The Record No.077/077A bull-nose

The No.77 block plane is the cousin of the No.76, but was only manufactured from 1933 to 1943. It is likely derived from the Preston No. 1355, and lacks the receding nose of the No.076, but adds a blade adjustment mechanism in the form of a milled nut. Due to its limited manufacturing years, it’s somewhat of a rare plane, production stopping midway through WW2. A sibling to the No.77, the No.77A was manufactured from 1933 to 1994. It retained the blade adjustment mechanism, but differed by having an adjustable mouth.

The nose is attached to the plane body with a single centred machine screw, and can be removed completely to form a chisel plane.

In addition, there are two steel “distance” shims between the detachable nose and the plane body, held in place by two pins. One is 1/64″ thick, and the other is 1/32″ thick, allowing the plane throat to be modified to four distinct opening sizes for fine or coarse work.

The blade adjustment mechanism has a knurled knob and engages the blade which has a slot cut in it.

There are a number of variants of this plane, which deviant from the original, as the plane evolved through manufacturing.

  • Type 1: Markings of “007A” on the bottom heal of one side, and “RECORD BRITISH” on the lever cap (surrounded by blue paint).
  • Type 2: Markings of “Record No 077 / 077A, Made In England” on the bottom heal of one side, and “RECORD” on the lever cap. The small inset triangular region to the rear bottom of both sides has been removed.
  • Type 3: The original wavy form lever cap is replaced with the singular curve, also found on the No.076. Again I think this is likely due to a reduced manufacturing cost. The downside to this was that the original maintained a portion of the lever cap at the bottom (maybe ¾” in length) which held down the lever cap, although only the front point actually made contact (see the third figure above). This allowed more room for shavings, room which was reduced with the new lever cap. Similar markings to the Type 2, except no markings on the lever cap.
  • Type 4: No markings on the plane. The front of the plane “nose” has changed from a gentle curve to an edge, somewhat negating the “bull-nose” concept.

This makes the plane I have somewhere between a Type 1 and Type 2. Note that the Clifton 770 is  somewhat of a clone of the Record No.077, and the Edward Preston No.1355. Clifton, as well as Veritas are two modern manufacturers of bullnose planes.

 

The Record No.076 bull-nose

The bull-nose plane is one of those funny little planes, and often comes in one of two forms, the fixed nose, and the removal nose. Does the planes nose really look like a bull’s nose? Some of them do I guess, especially those whose nose has a pronounced curve. What is the bullnose for? Generally it’s a form of rebate plane used for rebate refinement, and fine fitting. The Record No.076 is a classic bullnose rabbet plane, 4″ in length, introduced in 1933, and manufactured until 1976. It is likely based on the No.1347 manufactured by Edward Preston & Sons, which is not surprising, since the Preston planes were sold off in the 1930s to Sheffield firm of C. & J. Hampton, who would later merge with the Record Tool Company.

The No.076 has the advantage of having a receding nose, which is open to allow shaving to escape. It is made of cast iron and sports the traditional blue paint of Record.

The downside is that it does not have an adjustable blade. The blade can be manually adjusted by slackening the knurled thumbscrew under the lever.  These planes were nicely designed from the perspective of how the lever cap fits onto the plane body. Due to the low pitch of the plane, the plane is bevel-up.

The blade is made of tungsten steel, but is a little on the thin side from the perspective of modern blades. The plane is about 29mm or 1-1/8″ in width. and is very simple, with only three parts (well four if you count the thumbscrew).

There seem to be a number of versions of this plane. The one in my collection is likely the earliest version. The next version is almost identical, but the triangular region on the rear sides of the plane (painted blue), no longer exists, likely to reduce manufacturing costs. Markings in the form of “”Record No 076 Made in England” are found on the side, bottom rear. The last version saw a streamlining of the lever cap to one continuous curve.

 

The tiniest of Veritas planes

The ingenuity of Veritas (and Lee Valley) never disappoints. They recently unveiled a superb little pocket plane, the likes of which has not been seen since Lie Nielsen introduced their violin makers plane, which is slightly smaller. This is the sort of plane that is always handy to do those small tasks, or maybe even for constructing musical instruments, or models.

