Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Simonds Crescent Saw Tools

Another recent Kijiji finds, this one came with the instruction sheet and the spider.

The Crescent No 340 crosscut tool set

Besides obviously the box that it came in, 
it is also missing the setting skate (in foreground)

The adjustable wedge is to set the height of the raker tooth
 showing, to be filed flat

The two screws on the sides are to hold the file, but also it is capable of slightly bending the file to accomodate the curvature of the breasted blade

My Simonds spider. 
You can see by the glare and rust still showing around the sharp area, 
that it was power cleaned by a wire brush.  So was the Saw jointer tool. 
Hopefully the critical lenght of the boss did not get muck with...too much

I wrote previously about these types of tools, here
The spider is used to check the set of the tooth, by placing it against the saw blade plate and resting the long end against the tip of the tooth.
Because there is a shorther and longer arm, when resting the lower part snug against the plate, the small gap at the end of the long arm is the clearance required. Rip cut and cross cut saws required a slightly different gap (set)

There was also adjustable spiders.
Top one is a Simonds

A No 342 complete set

A later Model No 342, complete set
Green boxes preceded the later red boxes
These 4 pics from Jon ZimmersTools

The No 342, slightly redesigned No 340, was available along with the No 340 for a short while, then the No 340 was dropped in favour of the No 342.
And not included, as part of this No 340 set of tools, would be a suitable saw wrest hammer, as illustrated in the instruction, to fine tuned the hammer set tooth, as required after inspecting with the spider.

The Simonds saw wrest hammer,
as depicted in instruction sheet

An early Disston saw hammer
Both pics from Jon Zimmers Tools 

A short history of Simonds

This set being made and sold in Canada, it even featured bilangual instructions.
Something rarely seen back in those days... Perhaps a nod to its majority French Canadian workers, being located in le quartier St-Henri,  traditionally poor part of town, majority French day workers at nearby factories.
to the north of it is Westmount, the richer Anglophone part of town, where most business owners lived.

Back in those days, Canada was not officially a bilangual country , they did not had to advertise nor print instructions in French...
Nonetheless, why not, it ensure penetration in the French market (Quebec), brilliant business savy...

French side
Still shows the 1899 patent date, so this was early 1900s.
They started in Canada in 1906, 
so guessing between 1906-1919 (20 years patent)
And since Vancouver branch is shown, opened in 1911, 
that narrows it down to 1911-1919

English side
The long rectangular rust imprint 
is from the missing Setting stake

Lets concentrate mostly on its Canadian operations 

For a more detailed story of Simonds, see WK Fine tools magazine
Or this one on Simonds the saw makers

Simonds started as a scythe maker in Fitchburg Mass 1832 and from there expanded into saw manufacture. In 1868 they incorporated as Simonds Manufacturing company. They were manufacturing machine knifes, sickles cutters for mowers and reapers, and planing machine knifes.
By 1878 they sold their sickles business and continued machine knifes production. They also started making circular saws and introduced a new product: Logging saws of various kinds. 

The Crescent saw tool set No 340 was patented in 1899

It these early days, there was no steel production in the US and the steel was imported from the UK, later some US tool makers would start producing steel. Disston being one of the early ones for their saws, for the same reasons: To control every steps of the process from raw steel to finished product in house.

They then started their own Crucible steel plant at the Chicago factory (which opened in 1892), starting operation on December 1900.
It was not until 1901 that they introduced handsaws, but they quickly established a reputation for the quality of their saws. They will cease manufacturiong handsaws in 1926, after a short 25 years production run.

Simonds reputation for its handsaw, 
was largely due to the quality of its in house manufactured steel

Meanwhile in 1906 the Simonds Mfg. Co. established a manufacturing presence in Canada by buying the Canada Saw Co for $250,000, which itself was formed in 1904 with the merger of  The James Robertson Saw Co (founded in 1868) and the Ottawa Saw Co (founded in 1893). Canada Saw had 125 employees, all of whom were retained in the new company. 
Typical of the days, many other large US tool makers established manufacturing facilities in Canada to go around tariff restrictions and opened up the British commonwealth market

The new Canadian operation was renamed Simonds Canada Saw Co., headquartered in an all-new saw-making factory at the intersection of St. Remi and Acorn Streets in the South West of Montreal.

Corner of St-Remy and Acorn st. (bottom RH of red area) 
On top, the Canadian National (CN) railroad tracks from the Turcot yard.
Thru later expansion they would occupy the whole area depicted in red

What it looked like in 1907 and today...

Artist impression of the new factory.

