Saturday, November 10, 2018

Stanley No 811 brace

Friday morning I was running out of bread.  My favorite white bread around here is from a small bakery in Bridgetown (where Heather was born). So we did a bread run this morning. While we were going that way, may as well keep on trucking west to Annapolis Royal for a chocolate run Tm.

You know,  that little shop with the perfect business model for me:
- Hand made chocolate (delicious)
- A new/used book section (must have)
- And her hubby, Terry sells antique and specifically, tools (can it get better??, somebody pinch me :-)

It was so good to see Terry, up and around, gabbing about tools.  Its been a while I saw him, he is battling a serious illness.   While we were discussing something about Stanley, I spied a metal brace with a Sampson chuck on it?  Don't see that often around here.

So $20 later it was mine, no argument there.

Yes, it has some issues, hence the low price, with the enclosed ratchet mechanism (happens a lot, cause by the hardening grease they used back then), but little rust, some gunk, beautiful rosewood handle and head. Both the handle and the head turned, albeit slowly, sticky. Wanna guess what grease they used??
No biggies, I was satisfied that I could turn the ring and worked the ratchet both ways and lock.
Nowhere near what it should be, but easy fix... most of the time (Bob 8 - Brace 1)

So lets ID it and see what makes it tick.

Most often, you will find manufacturer name and Model No on the brace arm.

 Flip the arm over
No. 811-10IN-Y

So what we have is a concealed mechanism Stanley brace No 811 with a 10 inch sweep.
Incidentally, its siblings, No 810 is considered to be THE best Stanley braces, but don't take my word on it.  More later on this.

There was only three braces models in the 800 series .
The No 811 was manufactured between 1911-1942
It featured the following's patent during its run. (Walter 96)

24 Nov 1908 Bartholomew's concealed ratchet

13 Jul 1909 Bartholomew's Ball bearing chuck

16 Aug 1910 Schade's patent on the jaws (Universal jaws)

4 Oct 1932 Stowell's on the chuck (improvement on ball bearing chuck and modified spring for jaws)

It was nickel plated and featured a Cocobolo (which is in the Rosewood family and often confused with Rosewood) head and handle.
It came in 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 in sweep, the largest range in the 3 braces No8xx series

At the same time, the no 813 was also offered 1911-1947
It was billed as a Heavy Duty brace with a boxed ratchet and Universal jaws

16 years later, the last of the No 800 series came along, the No 810.
This was Stanley's Aristocrat of braces, featuring Bodmer's patent on the ratchet mechanism.

Bodmer Ratchet patent, as used on the No 810.
16 divisions (clicks) in one complete rotation, using vertical pawls.
Making it very low torque to operate and very smooth

Until then all the Stanley made braces featured the same concealed ratchet mechanism (811, 901, 921 etc.) The famed North Bros concealed ratchet braces would come after their take over by Stanley in 1946.

So the line came out as such
810 - 10, 12, 14 in sweep 1927-1935 (during the SW era)
811 - 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 in sweep 1911-1942
813 - 8, 10, 12, 14 in sweep 1911-1947

They produced a large variations of braces, but in the ratchet braces, they came in three flavour of ratchets, 3 variations of jaws and 3 ways to attach the head.

From LAP reproduction of Stanley Catalog No 34, 1914 edition

The three ratchets in question
From L-R
Concealed (No 811), Box (No 923) and Open (No 3410 PEXTO)

The three types of heads

Braces used in these examples
Stanley, No 811, 923, Pexto 3410, Stanley (Fray) No 108, oh and the Footprint

Back to our No 811

Nice chunk of Cocobolo

The ball bearing head has an oil port.
Stanley call that head style: Metal clad , bearing head
 on their best quality models

From a distance, to me that looked like a Sampson chuck, as often found on Pexto braces.
Turns out, that is something else... Bartholomew. 
Both featured a bigger nose because, they both have a ball bearing nose piece

The logo on the sleeve reads
STANLEY (in notch rectangle)

Ok, so that dates it after 1907, the start of Stanley Canada, but which patent could it be??

