A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Friday, 5 August 2011

I Like Nice Tools!!

As long as I have been working with wood, I have enjoyed using nice tools. I was not always able to afford the best equipment, but as the years go by I have been able to upgrade things regularly.

I have spent quite a bit of time lately honing (:-}) my sharpening skills to get the most out of my planes and chisels. This has been a real eye opener as I now realize the difference between sharp and "shave the hair off your arm" sharp. I had purchased some water stones and a complete set of DMT diamond bench stones, which are great and simple to work with. Using the Veritas Mk. II Honing Guide gave me the control I needed to get the most out of the diamond stones; these allow me to put a mirror finish on the blades making them a dream to use on wood.

14 oz. mallet and bench chisels
 from Blue Spruce Toolworks

Now that I have a new appreciation for sharp tools, its time to upgrade to a tool befitting this new found understanding. Recently I have been acquiring some nice chisels and other small hand tools to replace some I have had for almost 20 years.  In my research online through woodworking forums and magazines I came across Blue Spruce Toolworks from Oregon, which will make custom bench tools using the wood of your choice.

Many years ago when I upgraded my hand planes and hand saws I chose cocobolo as my wood of choice for these tools, mostly bought from Lie Nielson Toolworks in Maine - this would (wood?) be my choice this time too. So I contacted Dave Jeske at Blue Spruce and ordered a load of new gear from him. He chose some interesting grain for me and when they arrived I was floored, the picture below is what I ended up with, a complete set of Bench Chisels, Dovetail chisels, Set of Skew chisels, Marking Tools and small awl - all from cocobolo and all spectacular.

Homage to Blue Spruce Tools

Since these are tools and are meant to be used and not just looked at (really that's true), they need to be good tools. Right out of the box they were razor sharp, I just ran the micro bevel over my 8000 diamond plate to polish it  up and it was time to make shavings. Everything they evoke in their appearance is magnified by their performance in your hand. the chisels were dead flat and cut like a dream, I know that my son will be using some nice chisels long after I am gone.

You can also see in the shot an awesome cocobolo magnetic strip from Bench Crafted which is from their One of a Kind Mag-Bloks collection. I bought a few of these and will do a blog on them later as I have made some jigs which enhance the usability of these already indispensable tool holders.

So what's a nice chisel without a nice mallet to pound it with? Okay let's say tap then...

Mallet Collection and Holder

These mallets include two from Blue Spruce, a 14 and a 16 oz. one for various levels of force. You will notice the large one is not cocobolo, I guess this was a snafu in the order. The middle mallet is a cocobolo one I bought in the US over 20 years ago and has the marks to prove it's been well used.

Since I had killer mallets, I needed to make a stand to have them at the ready on my bench. This holder I custom made from a piece of brazilian, some ash & wenge strips,mounted on a Pau Rosa backplate - suitable I think!

Every time I pick one of these up to use, I marvel at the craftsmanship, this only adds to the pleasure i get from spending time in my shop each day.


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