“Bench Hooks and Honing” or “Blade Rehabilitation and Accessories”


IMG_1451IMG_1452Among the museum of antiques that my father has collected against his garage wall (some/many of which I pilfered while he was sunning himself in Florida) was this old honing stone in a hand-carved wooden case. It’s a gorgous, and quite frankly well used, by the looks of the cross-section piece of Newfoundlander Craftsmanship. I wet it down with some WD-40 spray, as I am not sure if it is a water-stone or a oil-stone, I figured the lubricant would be a reasonable facsimile for whatever fluid would have been appropriate. It seemed to work reasonably well, such as the poor old workhorse COULD hone a dual-bevel chisel.

IMG_1455IMG_1456My adventure began around 1630 this afternoon, and ended shortly after an hour later. My arms were good and sore, but the work seemed well worth it. You can see in these two images the contrast. The honed edge was, point of fact, quite a bit more tarnished than the battle-veteran seen next to it. After 10-15 minutes of flattening the bottom plane, that is to say the unbeveled edge and attempting to polish the top forward bevel down to close to the original angle as possible while attempting to get rid of the pits, dings, dents and pock-marks in the steel. It’s not perfect. IMG_1450Some of the chisels show the scars of an encounter with an errant nail, which would take more than a little elbow grease to file away. I managed to make them shine, at least, which is more than I can say for the pieces I haven’t given attention to. Egads. It was satisfying, though, when all is said and done. I’ve finished four or five chisels of the fourteen. More to do later when puttering around and having an hour or two to kill, I guess. I now REALLY understand how protective some craftsmen are of their tools. I’d have to have to reshape every chisel head after some errant boyscout came in and started fishing nails out of boards with my precious 1/2″ (12.5mm) full-tang wood carving chisel! I should keep some alibi’s handy for just such an occasion. Moving on…

During my frequent adjustments of position to attempt to find the most comfortable way of holding the stone steady in my left hand, or between my knees, or between my hip and the bench, all while honing the chisel held in my opposite hand, I decided that I had best build a bench hook to make my life a little easier. I could simply lay it in place, rest my stone and it’s wooden cradle against the stop-block and file away. It would be so much easier to do than to attempt to exert force to restrain the piece while rocking against it… what a pain. So I went to work.

IMG_1457IMG_1459Not really caring about the dimensions, short of it being long enough to comfortably set my honing stone’s wooden cradle, I measured something roughly over that size, and used the 1.5″ (~40mm) portion of my construction square to figure some perpendicular lines. Four zips with my circular saw made short work of it. I then took some of the Titebond-type I wood glue I found in the shop upon moving-in, remarkably still in liquid form, and avoided metal fasteners. A little clamping pressure later and it was prepared to set overnight. I took care of the glue squeeze-out and called it an evening. I had some paperwork to finish up for work anyway. I figured that I’d done enough procrastination for now.

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