I had been looking for a brass
ratchet for a while. How is it possible not to love a
brass ratchet? It is not possible for me, I can tell you
One day not too long ago, our own Redvise (Brian) sent me a note and said the one he had lost for
a long time turned up and did I still want it? Of course, I was
But I wanted to find something he would want too.
Well it turns out he is interested in trying to
restore/customize some Perfect Handle tools.
So I went through about a million scraps
looking for just the right material to start. But I'll get to
that later. The ratchet arrived and it was a beauty.
A 1/2" drive, ready to rock.
When they make these, they mostly bead
blast off the worst of the casting residue, and call it a day.
There is a little grinding cleanup, but its coarse grinding, and
just left that way. Here it is stripped, but as issued.
There were ratchets and other tools
made of solid beryllium copper alloy in times past. These you can't do
much with. Beryllium is poison if you grind it. The tool is fine
but the dust can be very bad, they say. But most "safety tools" you see now
are made of aluminum/bronze, for the past 50 years.
Aluminum or Bronze or aluminum/bronze alloy are pretty safe to work
ratchet proudly had the al/br marking. The drive plug looked a little coppery
though. Beryllium suspect. So I wouldn't touch that part, with a 10
The concave "neck" portion was going
to be the hardest to polish. I started with a dome shaped coarse
grinding wheel. The kind they sell in the auto parts houses
mounted on 1/4" shafts for porting heads and such. Since this was essentially brass I just
used a drill motor to turn it. I will sometimes use a Roto-zip
motor if I need more speed.
A few deep passes hard cutting passes
on each side, and I had most all the casting scale off the neck.
Then I needed to rough polish/shape
it. The Klingspor company makes these delightful flexible
sanding mops. They will flop into odd shapes and sand them
smooth. But I can't afford them. So I make my own out of belt
sander belts. Rip up strips of belt and run a 1/4" arbor through. They aren't quite as flexible and
don't last as long, but they are cheap, and they work, so what
can you do?
Here is a 320 grit "mop". It flattens
out as its spinning. I make 80, 100 and 220 grit mops as
well. From 4 to 10" diameters. Use different speeds for different
materials. For metal its pretty fast - over 2000 and probably 3000.
This got me the neck roughed out
well. Next was all the rest of the flatter