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Author Topic: Advice on hand tools  (Read 1676 times)

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Offline Ar549

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Advice on hand tools
« on: December 16, 2018, 06:11:37 PM »
I'm certain I'll get all different opinions here , but they are all welcome. 

Just getting started into timber framing and I think I know which direction I want to go for most of my tools but I'm looking for opinions on chisels, axes/hatchets.  These can all be pretty expensive purchases when buying new.  Chisels I've looked at are 160+.  I want quality but don't necessarily want to break the bank.  Just wondering if there's middle ground somewhere on tools that will last and are good quality.  Will be building several structures on our homestead. 

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2018, 07:51:30 PM »
I scan eBay and CL all the time.  Hit barn and estate sales.  I found a nice 2" slick and a few 1" longer-style chisels.  Not sure if you would call them slicks.  They were pretty rough but as long as the back side is not pitted, they will work well.  Last year I found a 2" and a 1" slicks.  The sockets were beat to death.  Maybe " left that wasn't all mushroomed over.  I took some 3/16" plate and "forged" it around a big punch with my oxy-acet. rig.  Not pretty but it worked.  I somewhat trued up the inside with my lathe.  I welded those on and then made some nice maple handles.  Came out pretty decent.  If I make it up to my property, I'll bring them back for pictures.  My last purchase was a 1" corner chisel.  Super heavy and was only $35 delivered.  Again, had to make a handle for it.  If you're persistent, you can find some deals.  Can't wait to use it when the snow melts.
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/32" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline carhartted

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2018, 07:19:04 AM »
I bought a few chisels off eBay and was never happy with them. For the hours it would have taken to flatten the backs I decided to get a set of Bar chisels. I've been very happy with them. I did buy a used Stanley #10 rabbet plane off eBay and was pleased with it. I put together a Hudson Bay pattern axe with an 18 inch handle, use it for clearing kerf cuts when cutting a tenon.  Get a good quality ruler also, I use a Starret.
Here's to making sawdust.

Offline Ar549

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2018, 07:03:01 PM »
I bought a few chisels off eBay and was never happy with them. For the hours it would have taken to flatten the backs I decided to get a set of Bar chisels. I've been very happy with them. I did buy a used Stanley #10 rabbet plane off eBay and was pleased with it. I put together a Hudson Bay pattern axe with an 18 inch handle, use it for clearing kerf cuts when cutting a tenon.  Get a good quality ruler also, I use a Starret.
I'll probably just buy new.  I've been watching a guy on YouTube that does all kinds of different wood working on his homestead, a lot of which is timber framing.  His planes are literally wooden boxes with handles, I'm assuming antique tools.  I really like them but I can't seem to find anything through searching.

One question, why a ruler with so many other squares/measuring devices already around.  Thanks

Offline jander3

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2018, 08:42:28 AM »
Over the years, I've purchased tooling from Jim Rogers (list moderator).  I highly recommend this option.

Jim's tool inventory listing is at the top of this board.

Offline Ar549

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2018, 06:07:32 PM »
Over the years, I've purchased tooling from Jim Rogers (list moderator).  I highly recommend this option.

Jim's tool inventory listing is at the top of this board.
I can't seem to find those listings.

Offline Dave Shepard

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2018, 07:02:53 PM »
I believe his Tools for Sale thread is in the for sale section. I've bought several chisels from Jim. I much prefer old chisels. Jim can give you a good description of the tools before you buy them. 
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2018, 08:07:21 PM »
You only need some basic tools to start with.  
Framing square,
1.5 &2" framing chisels
A mallet
hand saw
A good tape measure
marking knife or utility knife

That's about all you need to get started.  Everything else is just "nice to have".
I'm sure you already have a circular saw that will work.

With that said, all of my chisels were old TH Witherby bought off ebay.  Some were good, some had issues. Once I got a couple, I wanted them all to be Witherby, which is why I got them all on ebay.  None of them were ready to work.  I had to tune them up.  My uncle turned new handles for me.  Most of the old ones are good.  Jim Rogers is a good source for good tools.  He only sends out good ones that are ready to work. 

