Saw Sharpening Class

I don’t consider myself an expert saw sharpener, but I can hold my own with a saw file.   When Chris Schwarz was in Anchorage teaching last spring, I heard one of the students ask him something about saw sharpening.  His response was something to the effect of; ask Jonathan to teach you, his saws are sharp.  I took that as a complement so Saturday (9/20) I am teaching a saw sharpening class through our local club; Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association.  Yup, there are nine folks in South central Alaska who are crazy enough to pay $20 to learn how to sharpen a saw from me!  Of course lunch is included, so maybe they are just coming eat.  There is one spot left, if anyone wants to join us.

Even a poorly sharpened saw cuts better than a dull one!


Estate Sale Finds

It was a beautiful fall day here in Anchorage today, so I decided to hit an estate sale.  The ad I saw mentioned Foley Belsaw equipment, so I figured it was worth checking out.  There was a real mickey mouse outfit running the show, and it was definitely the slowest most disorganized auction I have ever been to.  I ended up spending the whole afternoon, but I think it was worth it.

Here’s what I came home with.

An unused set of USA made Simonds files.


Five boxes of USA made Simonds saw files


Two boxes of USA made Nicholson double cut saw files.


A Starrett micrometer complete with instructions.



A set of leather punches.


Some blacksmith tongs.


A forge blower.  I’d love to learn to blacksmith one day.


Last but not least a Foley 385 retoother. Not that I really need another one but for $10 I couldn’t leave it behind.  Did I mention it came with 2 carrier bars and 5 ratchet bars!!!


The fellow had both a Belsaw and a Foley saw filer, neither of which sold.  There were several other pieces of Foley equipment including a chain saw sharpener, and a grinder, and most of them sold.  There was a Foley freestanding 1″ belt sander that I was interested in, but I quit bidding at $50 and it sold for $70.  If I had a bigger shop, I would have kept on bidding.  It sure looked like a nice sander for sharpening edge tools.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stanley 358 Mitre Box

A number 3 frame with a 28″X5″ backsaw.  This is a sweet tool.  With a sharp saw its almost as fast as a power saw, but no where near as messy or dangerous!  I needed to get some baseboard put down in the bedroom, so I pulled out the 358, cleaned it up a bit a tuned it to cut square and plumb.  This is the fist time I have used it.  Back in 2007 Dad was interested in making picture frames and was looking for a good mitre box.  We found this one at Bill Phillips Tool Barn in New Tripoli, Pa.  Bill must have bought this one at a good price, because he only asked $50 for it.  My wife and I bought it for Dad.  Flash forward to 2014 and Dad is no longer making picture frames, so he gave me the box when I was home to visit last March.  Thanks Dad! The Simonds saw is spotless, with a perfect etch, a nicely blued spine, and nary a chipped horn on the handle.  The box is 100% complete, it even has the often missing length stop and rods.  I noticed Patrick Leach listed a length stop for sale this week in his September 2014 tool list for $50.  When I saw that I knew I got my moneys worth on this box!

Stanley 358 Miter Box

Stanley 358 Miter Box

Simonds saw for a Stanley 358 Mitre Box

Simonds saw for a Stanley 358 Mitre Box

This box has adjustments up the wazoo, which let you dial it in for very accurate cuts.  The table has numerous detents at all the common angles and of course can be adjusted to dial them in perfectly.  The uprights can be adjusted so the saw sits and cuts plumb and the guided can be adjusted so there is no lateral play in the saw.  I’m really impressed with this box.  I was able to slice off consistent 1/8″ thick slices of the pine baseboard I was working with.


I can’t imagine what a box like this would cost to manufacture today.  The 1934 Stanley Catalog lists the 358 at $29.50.  That might have been a weeks wages for a carpenter back in the 30’s.  According to the US Inflation Calculator that is $524.51 in today’s dollars!

Thanks for stopping by.



Not Too Bad by Anchorage Standards

For the most part I consider Alaska to be an old tool hell.  We just don’t have the history of the lower 48 states, and of course never had any tool manufacturing.  I find a few things on Craigslist, and once in a while at a garage sale.  Of the three antique stores in town, one believes any old tool is worth a fortune, condition be damned, the other works on consignment and takes 50% of the sale price, the third is a bit more reasonable and when I stopped in the other day actually had a dozen or so tools scattered around, but nothing I couldn’t live without.  The one place that I hit regularly is the Habitat for Humanity Restore.  I have found a few nice things there over the years. This weeks haul which was accumulated over two visits was not too bad by anchorage standards, but nothing for you pickers from down south to get excited about.


A new old stock Stanley and a General off set ratcheting screw driver, 3 packages of Trojan coping saw blades, a Craftsman drill arbor, miscleanous auger bits, an interesting bass level, some brass screws, and some un-plated steel screws.  I’m always happy to find slotted wood screws (especially un-plated ones), as no place in town sells them anymore.  The offset screwdriver packages look to be pre zipcode, so I’m guessing early 1960’s  Both have original price tags at $1.95 for the Stanley and $.96 for the General!


The level is interesting,with two windows and one bubble.  Anyone have any idea what it might have been used for?


Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you found some neat old tools this week too!

Back in the Saddle Again

The lack of activity here on my blog definitely represents the lack of activity in my shop of late.  March and April were spent helping to build 13 workbenches for the Alaska Creative Woodworkers Association and getting ready for the Chris Schwarz classes here in Anchorage.  I spent some time on St. Lawrence Island for work in early May. The weather in late May and June was beautiful, much too nice to be in the shop.  Dad has been in town for the last six weeks, and we have been fishing a fair bit.  Summer time in Alaska just doesn’t leave much time for woodworking.  In the free time that I have had, I haven’t been able to get back in the groove and tackle any woodworking.  Those cabriole legs with ball & claw feet I left off on back in mid February have been staring me down since and frankly I just haven’t been able to find the gumption to get back to work on them.  I didn’t want to start on another project for fear of never finishing the table, so I wasn’t doing much in the shop.  Oh, I sharpened a bunch of saws, and tuned up some tools, but didn’t work any wood.  After a short nap on Sunday afternoon, I headed out to the shop looking for something to get me back in the saddle again.  After taking Chris Schwarz’s layout tools class back in April, I figured a small try square would be a perfect afternoon project to get me back in the groove.


Well, it worked.  It was a low effort, high gratification, 100% hand tool project.  The stock and blade are both walnut from the scrap bin.  The stock measures about
3″ X 1″ X 9/16″ and the blade is about 6″ X 1″ X 3/16″.  I used some 1/16″ brass rod to pin the blade.  It got a light coat of BLO and will get a bit of shellac in another day or two.

If you have never made one of these squares, you should give it a try.  It’s just a simple bridle joint, but you do need to accurately dimension your stock.  Since my square is so small, I used a block plane for dimensioning.

Now I think I’m ready to get back to those ball & claw feet.  Of course there is still a bit of fishing to be done before the snow flies.

Thanks for visiting.