Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sandusky Tool Company - Jack Hand Plane #13

Today, if you make it through the blather, you will find a beautiful-to-me #13 Sandusky Tool Company Jack Plane prancing around for you.
First, lets talk unlucky number 13, and Sandusky Tool Company. The nickel tour of these guys is they were in the big five American toolmakers in the late 19th century. For a more nostalgic telling of their good years than even I could spin, see the following: wkfinetools
They fell on tough economic times, and by the roaring twenties, things were bad. As is often the case -when it rains, it pours. On Saturday, June 24th in '24, a huge tornado (or tornadoes, depending on the tale) struck the town of Sandusky and then Lorraine. It was a very bad tornado by all accounts, possibly F4, and all downtown businesses in Sandusky were damaged to some extent along with the port facilities on Lake Erie. Wikie knowz all sees all.

The great book 'A Guide to the Makers of American Wooden Planes' (hereafter AWP 4, thank god) can shed a little more light on their story and marks. As a side note, the purchase of this book can also signal your descent into a world that will have you writing a blog about a tool company that not even your mother would read. If she was from Sandusky. I'm just saying.

Back to our tale of Sandusky Tool Company, from the land of Callahan Auto Parts. Tragically, they (STC) were sold to a bunch of Hoes shortly after the tornado - American Fork & Hoe Co. in 1926.

Back to why we are here - well, closer anyway. The jack's place is somewhere between the Scrub plane and the jointing or smoothing planes. This aligns with many folks recommending a slight curve/camber to a jack plane blade, or at least nipped corners. You don't want to leave bigger gashes than the gullets you're cleaning up from the scrub (or adze, or broadaxe or froe if your Galoot is really hanging out of your shorts) by dragging the irons edges. I also find the Jack handy for the quick trims in the shop; knocking down unruly bench corners for end vise clearance.

So lets get to know her and the Sandusky Jack family! 13 was a middle kid in the house, 10-15 are her siblings. The differences are mainly about whether they have single or double irons, a regular or bolted handle, and a razee flavor. An upgrade was apparently available across all of them to get a closed handle, a nice upgrade. The also came in 3 widths of iron, starting at 2 inches.

With very minor variations in Blade and handle upgrades - the Jack line of Sandusky planes remained consistent from 1877 until  the 1925 (from a catalog perspective).  While hunting - remember, this is back when companies didn't suck and you could pick up the phone (ok, write a letter) and get them to whip up a custom Jack. So if you see a slight variation that is patinated to match you could have an original setup. Don't pay a ton for it unless it comes from a real dealer who guarantees thier product.

Ok, ok - here she comes:
 16 inches, bow to stern. You see that black nubbin peeking up there? Back in 1877 that was called a 'start', and it was made in lignum vitae. You hit it when your wife was acting up but the deacon was around. Or to adjust your plane.

2 7/8th amidships. 2 1/8th blade, the middle of 3 blade width offerings (2 and 2 1/4 being the other).

It looks like it may have been restruck, but why the lower 'warranted'? A later Iron post-1926 acquisition?
Irons could be single or doubles, and even those could be upgraded (they had us guys figured out, even back then). In 1877 a blade upgrade was 'full polished silver steel clipper irons', breaking the bank at 15 pennies. By 1925 inflation had brought the cost of  'extra sized double irons' to a whopping 20 cents! Long gone were the sexy polished silver steel clippers of the 1800's, sniff.

Did I hear a niner in there? Yikes, its a beefcake.
Whoever made it, they were not facing a steel shortage. Drop this guillotine on your toe, and you will be revisiting a scene from Harlem Nights. Tuned on a slab of granite down to some 1 micron 3m lapping paper... whoo hoo. I know it can get sharper, I'm just kind of afraid to get it there.

Sawdust time folks, and I think I heard the old lady say that steaks are marinating for dinner... Yum.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

The plane that started it all - Sandusky Tool Company, #47 Edge Bead

For the purpose of historical accuracy, we should probably document the descent from the very beginning.

The Best of Times
At the beginning of 2012, I bought a home. With my Queen. Made in 1914. We thought it was renovated.

The Worst of Times
We were wrong. I could describe in gory detail the initial estimates we were quoted for various projects; as a visible IT nerd, I gain a 3.4x modifier on all contractor quotes. Let me just say the shed I call a home office was quickly filled with power tools of every shape and size.

In the beginning, I measured my manliness according to how the lights dimmed on my street, and if the whine of the tool biting into the wood was sufficient to loosen fillings. I once routed a stack of twelve  3/4 ply boards for a set of box jointed boxes (original, I know). It gave me a nervous tic for three days. I also ripped 3 full size panels of the same ply on my portable Bosch table saw. That tic is still present, along with a Titanium plate on vertebrae C6 & C7.

I was a happy, simple Man.

The Hook...
On a business trip to Virginia, I stopped by my sisters new home. She's running late getting from the daycare with Little Man. I stop in at a nearby antique store, with no intention of doing anything other than wandering for a while. Maybe find a cool old sign for the office or her place...

I'm heading back to the front of the store after a text from Little Sis. I see a coal bucket, with a bunch of auger bits and other tools sticking forth. I see two beautiful rosewood handles on a clean Stanley bench plane - 'tote & knob' I later learn- and I see The Plane. Now I know a lot of you are thinking I found one of those sexy plows encapsulated in an argon bubble etched F.D.R. But you can be disappointed now - it was a simple, basic molding plane, an edge bead in particular.

When I picked it up I didn't know what it was, or what it did, or who made it. I just knew it was from the most fantastic cut of wood I'd seen, golden with bright flecks throughout. I initially thought it was oak (shows you how little I knew). 5 dollars? Done.

Into the bag, into the car, into the suitcase, and once home - into a box in the shed, forgotten for weeks. After a long day, I decided I wanted to make a little sawdust, and remembered the two hand planes. I took them out of the box.

 ...Gets Set.
The Stanley was hopelessly dull, and it would be weeks before I learned about sharpening... but the molding plane was still razor sharp, and with the help of a couple YouTube videos, i clamped a 2inch square post of oak into my Jawhorse (stop laughing, damn you all) and had at it. A pile of sawdust, curse words and some tappy-tap-tap later, and I had a nice bead running about 2 feet in the oak...

That was 57 Sandusky planes ago. Watch that first step...

Too much talkie talkie
I figure you didn't come to the Internet for words, so if you've made it this far, you've earned a couple of Gratuitous Beech Shots:
A later (based on makers stamp) and very common S.T.C. #47 Edge Bead, of the 3/8ths variety.

More on this bead and others, in disgustingly boring detail, forthcoming.
Well thanks for stopping by, and if you made it this far I thank you doubly. In the future I plan to add details about the less popular planes and tools made by the Sandusky Tool Company, along with any info I can find about their history. I know its out there, and that others have tread here before me - I hope to centralize some of this information and keep it fresh for new Galoots to discover.

God forbid, I might actually make something and show you that too, but the shock would probably be more than my Queen could bear. Let me know if you have any specific yearnings or questions about Sandusky Tool Co, and stay tuned!

From your rookie galoot,