Saturday, 30 May 2015

know sale (or) someone needs a belt

I don't know what possesses some salespeople to act the way they do, especially the technical ones.

A few months ago I went looking for a new 6" or 8" double-ended grinder. I have collected quite a few vintage planes & chisels that will need (substantial) restoration. Many irons are in quite sad shape and will (at least) need a new primary bevel ground. While I am keen to do the final honing by hand, I am not keen on trying to grind away years of abuse to form a new basic bevel manually; I simply don't have that kind of time.

The staff member at the shop didn't so much ask me what I wanted the grinder for as to launch right into a rote diatribe about how to properly sharpen tools. This salesperson stopped just short of flatly refusing to sell me a bench grinder - while sending the clear signal that he considered me an ignorant butcher (or worse) - without bothering to find out any of the reasons I wanted one. I also need one to grind HSS lathe tools, but he didn't make the effort to learn that, either.

Two days ago I went into that shop looking for V-belts. When I asked to peruse their selection, the same fellow immediately demanded of me, "What do you want them for?" I told him I needed some belts to repair an old 'Brand X' drill press. He scowled and told me they didn't sell parts for 'Brand X'. I insisted that he check to see if the two part numbers which were listed on their very own website were in stock. One of them was present and, despite my irritation, I bought it. However if this guy remains employed with this shop I'm going to find somewhere else to spend my discretionary funds.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

vintage bits

Thanks to the outstanding generosity of another tools junkie, I now have a few more tools on site.

First is a Keller #1A die filer. No idea what I'll use it for just yet; maybe cleaning up hard-to-reach places on castings? Ideally, I should have a small kick press to go with it :-). The machine's protective belt cover shows "Etobicoke Board of Ed." which I delightfully recall as the employer of my grandfather many years ago.

Second is an elderly, double-ended grinding arbour which I'm told was made from castings and plans in the "Model Engineer" magazine some time in the mid 50s.

Third is an equally old power hacksaw made from a similarly aged plan set. It shuts off automatically when it finishes the cut. A vise holds material steady during the job, and small depressions for oiling are dotted around the machine.

The latter two were well made by the same gentleman (since passed on) and operate respectably. They share the same small, wheeled table for ease of placement. Not a bad arrangement, but my workspace is now completely jammed with these extra machines.

Time to increase the speed of divesting surplus!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

gone Shop'ing

I'm often amazed at the opportunities that drop into my lap.

The other day a coworker, who just happens to be a talented woodworker in his leisure hours, sent me a link to a Kijiji advert for a couple of Shopsmith Mk V multi-tools. The seller was local to me and the contents were intriguing so I set up a visit for the next morning.

Now, I've always thought of the Shopsmith as a gimmicky machine that probably wouldn't do any of its tasks very well. Consequently I've never given much thought to owing one. However, this coworker is a very strong advocate of their usefulness and functionality, having built many fine furniture pieces as well as using it to support himself in his own business during leaner times.

In the past couple of years, I've had chances to look at a few of these machines in various states of decrepitude and configuration. These machines do have a certain visual appeal, especially for those fond of retro styling and near-infinite fussiness of adjustment options.

The two that I viewed last week were in exceptional condition for 1980/1982 vintage. They had been recently serviced by the local Shopsmith authorised dealer and they operated quietly; all the parts that were supposed to move did so smoothly, while the bits that were meant to stay still obediently kept their place. The two machines were being offered with a broad range of accessories and fittings, including the 4" jointer and 11" bandsaw. The older of the two units (a model 500) was set up semi-permanently in a vertical orientation for drilling, drum sanding, routing, and shaping; with the newer unit (a model 510) being intended for all of the sawing, disc sanding, turning, and jointing duties.

Being a certified (certifiable?) machine junkie and being pleased with their condition, I purchased them on the spot. A mere 5 hours later they had been disassembled, packed, moved, unloaded, and partially reassembled in their new (and increasingly crowded) home.

It remains to delve into the extensive documentation in order to become fully conversant with their many peculiarities. A large box of binders, books, videos (VHS!) and flyers covering the Shopsmith machines and accessories were included in the package. I envision several nights of intense study.

It's also apparent that a number of existing tools are suddenly redundant. A 4" jointer, contractor's table saw, at least one drill press, and a 14" bandsaw can all be moved on to new owners. These two new machines will actually take up less space and offer more functionality than the items they are displacing.