Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chronodex week 16 and passing along a restored tool

This week i was given the opportunity to sell an excellent Plumb carpenter's hatchet to a Californian. 

for someone who is dedicated to the passing along a quality restored tools to another, these transactions are pretty damn exciting. 
each tool should act as an extension of an individual's purpose or purposeful acts.
the better the tool, then the better the potential for a successful act. 
when i am able to restore a tool, i feel that i can share a bit in the success.
restored plumb carpenters hatchet
 for the desk, i found an old esterbrook ball bearing clip no.30. it just sort of surfaced in a parts bin that may have belonged to one of my grandfathers.

i did have to remove the rust and add a very small amount of silicon to the bearing.
clean and very smooth action.
chronodex 4.25.2014 collage
 found myself making 45 degree notes again.
chronodex 4.25.2014

chronodex 4.27.2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

European mount removing deer head from the ground

Catastrophe hits my 2013 deer head for mounting.
This is the largest deer i had ever took and this beauty deserved a proper mounting.
the freezer storing it failed and i am now on to plan b, a european mount (like my other heads).
i am not going to dwell on the loss but will look forward to the alternative.

to clean the skulls, i bury them to just below the antlers. after burying i cover with a large tote and let the bugs do the rest. when i excavate the skull a quick rinse with hose is about all i need. 

in february the ground is still frozen so i had to hang it up a bit. life got busy and kept putting off burying it. needless to say that by the beginning of april the weather turned nice and I was at the point where i could not put off getting it in the ground. 

i have a dedicated spot to bury the heads and it was currently occupied with another one.
the below image is what a person will see when the tote is pulled off.
just the antlers periscoping above grade.
removing deer head from ground

i was very surprised to see how much skin was still on the top. i blame this on last years heat and drought effects on the insect population. the only other area that needed some attention was some mass in the eye sockets and that just poked out. all in all it just needed a brief scalping. 
what i really like about letting the insects take care of business is that the membranes are picked clean and no damage is done. plus there is no stink from boiling. this is as simple as it gets.
removing deer head from ground, never have i seen so much skin still attached after pulling from the ground

a bit of a shake and the lower jaws and some dust fall off. 

after hosing i will need to do some skinning.
the leather has hardened a bit but in about 20 minutes all traces of skin are gone. 
20 minute scalping and this deer is ready for the next step

the next step is to cover the antlers with an opaque wrap and then hang the head to sun bleach.
after awhile the head will whiten. when all is said and done i will have a white skull and natural colored antlers. what i really like about this process is that it is about the closest "controlled" method to what would happen out in nature. 
there are many ways to do a european mount and this happens to be mine. i have no issues with any other techniques. some people like to peroxide the skull for an ultra white hollywood smile, but that is not my aesthetic. some people take their skull to a professional to have the meat removed with dermestid beetles or buy then and do it themselves. i would actually be willing to do that. what i like the idea of the entire process happening in a drier environment.  

when i buried the 2013 head i actually had to use 2 totes, one for each antler!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chronodex week 15 and the Easter TWSBI

Maybe it because i rarely dress up
when the occasion "arises",  I do enjoy getting a bit formal.

Easter Sunday was just such an occasion.
Instead of hiding out in my trousers pocket, i displayed my TWSBI Mini 580 as some vest flash.
Easter dress and the TWSBI Mini 580
there really wasn't a theme to this weeks chronodex.
some weeks i prefer not to be too planned.
Chronodex 4.14.2014 and the TWSBI Mini 580
 Day 2 of a three day work push
Chronodex 4.15.2014 and the kaweco al sport

chronodex 4.18.2014 and the TWSBI  Mini 580

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chronodex week 14 and the 3 little space (pen) piggies

I am not a big fan of ballpoint pens
i do use the iconic fisher bullet space pen. 
there are two types of pens i alway carry on my person: one fountain pen and one fisher refill pen 
(either a Fisher Bullet Space Pen or a Stinger tactical).  the bullet is for when i don't need or can't have that pointed end. the bullet fits perfectly in a fifth pocket. stays out of the way and makes carrying two pens reasonable. when pulled out and posted the pen has a great 50's industrial look.
3 little space piggies
 the pressurized ink refill allows for writing at all angles. the ink dries fast, clean and is very permanent.
ballpoints in general have an uninteresting line and generic character. 
i tend to write at even a more dramatic italic to compensate for the uninteresting line

despite the inferior look of these lines they are the most hardy pens to dust and dirt conditions. if the pen does build up debris on the tip then it is easier to wipe clean with less of a mess than other types of writers.
 the only writing tool better for really dirty surfaces is a pencil

the chronodex for the week didn't start with a shared common 
the last three did bet based on the small clear plastic magnifying letter opener as the core. 