The mallet i'm using is a Fox Maple school one.  You can make your own though.
I really like the Lee Valley Stainless Steel Japanese framing squares.
I got all my chisel sheaths, draw knives, spoke shaves, and I think a block plane from Jim Rogers.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
If I say it\\\\\\\'s going to take so long, multiply that by at least 3!

Offline jander3

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2018, 08:08:17 PM »
Try this..

Tools for Timber Framing List in Timber Framing/Log construction

If it don't work, hit me with a pm and I will send you Jim's contact info.  Again, you can't go wrong.  I purchased a boring machine from Jim ten years ago, still my go to machine for hogging out a mortise

Jim will likely weigh in on this thread and correct any link errors.

Offline carhartted

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2018, 04:21:39 AM »
I use a 12 inch ruler for most of my layout after making square lines with a combination square. The tape measure is only used once to lay out the story stick.

Having the ruler is great for checking mortice depth, tenon flatness, and layout lines. I find it a lot easier to use than a tape.

I keep it in the ruler pocket of my pants so it's easy to grab.
Here's to making sawdust.

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2018, 10:43:54 AM »
Thanks to everyone for their kind words about our tools.

Jim Rogers
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
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Offline Ar549

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2018, 06:22:52 PM »
You only need some basic tools to start with.  
Framing square,
1.5 &2" framing chisels
A mallet
hand saw
A good tape measure
marking knife or utility knife

That's about all you need to get started.  Everything else is just "nice to have".
I'm sure you already have a circular saw that will work.

With that said, all of my chisels were old TH Witherby bought off ebay.  Some were good, some had issues. Once I got a couple, I wanted them all to be Witherby, which is why I got them all on ebay.  None of them were ready to work.  I had to tune them up.  My uncle turned new handles for me.  Most of the old ones are good.  Jim Rogers is a good source for good tools.  He only sends out good ones that are ready to work.

The mallet i'm using is a Fox Maple school one.  You can make your own though.
I really like the Lee Valley Stainless Steel Japanese framing squares.
I got all my chisel sheaths, draw knives, spoke shaves, and I think a block plane from Jim Rogers.
Great advice here, I appreciate it.  Think I'll add a boring machine, brace, some bits and a small axe to that list and let it ride until I see that I "need" something else.  I know the boring machine is a bigger expense but I think the benefit is worth the spend....and they re sell well, so..

Online ljohnsaw

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2018, 09:26:48 PM »
I actually have two boring machines.  I bought one from Jim Rodgers and then found one the next day on eBay.  They arrived within a couple days of each other. :)  They are fantastic but drilling a 2" hole 8" deep is a real workout!
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/32" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline Ar549

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2018, 06:34:13 AM »
I actually have two boring machines.  I bought one from Jim Rodgers and then found one the next day on eBay.  They arrived within a couple days of each other. :)  They are fantastic but drilling a 2" hole 8" deep is a real workout!
I'm about to turn 40, and have a daughter that just turned 1 today, so if I'm going to find time for a workout it might as well be incorporated into my work!

Offline Jim_Rogers

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2018, 09:37:07 AM »
I actually have two boring machines.  I bought one from Jim Rodgers and then found one the next day on eBay.  They arrived within a couple days of each other. :)  They are fantastic but drilling a 2" hole 8" deep is a real workout!
On a through mortise we normally bore half way from each side. So on an 8x8 it would be a 4" deep mortise hole.
Jim Rogers
Whatever you do, have fun doing it!
Woodmizer 1994 LT30HDG24 with 6' Bed Extension

Online ljohnsaw

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2018, 12:29:09 PM »
I actually have two boring machines.  I bought one from Jim Rodgers and then found one the next day on eBay.  They arrived within a couple days of each other. :)  They are fantastic but drilling a 2" hole 8" deep is a real workout!
On a through mortise we normally bore half way from each side. So on an 8x8 it would be a 4" deep mortise hole.
Jim Rogers
OK, I exaggerated a little bit.  I was doing a through mortise on a 14" beam so it was only 7".  But, still, a SERIOUS workout for the last inch or two!

 
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/32" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline Mad Professor

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2018, 02:32:08 PM »
Nothing wrong with quality used tools.  Study up on them to know what to look for and what to avoid.  Also how to maintain/sharpen them.

