Category Archives: Rehabilitation of old tools

Shaw’s (re)Patent


One day in May while sitting in my shop at the end of a long day sipping usquebaugh I found myself staring at this so-called Shaw’s Patent no. 5 Jack plane of mine. It is the Jack plane that I use for heavy stock removal, which means it ends up on the receiving end of some significant elbow grease. As a result, the plane tends to reciprocate the well intended elbow grease with fervent vesication of that part of my hand that flirts with the ribbed edge of the main casting.  It got me thinking that the plane could possibly be modified to amend this particular quirk.

You can read a post on how I restored it when I initially got my discombobulated mitts on it.

As you can see here, the slight design glitch with this Sargent plane is twofold. There is a lot of wasted space between the top of the tote and the lateral adjuster. Also the bottom end of the tote slopes downwards, which has the effect that the side of one’s hand tends to end up on the rib of the main casting. Thus a combinations of these two inadequacies coerce the hand of the user into a position much lower than what is needed.

As you can see in the example below, the bottom part of the tote on this Lie-Nielsen low angle Jack plane does not slope down, but runs parallel to the sole of the plane. This design element stops the hand from sliding down too far. I thought that the Shaw’s Patent could benefit from a tote that employs the same strategy. Together with that I could utilize the dead space between the top of the tote and the lateral adjuster by lengthening the tote, which would also aid the user’s hand to ride higher.

I found a piece of Kaapse Swarthout, that would not suffice for any other purpose. This is by far my favourite indigenous species for producing totes.

It was quite a mission to fashion a tote that would fit the plane and at the same time tick the desired design tweaks. I used a combination of the original tote, the Lie-Nielsen tote, and documents on Stanley totes to accomplish the task.

The final product looks like this. You can see how the top of the tote is now much closer to the lateral lever and the bottom of it has a parallel section to hold the user’s hand up. Another neat little trick I discovered is to cut a leather washer to sit between the sole of the tote and the main casting. It makes a huge difference to the feel of the plane when using it. The difference is hard to explain, but try it and you will know what I mean.

The changes to the tote also necessitated a tweak to the length of the tote bolt. Unfortunately it is a change in the more challenging direction i.e. making it longer.

While I was at it I also changed the knob. I prefer a flat section at the top of the knob for my thumb when gripping the front end of the plane with the rest of my fingers on the sole acting as a fence.

The final adjustment I made was to file down the part of the rib in question by about 1 mm and rounded it. After all that the Shaw’s (re)Patent works like a dream. If you prefer woodworking rather than tool tweaking, I suggest that it might be better to buy a Lie-Nielsen plane from the start.

Stanley no. 246 Mitre box/saw restoration


This is Frank Bartlett’s first post on Je ne sais quoi Woodworking. I hope it is the first of many as he is clearly a very talented woodworker and hand tool encyclopedia. I realise that I have an advantage in making that assessment as I have had the privilege to see some of the other projects he has done. Of course he gave me grief regarding the compliments, but I decided to leave it in the text as it is my honest assessment. So for now just trust me, you will come to enjoy his contribution to this site. Both Frank and I want to encourage other (especially African) woodworkers to become involved in this way. Feel free to contact me if you consider writing up some of your projects.

So without further ado, over to Frank Bartlett from the Cape of Storms:

Looking for an old mitre box had almost been an obsession of mine, for some time now (refer to Gerhard’s blog entry on his Langdon). But being in Africa, that is like looking for a needle in a haystack (suppose that is why Gerhard was (willingly) “forced” to turn to Jim Bode for his beautiful Langdon). I once saw a Stanley advertised up in the Free State, but it was one of those: “I know what its worth, make an offer….” ads, which is a pet hate of mine and which I’m not very good at. Needless to say, the seller didn’t bother to return my urgent emails after my offer! Anyway, that one went down the tubes although I still think my offer was fair given the condition.

So, after Gerhard’s notice that there may be one available on a 160km round trip, I had trouble sleeping that night, after reading through Bob Demers’ (The Valley Woodworker) prep of his box…. Anyway, eventually found the shop and there she was, at the entrance! Without a price…. Now, that could mean a few things, one of which of course, its not for sale. Which it turned out to be. After munchos small talk, the lady indicated she was keeping it as a rarity and furthermore, her son had told her on a previous occasion that he would like to have it. She also added that it “was very expensive anyway”. Turned out to be R900. For its condition I thought “eisch”, but presented the money (in small notes, and lots of them). The eyes lit up but nah, first wanted to contact her son to get his opinion. Fortunately for me, being in Africa, her son was somewhere out of cell phone range.

