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Tim Moore

My top 4 most useful tools

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4 basic tools that I've found to be the most valuable in my model boat building. From left to right:

1. Ultra thin razor saw

2. Razor blade holder used for cutting fur - cuts like a laser, perfect for cutting thread and fine wood trimming.

3. Wood glue dispenser with micro nozzles. never clogs, reliably dispenses tiny controlled drops

4. small files of various sorts

IMG_4080.JPG

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What a great topic 👍 mine would be

 

1. My Veritas plane it’s great for just about everything and makes so little mess

2. A very sharp knife

3. An Icraruler which is a pleasure to use and so accurate https://www.incra.com/measuring_marking-marking_rules.html

4. Permagrit sanding tools which are just so useful 

 

Thanks for the tip about the glue bottle I’ve never seen one of them before so ones on order and should be here this week 

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Hey thanks - I could really use that icraruler and will pick one up next trip to lee valley, and I'll check out the veritas as well while I'm there.

I haven't really found good clamps yet and could really use some better ones. I have lots of the plastic spring loaded jobs and a couple of others, but if anybody has a proven favourite for precision holds I'd be interested to hear. 

Tim

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5 hours ago, No Idea said:

What a great topic 👍 mine would be

 

1. My Veritas plane it’s great for just about everything and makes so little mess

2. A very sharp knife

3. An Icraruler which is a pleasure to use and so accurate https://www.incra.com/measuring_marking-marking_rules.html

4. Permagrit sanding tools which are just so useful 

 

Thanks for the tip about the glue bottle I’ve never seen one of them before so ones on order and should be here this week 

This is a stupid question, but can I ask how you use your plane?  I have the mini plane and mini chisels, but haven’t figured out what ways they can be used (and even more basically, how to use them.

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Mike the planes from Veritas are great for many tasks. For example when I am tapering planks I put them in a hand made wooden holder, proud of the holder surface and use the block plane to trim the planks to a predetermined width. I always leave the line marking the trim point and sneak up on the final dimension via trial. The shoulder plane can be used on concave surfaces if you cant the plane to the direction of travel. The shoulder plane is also good for cutting rabbets as its blade runs right up to the plane side. The chisels are good for close in trimming and I have even used them for cutting off planking from longer stock. These are all examples there are many more.

In any case for any tool you need to hone the blades. Out of the box they work but not as well as after honing. I keep a piece of leather close by and hone the blades frequently while working with just a few passes with a honing paste. Lee Valley has Happich Simichrome Polish.

Joe

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9 hours ago, Landlubber Mike said:

This is a stupid question, but can I ask how you use your plane?  I have the mini plane and mini chisels, but haven’t figured out what ways they can be used (and even more basically, how to use them.

I can only echo what Joe has said. I used to sand planks and the results were mixed and getting a straight edge was very difficult. Now I only really use the plane as it’s so good a getting down accurately to a line. If the line is concave just twist the plane to 45 degrees and you can get in there no problem 

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Ken made a very valid point here, my thoughts exactly sir :)

 

I have found that the "tools" I have in my hands on a very regular basis are:

1. My magnifiers (I would be lost on rigging without these)

2. My digital vernier caliper

3. As mentioned above the Exacto knife

4. A playlist with some great Jazz sounds

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I wish I could get more people to convert over to using real knives with Rc62 blades and learning how to sharpen them instead of using X-Acto :) X-Acto blades aren't very sharp by knife sharpening standards, their steel isn't very good and probably Rc55 or so (so they lose an edge very quickly), and they're very thin and weak and as such can only handle very low-stress cuts. A real knife is so much more capable.

 

There are many makers of carving knives, just buy one that is in the $25-$35 range and you'll stop using Xacto. Well that's not quite accurate, I still use an X-Acto knife (a replacement I made), but it's only there for cleaning out glue and scraping things, the tasks I would rather not use my good knives for.

 

Below is my X-Acto and my main knife.

