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I&H Sorby Firmer Rehandle.

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jimi43

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Followers of the bootfair thread will know that a couple of weeks ago - in the Summer (!)....I picked up, amongst other things....two huge firmer chisels. One was in great condition complete with handle....



....the other slightly smaller but sans handle...



I thought it might be useful for our newer members to understand what is involved (at least with me)...in the sympathetic re-handling of vintage chisels...with a view to trying to make them seem as old as the steel itself.

Just one point to note...there are literally hundreds of ways of doing this...and certainly better turners out there....but I thought a step-by-step process with pictures might encourage others to try to bring these old beauties back to life...

I find it handy to draw a simple sketch of what I want to achieve...preferably to full scale...and with measurements taken at key points first....



Sticking this behind the lathe allows you to refer to it occasionally to ensure the correct shape.

I won't go into turning detail at all here as it is assumed the reader knows how to do this bit and if not...there is a huge amount of information on the turning forum. After roughing out some nice ash...donated for the purpose by our friend Douglas...I transferred the key transitions to the stock from the handle I wished to copy....



After getting the shape roughly correct...I take off the rough surface...



...and then offer up the original to compare...here we see there is still work to be done..it's too fat and the ferrule end is not quite the right bulb shape....



Once the shape is correct...the ferrule and steel cap ends left slightly oversized...I put some stain on the raw wood...



I mix my own using leather dye powders mixed in meths as a solvent. It soaks in well and is pretty stable with any finish....

Now for the bit that has been discussed on the HAND TOOLS forum before....how to fit the tang to the handle.

Well...there are those that just drill a big hole and epoxy it into place..some advocate burning it into place..(mmmm - something I don't think I would want to do) and the traditional method of using a taper bit...rather like a gouge bit but with a taper to match the tang.

I use a modern version of the latter. Measuring the largest dimension of the tang (in this case about 11mm)...I take a smaller bit...(10mm)...and drill the hole in the lathe by hand turning the stock slowly into the drill bit. I only go part way then swap to a smaller bit. Then just one more step down take me to about 20mm shy of the full depth...leaving a small length to bed the tip. More on the fitting in a moment.

Of course...if you are going to use a forced fit...you need to fit the ferrule first.

I don't have any steel ferrules (only brass) and I wanted to make this strong and the same as the original. I make this second point purely to indicate that you can find ferrule material anywhere if you search...even if you have to steal the kid's pogo stick!!!!



One end is exactly the right size for the ferrule and the other end is close enough to the size of the top ring. Ideal!!!

The test fit proved successful...



....the bouncy bits where the feet go making ideal handles for getting it off again!

So...roughly marking the length...and making sure nobody is about...I hacksawed it off above this line by a few inches....



...to enable me to fit it into the lathe chuck.....and rubbing off the rather vivid paint...



I cut it so the wood protruded...squared the end and then using the other bit as a drift...banged it firmly home...



...rubbing the excess wood off flush using a disc sander...



I cut a small piece of thick leather oversized...and cut a hole in it and forced it over the tang. Then putting the tang in the hole it is tapped firmly a couple of times on the bench.

After that...with a mole wrench on the steel (protected with some old card)...I turned the tang into the hole...cutting an exact taper....



I repeated this a number of times until about this amount was protruding....



...then making sure all is aligned from each angle...I firmly banged it on the bench to force the tang firmly home.



There is no way on Earth that this is coming out again any time soon!



Notice how I have left the square stock on until the last minute...this greatly helps when putting it in the vise!!

I then trimmed the leather disc to size (roughly for now)....



Cutting another ring the same way and drifting it on with the same stock..."ageing" the leather with more stain and rounding over the top a bit with a hammer finished the job...



Not exactly the same...but then it is brand new...but a few dips in soil to dirty it up a bit...and leaving the raw steel to tarnish in the workshop for a few weeks...will sort that out!

I hope this simple job helps those who want to restore these wonderful tools of yesteryear and start using them....

Now...sharpening....

NAH...refer to any of the hundreds of threads around these parts for that bit!

Cheers

Jim
 

Richard T

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Cracking post Grommit!

I hope the pogo stick steel doesn't retain memory .... :shock: I'm losing track of the things I have recently thrown away that would have been useful - Jim Beam bottle tins; band saw dust chutes - old clothes brushes; saw carriage brushes - and a genuine 1970's pogo stick with a duff spring...

(homer) #-o
 

jimi43

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Cheers Keith....

No chance they will miss it...my daughter's nearly 30 years old and my son 27 and he's not big enough to be a bouncer!! :mrgreen:

Hey Richard....I just happen to have a good spring from a genuine 1970s po...........

