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We just received a sample copy of The Fine Tool Journal, A Newsletter on Ha nd Tools for Collectors and Craftsmen. The best description of the content of the newsletter is found in the first paragraph: Tool collectors have two primary concerns: "What's it worth?" and "Who made it, where and when?" These are the questions The Fine Tool Journal addresses.

Anyone interested in antique woodworking tools, whether for their antique value, for actual use in the shop, or just to learn more about the history of antique woodworking tools will find this newsletter very helpful.

The issue we received featured articles on modern toolmakers, and "Tid-Bits of Useful Knowledge for Tool Collectors," a classified ad section for antique tools, and a listing of old original tool catalogs still in print.

Then just to toy with their readers, there's a column called "Whatsit?" This column describes a unique old tool whose identity and purpose seem to have eluded all the experts. The hope is that a reader may have crossed paths with the unknown tool before.

A one year subscription (for 10 issues) is $10.00. For more information, contact: Sallie H. Ward, c/cThe Fine Tool Journal. RD #2, Poultney, Vermont 05764


Whenever I'm turning bowls and other items on a lathe, there's a problem that keeps cropping up. The problem is that the wood keeps cracking shortly after the piece is turned. Any suggestions?

Ross Barnes Cleveland, Ohio

Splitting or cracking of turned projects usually is caused by lumber that hasn't been properly dried. During the turning process, the wet interior of a semi-dried piece of wood is exposed to the air, and it naturally starts to dry out. Unfortunately, drying lumber this way causes extreme stress in the wood as the exterior of the wood dries and shrinks, and the interior stays relatively wet and stable. And when the stress created by this imbalance becomes stronger than the strength of the wood itself, it shows up as splits or cracks in the surface.

There are two ways to eliminate the problem. The first is to use only well dried lumber (dried to 7-9^ moisture content) to eliminate the variation in the moisture content between the surface and the interior of the wood.

Although using either kiln dried wood, or thoroughly air dried lumber is the best answer, there are times when a special piece of wood shows up that can't be quickly, or effectively air dried. In this case, using a product called PEG might be the answer.

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is a chemical that's used to stabilize small quantities of green or wet lumber (making it ideal for turning stock). The only drawback is that the PEG must be in a heated vat, and the wood must be totally saturated with heated PEG. This whole process can sometimes take several months, depending on the wood and its thickness.

For more information about using PEG, including how to make a heated vat, time schedules, and sources, I'd suggest obtaining a copy of Working Green Wood With PEG, by Patrick Spielman, $9.25. (One source is Woodcraft Supply, 41 Atlantic Ave., Wobum, MA 01888.)

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