1916, after the 1914 expansion.
Montreal plant is bottom LH
Notice they "recycled" the original drawing from 1907

Same building today
Corner of St-Remy (L) and Acorn (R)
These Simonds facilities were closed and sold in 1960

Further up on Acorn looking back at St-Remy

Same spot but looking the other way.
The building in the background has been refurbished 
and is used by la Mission Bon Accueil  
since 2000

The new company also acquired other facilities with the merger and keep operating factories in Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario as well as St. John, New Brunswick.

As we seen earlier, Simonds built its own steel mill in Chicago in 1900. The success of the steel mill, coupled with the company's success, was so great that demand quickly outgrew capacity. So, in 1910, Simonds started construction on an all-new steel mill in Lockport, New York. The new mill was placed equidistant from the Fitchburg, Montreal and Chicago factories and was able to take advantage of the new, cheap electricity being generated at Niagara Falls. The first steel from this mill was rolled on January 2, 1911. The Lockport steel mill played an important role in Simonds history until it was sold in 1978.

The business proved quite successful, growing steadily over the years. The Montreal plant underwent many expansions, including major expansions in 1907 and 1914. Another major expansion occurred in 1948, when the factory added hacksaw blades and bandsaw blades to circular saws, wide bands and cross-cut saws it had made up to this point.

Along the way the also acquired grinding stone and files manufactures companies, which are used a lot in the making of saws.

In 1911 they openned a Branch office in Vancouver BC Canada

Simonds Canada started construction on a new 112,000 square foot one story, controlled conditions plant in late 1959. But unlike the famous Fitchburg plant, the new plant did have some windows. The new plant was constructed at a cost of $1,500,000, and was located in suburban Granby, Quebec, about an hour east of Montreal.  

Simonds Canada closed the outdated Montreal facility and moved to this new Granby facility in June of 1960, transferring 200 employees and their families to the Granby area. The total cost of this move was $300,000. The old Montreal facility was sold off in November 1960. The Granby plant produced the majority of Simonds products sold in Canada until it was closed in 1988 and production consolidated into the Fitchburg Mass facility.

Today the Simonds company still exist. and the Canadian operation are still headquartered in Granby Qc.

Bob, looking for a matching setting stake... :-)

Monday, November 6, 2017

When a Square is not a Square...

Recently I was commenting to Ralph, that most Try-Square are only meant to be garanteed square on the inside, not on the outside. That of course raised some eyebrows. What ? That cannot be, will still need to check the inside of carcasses!?

Ah, yes, but what is square and how do we know it is??
And dont forget, we are talking about woodworking here, not machinist.

If you own a house, its probably been a long time you saw anything square, or level :-)
But it probably started with most everything level and square, things move, compression, expansion, settling etc.

Measuring devices are no different. Hence the choice of material is important where it count for accuracy.

Square is defined as making a perfect 90 degrees between two surfaces. How can we detect or sense it? Having a known “square” angle to compare to would be one way. Looking for light between both.

The human brain has the ability to detect or see when things are approaching 90 degrees.
When you are crosscutting with a handsaw, the reflection in the saw plate let you see when you are at 90 degrees. When boring with a brace or handdrill, you can also train yourself to detect being plumb.
Similarly our senses let us get a feel for when things are level or flat.
Running your fingers over a board surface you can detect small hollows and humps. And when using a pair of winding stick for example, we can easily detect an out of true condition (twist).

All that to say, we fret too much about measuring things to be square.
The only true test is in the pudding: Can you place two piece side by side touching at the ends, and is it still flat? If so flip one piece if still flat, we have perfect 90... Regardless of what your squares are saying...


The blade has its two sides parallel to each other. That is a important point to remember before you start filing away on one side of the blade to correct an out of square-Square. Being parallel, we can ensure the two inside angles will remain true to each other.
The two outside angles on the other hand relies on the stock being true and square, something impossible to garantee in this design.

The two inside angles rely on the brass plate being set (pinned) at 90 degrees to the inside of the blade (Red), and the other angle (Blue) can only be at 90 if the blade is parallel. The bottom of the stock (opposite the brass plate) cannot be relied upon to stay true

The stock being pinned rigidly by up to 4 pins some times, is not going to be able to expand much. The other end of the stock is free to expand and contract unimpaired, resulting in a slightly taper side. How much are we talking about? That would varies with the wood species coefficient of expansion and how long is the stock. Coincidently that is why Rosewood has long been favored, it has a very small expansion ratio. What about the other side, on the inside?
That is why we used a brass "wear plate", not so much to prevent wear, but to ensure a long lasting flat reference surface, wood expansion would be pushing away from it on the unplated side.

Not really a problem since this traditional Try-Square design was never really intended to be used on the outside surface of the stock. There are better tools for that.

Ever wondered at those fancy brass inlays surrounding the pins on a Try-Square?
Watch Roy using a passer drill, a reproduction of an original set in uses at Marples UK for years.