Paid up, grabbed and went for it. Must have been quite a sight walking with this (heavy) old thing merrily the odd six blocks (REALLY been looking for this shop…) because I turned not just a few heads. The photo below was taken in the antiques shop.

Stanley 246 1 (1)

Back at home I was able to scrutinise it thoroughly. Appears to be circa 1912-1916 model (because the length stop was only patented in 1916). Although there were a few parts missing, it was still surprisingly complete (most importantly missing the Disston medallion, trip clamp, one stock guide, one knurled tie bar screw and saw guide stop screw). Now these screws have really weird threads. So, not really critical components that I can get in due course.

Stanley 246 2Stanley 246 3Stanley 246 4

Once it was stripped and it was off to the wire wheel. I recently changed from a 1000rpm 5inch wheel to this 8 incher at 3500rpm on this 1930’s B&D. Whew! My fingers took quite a beating, not wanting to use gloves or pliers or vice grips on tiny (weird) threads… Unnerving experience, but tried to take as much care as I could (except for holding these things with my fingers)!

Stanley 246 5

On larger surface areas I prefer to use wire wool and turps and then clean it afterwards with White Spirit. The screws however, went the wire wheel way and was left bright and shining. To get an artificial patina back, I applied Birchwood Casey Gun Blue paste on the wire wheeled parts. Worked wonders. Afterwards the bottle of Boeshield T-9 was utilised because living in an area (where two oceans meet, nonetheless), rust is never far away. So, I tend to use this on tools or parts that I don’t get to oil regularly. For daily use on saw plates or planes etc, before storing them, I have a can of Jojoba oil handy.

Stanley 246 6Stanley 246 7Stanley 246 8Stanley 246 9

Then to the sacrificial frame board. I chose Cape Yellow wood  (Podocarpus latifolius or Geelhout) because its soft. Cape Yellow wood is probably the second most famous timber from South Africa (second only to Stinkhout or Ocotea bullata or Black Stinkwood). I first flattened the board and then jointed it. The last picture in the below set is a Podocarpus latifolius growing on the slopes of Table Mountain.

Stanley 246 10Stanley 246 10 1

Time then for sawing and pairing the rabbets for the stock guides (what is that Cape Boxwood handled Witherby doing so close to the edge, I’m asking myself now…)

Stanley 246 12Stanley 246 13

Drilling and forming the cutouts

Stanley 246 14

And there you go!

Stanley 246 15

Just some last thoughts on the 11ppi Disston saw. Apologies for not posting pics on the restoration, was just too exiting! Handle is flawless, especially after I doused it with Kramers Antique Improver. Teeth still cuts good but I still want to do the sharpening deed myself, just because..! Very little etch left unfortunately, no matter how careful I removed the rust (with turps, 400grit wet and dry, wrapped around a pad). There was just nothing left (not even the gun blueing/sandpaper trick worked). Very interesting, I saw on an old catalog that the box comes with a 26×4 inch saw, yet mine measures 24,5inches along the teeth. If you extrapolate the cutaway, you measure 26inches and 4 deep. I guess thats how they define the “26×4” on the brass plate.

Just one word of advice, this is a biggy and needs storing space, although it is difficult to store when you just want to look at it all day.

Cape Town greetings!

Olienhout sector from the Groot Marico


This project has been on my ‘to do’ list for at least two years. Ever since reading the seminal work “By hand & eye”, I just had to build a sector. It really is a magic wand in the shop once you understand a few basics of pre-industrial design methods.

During the Easter break I aquired this broken Danish boxwood rule for R35 (US$2.24) at an antiques shop. I have been looking for something like this for a while, as these rulers have the perfect type of hinge for a shop built sector.


Seeing that one needs to mark out measurements on the sector, I decided to use a light coloured wood. I found this piece of Olienhout (Olea europaea africana or Wild olive) that would have been harvested between 1988 and 1992 on a farm in the Groot Marico district. My father was building Grandfather Clocks at the time and one of his best clients (as well as a personal friend) supplied him with Olienhout from his farm. This is a piece that was left over from that era.

I can still remember driving to Groot Marico with my father to deliver a Grandfather clock to this guy called Oom Frik. Oom Frik purchased at least four of these clocks over the years and paid for it in part by supplying my father with the most magnificent Olienhout. On the way there we stopped at the Hotel in Groot Marico to sample some of the local mampoer that the area is famous for. When the barman heard that it was my first visit to Groot Marico, he explained that it is custom for first time visitors to be served a glass of the local elixir on the house. Being a student at the time, I needed no further convincing so he proceeded to fill a tumbler with crushed ice followed by more than a sensible amount of mampoer.