Veritas has two versions of this plane. The first is the standard cast steel version, and the second one is the one shown here, the 40th Anniversary [limited] edition made with a stainless-steel body with a satin finish, and a nickel-plated lever cap. The plane has a clamp based lever cap with a nicely knurled thumbscrew, and a tiny Norris-stye blade adjustment mechanism which allows for both lateral and depth adjustment. The lever cap of this version is made of a zinc alloy, and nickel plated.

Despite the small size of the plane, it is super comfortable to use. The plane has a “handy” finger depression on either side, which are elliptical, as opposed to the standard circles used in the Veritas block planes. The lever cap has a nice curving, almost aerodynamic flow, and covers the blade adjustment mechanism completely. This prevents inadvertent engagement of the knurled knob of the Norris adjustment.

This means that the plane fits nicely in the palm of ones hand, with the thumb and middle finger in the side depressions, and the index finger in the small, almost partial moon shaped depression on the toe of the plane. It’s a minuscule 3-5/8″ in length, with a 7/8″ wide blade which is bedded at 15° with a 20° bevel angle. It’s light too, at 270g (9½oz). The blade is PM-V11 steel. The potential downside is that mouth opening may still be too wide for many a user, but this can be fix by creating a shim.  I found it produced very fine shavings.

It’s a slick little plane, and would likely make a great present for any woodworker.

 

Tools of the Trades – fall 2018 roundup

Yesterday was the fall Tools of the Trades show. It was weird because the crowds that were at previous shows just didn’t seem to appear, and by noon it was pretty quiet. I didn’t really see a lot of block planes of any interest, a few Stanley No.18/19’s with the original knuckle lever cap. There were a lot of vintage axes and hatchets, and seemingly a few stalls with a lot of somewhat rusty items, and a few very overpriced sets of Swedish chisels in not so great condition.

A whole bunch of nice, reasonably priced Stanley and Record planes from the U.K. (Britools)

I spent two hours there but didn’t really see anything much that caught my fancy. I bought two small pieces, a Record No. 76 bullnose plane, and a Sargent V.B.M. No.3426 transitional bench plane. The latter is quiet unique, and I will write a post on that later in the week. Finding unique block planes is starting to get challenging, as the variety seems to be diminishing. There were a bunch of cool bench vises, and the usual assortment of good quality Stanley bench planes at reasonable prices. There were also good quality Japanese tools (albeit expensive) that include chisels, saws, and planes.

Now *that* is a chisel (3-4″ wide).

 

Energy efficiency – helping the planet, one appliance at a time

Recently my (LG) dryer started to play up, spiralling to oblivion after 10 years. The fridge it seems was not far behind. Our society has become one of throwaway appliances – things that once lasted 20-30 years, now we’re lucky if they last a dozen. It’s partially because they are poorly built, and partially because they are too complex – refrigerators with ice-makers, and LCD screens, washing machines with steam. People also don’t really like paying more for quality… or are drawn in by  advertising. The problem with some lower-cost appliances is that they are energy hogs. Clothes dryers are second only to refrigerators and freezers in the amount of energy they use.

So I bought a new washer (W1) and dryer (T1), and the brand I chose was Miele. Expensive? Somewhat. But I bought them because of previous long-term experience with my Miele dishwasher. They also came with a 10-year warranty. But in reality, the largest impact of these appliances is the technology they use to improve efficiency. The washer has a smaller capacity then my previous one, but the machine allows for a multitude of programs, and is easy to use. The benefit of a smaller drum is that higher speed spin cycles result in hardly any vibration.

The dryer is missing one thing – an exhaust vent – and that’s because it is a heat pump dryer, like many dryers sold in Europe. This dryer uses hot air to absorb moisture from the damp laundry, which then passes through an evaporator which removes the moisture, and so on. The side benefit of this is that we will no longer be venting warm air outside the house at any time, but especially in the winter. The dryer has a pull-out drawer that collects the condensed moisture, and it replicates the detergent drawer in the washer. The water can also be diverted via a drain hose to the sink to allow the condensate to automatically drain. I’m just using the moisture drawer for the moment, because it’s not that much of an issue to empty. There is of course the issue of lint – and Miele covers this using a double layer ultra-fine lint filter. How well does it dry? Extremely well, on a multitude of cycles. It is somewhat reflective of the RPM used in the washing cycle.