Jim put together a great list at top of this forum.

It will be hard to restore a badly pitted chisel or one that has had the hard steel of the cutting edge ground away or lost its temper.  Look for stampings of the quality toolmakers.  They show up at tag sales, auctions, eBay, and craigslist.  You will have to sharpen them anyway so learning how and getting the needed tools for that are another investment.  The handles are often abused but easily replaced of the socket is in good condition

There are lots of great old hand saws out there that can be had quite cheap.  Will probably want both rip and crosscut saws. Some with a good cleanup and sharpening will be as good as new.  A good hardware store often offers sharpening services for saws. In this case I think it is worth the while to have a professional do the work to get the pitch filed correctly and set the teeth.  I also have on hand, used large crosscut saws for both felling and bucking, they cleaned up nicely and the teeth/rakers were not so bad I needed to have them sent out for a tuneup.  They don't get a lot of use but it's good to know I have them if needed.

Braces, augers, and boring machines also show up. You need to examine the end of the bits to see if they are in good condition, or can be reconditioned.  Check the gears and shafts of boring machines.

In addition to the framing scale: combination, Tri-squares, sliding T-bevel.  I don't have one but those that do love the "Big AL".

Plumb bob, chalk line, levels, and dividers are also handy.

As mentioned Jim often has nice tools for sale ready to work.  I purchased some boring machine bits from him and they cut like new.

Offline CJ

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2019, 01:24:39 PM »
Ar549,  Like you, I am new to this forum and to timber framing in general. I took two two week courses last May and have been so taken in by this old tradition of building that I almost eat, sleep and drink thinking about. 
 I will be building a structure this coming year on some waterfront property I purchased back in 2017 and have been planning in my head exactly what it is I want to do, and now that I have 'some' of the timber frame knowledge, I too am in the process of purchasing the 'right' tools for the job. My late father had a good saying, 'that a cheap man pays twice', and it is so true. How many of us have compromised price for quality. 
 That being said, I have been scouting out what is available in the world that will give me what I need to do to complete the job successfully and accurately. I am retired, so I, too, am on a fixed budget. Wanting Barr is one thing, but buying is another. I looked at Sorby, but I don't like the tang style make up of them and certainly not for hitting with a mallet. Henry Taylor, although have socket style make up, I believe that their steel lacks what Barr has, but the price is right, most certainly. John Neeman out of Latvia makes beautiful hand-forged chisels, but again, is up there in price. And when I inquired, they are no longer taking orders as they are overbooked. Vintage chisels are very pricey for ones that are in good shape. The less expensive ones...well, you may regret the bargain if they need to be refined and new handles attached.
 So, as others have stated on here, I went to e-Bay and ended up buying four (new) hand-forged chisels (62 Rockwell hardness), corner chisel, 1 1/2", 2" chisels, and a 3" slick with beautiful ash wood handles from Russia of all places. It cost me $154 US dollars, plus 45 dollars for shipping. The seller has a good rating, so here's hoping that what I am getting is not junk. LOL! I mean, how can you go wrong for a four chisel set at that price? Disregard that last statement! I know how it can go wrong, and fast.
 Be patient and don't rush into buying something just for the sake of having it. You certainly won't be happy with them or the results. Although I am not a seasoned builder, I know that I like my tools, and like them to be of good quality. Sorry for yammering on! Good luck! 

Offline CJ

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2019, 06:23:18 PM »
Ar549,  In furtherance to your tool quest, if you are looking for a boring machine or something to make your mortises, then this is something that I am considering. It's made by a company in Japan; Kanzawa drill guide and it acts like a portable plunge drill press only you attach your drill to it and you can move it about freely. Sort of like a plunge router idea. Then you could use some forester bits to cut your mortises and shave them out with your chisel. Just a thought! Carry on.

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2019, 08:52:03 PM »
It takes a bit of HP to spin a 2" Forestner bit.  You can do it with a small drill but will overheat and/or burn out quick.  Also, you need to withdraw the bit quite often to eject the shavings.  Otherwise, you WILL get it stuck in the hole!
John Sawicky

Just North-East of Sacramento...