The notch Rectangle with Stanley inside first came out with the SW  era

With some minor variations this last between 1926-1932 and thereabout

The notch rectangle makes it late 20, early 30 at the earliest
Pat. Pending

The oldest patent attributed to this model that was applied for was on Sep 13, 1929
Surprise, my chuck has such a feature after I cleaned it

So it would appear that the patent in question is US Patent 1,880,521
Issued Oct 4, 1932
Ring is segmented, covering the bearing race opening
Pic is after I cleaned it

That would then dated my model to:
Between Sep 13 1929 (Pat Applied for, or Patent Pending) to Oct 4th 1932 (Patent issued)

I gave it a quick clean up on the drill press with my wire wheel

First, I tried to remove the head, to protect it from the wire brush.
With all three screws out, head is still solidly wedged in there.
looking at catalog copy, it almost seems like the head is screwed in (wood threads)??

After going over the brace frame and chuck with the wire brush, opened up the chuck
It featured the Universal jaws, mounted on a spring.

That spring shape is from our patent of 1932
Carefully remove the spring with the jaws without bending it out of shape.
The jaws are removed from spring in this pic.
DO NOT loose these parts...

The chuck was dirty inside and a tad gummy.
Soaked good with Krud Kutter and waited a bit.

Cleaned the inside with the round brush, wrapped in a shop towel.
Reamed inside, rinse and repeat (almost literally)

I am happy with the inside.
That is when I realized the nose part rotated separately from the shell...
See Patent above

Before reassembly, I lubricated all the moving parts with a special lubricant

Pic was taken before I cleaned it.

That JIG-A-LOO stuff is extremely slippery, watch out where you spray it. I makes wooden floors and laminated flooring very, very slippery. Forgot where the spot is?  Just wear wool socks and walk around the floor. Were you slip and broke your leg mark's the spot... You been warned :-)

Is it really that slippery? Heck, it works miracle on tools!!

A tad smelly in an enclosed space (if you go nuts and do a few more tools),
 but thankfully I can open my new windows :-)

So putting down a piece of cardboard on my shop floor, then putting the brace on it, I sprayed the selector and mechanism, the handle bushings, the head bearings and the inside bearing in the shell
I sprayed some WD40 on the threads for the shell then re-assembled the whole thing.
A tad overkill, since Jig-A-Loo is like WD40 plus a lubricant.

The selector and mechanism, took two rounds of Jig-A-Loo sprays, but it is now purring correctly.

I am the proud owner of one of the Second best Stanley made brace (this No 811),
Model No 810 with its innovative 16 notches ratchet (Baby smooth), is still justifiably, No 1

So lets make some holes, No 2!
Aye Aye Capt

A tad heavy on the ratchet side, but works like a champ
This brace weigh in at a hefty 3 pounds plus!!
It is screaming, I came out of a machine shop, not the forging floor! :-) 

It can then take its place inside my boring till

And I see that the brace besides it need some buffing at the wheel...

Bob, off to the garage to clean another one, and another one...

Monday, November 5, 2018

If a tree could talk...

First a disclaimer.  I'm no expert on the subject, just my understanding of the science at work.
Oh, and I am an old fart... and tree do reveal secrets:-)

Ah the color and figure of a piece of wood! It is enough to send the heart of a woodworker racing and his forehead pearling with sweat... And then you go in La la Land thinking about what you could do with such a piece.

Why is that? This object of desire for a woodworker was never cheap!   Lots of labour and time between the tree standing and the boards ready to be worked on at your bench.

Yet, to this day, many still hold the common piece of wood as being cheap!
As in: Ah, it should not cost much to build that out of wood, why so much??
Because it is not made of termite barf (OSB, MDF) being solid wood and constructed solidly (No Allen keys required), it should outlast us all... would be one reason

Even if using all "Free wood" there is a lot of time and experiences that goes behind building something out of "wood".
Never mind the cost of the specialized tools required and assorted supplies to be used

But there are no such thing as "Free wood", each steps between the cutting down of the tree until being finally worked on your bench are all going to affect somewhat the final product, in both form and function and of course, its price!