:mrgreen:

Jim
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi, Jim


I re-handled a chisel at the weekend using exactly the same technique, great minds think alike, or something :D

Pete
 

woodbloke

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Jim, good effort, but no cigar. Where's Alfie?...if he's not in the pics, did it happen? :lol: - Rob
 

jimi43

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Well...see I was on the Thames this week with a couple of corgis...fixing a barge board.... :mrgreen:

Their Mum gave me this table....



I'm BACK now ROB!!! :twisted:



And Pete...I left the apprentice Smurf in charge of the sharpening!



Following Peter Sellers' excellent blog (and I thought he only made Pink Panther films!)...after reading Uncle Jacob's thread...I decided to use a very stable bench...my rock wall...



It's more solid than beech and has a built in bench dog!

Oooo...sharp!



Don't eat....



Not bad for an amateur!

And lots of chips to play with later!



Yummmy...



Apprentice Smurf wants to play with the chippings....MINE!!!



Tomorrow we'll be doin' more handles....must have a snooze now...very tiring this woodworkering....

ALFIE....
 

matthewwh

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Hi Jim,

Lovely job matching up the two handles.

A few things make me believe you have registered paring chisels rather than firmers.

1, The length of the blades seems extraordinarily long for an ordinary firmer chisel.
2, One of the photos shows that the makers stamp is on the non bevelled side, suggesting that the side the bevel is on may have been reversed by a former owner. If the steel naturally tends that way it may have been less work to reverse the bevel than try to remove a belly on the underside of the blade.
3, Point 2 wouldn't really matter on a firmer chisel but it would matter a lot on a paring chisel.
4, The long slender handle looks too slim for a firmer. Registered paring chisels in particular were traditionally sold without handles so the existing handle was likely to have been fitted by an earlier owner rather than the factory.

Registered (square sided) paring chisels are easier to make flat than bevelled ones because the steel moves more on hardening when the bevels have been removed due to the uneven section.
 

jimi43

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Hi Matthew

Thanks for the insight. I always get confused with the multitude of names for these old chisels...

Granted..the definitions of "registered" vary from ones registered for copyright to those where the sides are parallel and therefore registered to the edge rather than bevelled.

I also understood that they are the leather washer ones with the flange at the end before the tang...which this one certainly is. However Robert Sorby HERE although a distant relative of the wrong line defines the registered ones they sell as...

Robert Sorby "Registered" Chisels
These are Roberty Sorby heavy duty firmer chisels typcically used by Carpenters and Timber Framers. Ash Handle with steel ferrule and hoop, cushioned with a leather washer at the bolster. 13 1/2" overall.
Your point on "paring" rather than firmer makes sense in that the logo is indeed on the other side...so am I correct thinking that what you are saying is this was altered at a later stage to make the flattest side face the wood for paring?

Alfie is confused too! :mrgreen:

Jim
 

matthewwh

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Hi Jim

jimi43":jijjz24u said:
Your point on "paring" rather than firmer makes sense in that the logo is indeed on the other side...so am I correct thinking that what you are saying is this was altered at a later stage to make the flattest side face the wood for paring?
Exactly! If the steel has curved one way, having the bevel on the convex side is preferable as it makes it much easier to polish the underside of the cutting edge.

Looking at the framing chisel below the Regd Firmers on the Sorby site, I think we might have it! Big blades for big workpieces explains point 1 and flat backs are important for framing and boatbuilding as there is a lot of paring work involved, which would explain points 2 and 3 above too. It looks about right and if the corner chisel came from the same set that's another strong pointer in the same direction.

The nomenclature 'registered' and 'firmer' is confusing, as I understand it registered means registered to the face/back i.e. square sided, and firmer just means a heavy duty chisel - hence you can also get bevelled firmers, firmer gouges etc.
 

jimi43

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Hi Matthew...

Ok mate...agreed. So..."I&H Sorby Registered Paring Firmer Rehandle" it is then! :wink:

I know one thing...it takes a superb edge! I have a little more back bevel to sort out...not much but it is so heavy I'm having to do it slowly by hand with a spacer paper over the logo the same thickness as the abrasive to keep it parallel with the surface!

You can actually par the edges down after the mortice is cut out...



Quite a handy little tool!

I shall be finishing the bruzz this evening and then I can trim out the corners...see how that performs.

I'd imagine these were used on a barn or two in Kent in the past...and it is this feeling of history that I love about these old workhorses.

It would appear that to get this little trio today I would have to part with a couple of hundred at least! And I'm sure the steel would be nowhere near the same quality. The edge on this chisel was as sharp when I finished as when I started....