These two are Disston No 1 Try squares.
The smaller size having three pins, the bigger one, four

These are more than decorative, they help secured the pins rigidly at what is arguably the weakest point in the square design, how to ensure these two parts, the stock and the blade, are fixed securely at 90 degrees. The brass "wear plate" is pinned to the blade in the better design to ensure a rigid 90 connection.

Or you can go to great lenght to make your design micro adjustable to make and correct an out of true square. Behold, the Clenton square

These little "problems" caused by wood expansion (who knew, wood moves? NO ones knew that until now, but ... end of polite Canadian political rant :-) are unavoidable in this design. The only way out, is to use a metal frame and put in wood inlays or used a different material, such as in a all metal construction.
That is why, for the ultimate precision you are better off using Machinist squares, all metal construction, usually carbon steel.

Groz, Made in India. Grade B, 
inexpensive and plenty good

They are obviously only as good as the precision machining and cost accordingly. The good news is, since we are woodworkers and not machinist, we can get by using less precise Class B toolroom tools, specifically BS939 (British Standard) Grade B.
The specs are less than 0.001 in of deviation per inch over the full lenght of the blade. Plenty good for woodworking!!!
Only downside of these precision squares is that being high carbon steel, they rust easily, some caused by our fingers oil and moisture, sigh!!
Careful cleaning it, especially when removing rust, you dont want to destroy its precision

Something else to look for is excessive wear on the blade tongue, caused by the repetitive uses of a marking knife edge against it.
Often, that wear would only be confined to a small portion of the blade, since depending on how big the square is to the job at hand, only the first few inches would be used...
That type of wear would render the blade out of true and change its critical parallel dimensions.

When you have an out of true square, if the blade is straight and parallel, i'll touch the stock to correct instead.

There were obviously wooden square prior to the metal versions, and they are a good project to undertake. They are favoured by some because of the light weight. They can be made plenty square for our needs.
Ironically wooden Try-Square are easier to maintain for true 90 on the outside edges, meaning they are more handy to reliably check the inside of carcasse.
Of course, regardless of design any square should be tested once in a while to ensure continued accuracy.
Here is a good tutorial on checking and correcting out of square square...

Another great source of inexpensive precision square are the drafting shop.

Buy good ones at specialized shops

So back to the original objection of not being able to trust the outside edge, how do we measure inside carcasse for example? Short answer is we don't.
We check squareness by checking if both diagonals are equal, if so: Square
But, yes, by using a machinist square we could check all four corners and, it may or not, be still square.

Or another style such as the English layout square would be more appropriate in this instance. This design obviously does not allow inside measurement, for which the Try-Square exist

ATC square or English layout square
Pic from Chris Schwarz Blog

This English layout square can easily be used as a Libella, by the addition of a plumb bob and a string held at the apex. With it you can check for both plumb and square.

And here are some ancient variation of the square that became lost thru the years

Yes, there exist a large variety of squares for checking squareness in various ways, approach and etc,

And for everything else, there is always the Magic Square from fellow Canuck, Chris Wong :-)

All that to say, just because you are armed with a "square" unless you know it is actually accurate, it is anything but a square... Regardless of make, pattern, condition, price point etc. It does behove us to take care and protecting them.

I leave you with Paul sellers takes on it..."being square"

Bob, chasing Rudy around the room to get my square back from him. Will need to check it after :-)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Footprint Model 170 brace

Another fresh find, this one is practically unused and in NOS (New Old Stock) condition, well almost...

Its from the seasonal flea market in Wilmot, same vendor from who I  have been getting some good braces and Hand drills lately. Including that mechanical marvel, the North Bros 1545, I sent to Gerhard. When I see her, now I just ask her what she got for tools and she shows me stuff she has not unpacked yet, for lack of space. I guess you can say, I get 1st dibs  :-)

Today, when she shown me this brace, I was immediately taken aback how new it looked, yet, it is well made in the older tradition. No plastic, all metal, plated with wood (Beech, no stain, varnished), ball bearings in the head, ink markings almost perfect etc. For $20? Did not even bothered haggling for it, take my money please.

See anything wrong yet?


Footprint ratchet brace
No 170
10 in sweep

NO, that brace is not dated 1978, it reads British Standard (BS) 1978.
This just happened to be the BS for Hand Brace. The BS1978-1953 was later replaced by BS1978-1965 which is still current. That brace was more than likely made after 1965, still under that last edition of this standard.