 

 

 

my_xacto.jpg

VossXacto2a.jpg

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"I wish I could get more people to convert over to using real knives with Rc62 blades and learning how to sharpen them instead of using X-Acto."

 

Very true! The history of the X-Acto knife is an interesting example of marketing. The system was first invented in the 1930's as a surgical scalpel. Up to about that time, most scalpels were "one piece" and had to be expertly sharpened for each use after heat-sterilization, which dulled their edges. The X-Acto knife was an attempt to cash in on the market for disposable blades. (Like Gillette with "safety" razors, the handles were low-priced "loss leaders" and they'd make their money selling the blades.) The X-Acto scalpel failed because its threaded collet closer and slotted collet holding system was difficult to clean and sterilize. Not a minute too soon, however, the X-Acto company changed the name of their "scalpel" to a "hobby knife" and the rest was history. They still make their money on the disposable blades and if blades are not intended to be resharpened, there's no need to make them out of expensive tool steel that holds an edge for a good long time. 

 

I use X-Acto (or Excel) brand blades because they are better than the ones that come from the Patriotic People's Hobby Knife Blade Collective, and I sharpen them frequently as I work, keeping a stone handy on my bench. I have to say, though, that I don't use them all that much. Wherever possible, I use saws, sharp quality chisels, and small planes for shaping wood (avoiding sandpaper for shaping tasks.) I use various types of surgical scissors for  rigging line cutting. You can do a lot with an X-Acto knife for as long as it stays sharp, but, more often than not, it's not the best tool for the job.

 

Your knives above are real works of art and warrant the investment in a good blade that will hold an edge for a good long time. I think the reason it's hard to get people to use "real knives" as well as other edged tools, is that sharpening and maintaining a good cutting edge is fast becoming a lost art. Time was, (as some of us remember well,) every boy owned his very own pocket knife by age seven or eight and was carefully instructed in how to properly sharpen it. It was practically a rite of passage. Now, it's common to see guys pay hundreds of dollars for Lie Nielsen planes and then go out and spend hundreds more for fancy electric "sharpening systems" that promise instant gratification without skill or experience.

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26 minutes ago, geoffs said:

At the moment, I'd have to include BandAids in my top 4!

Every time I pick up a knife, I manage to cut myself 😞

Hospitals and medical schools have extensive courses and protocols for handling "sharps." There are particular ways surgeons are taught to handle scalpels to minimize the danger of cuts. Baring going to medical school, you might consider getting a pair of stainless steel gloves. Google "cut-resistant gloves." There are many different styles, brands, and types. They are not expensive at all. The one pictured below is made for meat cutters, I believe. They are woven of yarn with a stainless steel core.  https://www.superiorglove.com/en/white-rhino-7-gauge-wire-core-cut-resistant-composite-knit-gloves

 

spwwh_1.jpg

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3 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

Your knives above are real works of art and warrant the investment in a good blade that will hold an edge for a good long time. I think the reason it's hard to get people to use "real knives" as well as other edged tools, is that sharpening and maintaining a good cutting edge is fast becoming a lost art. Time was, (as some of us remember well,) every boy owned his very own pocket knife by age seven or eight and was carefully instructed in how to properly sharpen it. It was practically a rite of passage. Now, it's common to see guys pay hundreds of dollars for Lie Nielsen planes and then go out and spend hundreds more for fancy electric "sharpening systems" that promise instant gratification without skill or experience.

The thing is, sharpening my knife up there takes me a good solid 15 minutes, and I only have to do it about once a month because it's a Ron Hock blade that holds an edge forever. Only steel I know that holds an edge longer is the PM-V11 steel from Lee Valley.

 

Sharpening small plane irons  takes no time at all, either. I would recommend people get Shapton Glass Stones in 1000 and 4000 grit plus a strop of their choice and they're set for life sharpening everything from full-sized plane irons down to little carving knives. I've been using some Shapton stones regularly for over 5 years and I see no meaningful change in flatness and they still remove steel faster than anything I've ever seen, including diamond, so I'm thinking they're going to be still working fine 20 years from now.