That stuff knocked my socks off to say the least, despite being a fairly fit alcohol consumer at the time. As I sat there sipping the poison, I could swear Oom Schalk Lourens wispered something to me. For those of you who do not know the work of the legendary Herman Charles Bosman, do yourself a favour and read (at the very least) “Mafeking Road & other stories” (1947). It is arguably the best literature ever to come out of Southern Africa and it will make Groot Marico and the Afrikaner come alive to you. I digress, but as a last thought on the matter I will leave you with a quote from Bosman where he described Groot Marico “There is no other place I know that is so heavy with atmosphere, so strangely and darkly impregnated with that stuff of life that bears the authentic stamp of South Africa”.

Anyway this piece of wood comes from that area, has been lying around for at least 25 years since being harvested and was most definitely enjoying those beautiful Bosveld sunsets with Oom Schalk Lourence at the time Bosman was writing his epic stories.


On the table saw I ripped 6 thin strips from the side with the lightest coloured wood. Two of those were milled down to the exact thickness of the boxwood rule.


I then got rid of the broken hinges.


I planed the boxwood very carefully to expose fresh wood for the adhesive to bind to.


The strips of Olienhout were then glued up as so …


After removing excess glue and squaring up, I had two extensions with perfect slots to accommodate the rule.


The rule was then epoxied into position.



At this stage I first marked out the divisions on the inside surface of the arms. I decided on 25 mm divisions which gave me 24 of them on each arm of this sector.


I then shaped the arms as shown below to make the sector lighter and enhance it’s visual appeal.


A pin was added to help keep it straight and lined up while stored.


I then marked the front faces using the inside markings as a reference. The numbers were punched in using my number set.


Once punched I added black ink.


That was followed by Woodoc finish.



There you go, one Olienhout sector from the world of the late great Herman Charles Bosman.


Swedish side axe


I found this single bevel axe head in a “cash converter” store in George while visiting the Garden Route in June 2015. I had to fork out the astonishing amount of R125 for it. (bottom of the first picture)


Some idiot put a bevel on the non-bevel side, but otherwise it was in top shape.


The only mark on it reads “Made in Sweden”.



First I had to get rid of the unwanted bevel and then proceeded to grind a fresh bevel on the correct side of the head. This took quite a while as I was careful not to overhead the steel, which would result in a loss of temper. You can see how I clamped the axe head to a piece of timber which is shoved against a suitably place object (read foot) to ensure a constant grinding angle.


The handle was made from a piece of Assegaai (Curtisia dentata) using the bandsaw, draw knives, rasps and a card scraper.



I am proud to report that I did my first bit of blacksmithing to create this cold steel wedge. It was a scrap bit of steel that received an almighty pounding. I do not have a blowtorch (yet), but can report that aggression can sometimes yield products of beauty. The steel is soft enough  to be shaped without heating.


As you can see here, I used a wooden wedge and the metal wedge to secure the handle.


Of course I drove the metal wedge one blow of the hammer too far, which resulted in the timber below the axe head splitting.


As I was not in the mood to make a new handle, I simply installed a wood screw to inhibit a potential extension of the split.



To complete the rehab I made a nice game leather sheath for the side axe. Now the only thing left to do is to find suitable green wood in Namibia to hew into chair stock.


… because I want to be like David Charlesworth


Stanley no. 5 1/2 C (ca 1902-1907) rehab

I bought this plane from Jim Bode in August of 2015. It is my 4th no. 5 and 5th Jack plane (if I include my shop made wooden Jack plane). Why, … because I want to be like David Charlesworth, that is why! It is more than an adequate reason to buy another Jack plane in my book. David is such an icon to me, I just love his meticulous and cerebral approach to the craft.

In the interest of woodworking ethics/morality, I should probably say to the beginners out there (who wants to be like me … did I say that out loud?), that you do not need 5 Jack planes. In fact ,you do not need any other bench plane than a single no. 5. The problem is that I like the tools of the trade as much as the trade itself.

This plane seems to be David Charlesworth’s favourite as it is never far from his reach in those famous Lie-Nielsen DVDs. The no. 5½ was made between 1898 – 1958 and this particular specimen is a Type 9, which were made between 1902 – 1907. The pictures below are those taken by Jim, before it traveled to Sub-Sahara Africa.


Kenny at the Prop Shop did the usual bead blasting for me.


