It’s No No. 80, But…
Tomorrow, we’re shooting a cover for a new (and updated) edition of Michael Dunbar’s venerable book, “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools” (due out from Popular Woodworking Books later this year).
So I was asked to go through the boxes of tools I inherited from my grandfather to find some suitable candidates for the photograph. I’m not sure I found anything sexy enough, but I’ve got a few chisels, gouges and saws set aside, as well as a couple wooden moulding planes, various bits for my brace…and my brace (that tool sees regular use in my shop; I cleaned it up just days after I got it and it has since bored many a dog hole, among other things).
While rummaging, I found the interesting shop-made scraper plane pictured here. Mike doesn’t cover in his book this, er, seemingly unique form (at least I couldn’t find one like it on a 20-minute Google image search…though it’s possible I’m Google-challenged; I’m confident you’ll let me know if that’s the case).
I thought it was interesting enough to bear sharing with you. (And you can click on the smaller pictures below for more detail.)
The tool is two horn-shaped handles that appear to be mortised where they meet the body, to accept the glued-in tenons on the roughly sawn cradle for the blade. The two screws on either side seem to be for keeping the two projections from snapping off as the wedges that hold the blade tightly in place are tapped in. That is, they bridge the gap between the front and back of the blade, but connect to nothing in between.
On the other side is a brass turnscrew that does an effective job of bowing the blade – and no way could I flex it with my fingers – that sucker is a little thicker than 1/16″ (maybe I’m a wimp, but that’s a great deal thicker than the card scrapers in my tool chest.
No, it appears nowhere near as easy to set up as the venerable Stanley No. 80 and is it by no means a thing of beauty. Still, I kinda like it, and I like to imagine my grandfather having made and used it as he built his graduation project for his high school cabinetmaking certificate in the late 19 teens or early 20s (I should know that date – sorry).
I think I’ll keep this one out of the box of old tools, clean and sharpen the blade and give it a go. The handles are actually pretty comfortable in my hands (which is weird, because Emmett Fitzpatrick was 6’3″ or so as a young man, and had large hands. I am just shy of 5’6″ when I stand up very, very straight and think tall thoughts, and I have my grandmother Bette (Coyne) Fitzpatrick’s tiny hands).
So while you won’t see this tool on the cover of Mike’s new edition of “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools,” you might just see it in an upcoming issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine – and if you do, please be so kind as to not write in to say, “Dear God, what is that thing?!”
• We recently released an updated version of the classic “Make a Windsor Chair with Mike Dunbar.” In it, you’ll find 32 new pages pages including a chapter on fixing mistakes – one of the most common issues Mike’s students ask about at his school, The Windsor Institute. (Purchase “Make a Windsor Chair with Mike Dunbar” through ShopWoodworking and you get a 42-page digital bonus section.)