To this day, the most "Dramatic" operation, remains the sawing into lumber.  That is where the sawyer can  make or break a saw mill operation, by the decisions he take about were to cut into the lumber.
Maximise yield, or waste a lot.  Yes, he was a valuable man, and the better paid in the whole crew.
You can often spot the sawyer in a group picture, by the way he is dress and were he stands, being the better paid man.


Trees are a part of the botanical family, they are a plant.
Some trees are among the oldest thing still living today on this earth. They have been around a long long time, and know a awful lot about what happened around them all these years..
Baobabs  tree over 2000 years old and still youngsters to some.
A list of the oldest known trees    Not all older trees have a large girth.

Where they grow, the climate encountered thru its living years and the ravages of Mother Nature: Strong gusting winds (produce shakes), growing on an incline (tension wood), flood (rot), forest fires (scars in tree rings) periods of draught (slow growth) etc. are all recorded inside the tree.
Similarly, the effects from man: Cutting or breaking branches, feeding it etc. are also being "recorded" inside the tree (knots, metal objects, tree rings anomalies, burning marks)

This Silver Birch had a severe lean, about 45 degrees, but was still reaching out for the sun.
The combination of yearly icy snow loads took a toll on it and how it grew.
That would results in a lot of stress built up in the tree trunk, just awaiting to get the unwary at the tablesaw. It is called reaction wood

The science behind all this is called Dendrochronology, the science of the tree rings and dating.

Knowing how the tree rings are formed, yearly, seeing the rate of growth (the demarcation between the Early wood (Spring) and Late wood (Fall)) enable us to count the number of years contained inside the tree. Because most trees around the same geographical region are impacted the same by the local weather conditions, by comparing the rate of growth in the rings to other local specimens help dating a piece of wood and establish its likely provenance.

Pretty cool heh!

This is possible because most trees have a definite differences between the early wood and late wood
That difference is in the size and density of the cells caused by the various growth rates. In the Spring the new growth on the foliage and the warmer temperatures combined to produce rapid growth.
The spacing between the rings is large.

In order to grow in both girth and height, a tree need to be fed.
Trees are nourished by the photosynthesis taking place on the green foliage by the action of the sun.
It caused water molecules to be evaporated in the day time. This in turn is pulling up water and its nutrient found around the tree roots system, via capillary action.
Hint that is why you always water/nourish a tree at his root ball (drip line around the tree), not via the foliage.

The added growth layer around the tree girth happened more like a cone shaped than a true cylinder.
The tree is larger at the trunk and smallest at the top. Layers are piling cones over cones
That is what create the familiar cathedral figure in flat sawn lumber

Maple on top, Apple on the bottom.
Both pieces of wood are oriented the same, the top of the tree is to the left,
as indicated by the grain forming cathedrals

Looking at "end grain"
My bundle of straw representing wood cells. The various colors represent the growth rings
Due to its cellular nature wood can hold water in both the "straw" inside of cell (free water) and within the cell structure of the "straw" Bound water.
These swelling and shrinking cell walls are what causes wood movements.

Ice cream cones give us a better representation of the true shape of the outer layers being added on 

Since they are more cone shape than a true cylinder
Not to scale obviously, but you get the idea

This rapid growth experienced in the spring leaves tell tales larger spacing between the rings.
Conversely, as the colder weather approaches in the fall, the Deciduous trees change the colors of their leaves then loose their foliage to slow down the growth activity.  The tree is dormant for the winter, experiencing little new growth.
The tree rings are smaller and closer together, hence often darker.
Our North American Deciduous trees need to drop the level of sap in the colder weather, or they will suffer frost damages.

Deciduous trees drop their foliage, while evergreen keep theirs.
The pines in the background are about 80 + feet high.
The cluster of Silver Birch in the foreground are saplings 
that grew around the tree trunk that was cut

Evergreen have "build-in antifreeze".  Pine sap extract is Turpentine, a wood alcohol, hence do not need to go dormant as fast nor as long. But they still produced clearly defined yearly rings.
The combined number of early and late growth rings produced in a year.

