Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Re-handling a pair Japanese hammers

 

My day finished up a little early yesterday, and I knew exactly what I would do with my ‘free’ time. 

I have been building up the courage to remove the Boxwood handle from the larger of these two hammers. As I was preparing for it, I realized I have undone very little of my own work. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but did recognize how strange it felt. 

I cut the handle off just below the head - the painful part was over. I carefully drilled three holes from the top down - about 3/4" of the way through. I placed a punch in the middle hole thinking I could just pound the waste out. 

I think the Boxwood actually laughed at me. It did not budge. As much as I tried, I could not break it free. I was secretly happy to be honest - this suggested that I had done a pretty good job of handling it in the first place. I drilled all the way through and then grabbed a piece of Sugar Maple to use as a chisel and bashed the waste out. Even this was tough work, but the Boxwood finally gave.

This gave me a chance to weigh the head - something I did not do when I received it. The larger head weighs 17.2oz or 487.6g and the smaller head weighs 10.2oz or 289g


I have been stressing about what to use for the handles for the last week. I could go traditional and use White Oak or Boxwood again. I have seen fruit woods used as well - or I could use Ebony or Rosewood, but for some reason, those do not really appeal to me. I was taking some photos on the balcony when I noticed two lengths of Lilac that have been sitting out there for years. We have a 100 year old Lilac that was likely planted when our house was built. I have been pruning it over the years and have always saved any good sized usable sections. Lilac is certainly not a traditional wood to use for handles, but it struck me that it has many of the same tactile qualities to Boxwood, so I decided to see if I could coax a handle out of each section. Plus the idea of using something that grew on our yard is pretty darn cool.




There was much carnage. 

Lots of checks, voids and other areas to work around, but there was a graceful natural curve to both sections, and as luck would have it, the more solid sections followed this curve.



I roughed out the blanks very oversized, anticipating that they will shrink and deform a bit as they dry in the shop. I used some old glue on the end grain to help slow down moisture loss and keep end checks at bay. 


I tapered them as well, thinking that getting close to the final shape will help speed up the drying process. This is going to be the toughest part... the waiting.



A few shots of the two hammer heads. 




I am not sure how long I will have to wait before I can start handling them, but I will certainly post when it happens. 

7 Comments:

Blogger Owen Crane said...

They look great! I was wondering how long they would take to acclimatize. I can't remember whether you have mentioned it or not - do you have a dehumidifier kiln? If you don't, (or do) how much would you use it? I know you're not one to rush seasoning!

12 April 2016 at 09:06  
Blogger Ethan said...

Those are beautiful, Konrad. And to find one in the wild like that? Oooh man, you must have some good Karma built up!

Can't wait to see the next step. But... I suppose we'll have to wait a bit, won't we?

Ah, well.

12 April 2016 at 09:58  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Owen,

I do have a dehumidification kiln, but have not used it in some time. I really prefer to just give things time. And, at the rate that I go... things seem to get more than enough time to dry all on their own. That being said, they are pretty small pieces now and (fingers crossed) should dry fairly quick.

cheers,
konrad

12 April 2016 at 17:08  
Blogger Konrad said...

Yeah Ethan - we are going to have to wait. I think I drained the Karma reserve for this one... I can't believe I found it... and that nobody else bought it before I did.

cheers,
konrad

12 April 2016 at 17:09  
Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

This feels like a stupid question, but what are these hammers used for? It would seem that by using a curved handle one end of the head is being taken out of use. Are they reversible?

12 April 2016 at 22:27  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Kevin,

Not a stupid question. I used the larger hammer for all sorts of tasks. I used it to install my herringbone floor, I have used it when tapping furniture parts together, I have used it with a chisel. The curve I have roughed out is a little more extreme than I hope the final shape will be - but a gentle curve is nice. The boxwood handle was curved as well and the curve told me which face was facing which direction. One end of the hammer head is flat, the other is domed.

cheers,
konrad

12 April 2016 at 22:34  
Blogger John said...

Nice job, wood polisher. Quick question: will these hammers work with corded nails?