 

Anyone here who can build a ship can make a pretty knife. All you need is: 

  1. a drill press that can drill a 3/16" hole accurately
  2. some 3/16 brass rod
  3. Epoxy
  4. Knife and sandpaper
  5. Large bottle of thin CA glue
  6. Blade with pre-drilled holes

Check link below, scroll down to Violin Knife Blades. Buy the middle one. Take a piece of nice-looking wood and machine it down to handle-size and then rip it in half. Mortise each side of the handle to 1/2 the depth of the knife blade, with the back of the knife edge lining up with one edge of the handle. Basically you want the knife's "back" to be one straight line from handle to point. 

 

http://www.hocktools.com/products/knives.html

 

The tip angle is a bit less than typical X-Acto, if you want to refine that, just use a bench grinder, regularly dipping the blade in ice water. You don't want any part of the blade to get warmer than warm to the touch or the temper will be ruined.

 

Cut brass rod pieces that are just a tad too long, drill the holes, and test the fit.

 

Epoxy everything, tap the rods through the holes in handle and blade, and clamp the hell out of it. After however long, declamp and start shaping the handle. If you have an oscillating spindle sander, that works well here. I don't, and what I do is take out one of my other knives and I just start carving the handle down. Round it fully with files and rotary tools and sandpaper, and then sand the handle out to 1500 grit or so so it's very, very clear and clean. This controls how pretty the grain looks under the crystal-clear CA glue, so it's worth it to spend a few more minutes and take it out to 2000 grit so the wood looks polished before the finish goes on.

 

Take a tube of some kind that's a bit bigger than the knife handle and attach it to a base, then mostly fill it with thin super glue. Most of this glue can be recovered if you're worried about using that much glue. Tape a crosspiece on the blade so the handle will be suspended in the thin super glue tube, and dunk it in there, ensuring all the wood is under glue. 

 

After 10 minutes or so, take it out and let it dry, but do NOT set it aside- you have to work the finish right now before the CA glue fully hardens. If you do it now, you can work down the super glue to a smooth finish in little time, working from 320 grit up to 2000. If you let it fully harden, it will take quite a while and you'll go through lots of sandpaper getting there.

 

If you want super-bright gloss finish, take some Novus Plastic Polish Fine Scratch Remover and buff the handle. Once the glue fully hardens, the handle and its finish are almost indestructible. Mine have been rolling around on my bench for years and hardly show a scratch, the biggest "dings" come from accidentally spilling CA on them, I then have to sand them down again.

 

The brass end-pieces I add are there not just for looks, but to move the knife's balance point back to just ahead of center, and to increase its mass a bit. This improves control and feel. If you want something similar, you'll need a lathe and some 3/8 or so brass rod. I just Mark One Eyeball them, face the end and use files to taper them. Once tapered, I use a parting tool to add the little reveals. Feel free to be creative, all you need is about the right weight in brass, the shape can be whatever you like.

 

All in all, several orders of magnitude less tricky than planking a hull :) 

 

 

20170613_020223.jpg

Edited by vossiewulf

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Hi vossiewulf thats a very interesting post and something that I would like to have a try at in the future when I get some more time on my hands.  Over here in the UK I guess the most popular knife would be a Swan Morton scalpel as the blades are so cheap.  I get 100 blades for about £9 and you can buy a little tool that helps change the blades without cutting your fingers.

 

I have a question though - could you tell be how to hone a plane blade correctly?  I use diamond plates to sharpen them but I have never actually honed a blade before.  You mention a strop; is this just like a leather belt?

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Beautiful knife.

 

I'm not sure I have a top four but:

 

     -Lee valley low angle block plane.

     -Violin makers plane. These are very small and rather expensive but      fantastic. Not 

       sure what type of steel they use but the blade remains very sharp for an

       extended period. I think Lee Valley sells them.