Harder to see on a rough surface, but you can clearly see and count some of the rings.
The space between these darker rings represent one year of growth, since these darker's one happened every fall. You can clearly see that the growth was not even around the tree.

How much sun reached the tree on what side, is enough to record a difference in the growth pattern. 

The center of the trees are darker since clogged with sap.
These being cut in June, they were saturated at the time they were cut down.
But the center, Heartwood, is naturally darker than the Sap wood on the outer layers of the tree.
That is because as the tree grows on the outwards layers, the inside one goes dead and clogged with sap residues, imparting a darker color. Very noticeable in Walnut.

Near Comox BC, late 90s
The dead wood inside, remains sounds for a long time imparting strength to the tree trunk.
But in some quick growing and long living wood like Western Red Cedar, the inside simply rot away
revealing a big hollow when cut

Of course, tropical forest Deciduous trees do not experience as much of a climate change, but they do go thru periods of dryness and wetness (monsoons) and produce yearly rings. Relatively few, such as Teak, have visible rings. The "invisible ones" can be still detected, but not by our mere eyes.

Looking at two species, domestic and exotic

This exotic wood, barely shows, but there are faint, hard to see rings

In contrast, this piece of American Walnut, shows strong late years rings.
There is about 10 years captured in this piece of wood, but which ten years??

Lets have a closer look, since we have the technology :-)
Again, both same pieces of wood, same orientation

Exotic (Honduras Mahogany??)
The darker ring is not well defined and hard to tell were it start and end??

American Black Walnut
The more defined blacker line is the late growth year.
Between it and the next one equal one year of growth

In both these high magnification snap shots, the small white lines, criss-crossing the darker lines are radial lines, radiating from the tree core. They give rise to the gleaming ray flecks on beech, depending how cut..

It is via these lines that the sap travel to feed the outer cambium layer
The big round openings dispersed throughout are resin ducts

Here is a view of the same two wood, showing theses ducts on the surface


These ducts are showing sap residues which has long crystallized.
They contains minerals and some woods have a high contains of silica, 
which is murder on a sharp edge

These two views, from the end grain and the top face also shows why wood glued on end grain is weak as compared to long grain to long grain glue surfaces. All the holes on the end will soak up more stain (making end grain darker) and have lots of "holes" with no glue surface


Because then you can tell a lot about a piece of wood in your hands...
What it would be best as in, which orientation, problems areas, expected stability, workability with hand or power tools, you name it!!

This piece of pine is standing up the way it was inside the tree.
Notice the whiter sap on the outer edge?
See anything wrong with this board??

Now look at the grain lines.
The LH side lines are almost horizontal, while they are almost vertical on The RH side.
That tell us that the LH side will experience more change in dimension than the RH side and the board would not take an even stain.  Nor would it cup the same across the board (pun intended).
 I would probably not use this board as is and certainly not as a drawer side

Identifying a piece of wood enables us to have a look at its specifics characteristics
Besides its weight and beam strength, one of the most interest to us, are its dimensional stabilities.
That is to say, how much is it going to move in a given orientation with changes in humidity.
Wood is hygroscopic, it absorb and release water in order to achieved the same humidity level as its surroundings.

Knowing this we can account for wood movement and ensure a sound construction that will not self destruct.

This frame and panel door, I made with a cope and stick router bit set, 
fail open at one corner. 
I did not allowed enough clearances in the frame to allow for seasonal expansion.
The same reason why wooden drawers stick in their opening sometimes.
And ironically it would not had fail if my shop dehumidifier did not fail me first...
In case you wonder, I always stain my panel edges before putting them inside the frame.
It avoid tell tale whitish lines when the panel contract.

Armed with the knowledge of various wood species, you can select the better resistant woods for outside project, which orientation make then more stable (flatsawn versus quartersawn) and much more to better build long lasting projects.

Reading the grain directions let us anticipate with direction it will plane best without tearout.
Although I will admit that it is sometimes tricky, but you quickly find out while working it...

And this bring us to today, to my lovely pile of freshly milled lumber awaiting to dry before talking to me. Drying and storing wood, a subject for another day...

Bob, who has a busy Monday coming up
But first, were is the ice cream :-)