14 April 2016 at 22:49  

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Thursday, 7 April 2016

Tools of the Trade & a spare XSNo.4

This past weekend, Joe Steiner and I traveled to Pickering Ontario for the spring Tools of the Trade show. This is the first time in at least 10 years that we did not set up as vendors but rather just as attendees. I have to say - it was a lot of fun! I am always overwhelmed by the sea of antique tools and no matter how hard I try to concentrate, I miss stuff. This year was a little different, and I wonder if it is because I had my camera with me and could ‘see’ through a different lens so to speak. Regardless of why it was different - it was, and I had a lot of fun seeing more and catching up with old friends.




There was a pretty cool infill with a particularly contemporary front bun. The traditional form of the front bun does not stray too much, so seeing examples like this is a real treat. Sadly, it did not strike me as an overly comfortable plane - I wish there would have been a bench to try it out. Things are different when you stand there holding a plane vs place it on a piece of wood. I have made that mistake in the past, and have learned not to pass judgement until I can actually try it.







A striking lever cap.





Frank Flynn had a pair of typesetters planes. These took me back to my previous life as a graphic designer. These are planes for re-surfacing wood type. What was new to me was seeing one of them outfitted with a Disston file for working endgrain type.  I was tempted, but held off, and I am glad I did - the real prize of the show was just around the corner.







Both planes ride in a track to ensure consistency of thickness. Examples of wood type below.







I had a chance to catch up with Darryl Gent as well. He is a planemaker from Welland Ontario and showed me this sweet spalted European Beech smoother. He has soaked it in oil which has added to the weight. Really nice work.










I also had a chance to catch up with my friend Anson. He had a table full of Japanese tools - mainly hammers and saws.



There was one hammer in particular that caught my attention right away. I couldn't believe it - a little brother to a hammer from years ago.  I immediately picked it up and did not put it down until I had decided. Needless to say, it came home with me, and I think I will re-handle both of them at the same time. The other handle has a small crack right below the head. I keep a close eye on it, but don't want it breaking off when I am working.  The hard part will be deciding on the handle material. Suggestions?



Can you guess which one it is?



I also have a spare XSNo.4. I just completed these 2 planes. The one in the back is spoken for - it was the original commission. There were 2 matching sets on the shelf so I decided to make both of them. I am working on a 24" jointing plane right now, and working on these 2 much smaller planes has been a nice break from such an intense plane.

The plane is 5-1/2" long, has  52.5 degree bed angle, bronze sides, lever cap and screw. The infill is an unknown Rosewood - I suspect a close relative of Cocobolo, but I am not 100% sure. The blade is high carbon steel from Ron Hock. The top photo is more accurate for color - it is pouring rain right now so the balcony ledge is unavailable. A Versailles pattern parquetry floor panel will have to do.








The price is $1,750.00 Cdn + actual shipping cost and insurance if desired. Send me an email if you are interested. konrad@sauerandsteiner.com

15 Comments:

Blogger nielscosman said...

That lever cap though!

7 April 2016 at 13:33  
Blogger Richard Wile said...

I am guessing the hammer is the Damascus with forge welded faces in hard steel. Looks very close to one I recently saw (bought)...

Do I win the prize?

7 April 2016 at 20:09  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Chris Hall seemed to think quite highly of "gumi" for japanese hammer handles. I tend to take his opinion on all matters japanese about how I do yours on infills and exotic woods. Which is to say quite highly. I assume you're familiar, but if not have a look or let me know and I'll see if I can find the article... I think it's some sort of japanese boxwood.