chronodex 4.9.2014

 there are days where the chonodex need to be visually connected. there are two main ways to do this, either physically connected or look similar. there was no need to separate the 10th & 11th, they just blurred into one anther anyway. 
chronodex 4.10.2014 avec opener

chronodex 4.11.2014 avec opener
 with the 13th i thought i would show the actually shape of the magnifying opener.
chronodex 4.13.2014 avec opener

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Carpenter's hatchet and the rustic crate assembly

Along with the my need to restore tools is the need to present them in some kind of formal way to the new owner.
this form of presentation usually takes the form of some variation of a box.
the final presentation of the box will be rustic and simple. 
this is to reflect my preference to long ago shipping crates, those wooden vessels that were made to safely transport goods to the Great Plains. 

the wood on this crate has come from a salvaged cedar deck. with just a bit of resawing & rough sanding the pieces are ready for cutting.
the individual cut slats are assembled by both gluing and nailing. this crate will be perfect for shipping and surviving the courier. 
restored hatchet crate assembly

i make an effort to use reclaimed wood for these crates.
the use of reclaimed wood will: 
1-find another purpose for the scraps (being responsible to our resources)
2- support the rustic look
3- keep costs down

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Best saw for cutting axe or hatchet handles off for rehanging

Actually this post title should read "my go to saw for removing handles from axes and hatchet handles".
there really are no perfect saws for this act
i do find myself alway grabbing an old coping saw that was my great grandfathers.

although personal preference is the main decision,
 there are some guiding facts that would lead a person to using one type of saw over another:
1.  the wood is generally in rough shape = no need for a fine woodworking saw
2.  there could be long fasteners (nails) that can be protruding past the head & into the handle = this can destroy the teeth of whatever saw you are using
3.  no need for a slow, delicate cut = using a coarse cut blade will make fast work of the job
4.  a small kerf and narrow height make cutting around axe blades easier

the coping saw answers all of these variables very well. 
other benefits includes how easy it is to maneuver, the low cost of blade replacement and speed of blade replacement when sprung.
coping saw blade sprung while removing a hickory sledge handle
the final benefit of using a coping saw is an excuse to dedicate my great grandfathers tool to a 
valued purpose. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chronodex week 12-13 and the need for a pocket note book

For well over a decade i have constantly needed to carry paper with me.

before i permanently attached myself to a cover style book, i always had graph paper that was divided into 4s and kept in my back pocket. i kept them in a refolded green hanging file folders. the refolded folder was formed into a sort of book cover with pocket on each flap. one side held blank graph paper the other filled out papers. when the folder started to get thin on the folds i reinforced with brown paper tape and then when it crapped out i simply made another one. 
it actually was a very competent look. it had a refined natural look.

now i use mostly field notes and doane as my pocket note books. 
since i always have a fountain pen on my person, i prefer (hands down) the paper in the doane. 
the edition style covers of the field notes are vastly more entertaining. the paper of the field notes is much less fountain pen friendly.

so what to do? i have a developed a fountain pen vocabulary of which pens go with which note books.
because this is a bit of an obsession, i was not burdened at all by this. in fact, i enjoyed the challenge of defining the characteristics that make the choice.

i ended up having a star and circle chronodex week 12
star and circle chronodex

star and circle chronodex with old 1.1 mechanical pencil. 

star and circle chronodex
the last of the star and circle chronodexs for the week
one-two punch chronodex
in the middle of week 12 i received my latest edition of field notes
there is no denying that this last edition, Shelterwood,  cover is by far my FAVORITE.
i still wish it had higher quality paper in it.
filling the field notes coffers
i had corn for lunch so i had cut up the six pack new belgium trippel carrier that was in the recycle bin and made a corn seed themed chronodex before going to work. 
corn chronodex

the youngest had a reading feast at the dining room table. a full course of books left on the table. i simply choose a main course (ham) to fill out my days chronodex. 
childrens book chronodex

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hanging the carpenters hatchet head - all about the fine tuning

The next major transformation (after vinegar bath, initial polish and establishing the bits angle)             is giving the hatchet head a body. 
before i can even start the fitting, i first take off the mill's wax coating from the handle and smooth the entire helve with 3 grits of sand paper. i will be adding my own protective coating later on.

replacement handles come in only a limited number of dimensions
i have NEVER had one that just fits perfectly into a tool i am fixing right away.
in fact, this usually takes a bit of time to get to fit perfectly. with a bit of patience the results will be very rewarding. both sides of this tool are usable so i need to use straight 18" American hickory handles.  my preference to an 18' handle versus a smaller one means greater versatility in reach and momentum. if ever a fine cut is needed just choke up.

the process follows these general steps:
1-reduce the handles eye wood so at least it can start to fit inside the head.
2-tap on the head a bit, remove the head and see where the rub on the eye wood is.
3-riffler the wood where the rub is and then do steps 1 & 2 again
tight fitting hanging on the restoration of this carpenters hatchet