Cheers mate for imparting your experience.

Jim
 

AndyT

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That's a lovely job there Jim, as ever. Something about the shape you were cutting out of that scrap of softwood reminded me of this - I think you are setting yourself up for a spot more plane making, though you may need a bit of an image makeover first!



(Click on the picture if you missed it last time round!)
 

bugbear

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matthewwh":9ib1sl8x said:
Big blades for big workpieces explains point 1 and flat backs are important for framing and boatbuilding as there is a lot of paring work involved...
Hmm. There's a whole "different" tool used by timbers framers and boat builders - the "slick", distinguished by its large size and long handle.

I wonder if these are mini slicks?

BugBear
 

jimi43

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Thanks Prof....I needed that video this morning and had not seen it before...looks like I may have some watching to do there!

I think the old boy with the blue overalls turning handles is fascinating. His good humour and evident skill is a real tonic.

I notice the other guy with the cauliflower ears is using his vise to chop the mortices in the plane bodies....probably got those ears from his grandpa from doing the chopping in the vise! :mrgreen:

I might make a few planes for my own interest but I think that I will leave the rest up to Philly...he is far more skilled at those than I will ever be! 8)

Those big boys tools BB are a different league...but surprisingly easy to use. The chisels this size have real authority but are remarkably delicate when you need them to be.

Jim
 

Cheshirechappie

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Not sure these are true 'paring' chisels - they look a bit thick in the blade for that. They do look like more a framing or shipwright's chisel, intended for both mallet work (hence the double ferrules) and hand paring. It does look like the sort of half-way between a cabinetmaker's bench chisel and a shipwright's slick, which tended to be wider in the blade (up to about 4" wide, from memory).

I think 'registered firmer' would be a fair description.
 

AndyT

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Agreeing with CC again - here are some suggestions on what to call these beasts - exhibit A is from the Sheffield Illustrated List - the general purpose list of standard patterns of tools, dated 1871 in this case (as you can see!):



which suggests that they may be for a millwright or a coach maker - it's really hard to see what the difference is, especially as each of these would be made in a variety of sizes and the pictures are not all to the same scale.

Exhibit B is a little clearer on the thickness - Melhuish, 1921:



- again, confirming that these were offered without handles, for the buyer to add their own according to preference - just as you have done!
 

condeesteso

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sorry, been away, catching up. Cracking chisel handle, very well toned/coloured too. I saw the chisels 'in the rough' and they deserve some care and tuning. Proper, forged steel tools... we are fast running out of real tool-making forges, and in time we shall pay the price.
About that dog. I have an imprint of the whole of Alfie on my shirt. I mean an imprint like when you copy a key with Plasticine. How did that happen?
 

jimi43

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I can par with them CC so that means they can be paring chisels but I agree with you...they ain't yer traditional paring chisel for sure!

I would have done the test on hardwood but I am not under any test circumstances digging a big hole in my treasured collection to prove the point. Suffice to say that the edge is good enough to shave with and I am sure that they would work equally well on hardwoods as they would on softwoods.

I will give them to Douglas next time he builds a bench to see what he thinks! (in part payment for being assaulted by Alfie!!!) :mrgreen:

Andy...you are proving your research skills once more...great pictures mate...I wouldn't be surprised if they proved to be millwright's tools...there are a lot of mills around here..indeed my lane is named after one! It's a real pity that the old boys didn't name the chisels like they did the planes but I have a feeling that Mr Dance may have been the owner as he was the compass plane..and I still need to research him. As he was the seller's estranged father maybe I can do so through him when I pick up the remainder of the B&R bevels! 8) If it ever stops raining that is! :(

I will bring some of these ancient gems on our trip in July if you promise not to pry them from my palms!

Douglas my friend...as you know...ALFIE now sees you as another surrogate "Dad"..."Daddy Douglas!" as you visit his workshop so often. He missed you this week and promises to cuddle you again when you next come around. Remember...the longer you leave it...the more pleased he will be to see you!! :mrgreen:

I am glad you are pleased with what I did with your "offcuts" of ash....at least we can say the benches donated the stock that will be used to make another bench and so it goes on..........(ML7? 8) )

Jim
 

bugbear

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AndyT":2is6b00c said:
- again, confirming that these were offered without handles, for the buyer to add their own according to preference - just as you have done!
I think the makers always offered them without handles, partially because the old catalogues also list a range of handles. Mix and match, just like pasta and sauce.

Further (IIRC), in Woodworker, a guy described in the 1920's going to a hardware store, buying chisels, and waiting while the chosen handles were fitted, out in back-of-shop.

BugBear
 
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