Updated:
Original:

Backwards in time

Back to the days when sanding was considered a "production method" and "real men" used scrapers to prep their surfaces for finish. Of course, it has always been understood that a card scraper in the right hands can produce a superior surface and in much less time than one smoothed with sandpaper. Plus, no garbage to toss out, no piles of exhausted sandpaper cluttering up the floor and benchtops.

I used to be a big advocate of using scrapers wherever and whenever possible to smooth surfaces. One of the first things a new guy in my shop was taught was how to properly sharpen a scraper. But some years back, I had an accident on the table saw that left me with a pretty bunged up thumb on my left hand and anyone who has used a scraper can tell you, you need thumbs to use these tools! So I have been relying more and more on sandpaper.

But last week, I had a really nice purpleheart table top to finish and I really wanted to scrape the top smooth. I gritted my teeth for about 15 minutes before I realized that this was going to be an agonizing process. That's when my eye fell on my old Stanley #12 scrapper plane, something that had been sitting on the desk in my shop for more years than I can remember, serving mostly as a conversation piece. I looked at those nice smooth, comfortable rosewood handles and suddenly, this fine old tool creased to be an "antique" and became, once again, a very important tool.

Within minutes, the #12 was dismantled. Rust was removed with emery cloth and oil, the bottom re-flattened via the same weapons only this time laying on my jointer table which serves double duty as my "go to" flat reference table. The handle got a good cleaning and oiling to make the rosewood shine again. I sharpened up the blade and popped it back in the reassembled plane and I was off to the races. My purpleheart top was soon smoothed and ready for finishing and instead of purple sawdust everywhere, there were piles of beautiful purple shavings everywhere.

The #12 is really the only real antique tool I own. But it is now back in my lineup and is going to see a lot of use in the coming years. As soon as I get this posted, I’m going to order one of those really good Hock blades for it.

D.D.

Related Articles

No time like the present

Having made the decision to remain in working mode and not retire, I am finding that as time goes on, there is less and less time available.

Hard time adjusting

I’m one of those people who just goes nuts when we have to go through daylight savings time changes. I have a hard time adjusting to the one-hour shift, especially when the time jumps forward.