I actually prefer the Type 8’s frog receiver to these, but they are still pretty good. Stanley changed the frog receiver in 1902 as indicated by the patent dates in the main casting. They did this to cut the time and cost of production, not as an improvement in function. The slippery slide towards poorer quality at a higher price is probably what led to the emergence of so called ‘tool shaped objects’ that we are so familiar with in the 21st century.This particular plane does not have the frog adjusting screw, which was added to the Bailey series from 1907 onwards.


One of the reasons I like this plane so much is that it does not have anything cast into the area of the main casting behind the frog. I find the smooth surface much more comfortable when putting firm thumb pressure in this area, … you’ve guessed it … ala Charlesworth.


Rust converter.


Anti-rust undercoat.


High gloss truck enamel paint.



This past weekend I managed to assemble the plane.


Sorry for the poor quality of this picture, but you should be able to see that I did some work to flatten the area where the blade beds down …


… as well as the frog receiver area.


David Charlesworth eat your heart out.


I have already done some work with this plane and it is an absolute gem.

Disston back saw (ca1887)


I bought this beautiful saw from Jim Bode Tools in June and organised for them to first send it to Mark Harrell at Bad Axe Tool Works for a proper sharpening.

Mark had the following to say when he received the saw: “It’s a VERY nice 1887 saw from the PHILAD’A era (1887-1896) in impeccable condition. The only thing that needs to be done to it is to retooth the asymmetrical toothline”. 



I received it together with another saw Mark sharpened for me on the above date packaged as illustrated below. I will write a separate post on the mystery saw in future.


OK you can have a sneak preview of the mystery saw to wet your appetite.


Didi got stuck into testing it out before I could even remove the Bad Axe Business card.


I have to say that Mark did a sterling job of sharpening this saw as it cuts exceptionally well. I have no hesitation in recommending Mark to anyone who wants to get a saw sharpened to absolute perfection.

My new Disston also fits my hand like a glove and therefore became my favourite saw within days. It was already used on several tasks while finishing my most recent bench.


Shaw’s Patent rehab

July 2014

I bought this plane back in July 2014 from Patrick Leach. It is a Sargent no. 14C Jack plane. This is Sargent’s equivalent of a Stanley no. 5. It is known as a Shaw’s Patent, after it’s inventor who was assigned the patent for this plane’s adjustable frog on the 3rd of July 1906. If you want to know more you can go here and read Patrick Leach’s so called “Blood and Gore”.

From what I can deduct they were only made between 1910 and 1918. What is confusing though, is that I also found a type study on these planes that dates the different appearances of the trademark on the lever cap. According to that, this plane is a type 4, and is dated as 1919-1942. So maybe that means that the main casting dates back to 1910-1918 and the levercap from a bit later, not sure.

In the picture below it is the plane at the top. It was taken prior to it’s trans-Atlantic journey. The plane actually traveled in two different shipments. I received the frog, blade, chip breaker, tote, knob and levercap in October 2014. The main casting only arrived in February of this year.



Unfortunately, I did not take a picture after bead blasting, but my usual sequence of steps are well documented in previous posts on this topic. Simply click “Rehabilitation of old tools” category on my website’s side bar for a selection of posts on the topic.


The picture below illustrate the frog’s mating surface on the main casting. It runs parallel to the sole of the plane, which is helpful in that the set of the blade does not change when the frog is shifted forwards or backwards. My only gripe with Sargent planes is that the machining on the two planes I have is pretty poor compared to Stanleys. You might actually notice it in the picture below.


Here I am busy flattening the frog’s mating surface and again the poor quality machining is quite obvious. To be fair, I must also say that the levercap appears to be similar to much earlier Stanley models in the quality (in other words quite elegant) of machining. The frog was plated with cadmium as a rust prevention treatment and aesthetic enhancer.


The horn of the tote needed repair as well. It is the tote on the left in the second picture.


I did this rehab at the same time as that of the Stanley no. 8 pictured with the Shaw’s Patent below.



I sharpened the blade with a fairly aggressive camber as this will become my aggressive Jack plane used in tandem with a shop made scrub plane. You will notice that the levercap also received the cadmium plating.


The plane’s first job turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. It worked really well, but it was the amount of work that caused the trauma. You can read more about that here.


I have to say that this is a very good plane after a bit of tuning. The design of the adjustable frog gives it a bit of an edge over similar Stanleys. However, everything has it’s pros and cons.

