Re-siding the shed

The shed in my backyard is over 10 years old now, and I have been slowly renovating it over the last couple of years. The original siding was inexpensive pine (6″, rabbeted)  that I attached directly to the plywood carcass, i.e. no furring strips. The siding was stained years ago, and just looked tired, and I wanted to allow it to breath better, so I decided to replace it with something that will last the remainder of the shed’s life. So I ordered some 6″ rabbeted siding from Quebec company Maibec. The old siding went to a good home, to be re-cycled into a new shed. One benefit of this siding is that it comes pre-painted – factory painted lumber is great because it has been added in an environment-controlled facility, and is painted all-six-sides. Another benefit is that there is a whole bunch of matching trim. Even the nails to attach the siding come colour-matched.

A half complete wall.

Maibec have a bunch of different options, and a bunch of different systems, and I have to say the material is a pleasure to work with. The siding is kiln-dried spruce-fir, as opposed to generic siding that is a hodge-podge of species, and often warped. I used 1×3 furring strips, aligned with the 2×6 walls, so 14-16″ apart. The siding is attached using ring shank nails, and Maibec provide a special plastic hammer-cap to prevent marring the nails. They also provide a multitude of perforated ventilation strips for the top and bottom of walls to allow for ventilation behind the siding, and preventing pests from entering.

Ventilation strips

It is not inexpensive (likely C$6 a square foot all in for materials), but there are inherent labour savings from not having to paint the siding, and deal with warped siding.


Framing a picture

Sometimes when we travel we go to art galleries. I’m not a big fan of modern art, but I do have a soft spot for those large historical landscapes, the ones that are 6’×8′ or larger. However the one thing that I always find fascinating, but most people likely ignore, are the frames. These masterpieces are usually just used to support the picture, but they should be on show by themselves. The frame makes the picture. Their intricate hand-carved details, and gilded surfaces, like the paintings they frame are a slice of history we may never build in the same way again.

A very strange block plane indeed – a Siegley No.18

A couple of years back I posted about two No.18 block planes which seemed oddly configured. One was very odd, because it didn’t fit any time frame for the No.18. No markings, no nothing… or so I thought. On the back side of the blade was a trademark for SIEGLEY, almost shrouded by the depth adjustment grooves. This is the trademark of the Siegley Tool Co.  The company was founded in New York, and was active 1878-1905, before it was sold to, you guessed it, Stanley. Also on the back of the blade was the mark “SBS” which supposedly means Stanley and Siegley, and “B” indicates a block plane. But honestly there isn’t too much information out there on Siegley.

So this is what the Siegley No.18  looks like (and I’ll call it a No.18 because I have seen a catalog with Siegley block planes all having similar Stanley nomenclature):

The trimmings all appear nickel plated. The two things that had me flummoxed were: (i) the lack of a trademark on the lever cap (I just couldn’t find any Stanley lever caps  without trademarks), and (ii) the weird eccentric lever mechanism. This does look similar to the Stanley patent for the eccentric lever, but again I could find no examples of Stanley planes that used this. Of course the other thing about this plane is that the parts just did not fit together. The centred hump of the plane body, and Hand-y make it circa 1898 from Stanley’s perspective, and the lever cap fits because it existed until the improved version  replaced it in 1914. But the eccentric lever *seemed* like something from pre-1898, maybe something closer to Stanleys patent date of 1894? A first trial?

So it’s entirely possible that this plane is post 1905, making use of the new body shape/Hand-y and knuckle lever cap from Stanley, and the eccentric lever from Siegley, which may have been of knock-off of Stanley’s patent. A similar mechanism is shown in this article from the Early American Industries Association, describing some knuckle-lever planes from the Stanley Model Shop (i.e. not production models).



Too many things = collection

This is a question I ask myself a lot. Is it when going into your workshop seems overwhelming? Maybe it’s impossible to have too many tools. Maybe the problem is collecting. Ahhh… that’s it.

c   o   l   l   e   c   t   i   n   g

It”s such a simple thing. You start with one block plane. You get a second. before you know it you have ten of them, and you think, hey, why not start a collection. Then you have 20. 30. 40. You start to think of sub-categories – a nice collection of pressed-steel block planes? Maybe block planes from Sargent? Maybe aluminum block planes. Partially collecting provides a sense of preserving the past, and is there anything wrong with that? It happens in other things. Books? Why *not* collect mysteries set in Ancient Rome? Or books on tools. Cookbooks? Everyone has their own thing. I’m sure there are people that collect French copper pans.

The question of course is to define what “too many tools” is. Is 90 block planes to many? What about a couple of hundred No.4 smoothers, or a thousand different hammers? But collecting isn’t just about the physical object, it is also about exploring toolmakers, tool studies, tool design and aesthetics, and looking at how tools have evolved. As time progresses, collecting may become harder, as your collection fills up, and rare pieces become harder to find (or more costly). A tool collection is a living entity, implements which can be used – not every piece in a collection has to be a museum piece.

