Cool Tools, and the Beauty of Being Wrong

I like tools. Big surprise to everybody. It’s a rare day when a new tool gets a permanent place in my shop apron, but my new Gerber 600 does.

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It handles well, feels good to use, and it has a lot of functions that I reach for a lot – particularly when I’m doing adjustments or setup to power tools. It saves me going across the shop to the toolboxes and digging around for the pliers/screwdriver/whatever I need to adjust a fence or a jig or whatever the task at hand might be. Merry Christmas to me (thanks, mom).

On the other end of the scale is something very far removed from the various blades, files, and bits of the Gerber. A few Christmases back, I was given a couple of old drawknives. That’s not exactly a tool I reach for every day. Mostly, I just don’t need one. On the occasions I need to round something, I use a spokeshave… and I seldom have to hog off much stock. But recently, I found myself needing one, and decided to reexamine the ones I have.

One is extremely large, and I’ll address it another day. The other, a Fulton #8, is about the right size for the work I needed to do. But it had some problems. (Actually, it was a mess, and I thought it might not be salvagable.)

First problem: rust. Again, big surprise. I hate dealing with large amounts of rust. Mostly because I hate dealing with rust remover. If you’ve ever used naval jelly, or any other serious rust remover, you’ll know why… phosphoric acid is nastly. Smells bad. Really corrosive.

Recently, I heard about a product called Evapo-Rust. Supposedly non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-smelly. My first thought? “Nonsense. Can’t possibly actually work.” My second thought? “Anything is better than naval jelly.”

Yes, it really works. It works beautifully. The end result is a little different; it removes rust and leaves a light grey patina. It also takes longer – I had to soak it overnight. Fortunately, I’m not in that much of a hurry, and I’m never going back. A little mineral spirits and some 220-grit sandpaper, and it was vastly improved.

Second problem: Way too much rust.

20120129-201553.jpg A couple of sections of the metal holding the handles on had completely corroded away. Replacing them was going to be a real problem. Instead, I decided to fill the missing areas with epoxy. The problem was goign to be keeping it from just dripping out before it set, because it needed to actually build up the missing metal. I grabbed an old tube of caulking, and ran a bead around the area to be filled, and overfilled it with a mix of epoxy and a few drops of dye. When it was set – but not set hard – I scraped off the caulking, and trimmed the epoxy fill to shape.

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After the epoxy had set completely, I sanded out the handles (and the epoxy), ragged on some dark walnut dye, and finished them with oil and the Beall wood buffer. Sharpening it meant reshaping the edge, but I wasn’t comfortable doing it on a grinder. The edge was too thin and fragile to do it without inadvertently changing the curve.

Fortunately, the WorkSharp is perfect for this kind of work. It took a couple of minutes on each grit, and viola.

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It took a great edge, and I stuck a piece of cherry in the vise and started. It feels good, cuts beautifully, and leaves a great surface for a finer tool like a spokeshave.

This one’s going to get a new place of honor in my tool cabinet (location to be determined). And I thought it was a junker, and that I wouldn’t use it much. Wrong on both points. Excellent. Sometimes being wrong is cool.

It may not be beautiful, but it’s going to be fun to use. For today, it’s 5:00, and time for a beer. And beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Ross Henton

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2 comments on “Cool Tools, and the Beauty of Being Wrong

  1. EvapoRust rules. This is an awesome product. I have used it on 4 handplane restores. And the multi-tool is another must have toy. I keep one in each of my vehicles just in cast.
    ralph

  2. Nice post. Your post is awesome describe on this tool. This is a good work.

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