Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The NOBEX Champion Model 180 Miter Box

A recent find at a local auction house, at a steal price really, but how does it work??

My first initial reaction at seeing what I got, sight unseen, was, Oh wow.
Then looking at it more closely, I'm thinking, hum, I would had expect maybe a tad better blade tensioning system, and the lack of ability to park the saw up was I thought a bit of a dissapointement.
Redeeming features are the use of a cast metal (Zamak or aluminum?) for the saw carriage. I have seen too many cheap ones with plastic components, it is impossible to tension properly a plastic frame...
Similarly, the MB bed is made of cast aluminum with machined surfaces were it count.

The only plastic is on the saw guides themselves, making for a smooth action.

But was I missing parts, is it complete? And then I had this part which I have no idea if it even belong to this MB??

Strange looking part found at the bottom of box lot

Looking it up on line I saw a video which explain the features on this model.
Lo and behold it is able to park the saw up, using that strange left over part I found in the box :-)

Still from above video. 
Recognize it?

Well, well, lets see...

It was easy to figured out how the part fit, there was still a distinct outline on the dusty plastic slider :-)

Works as advertized, how about that!
When pulling up the saw (and of course its captive carriage), the flat part of the bracket flips up unto the top of the post, holding the saw carriage up.
Pushing the saw forward in its carriage sort of work, but it is easier and faster to just push it in to release it. Notice it is only being supported at the rear on top of the post.

And there is also a provision to make stop cuts by using a small depth stop on one of the straight guide rods, one in front, one in back .

Still from above video.
The small red depth stop with a black knob is seen.
It does not seems to appears on earlier models?

Front posts, no depth stop

Rear posts, no depth stop

This saw does not have one. Looking thru my older LV catalogs, I can see that this model never had this feature since sporting this style handle.
An easy thing to retrofit, or maybe I can get spare parts at LV? Will see.

In the video, they also claimed that the saw cannot hit and cut into the bed. Well I will beg to differ, maybe only if you have the depth stops??

You can see that the saw is resting too low and 
cutting into the miter pivot bolt in the rear.

I wrote about Miter boxes before see here
The saw on the video is the same model, but a newer version. Lets have a quick look at this model history.

Not much on line to be found. 
So I resorted to my LV catalogs collection 
and fixed my scanner, has been U/S for a while :-)

Quote. Nobex is based in the north of Sweden producing some of the best tools for the carpenter, tradesperson or cabinet maker. Since the 1980's Nobex have fully refined the mitre saw, for example, whereby the accuracy can be guaranteed to a startling 0.08 of a degree. No other mitre saw on the market offers this level of accuracy. This is a clear testimony to their attention to detail and Swedish quality. Unquote

They manufactured a small range of Miter Boxes (MB), the largest being what they call their Professional Champion model, the No 180
But it was NOT always build as the model we know today...

From my earliest LV catalog 1984-85
Earliest model had a totally different carriage and machined aluminum bed.
It used 22 in blades and the capacity is stated at 6 in wide at 90 degrees, or 4-1/4 at 45 degrees, 4-1/2 in vertical capacity.

From 1992-93 LV catalog
Part of bed painted green (was blue).
Has high extension for the back of bed (screw in)
Still 22 in blade, capacity stated is 6 in wide at 90 degrees, or 4-1/4 at 45 degrees, 6 in vertical capacity. Notice the newer smaller model on the right, called their Standard box, it would become their next professional model in a larger incarnation.

From 1993-94 LV catalog
New model introduced, it is based on last year Standard model, but on Steroids.
Saw carriage redesigned for better tension, used the grooves in bed indentations to hold trim pieces at the correct angle vertically for true compound cuts.
Now using a 25 in blade, the capacity has increased to 7-1/ 4 high, 8 in wide at 90 degrees and 5 in wide at 45 degrees. Also featured clip on high pieces in the back to support tall pieces. This is like my model

The cast bed of these new models, have indentation molded in the bed to prop up the molding pieces, for example, at different degrees (sprung angles)
The smaller Standard model has grooves for 20 to 55 degrees in 5 degrees increment, while the bigger Professional model has grooves for 20 to 60 degrees in 10 degrees increment. This enable true compound cuts. That is why the rear fence extensions are removable, they are not always needed and could get in the way in other operations (?)

