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The Magic Toolbox…

As some of you know, I got into this whole wonderful obsession when my wife’s grandfather passed away and left me with a lot of his tools. He was a hard working, honest man who through his work as a carpenter embodied the “Als Ik Kan” ideal of the Arts & Crafts movement. When I first started to go through the tools five years ago, I experienced a kind of fascination everyday as I stumbled across tools I had never dreamt of in my wildest philosophies. Central to this inheiritance was a gigantic rusty toolbox that weighed in well over 50 pounds. Inside that toolbox was treasure trove of tools old and new, pristine and weathered. It is these tools that most hold the mark of the man who put them to such great use throughout his career. I use this as a preamble to hopefully explain some of the reverence that I have for all of these pieces.

The magic toolbox still has not disappointed me. At first, I disregarded many of the tools as esoteric or too highly specialized to invest any effort into learning to use them. As my own work has matured, I continue to go back to the magic box to see if I can pull a rabbit out to help refine my work. Since my discovery of chairmaking with my recent Windsor epiphany, I have become interested in the ancient brace and bit set nestled at the very bottom of the toolbox.

In doing some shop modifications to make room for a fancy Roubo bench that I hope to start this summer, I broke out the brace to drill some clearance holes around some stuck masonry screws that were holding in place a base cabinet. Wow, that is fun stuff! The control and “feel” for the wood that you get with a brace and auger bit is next to nothing as far as I am concerned. Don’t get me wrong, my 18V cordless drill and 18V impact driver will never be far from my hands, but yet again, the magic toolbox has provided another option for a more delicate approach.

Now back to the reverance part. While I am having fun boring holes all over my shop with the brace, I can tell that the bits needs some sharpening and rust removal. It would be disrespectful to these wonderful tools if I didn’t take the time to restore them to fine working condition. I also know that their original owner would be disappointed if they produced shotty work because I had not taken care of them. Leonard Lee’s Sharpening book talks of an auger file for this type of sharpening task. After a quick ebay search that came up dry (that does happen every now and then), I turned to my favorite hand tool site, Tools for Working Wood, and have placed an order for one of these babies.

Auger File

In expectation of the arrival of this file, I was doing some digging on the Internet to see what else I could find on the sharpening process. First though, I wanted to catch up on the blogosphere. After logging into Google Reader, I see that Stephen Shepherd has put up a few new posts. Low and behold there is a post on sharpening drill bits and about halfway down he writes about auger bits. So now you know that the Magic Toolbox has powers that stretch even to the vast expanse of the Interent. Now that I think about it, every time I have pulled a new discovery from it’s depths, a higher power has intervened to help me use it.

Sometimes, it is good to know that I have some help when I start a new project…


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