When sharpened steel knocks into anything else, the result is usually dull steel.
That’s why woodworkers protect sharp edges by wrapping our tools in canvas or leather tool rolls. Or we stuff them in smelly socks. Or we wrap them in special rags and refuse to even look at them for fear of them becoming dull.
I’ve made a lot of little slip-on guards for my edge tools using business cards and masking tape. These work fine, but they do tend to slip off at the worst possible moment. I’ve always wanted something better, like the vinyl edge guards that Czeck Edge Hand Tools sends with its tools.
But I don’t need 500 guards for a single 1/2” chisel.
So I was intrigued when one of my students showed me an edge protector he had made using wax paper and Plasti Dip, which is much like the chocolate stuff for dip cones at Dairy Queen. It begins life as a liquid. But once it is exposed to air the stuff sets up like rubber. Yum.
So I bought a can of black Plasti Dip at my local hardware store for $14 and began experimenting with it. At first I tried it on raw, dry steel. The Plasti Dip stuck to it and then peeled off like a balloon on a beef frank. That was no good.
I covered the tool in wax first, then dipped it. Nope. Petroleum jelly. Non-drying vegetable oils. A steely gaze. Nope, nope and nope. The Plasti Dip just stuck too much.
So why not wax paper? It looked a little lumpy. I wanted to avoid lumpy.
Then I decided to try masking tape. But I wrapped the tape around the tool with the tape’s adhesive facing out. This worked great. Most tools were ready to go after one dip. Some tools required two dips before all the blue tape was fully covered.
After the little edge guards were dry I snipped off the blue tape that peeked out.
I made little edge guards for all the tools in my tool chest within an hour. Easy. And they look nice and hold quite well — just be sure to stretch the tape as you wrap the tool like a mummy.
After coating all my edge tools I still had a half can of the Plasti Dip stuff. I began looking around and wondering what else I could coat. The cats’ paws to give them extra traction on our hardwood floors? Hmmm, juvenile trouble is ahead.
— Christopher Schwarz
Do you own “Hand Tool Essentials?” You should. It’s the cheapest and best way to get into the world of handwork. It has articles written by lots of good authors: Adam Cherubini, David Charlesworth, Lonnie Bird and more. And it’s $15. Get it here.