With the old masking tape removed

wiped off with GOOGOO GONE.
It stink, but it is very efficient.
There is a faint discoloration under the tape, 
it's been there for a while. It will gradually dissapeared under the UVs

The ratchet mechanism look pristine and work like a charm.
Good strong springs on the jaws

By now, you would be thinking, its perfect right? I wrote about this before, but in the hunt for tools, we often overlook glaring defects or omissions, while being mesmerized by what you just found, you quickly develop selective blindness...

See it yet?

Huh? What is that gap??

What? I need a common and a Robertson Red screwdriver??
Obviously a prior Canadian Mod...

The plate is wavy, that is why the gap.
Notice the wrong size Robertson screw of the wrong type.
Its a tapered woodscrew versus a flat head commun slot screw

Not the first time removed for sure.

Now, this oversize Robertson wood screw and the gappy head were pretty glaringly obvious, how did I missed that ? All too easily :-) 

So off to the stores I go to find some suitable screws.
Kinda got some, but not surprisingly, all the screws were Robertson heads... or were they... The UPC shows up when scanned as SQ-DR Argggg American inferior copies of Robertson being flogged upon an unsuspecting public....SOB

Anyway, for now all I have are a bunch of woodscrews with the right head but Robertson Green (?) versus slots, oh well, at least it is not so glaring anymore.
I'll keep looking, must have some, somewhere....

Hoh, and I flaten the platen. It was wavy allright. I simply squezzed it in a metal vice, line with a folded sheet of paper to protect the plated finish and rotate, squezze, rotate squezze etc until a lot more flat...

Removed screw, besides.
Now plate seat flush all around

The Footprint tools that we still know today, started with a merger in 1968, using that familiar footprint symbol. The company goes as far back as 1760 under the name Alfred Ridge & Sons. They are I believe one of the few remaining old Sheffield hand tools makers.

From the company website

All in all, this is a solid brace, practically unused and pristine except for a glaring booboo under the head, well worth the asking price. That one will probably go to one of my son's toolkit.
I better start making the tool boxes soon...
But thankfully, they each have a finite number of my Ahem, essential toolkit :-)

Bob, the blind tool hunter

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Wooden braces

It took me a long time to acquired my first one, a Sheffield plated brace, from Ebay back in the days...

Lately, they seems to pop up more often in my local searches, go figure...!!!
I wrote earlier about the development of the brace, here

I only made provision for one wooden brace in my ongoing Boring till, but I now own 4.

All lined up to give you an idea of relative sizes

The first one to arrived about 15 years ago, via EBay, was this Sheffield plated brace manufactured by Abbot.

It feature the button chuck, which relies on a notch cut on one side
 of the tapered square tang of the brace bit.

Next was another local finds, last year, while out buying handsaws, responding on a Kijiji sale... When I asked if he had anything else, this is what I spotted.
This one was manufactured by Barton

Also featuring the ubiquitous button holder.
Since there was no real standard, the location of the notch required varies.
In this pic, the bit inserted does not goes deep enough.

Then came across this bit pad unmarked drill.

It uses the familiar clothes pins, spring pad, 
which are Missing In Action on this one :-(

Would have to try making some, some day.

So called because of their ressemblance to the 
older traditional wooden clothes pins.
Pic from Etsy

Similar braces also are seen with a simpler tapered interference fit pad, no spring.
That work fine while drilling, putting pressure on it, but if the bit get stuck, it would pop out from the brace, hence why someone came up with those clothes pins springs.

And more recently, this past Monday actually, came across this unmarked chairmaker brace. So called because they used spoon bits, the prefered chairmaker boring bits. The bit is a tad bent, but when I tried it, it cut a nice round hole, will not try to straighten it and risk breaking it...

The hole it drilled effortlessly thru cherry.
With the added rim being countersunk by a Stanley No 18 bit.
Both cut surfaces as is from the existing, unretouched, cutting edges.
A testament to the robutness of this design, 
"protecting" the cutting edges this long.

This style of "Chairmaker's braces" were prefered by the chair makers who only used a few sizes of holes, and could get by with 2 or 3 of those braces. The bit being permanently attached, it is always ready to go. That style lingered on for a long time after it came and went.

Sized just right for the delicate spindles 
of a Windsor chair for example

These last two came up during my regular bread runs to Bridgetown. I love the white bread made by a small bakery there (Graves), well worth the run. And since Bridgetown is already, roughly, half way to Annapolis Royal, I often goes there for my tools...err I meant chocolate runs at my favorite little shop. They have home made chocolate, a used books section and some antiques, with a small section devoted strictly to tools. Perfect business formula for me, it hits all my buttons... Oh and Jean and I like the chocolate also and Rudy comes along for his daily car rides :-)

And I guess that makes me a regular customer... :-)

Bob, bracing for a shortage of room in my upcoming boring till...
Humm I think I need a bigger wall :-)