Stanley no. 8 Jointer (ca 1899-1902) rehab


I bought this Stanley no. 8 from Patrick Leach way back in September 2014. I usually get him to hold on to tools I buy until we have enough merchandise to justify a fixed price shipment. The plane therefore only set foot on Namibian wood (so to speak) by end of October 2014.

It seems to be a so called Type 8, made between 1899-1902. Patrick thought it was a Type 7 as he had it down as ca 1896. He is the expert, but as far as I can tell from my research, it is a Type 8 for having a B casting mark at the bottom of the frog. The Type 7 is supposed to have a S casting mark according to my reading.


Anyway, that is all quite boring and of purely academic interest, although I must admit I find it riveting. Yes I know … loser!

In the picture below you can see it hanging with some other tools in Ashby MA USA. I bought it at a cheaper price (certainly not cheap for you American boys, who can probably buy it at a quarter of the price at a flea market) due to the fact that it has a hole drilled at the heal of the main casting. Tradesmen used to do this in order to hang the plane on the wall. Apparently this atrocious violation of the plane’s integrity renders it as worthless to a collector. I am so very happy that collectors hold this view as it meant that I was able to afford one of the best planes in my working collection.


Here are a few pictures after it arrived at my shop.


In my opinion the frog’s bedding area on the main casting is one of the two design elements of these planes that make them so good. It is parallel to the sole and relatively large compare to later offerings.


As per usual by now, I took the plane apart and divided the parts into two plastic bags. One for bead blasting only and the other for the aforementioned as well as cadmium plating. Once again I have to warn you that philistine practices such as radical restoration would induce an epileptic seizure in your average collector and significantly reduce the value of the plane to him/her once they regain consciousness postictally. I seem to be immune to this particular ailment.


Back from Kenny at the Prop Shop.


I usually treat the raw metal with rust converter first. I have no idea whether this is a good idea, but it seems to create a very nice grippy surface for the layers of paint to follow. That is followed by a layer of anti-rust paint (not pictured) that is orange in colour. Finally followed by three layers of what is called high gloss truck enamel paint.



As you can see from the date above, this project then went into hibernation for some time. The tote on the right is this plane’s. It received a Woodock treatment after these pictures were taken to make the repair less obvious.


Next came the key mating surfaces. I flattened these carefully with a range of different techniques. What I realise is that the machining on these planes are significantly superior to the later models I have reconditioned. That saying about things that used to be better back in the day rings true in this particular case. You can also appreciate what cadmium plating looks like as the frog received such treatment.


This next picture illustrate the second reason why these planes are so much better than later models. Just look at the large flat areas that supports the back of the blade. As you can see, I did some extra work to ensure that it is super flat.


One reconditioned granddad looking like the business at the ripe old age of 115.


Stanley no. 66 beadingtool rehab


This is a pre-1900 Stanley no. 66 beader that I bought from Patrick Leach. If you consult the appropriate chapter of his epic work entitled “Patricks Blood and Gore”, you will find that pre-1900 beaders were japanned and later models were nickel plated. I got it bead-blasted to remove all the old japanning before redoing it with my usual sequence of potions. I wrote extensively about this in previous posts concerned with this topic so I will not repeat all that here. The Jack plane in the background is a so called Shaw’s Patent by Sargent, which I am also working on at the moment. I will write a post on that process in due coarse.


I bought a set of beading tool blades from Lie-Nielsen some time ago and they fit this Granddad perfectly. For US$ 45 and a bit of elbow grease I have a new and highly respected classic tool. Those of you who (undoubtedly) thinking to yourself well I can buy one of those for $5 at a garage sale, shame on you. This is just another example of how lucky you are. To me here in the sticks, this is a very cheap option and it does not even include the arm and a leg it cost me to get it here from the US.


In the pictures below you can see where it found a home on my so called Hovering Skeleton Chest.


The Old Warhorse


I bought this Stanley no. 77 dowel machine from Jim Bode in October 2014. It took 3 months to reach me in Deep Dark Africa. If you are interested in reading the travel journal of the package it traveled in (absolutely riveting, by the way), check out this post:

Anyway, this is one of the earlier models as the later versions were blue (rather than black). I am not sure in which year the colour change transpired. My came with a ¼” cutter.


It has three oil holes (sure there must be a better term), that got fed this weekend.


I found a piece of scrap wood that already had the correct dimensions to fix the main casting to. This enables me to quickly clamp it to the assembly table. When I need dowels.


I first tried Ysterhout (Olea capensis macrocarpa), but this stuff is so hard and wild that even the old warhorse had trouble taming it. That was followed by beech, which were a lot more agreeable as you can see.