Or if you can’t get over the collecting bug, then maybe join the worlds largest tool collecting organization, the Mid-West Tool  Collectors Association. I think I might just join myself.



Deciphering an Austrian wooden plane

Last fall I bought a 60cm wooden jointer plane made by Johann Weiss & Son, from Vienna (Austria). It is challenging finding wooden planes made in Europe, and for C$20, it was a bargain.

The date at which this company was founded seem a little vague. After reading the literature, it seems as though the factory was founded in the 1820s by Bavarian cabinetmaker Johann Baptist Weiss, who emigrated to Vienna in 1809. The plane is a “Doppel-Rauhbankhobel mit Griff” – jointer plane (1909).

In the 1861 catalog, this plane was marked as a No.474, with a double-blade, and depth adjustment mechanism. This plane is likely constructed of beech, and has a laminated sole, which is laminated using a “V” shaped series of diagonal groves. The plane is stamped with the companies logo

The trademark on the blade is an Austrian eagle above a C-clamp surrounded by the company name. Apparently, prior to taking over iron manufacturer Franz Wertheim in 1911, plane irons were supplied by the firm Herman, and therefore have HERMAN stamped on the iron. This blade lacks that marking, so I would imagine it was manufactured after 1911. The art for the trademark on the blade seems to have been modified in 1897.

There are some cracks in the handle (which is also slightly warped), and there is de-lamination of the sole at one end, but I will try and re-glue it (a future post). This plane is likely constructed of beech, and has a laminated sole, which is laminated using a “V” shaped series of diagonal groves( as shown below).




Removing rust – the experiments (iv): liquid rust removers

To test the liquid solutions, I used a series of  vintage blades with varying levels of rust – it is challenging to find four blades rusted in exactly the same way. Each blade will be submerged halfway in a rust removing liquid – vinegar, molasses, citric acid, and oxalic acid. The blades were chosen for their ingrained rust – rut that had been on the blades for years, perhaps  more than a decade (or two, or three?).

Experiment 1: Vinegar

Liquid: 250ml of white vinegar

The first experiment involved placing a blade in vinegar. I used white vinegar – although I would imagine cider vinegar would work just as well. After about an hour you can physically see the vinegar working, with small bubbles forming in the solution. The vinegar stripped the rust from the blade within 8 hours. The rust was almost lifted off the surface of the steel, forming sheets of precipitate, which slid off the blade into the base of the jar.

Vinegar seems to be extremely effective in removing rust, and leaving a very clean surface. It is also probably the cheapest form of rust removal there is, however one has to be somewhat cautious, as it is an acid, and parts left too long in the solution might experience some etching. If you look closely at this blade, there is substantial pitting, but in this case that is the long term action of the corrosion itself.

A little too much pitting perhaps?

Experiment 2:  CITRIC ACID

Liquid: 25g of powdered citric acid to 250ml of water

The citric acid also stripped the rust from the blade in under 8 hours. Unlike the rust flakes produced by the vinegar, here the rust came off the blade in small particles, and settled to the bottom of the jar.

A cautionary note here, that citric acid is corrosive, so care has to be taken when using it. This blade also had pitting, again the result of long term corrosion.

Experiment 3:  Evapo-rust

To be honest I was not going to bother with using Evapo-rust, largely because of the previous post on the Stanley No.15 rust-heap – we know it works very efficiently. However, from the perspective of speed on these plane blades, it seems like the Evapo-rust is one of the slower performers. After 48 hours there was little to no activity on the blade, and I tried a second blade in another jar – it too showed little activity in the 24 hours it was soaking. To test that I am not loosing my mind, I placed a rusty lateral adjustment lever in EvapoRust from the same container – and it actually worked (see next post). I then checked the blade from the Stanley No.16, and noticed it too had mediocre rust removal. The image below, like those previous is the original blade on the left and the post-rust removal blade right. It’s hard to effectively tell them apart. It has removed some basic surface rust.

My conclusion from this is that possibly EvapoRust does not work that convincingly on hardened steel, but works great on iron, or cast iron plane parts, e.g. bodies, lever caps, etc. Hardened steel might not be the right consistency to produce the chelating effect that Evapo-Rust relies on (ideas/comments? – I could find any info anywhere, and am yet to receive an email back from Evapo-rust Canada).

Experiment 4:  Molasses

Liquid: 50ml molasses to 250ml of water

With a ratio of 1:5  this was the slowest performing of all the liquids. I had this blade soaking for 48 hours in the molasses, after which I gave it a scrub with a scouring pad. The results are quite good, with the rust being removed from the blade. I imagine leaving it for 72 hours would be ideal.

I would say that if you had some rust that needed a long soak, that molasses may be the way to go, even with boosting the ratio to 1:4.

FINAL remarks

Below is a close-up of all four blades. I would have to conclude that the vinegar produces the best result on plane blades, and I would imagine the cheapest means of removing rust. Citric acid is a close second.

And for those interested, here is what the residue looks like for the vinegar (left) and citric acid experiments:

Vinegar vs. citric acid rust residue