Saturday, February 29, 2020


As I work with natural stones both Arkansas and JNats some stones begin to become almost mythical.

I have a Pike Lilly White and a Norton Hard Arkansas that are my work horses, they are reasonably fast, with great "feel" but either could be replaced with another stone with little loss and I have a number of very nice JNats for finishing stones that are close to interchangeable. Being natural stones they have their quirks, and different feel of steel on stone but for the most part it makes no never mind which one I use. But there is one that is special, a Takashima "Ooban" is the name that was given by the seller. It is a relatively soft stone and easily makes a slurry. After being set up with the Arkansas stones it takes just a few passes on the Takashima for the cutter's edge to have a beautiful smokey appearance and when viewing the edge with a 10X loupe it has a matte surface with almost no visible scratches. Of course the real test is how does the cutter cut and last. It passes that test as well.

I guess the real reason for this post, other than a chance to phrase a wonderful stone, is to ask if others have a special stone. One that may be irreplaceable and is the one you reach for when you want the best edge you can get.


Friday, February 28, 2020


I was booked for a Cardioversion this afternoon. This morning I converted on my own. After a trip to the Doc's office for an EKG the Cardioversion was cancelled and for now, other than some real nasty meds, I'm back to normal. I'll still take a few more days off to make sure but damn it feels good.

I'm down to three small Marples chisels to finish cleaning up and sharpening. It is nice seeing them in the chisel rack and ready to use. It will be even nicer to use them.

Here they are in the rack, for most of the sizes there is one bevel edge and one firmer. The larger than one inch and patternmaker/paring chisels are in the lower rack.


There are more but most are duplicates and some post 1930's chisels plus a number of Marples chisels with London pattern handles.

Tomorrow may be a clean and move stuff around in the shop day. Right now the French/English bench is against the West wall of the shop and is in the way, especially for how little it is used other than a flat surface to hold stuff. There is room along the East wall, under the lumber rack, for the bench where I can still use the shooting board and have the vise available if needed.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

When All Goes South Sharpen Something

Over the years I've collected Pre-War (before mid 1930) Marples chisels. Most of the chisels have "carver" Box wood handles but there are a few with "London" pattern handles as well. Both types are well balanced and a joy to use. For some reason, I would guess not as many London pattern were sold, the London pattern chisels are harder to find.

One of the nice things about Marples chisels is there was a clear break around the early 1930's in the shape of the tang, going from a flat hammered tang in the early chisels to a round cast tang on later chisels. That's all you need to know other than how much pitting there is on the back to determine if a chisel is worth buying.

From left to right the first chisel is a Pre-War chisel with a flat tang, the second is a post mid 1930's chisel with a round tang, the third is a late model (not a clue when it was made), and the last two are early chisels.

Because I've been banned from heavy lifting for the last couple of weeks I've spent time getting a working set of Marples chisels prepped and in the chisel rack. Along with the bench chisels I also have a five chisel set of Marples pattern maker chisels that have not been used because most likely the previous owner was a carver and they all have a back bevel.

I'm still doing the "yes but" routine on what is the best way to sharpen/get rid of the back bevel on those chisels. One way is to grind 2 or 3 mm off each chisel but I hate to waste that much length. Another would be to just grind, hone, and polish the bevel and get rid of the back side wire with a strop and over the natural progression of sharpening slowly remove the back bevel. The chisel would likely not be as sharp as it could be but I expect it would be "working sharp". Whatever, unless someone can convince me otherwise I expect that will be the plan.

BTW, as stated earlier the chisels are a joy to use, very light weight, good balance, good steel that is easy to sharpen but also holds an edge, and a wonderful feel in hand. The closest modern chisels are made by Ashley Iles but while nice they are just close.   


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Another Journal Update

While at the Doc's for my follow up visit the EKG showed I had gone into Cardiac flutter in addition to the AFib. MsBubba, having worked in the ER and Cardiac Rehab for a number of years, spotted the flutter while the tech was doing the EKG. It was a long wait for the Doc to show.

Bottom line I go back to the Outpatient unit  Friday for another Cardioversion to see if they can get me into a normal rhythm.  It sucks to get old.

Sorry for all the medical BS but this is where I keep a record of what I do and what is happening in my life. Pretty sad and boring this shit is the most interesting thing in my life. at one time I could write about the sun rise over the Nile and the street food of Hong Kong, racing the sun while going "over the top", or even "there I waz with one burning and one turning".

Like I said, it sucks to get old,


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Journal Update

After being supper compliant under MsBubba's watchful eye, even down to drinking decaf coffee. BTW, drinking Decaf is like kissing your sister, it may be a kiss but there sure isn't a thrill.

On to the chase, yesterday I went back into AFib, with all my usual symptoms, shortness of breath, heavy legs, and extreme weariness. Being the weekend, stuff always happens on the weekend, it will be tomorrow before I can see the Doc and hopefully figure out a plan.

Until then, I've a set of pre-war Marples chisels that need to be brought up to speed, this will be a good time to piddle around with them. Work on a chisel and when I need a rest go to the office and move paper around. Repeat as able.