4-eventually i will get close to the helve's shoulder. i really want the head to sit on the shoulders as much as possible. that thicker part of the handle will not only act a solid base to butt up against but will take the abuse of missed strikes better (when the handle hits the surface being struck). i also need to add here that carpenters hatchets are versatile strikers that are not one dimensional splitters. a bit of beef around the shoulders will be more beneficial.

sometimes i get handles that do not have pre-sawn wedge cuts. in this case i simply take a rip saw and make my own.
ripping a new home for the wedge in the hatchet handle
5-the final step is to wood glue in the softer wood wedge into the handle. i NEVER epoxy a handle in the head but i do add the wood glue for the wood to wood contact of the wedge and handle.

after at least 24 hours of curing time the head will go into its first linseed oil soak. this will condition the wood and help reduce wood shrinkage. 
as wood dries it shrinks and this will happen no matter what after time. it is necessary to periodically condition the eye wood in linseed oil to prevent this.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Establishing a new bit angle on a carpenter's hatchet restoration

After the first visual transformation from removing the layers of corrosion to the initial polishing 
comes the first steps of actually modifying the blade. this is when we start to establish a more optimal cutting edge, the angle from the cutting bit to the tools cheeks.

before i continue on, i would like to step back to the last step and quickly give some words as to why it is important to immediately polish the tool after removing from the vinegar bath.
 that caustic soak has two purposes: to remove corrosion and to test the temper. when the old corrosion is removed then the surface area is increased, therefore the tool can quickly degrade again.
the images of that craftsman after just one week shows the process in action and that was when it was cold and very low humidity!
 in the summer the acceleration would be alarmingly fast. allowing this to happen would be counter productive to our attempts to move this tool forward. the polishing will afford us the time to continue the restoration process without any steps backwards, even if life gets busy and there is alot of time between being able to work on the tool.

with that said, lets put this head in the jig and remove some metal!
this is a chance to do some more forceful work on the tool without the handle getting in the way or even doing damage to the handle while laying down a heavy hand. 
this is the time to: 1= decrease the angle from the bit to the cheeks 2= remove any chips 3= improve on the profile the bit (fix the asymmetrical sharpening from past owners).

now there are a few times when i am lucky enough to acquire a tool that needs no jig work, but in all honesty that is more of a rarity. mostly that happens when someone comes to me with a project to restore a tool already in pretty good shape, minus a chip or two. BUT because i do this out of an obsession, i really like the challenge of bring back to life quality tools that have the potential to be great but are in a current state of disfunction.

below is an old hatchet that has very good quality steel. although the tool was not overly misused it was definitely in need of some jig work.  my goals for this session were to symmetrically decrease the angle from the cutting edge to the sides of the hatchet. this will make it a more efficient cutter.  while doing this i will also be able to give that edge some point too. this tool was so dull it was visually rounded on the bit. this simply could NOT have been safe. a sharp tool is a safe tool and this striker was as dangerous as it gets (probably couldn't even strike warm butter without glancing off).
a detail of the carpenters hatchet getting some symmetrical adjustment to the business end

in the jig, the tool is worked by switching sides over and over again. By the end this jig work the angle was looking symmetrically efficient.  
i would like to stress here that when i am finished on the jig i am by NO means finished with the shaping nor the sharpening. i will still need to create an optimal edge by turning this flatter transition to a more convex style grind with diamond files and sharpening stones.

the last item to mention is that although this tool will make a perfect striker when finished, i do leave enough steel still intact so the new owner can have the chance to do his or her own modification. it is all about what is best for the new owner.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Transformation from the vinegar bath to the initial polish of the craftsman carpenter's hatchet restoration

There are some steps of the hatchet restoration that have a greater visual impact.
for example: when the hatchet comes out of the vinegar bath and then when the initial polish is done.

these two images show the transformation from matte poly-chromatic texture to higher gloss momo-chromoatic texture.

the matte version was taken about one week after pulling the head out of the vinegar bath. the temper looks very good on both the bit and the poll. when first pulled out the tool was a solid matte grey, but one week later had all of these great colors that moved around the surface marks.  
craftsman carpenter's hatchet one week after the vinegar bath
the gloss version was taken after the initial polishing. 
this step dramatically decreases the surface area and inhibits rust. this will provide better protection for the new owner. 
i have stated many times before that i do not want to remove all of the history, but i do need to establish a new beginning for the tools future owner. 
from this redefined state the new owner can create a more personal relationship of work and history
(plus the tool will be more functionally sound). 
craftsman carpenter's hatchet after initial polishing
the next step will be to establish a new angle from the bit to the cheek for better cutting performance.