7 April 2016 at 21:47  
Blogger Konrad said...

Yeah Niels - that was a pretty cool lever cap. I have never seen one like it. I suspect it is not rare or anything - but pretty cool nonetheless.

cheers,
konrad

7 April 2016 at 22:01  
Blogger Konrad said...

You get the prize Richard... but I suppose the real prize arrives next week eh? :)

cheers,
konrad

7 April 2016 at 22:01  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Owen,

I have heard of Gumi before - but I have not seen any. If you can dig up the article, I would be most grateful. I have some Asian boxwood - but I don't know the country of origin - I supsect the seller didn't either. White Oak is somewhat appealing... which surprises me a bit. I also have some English brown oak... which might be an interesting east meets west thing... who knows. Thanks for your thoughts.

cheers,
konrad

7 April 2016 at 22:04  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Bah, my mistake Konrad - I got my late night rabbit hole research mixed up. He does say Gumi is his favourite 'tool handle wood', however it was in an article about chisels. I believe that led me to some other articles about gumi (god knows where now) which were more focused on hammer handles, which I think is why I got them confused.

Anyhow this was the chisel article.

http://thecarpentryway.blogspot.ca/2016/01/an-embarrassment-of-riches.html?m=1

Also I should note that he clarifies it is not actually 'japanese boxwood' despite a lot of people calling it that. Maybe your piece is gumi afterall? I think white or the brown oak could be cool - do you have anything that's specifically branch wood with pith? I believe that was said to be desirable in the mystery article which I am quoting, although we've already established my credibility is a little suspect. I wish I could find that article - it had a really in depth description of handle fitting - very slowly over the course of days/weeks I think?

Ah well, I'm sure it'll be great either way, look forward to seeing it!

Owen

8 April 2016 at 03:13  
Blogger Richard Wile said...

Yes Konrad, the real prize is enroute.

Regarding the hammer, mine came with straight grained ebony as the handle which increases the overall mass tremendously (and looks bloody awesome as well). I have seen this hammer in a few pictures online and in blogs and it has the same ebony handle every time - for what it's worth. I'm also sure you got a much better deal than I did, is it signed on the top?

8 April 2016 at 05:07  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks for the link Owen. I do not have any branch wood, although I do have a very old lilac tree that needs to come down - that might be an interesting choice. It will take a long time to season though... not sure I can wait that long:) I will take a look at the Asian boxwood I have - and the rest of the boxwood for that matter. Ah... just too many dang choices really? What I am intrigued by is the shaping of the handles. There are some really sweet curved handles out there that I am hoping to borrow from.

cheers,
konrad

8 April 2016 at 18:48  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Damn! The lilac would be super cool! Can't say I'd wait either though... you'll just have to buy a couple more hammer heads a few years after the tree comes down!

8 April 2016 at 19:02  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Owen,

I think I will take a look at our firewood pile. There may be a few lilac branches in there and they should be fairly well seasoned - enough to bring into the shop anyway. I will keep you posted.

cheers

8 April 2016 at 22:42  
Blogger John said...

How about Lignum handles?

10 April 2016 at 23:27  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks John - now that would be interesting. I suspect the weight of the wood and the oiliness would be an issue though. I have 2 pieces of English Brown oak on the bench right now and if I have some time this afternoon, I may mess about a bit. It will be sad to bash out the old boxwood handle from the first hammer.

cheers,
konrad

11 April 2016 at 12:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hey Owen,

A bit of an update - I tore into the firewood pile and came up empty handed... but then, when out on the balcony to take some photos, I spied 2 sections of Lilac that have been drying on the balcony for years. Joy! They were several inches longer than I needed - but they each had solid sections in each of them that might work. I brought them in and started exploring on the bandsaw. I roughed out 2 very oversized handles, put some old white glue on the ends and will wait and see how things go. Fingers crossed!

11 April 2016 at 15:50  
Blogger Owen Crane said...

Wow! That's a helluva surprise, very cool - keep us posted on here or instagram, I look forward to seeing it! (Btw that front bun is looking great).

12 April 2016 at 01:53  

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