I hate to complain but, damn it knocks your dauber into the dirt.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Journal Time Again

I had a cardiac ablation done Monday morning. The rest of the day was spent in the Cardiac Recovery Room and then over night on the Cardiac floor. The procedure went well, the only bad part was having to lay flat on my back for two hours after coming out from under general anesthesia and a slightly sore throat.

I'll be off until Monday week (Texan for March 2nd). That is the good news, the bad is I'm not to lift anything over 10 lbs during that time. The Woodcraft Spring used tool sale/swap meet is this Saturday and odds are I will miss it.

One observation,  the nurses have become very young and most have a large colorful tattoo running down their right forearm. Go figure.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Saddling the Seat

The seat saddling is getting close, I've almost finished with the travisher. Card scrappers next.

I've found two different forms of travisher available, one with horns and one without.

Of the two, the one on the right without horns gives better control and I use it for travisher finish work. The horned travisher in my hands is better for the roughing out. Of course YMMV.

BTW, I have not posted in awhile, click 'em to big 'em.

On to a completely different subject:

A friend from work came by yesterday, he had a, best guess, 1960's Stanley #5 and a few Home Depot Stanley chisels with him. Matt wanted to learn how to set up the plane and sharpen iron.

The plane was in good shape other than just a little surface rust and frog screws put in by Conan. The cutter? First it was without any camber and someone had kinda sharpened it using the "ruler trick" on the back. Nothing really wrong with using the ruler trick but if you want a flat back it takes grinding the bevel back to get rid of it. I did grind the bevel but only enough to give a proper "Jack" plane camber. After a little sharpening and showing Matt how to set the plane up he made a few passes with it and afterwards had a big smile.

The chisels were better than I expected, the backs were flat with a slight hollow in the middle and they had a nice flat bevel with very little hollow. After showing Matt how to hold the chisel's back and bevel on the stones and what to feel and look for, he did a good job sharpening. I've not a clue how good the chisels are but they might be a good starter set.

Last was advice on buying a couple of stones to get started, which were a medium India and a hard Arkansas with a strop. If money is a factor a two grit course and fine India with a strop will do a good job as well. I'm a sharpening junky but the truth is, while nice and fun to use, all the polishing stones and JNats are not needed to have a good working edge.


Sunday, February 09, 2020

Working On A Chair Seat

I've had a couple of minutes to do something other than sharpen stuff this morning. Some was spent putting things away but I also had a little time to spend on the chair seat. The seat is Red Oak so saddling may take some time. Starting with an Adze to get to depth, then scorp to smooth some and finally Travisher and card scraper to finish. This first part is mostly scut work and this old farts arm can only go so long at one time. There will be progress but it will be slow. The good news is I do not plan a deep saddle but I also want to thin the seat's look so the bad is there may be a lot of work with a plane to go.

The legs are close to ready, once the seat blank is ready the chair should go together quickly. I hope so it has been hanging around the shop much too long.


Monday, February 03, 2020

New JNat

I'm such a sucker for JNats. There is just something about them that touch my soul. Bottom line I ordered a Ohira Range Suita of medium hardness a couple of weeks ago and it arrived today.

I'll need to Cashew Lacquer the bottom and sides but I could not resist putting iron to stone before doing it.

Out of the box:

Slurry from the back of the chisel:

Slurry from the bevel:

It should be a good finishing stone. It makes a slurry very easily and cuts quickly. the finish is a very smooth Kasumi (cloudy finish) with beautiful separation between the soft iron and hard steel.


Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sharpening Grits and Stones

Ok I'm at a loss, my Cardio Ablation isn't until the 17th. and my energy level is such doing much more than sharpening a chisel kicks my butt. That doesn't stop me from thinking and an area I've been thinking about is why do we do the thing that we do when sharpening our cutting tools.

I work from one given, the smoother the cutting edge the longer the edge will stay working sharp. But if length of time isn't a factor how smooth does the edge need to be to work and leave a usable surface. It kinda depends on what you call a usable surface.

I did a quick and dirty test using a post-war Marples 3/4 chisel that I hollow ground to a 25* bevel on the Tormek, mostly because if I wanted to extend the test I could return the chisel to the same condition easily.

Here is the chisel:

And the bevel off the Tormek:

I tested four basic conditions: Honed on a Medium India and then stropped on oiled leather. After testing the cut then stropping on leather with compound. Honed on a Wachita follow by the same stropping protocol. Honed on a Black Arkansas and same stropping protocol. And last honed on a JNat finishing stone with out stropping. BTW, the difference between stropping on oiled leather vs. leather with compound was only in the shine.

Again all subjective but the subjective results were as I expected. The effort to pare was close to the same for all stones and stropping protocols. In a blind test I doubt I could have picked one from another. A tactile feel of the surfaces would have been difficult but there were some very slight difference in feel between the cuts but you would have to work at it to identify which was the smoother.

A visual inspection using a 10X loupe showed a clear progression from the India to the Black Arkansas with no difference between the Arkansas and the JNat.

Bottom line, if longevity isn't a factor, the India and a strop gives a good enough working edge for almost any task. I'll still go to the Black Arkansas or the JNat for final honing but my guess is it isn't necessary for most jobs.