      -I get a great deal of use from my digital readout caliper. I've tested it and it's very 

       accurate.

       -I consider glue a tool. I use Loctite gel glue (not the gel in the black applicator) for 

       many applications. To achieve a bond it only requires a "very small" amount. A tip I 

       learned somewhere is after you can't squeeze out any more glue cut off the exterior  

       plastic housing (very carefully...try not to puncture the inner tube). The remaining

       tube extends the amount of usable glue. This technique yields almost twice the amount 

       of this "pricy" glue.

Edited by Moab

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1 hour ago, No Idea said:

Hi vossiewulf thats a very interesting post and something that I would like to have a try at in the future when I get some more time on my hands.  Over here in the UK I guess the most popular knife would be a Swan Morton scalpel as the blades are so cheap.  I get 100 blades for about £9 and you can buy a little tool that helps change the blades without cutting your fingers.

 

I have a question though - could you tell be how to hone a plane blade correctly?  I use diamond plates to sharpen them but I have never actually honed a blade before.  You mention a strop; is this just like a leather belt?

Honing is just refining an already-sharp edge, and generally speaking you use a strop or a high-grit polishing stone. The idea is sharpen once, keep it sharp many times with the strop until the edge starts to get dubbed over, then you go back and sharpen again and reestablish the bevel. So if I started from a dull edge I would use my 1000/4000/8000 stones to resharpen and then a strop for the final polish. I'd then just use the strop on the edge for several weeks until the edge starts to get rounded over, at which point I sharpen again.

 

Strops are made from many materials, one is leather. My favorite is an artificial pad that uses aluminum oxide powder, but most people use leather strops with chromium green stropping paste. Just go to Lee Valley or Woodcraft (or a good similar retailer on that side of the pond) and search on strops, you'll find both the strops themselves and the recommended paste.

 

Also not sure whether you're talking small planes and small blades or full-sized ones. Full-sized plane irons generally are sharpened with a slight curve across the edge, so the corners are maybe .003" curved back from the center of the cutting edge. This feathers the edge of the cut of the plane and prevents marks made by sharp plane iron corners. The best way to do that correctly is to use the Veritas Mk.II sharpening system from Lee Valley with the barrel-shaped roller, that makes it easy to rock the iron slightly as you're sharpening, relieving the corners.

 

 

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21 minutes ago, vossiewulf said:

Honing is just refining an already-sharp edge, and generally speaking you use a strop or a high-grit polishing stone. The idea is sharpen once, keep it sharp many times with the strop until the edge starts to get dubbed over, then you go back and sharpen again and reestablish the bevel. So if I started from a dull edge I would use my 1000/4000/8000 stones to resharpen and then a strop for the final polish. I'd then just use the strop on the edge for several weeks until the edge starts to get rounded over, at which point I sharpen again.

 

Strops are made from many materials, one is leather. My favorite is an artificial pad that uses aluminum oxide powder, but most people use leather strops with chromium green stropping paste. Just go to Lee Valley or Woodcraft (or a good similar retailer on that side of the pond) and search on strops, you'll find both the strops themselves and the recommended paste.

 

Also not sure whether you're talking small planes and small blades or full-sized ones. Full-sized plane irons generally are sharpened with a slight curve across the edge, so the corners are maybe .003" curved back from the center of the cutting edge. This feathers the edge of the cut of the plane and prevents marks made by sharp plane iron corners. The best way to do that correctly is to use the Veritas Mk.II sharpening system from Lee Valley with the barrel-shaped roller, that makes it easy to rock the iron slightly as you're sharpening, relieving the corners.

 

 

Ahhh got you its a bit lost in translation sorry mate.......Now don't think I'm a bit dim but for some reason I thought that honing could only be carried out with a leather.  I didn't realise that I've been honing my blades on a very fine plate for years I just call it sharpening.  I will look on the Lee Valley site though and thanks for the info  - Mark

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