The washer cleans exceptionally well, and has the benefit of using Miele’s CapDosing system if you want –  they aren’t cheap though on a per wash basis, although I imagine they could be good for things like stain removal, or washing delicate woolens. The washer has one interesting feature – if the machine notices that not many cycles use warm water, i.e. if you predominantly wash in cold water, it will suggest running a clean or sanitize cycle, to clean the washer. Makes sense, and likely it helps prevent the washer developing bad smells. The washer and dryer are also smaller, so they take up less room in my small basement. The other benefit is that both the washer, and the dryer use 110V – and Miele provides an adapter which converts the 220V to 2 × 110V sockets. The lower power requirements of the dryer mean that it only consumes 126 kWh per year. Compare this against the 945 kWh my last dryer was spec’d at (our monthly electricity consumption is about 900 kWh).

All-in-all a good purchase, well see how it affects the electricity bill in the long term.

Note: A standard dryer vents approximated 240 cubic feet of air per minute. In a standard semi-detached like mine, which is 1200 ft² (including the basement), which at 8′ ceilings equates to 9,600 cubic feet. This means all the air in the house is expelled every 40 minutes – most of my cycles with the dryer were about 40 minutes, so in winter I was expelling all the conditioned air in the house every time I used the dryer, which obviously makes the furnace work all that much harder.

 

Re-roofing a house with a metal roof

This year I completed a project that I have been meaning to do for a while now – adding a metal roof. Not a trivial thing to do on a semi-detached house, because of the obvious issues with the division of the roof (made more challenging because more than 20 years ago someone put in a cathedral ceiling next door, and must have insulated from the outside, making that roof 2″ higher). I had been considering this for a while, as our “30-year” architectural shingles reached 12-odd years old. Now metal roofs, either aluminum or steel aren’t as popular in North America yet, for whatever reason. I always find it odd that people buy brand new, $2 million houses, that have crappy cheap asphalt shingle roofs on them. Make it sustainable and add a metal roof. But cities are as much at fault as homeowners, they could require greener more sustainable roofing.

Metal roof on the front of the house.

So metal roofs do cost more. I likely paid nearly twice what I did 12 years ago for the asphalt roof, but it will last probably 50 years. It also doesn’t deal with the flat roof at the back of my house, but honestly 3-layer flat roof technology is pretty good these days. There are of course a bunch of different metal roofing technologies, some use strapping, others attach directly to the existing roof (I chose the later). I settled on an aluminum roof made by Classic Products Roofing Systems. These come as long panels, 12″×60″, and they lock into one another.

Locking edges on the top and side of the metal panel.

Asphalt shingles first appeared in north America  in 1901, and gained a foothold in the 1920s in a market dominated by wooden shingles (wood = cheap roofing). The use of fire-clay tiles or metal roofs never really caught on in Canada, although they are extensively used in cold climates such as Norway, and Iceland. They are popular in cottage country, probably because people realize they are less maintenance than an asphalt roof. Asphalt roofs are also very environmentally unfriendly, although there are now some companies recycling them.

Messy vintage dovetail joints

It is always fun to explore old furniture when travelling, mostly to see how it is constructed. We recently stayed in an old country house in Caputh, Scotland, and there was a neat dresser in one of the bedrooms. Looking back at the evolution of dovetails we often forget that joints were once just that – methods of holding together two pieces of wood. Early use of dovetails in details such as drawer joinery was very primitive – certainly not to the standards of todays micron-precision cuts. Older dovetails were different.

Cuts were often made beyond the dovetail. In the figure below, notice how deeply cut some of the tails are, in addition to the intensely scored layout line marking the shoulder of the pin socket. This is a half-blind dovetail from the front of the drawer.

The pins are quite skinny, and likely would weaken the joint were it not for its half-blind structure. The number of dovetails were also different depending on whether the joint was on the front or rear of the drawer – the front has five pins, the rear, only three. Below is a picture of the rear dovetails. The tails are again cut beyond the shoulder, but this time the angle is 20° which falls to the other extreme, potentially leaving some unsupported grain at the corners of the tails.

Finally, consider the back of the drawer. This was truly a case of  “part of the furniture never to see the light of day”. It almost seemed like a piece of scrap wood.