SkyTrak 9038, Davis Little Monster backhoe, Case 16+4 Trencher, Home Built 42" capacity/32" cut Bandmill up to 54' long - using it all to build a timber frame cabin.

Offline Carpenter

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2019, 11:00:04 PM »
     I've had really good success buying old hand tools on E-bay.  But, I study the pictures, I know what I am looking for, and I know how to tune the tools up once I get them.  One man's junk is another man's treasure.  So true.  Also, I research the manufacturer.  The thing about antique hand tools is that they were made in an era that people used hand tools, in my opionion most of the modern made stuff is junk.  It doesn't have to be, today we've got better, more consistent steel, but people just don't use hand tools like they used to, so they don't have to be good, they just have to sell.

     I like to go with a reputable manufacturer from the 19th century.  I've assembled a set of TH Whitherby chisels, along with a few LJ and IJ White edge tools.  My PS and W chisels hold an edge quite nicely.  There are many, many manufacturers to choose from.  

     I like to see the socket on the socket chisels in good shape.  I've seen several antique socket chisels where somebody obviously used them without the handle and just beat the socket into a mushroom with a steel hammer, I don't bid on those, I just imagine what other abuses that tool has suffered.  If it's a forged tool, I look for the forge welded line of the cutting steel welded onto the mild steel.  Of course, I look at the general condition of the tool.  

     In short, I love buying antique tools, I've got some really good tools by doing this.  Most of the people I work with use Barr chisels, and they seem to be about on parr with mine.  I bought a new WoodCraft chisel years ago that I will have to re-temper, I don't think they offer that line of chisels anymore.  

     There is some give and take.  I like having a quality tool and a piece of history.  Sometimes I do have to put some work into it.  

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2019, 11:40:44 PM »
I'm about to turn 40, and have a daughter that just turned 1 today, so if I'm going to find time for a workout it might as well be incorporated into my work!
The key to it not being too much of a workout is a sharp bit.  Learn the correct way to sharpen them.  If you take any off the outside diameter, you'll be hating life.  I actually bought special files for boring bits on Amazon. Search "Auger bit file".  Magbit, Nicholson and some other sell them.  They are small files with a diamond shape on either end.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
If I say it\\\\\\\'s going to take so long, multiply that by at least 3!

Offline Ariverrunsthru

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2019, 08:31:05 PM »
Regardless of whether you go with new chisels or an older set, the best purchase I ever made was a Barr Quarton Slick with a swept and curved edge. It completely changed the way I clean tenons and scarfs! It just takes a little time to learn how to sharpen it...
She's got a hub capped diamond stud halo!

Offline aguaman99

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Re: Advice on hand tools
« Reply #23 on: January 30, 2019, 10:51:32 PM »
I'm with Brad on this one. "Ol Iron" is always better than anything new. I've been in the industry for 30 years and have accumulated many fine tools for my shop over the years.  If there are two things I've learned; 1) for the money, the best value is in quality vintage tools. 2) if you are buying new and there is nothing wrong with that, there is no middle ground, its either good and often expensive and the rest is just junk that will break or frustrate you. That said i do have a passion for fine vintage tools. All my machine tools, planes, chisel, saws, brace and bit etc... are 50 to 100 years old and they have all been cleaned up, sharpened and fine tuned by me. My power tools and shop machinery are the same scenario. There is a pride in owning, maintaining, holding and using these old tools. Much like timber framing itself, your keeping something old alive and i enjoy that ;-). All that said; if that's not your thing and you value your time as money then maybe new makes sense for you because it does take time to find and collect the good tools, clean them and tune them. For instance you could easily spend an entire day tuning up a set of fine old chisels. Whats a day worth to you... if its 400 bucks and your not into old tools then do yourself a favor and spend the money on the expensive chisels, take care of them and don't look back. They will likely last you a life time and you will have something vintage to pass along when your done...   I love it so I buy old for the pleasure in it. lastly; weather its quality old (there is junk old too ;-) or quality new, proper sharpening skills and sharpening often is more critical than the actual tool you buy. In the end tools just aren't cheap. In short just don't buy cheap stuff, learn to maintain and sharpen and you will be fine. There is definitely a difference.


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