooth finishes are also difficult to grip with sweaty hands and a couple of hours of ripping boards and my hands sweat.  Besides those factory finishes look like crap, just strip them off, scrape or sand them smooth and apply a coat of linseed oil and leave it at that.  Renew as needed, once a year for most tools.

The tools also just feel better you are feeling the wood not the finish and it looks better, the oil brings out the grain and it is a friendly finish that is easy to repair.  Soon those smooth slick modern finishes will flake and there is no repairing them.  Oil finishes are easy to use, easy to repair and make the tools look great.

Now I can use these any time of year and with the summer coming on they won’t slip in my hand and in the winter they won’t feel like cold iron.

Stephen

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