The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Archive for January, 2019

Beginners Guide

Posted by Exile on January 31, 2019

Well OK, it’s a honing guide if I have to be honest. But I am a beginner, so…

I bought a plane to go with my chisels. Not the aircraft type. When I told my good lady I had bought one, she nearly had a fit.Irwin-TSP4-Baenk-hoevl She works with aeroplanes. An air traffic controller. She’s easily confused. Well, she is around me. I’m not always clear about what comes out of my mouth…

Anyhow, here it is. An Irwin Record no. 4. A smoothing plane. Probably one of the most popular models in the world.

Like the chisels, one would expect it to be ready to go when it comes out of the box. Just like the chisels, no it isn’t. It’s all there, but it isn’t really sharp yet and although it will take a shaving off the wood the result is not exactly pretty or smooth.

Stripping the thing is a doddle. One removes the locking plate on the front of the plane and the blade falls out nicely into your hand. The blade is bolted solidly to the chip breaker and needs to be freed from that. Again, that’s easy. So, finally, one is left holding the business part of it all. The blade. 50 mm broad and not blunt by any means. Just not yet sharp enough for the job it is intended to do.

Sharpening this blade is similar to sharpening a chisel. The back of the blade has to be dead flat and the bevel, on the reverse side, equally flat. The two should meet at 30° all along the edge.
guideNow, my fingers are strong enough to steer a chisel on the grinding surface but not for a 50mm broad piece of steel. I know I’d get it out of square and render it useless as a cutting instrument. There are things that are made to help with this. Hence the purchase of the honing guide. A lovely little piece of kit designed to hold the blade in a set of mini-jaws and a wheel on the other side to enable one to push it backward and forward over the abrasive surface. The protruding blade is set to hold the required angle on the abrasive. For my purposes, that protrusion is 37 mm with the guide that I have.

The one pictured here is upside down as we look at it. I don’t know why but I couldn’t find a picture of one the right way up.

This one will also take chisels as well as plane blades. Handy, I thought. Two birds, one stone. What’s not to like?
I had to try it. Off to the I-Shed then. (I built the shed, so it’s an I-Shed. OK? Screw Apple.)
I stripped the plane and polished the back of the blade on my plate glass and the abrasive paper. It polished up nicely, flat to the edge. Then on to the bevel. I took the guide, fitted the blade, measured the length and got back to the abrasive. Heave-ho and run the thing over the wet and dry 500 grit for about two minutes. Soon, I had an edge. I then went for 1000 grit and really polished it up.

After about ten minutes work I reassembled the plane, took a piece of scrap wood and set it in the vice. A deep breath and push. Whooosh!
Curly shavings all over the place! Hosanna! The thing works.

It’s not often one buys something cheap and cheerful from China that actually does what it says it should. This thing worked a treat. Even if I did have to wait for a month for delivery.

How does one say ‘thank you’ in mandarin?


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Living On the Edge

Posted by Exile on January 25, 2019

I had a merry Christmas last year. I even got some presents and, what’s more, I even got one I wanted. A set of chisels for woodworking.
Now, I am no carpenter. Never was. I served an apprenticeship as a fitter so most things steel and mechanical are no mystery to me. I can spanner my way through almost anything, but wood is a different proposition.
I can use use a hammer and nails and I can turn a screw and use a saw but the finer elements of woodworking are not yet at my command. I intend to change that in my autumnal years. So, to get me started I wanted chisels. As I said, I have them now. And fine things they are too. Made by Irwin Marples, a boxed set of 6 shiny new implements of a relatively high grade steel with tough plastic handles. Apparently, one can hit the handles with a mallet and do no damage. We’ll see. The box is wooden. Very nice and good for storage.


One would hope and believe that these things were ready to use straight out of the box. But no.
Not quite. OK, they appear sharp and I daresay they are but only to a certain degree. One has to ‘initialise’ a chisel. Which basically means that if you want to use it effectively then you have to, well, sharpen the thing. This is not as easy as it may seem.

Scientifically, the edge of a chisel is the result of two faces meeting each other at a sharp angle all along an edge. That edge is created by the back of the chisel which has to be flat all the way across the chisel and the bevel, which as to be equally flat all across the chisel and these two flat faces meet each other at around 30 degrees. The actual angle is not that critical but 27 – 30 degrees is recommended by those that know.To grind the back of the chisel, take a flat, hard surface. I chose a piece of plate glass that I have in the shed, recovered from a rubbish skip years ago. I thought it might make a window in my shed. It never got there. Lay abrasive paper on the flat surface and start by laying the chisel on that and running it backwards and forwards over the abrasive. It doesn’t take long before one can see a polished surface on the chisel. I used 1000 grit so it really took a polish, even if it was hard going. The important bit is the leading edge of the chisel so keep going until it is polished there from one side to the other. As long as that is good, the rest is not that pressing. Having achieved that, one turns the chisel over and polishes the bevel in the same way by lifting the chisel to get the edge of the bevel down on to the abrasive until that too is polished all across the edge. This will raise a burr on the back of the chisel so give it one swipe across the back when the polishing is done to remove said burr. If you did that right, your chisel is now sharp. Repeat for the other five in the set. Consider it an upper body workout…

I must have done something right, All my chisels work! Many thanks to the people on Youtube, especially a guy called Paul Sellers.

OK. Bring on the wood…

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