From 1999-2000 LV catalog
The new handle shape, slight changes to the tensioner.
Tensioner screw now in front on handle side and fitted with a wing nut.
Used to be a round knurled nut. So you get more torque out of it

 Two small adj lock screws appears on the top of the post, front and rear.
Uses unknown, probably some sort of parking mechanism??

From  2002-03 LV catalog
The new quick acting clamps make their apparition.
Notice that the adj lock screws on top of post are gone.
The current parking metal clip is visible on rear post.
The cutoff stop now has some sort of attachment to it,
 used to be a simple 90 bend in the rod. 
Used to have a 36 in capacity for the stop, now 33 in

Mine used the older screw format.
New quick action clamps were introduced in LV catalog in 2002

Based on information listed in my LV catalogs collection, my model falls between 1993 and 1998. Those were during my power tools days, ironic :-)

The Nobex Champion Model No 180 is touted as having the biggest capacity of any MB made: 7-1/ 4 in high, 8 in wide at 90 degrees and 5 in wide at 45 degrees. . .

Catalog copy, notice depth stop is present

For example Stanley biggest one, Model No 2358, has a capacity of 5 in high, 9-1/2 wide at 90 degrees and 6-1/2 in at 45 degrees
The difference in width are mainly due to the construction details of both MB design. Note also that the Nobex used a 25 in blades were as the Stanley used a 28 in blade. In both case they loose 3 inch in width at 45 degrees

Accuracy is stated to be to .08 of a degree. Claim is based on the accurate milling on the bed and the pivoting, locking, mechanism that pivot the saw carriage.

It also come equipped with two clamps to secure the work piece to the bed.
On my older model, it used a simple screw mecanism, the newer ones have a quick acting clamp that can be secured two ways to the bed to better hold various shapes.

There is of course a pull out length stop, whose capacity varied from 26, 36 and now 33 in long. A newer model, the Pro-Man also has an available bed extension.

The provision of adjustable depth stops would be a great addition to an otherwise great saw, and sure enough, it came about at a later date. Should be easily retrofittable to my model. As long as the diameter of the post have not changed, new parts should fit If not, I'll make my own.

One feature I really like, is the ability to park the saw side ways on the bed, latch it with a supplied clip (dont have it) and you can transport the MB by the saw frame... Not sure I would trust that, but it does make for a smaller, secure package for travelling. That I like, and being aluminum, it is a lot lighter than my older cast iron behemoths (Stanley's and Millers-Falls)

Saw carriage in park position.
Brilliant idea!

Of course no tool review would be complete without actually putting it to use.

Unfortunately, I still dont have much room in my shop right now, more of a storage area...
And for some strange reasons, I am not allowed to used the dinning room table as a work bench anymore (don't ask why :-)

So it would have to wait for later. I did sneak in a quick cut on the floor and it work pretty good, smooth cuts! (yes dear I cleaned up after :-)
The resulting cut is pretty smooth, smoother than any of my Stanley's MBs.
The combination of a thinner blade, with more PPIs and less set makes this difference. It is however a bit slower than my Stanley's, no surprise there for the above reasons. Curious to try the Japanese Ikeda teeth blade in it, that may make it as fast or faster than the Stanley's ??

Special blade with Japanese Ikeda teeth pattern

I whish I could tension the blade a smidgen more, will investigate later. I heard of people using washers to change the adjuster range, maybe that is what I need.

Bob, tool enabled, work space challenged

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Took a gamble... and got...

Today, my girlfriend said, lets go have a look at the auction...
It has been a while I have been there, since loosing Heather, we used to go often.

So off we go, just to have a quick look, and 4 hours later we brought some "stuff" home... As per my last visit, we needed a truck to bring everything home.  But we went just to look, so we took my car :-)

When we got there, the auction had already started, so could not look at everything. Took a quick gander around trying to spy some tools, did not saw much that interested me, but there was a bunch of Matchbox car's collections that pique my interest, dutifuly recorded those numbers for later...
And saw a sort of promising miter vise, in a lot box.

As the auction went, bought a few things here and there, bunch of weave baskets for Jean, flower pots and etc, then this miter box comes up.
I know, I don't need another, but, it went down to $5 before I put the first bid on it, at $7 it was mine...

I did not saw that MB before hand, it just attracted me on a lurch, because it is one of those tension frame that take a narrow blade. It look good to my eye from a distance, but I was gambling that it was a good one and not one of those crappy Far East clone's ones. So even before I finally saw it first hand, I was happy that I got it so cheap. If garbage, I did not wasted, much, of my money. My own internalization and rationalizationing in case I got sucked in :-)

When I first saw it I knew I was right.... You'll see later... :-)

A few more things, antique broken chairs for a few bucks, an apple barrel. I was feeling smug that mine was in good shape, and the other damaged ones were going for more than I paid, hah. Well.... Turns out, I have a missing part in the bottom :-(

Then we finally got to the stuff I had eyed: Something looking like a Stanley No 400 miter vise and a few more frame making tools and supplies. Pay more than I expected but I think $52 was a good deal, will see later :-)

A few more things later, none tool related, and we had to leave for a friend's spouse life celebration. Paid for my stuff, ouch, then packed everything in a  friend’s truck (Thank you George and Wendy) and went on.

After the life celebration, which was very well attended, it was packed in there, love to see that. I often joke that at the rate I'm loosing my friends, they may be none left at my service, I better start making much younger friends...

We went home to get our truck and headed to George and Wendy's place to pickup our junk, err... I meant "Precious Artifacts" and brought them home.

Not a bad haul, we are happy. Spent a lot more than planned, but Heh, such is the life of a retiree, or so it seems at time :-)

So what was it that I brought back tools wise?

Excuse the poor pic quality, using 
my stup..err intelligent phone!

And we have:

Four "as new" narrow bandsaw blades, 
Simonds Canada, excellent steel.
No idea if they fit my saw, but I wanted the boxes :-)

The box on the chair is the one I paid the most at the auction, $52.
So what was inside?

A bunch of picture framer's tools and supplies

And that Miter Box, bought sight unseen, what was it?

Can you see it ?
Hint, its made in Sweden :-)

Lets have a closer look at that infamous "expensive box"...

Defenitively got my money worth, Im happy :-)

This is what I was after... after all :-)
Here is an LV copy of that tool that they carry 

It came with two wing attachments and 
some sort of template in wafer board.

The Miter Vise got me stumped! (Temporarely, no doubts :-)
Its like the Marsh 400 which became Stanley 400 in 1926, but this one is neither.
It is painted Green, Casted:

Made in USA 

NY 11040

So far so good, but then...


Huh? Look like a No 401, but it is clearly casted 402. Made in USA but Record? (a British firm, their tools were mostly blue, not green)
And who is S&W in NY? Never heard of a model No 402 of such an animal??
Oh well, will find out later...

The 2 attchments that came with it:

The jaws on the vise are rather thin.
 It is after all, made for picture frames.

These two adapters fit on the jaws 
to accomodate thicker pieces.

Right there, I am already happy about what I paid for the whole box, the remainders are just gravy... 

A Fletcher, fastener tool for the retaining board in the frame.
Depressing the handle squezze the fastener in the frame.

A Chartpak Mat cutter (Adjustable angle)
with 2 spare blades boxes and 4 loose blades. 

Another tool doing a similar job as the Fletcher.
Came with 2 boxes of the special fastener it takes 

A portable heater for heat activated glue banding.
I made out for years using a regular clothe iron
I inhirited after using "our Ahem" clothe iron 
on such a job for the first time, oups :-)

This tool I have no idea what it is or what it do,
 except that it is for ...Whatever it says on it...

Maybe for these clips?? 
Althought I'm not sure there is any correlation??

and these 3 bags of frame supplies for hanging

And the Miter Box? Yes, I did spyed a good one, still available at LV 
Not bad for $7 plus taxes = $8.05 :-) 

The Nobex Model 180, mounted on a plywood base.

I am guessing that this Professional Miter Box came from a picture frame shop, and if so, probably the same were I got all that loot for $52 :-) 

Look all complete, extension stops etc.

Does not seem to have any provision to park the saw up,
like on my older Stanleys and Millers Falls...

So I paid $7 for the four boxed Simonds bandsaw blades, another $7 for the Nobex MB and $52 for the box of picture frames goodies. I am happy.

And why did I needed a truck? 2 chairs, one apple barrel, giant set of plant pots, more plant pots, various weaved baskets etc etc. Oh and boxes of stuff that came with some of the boxes lots. I have a big trunk (Lincoln) but, nah, it would not fit :-)

The Matchbox stuff I was lurking? Started at $100 and went for $330, a bit more than I wanted to pay, but well worth that..., damn!

Bob, who is tired but happy. RIP my friend.

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 bilingual 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 manufacturing 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... :-)