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Shop Fun with Scott Grandstaff

  Shall We Scrape?

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The title of the email read, I want you to test drive something. 

It was from Charlie Driggs, and he was being secretive.  I couldnít get another word out of him.  Except that it should have already been here. With fierce curiosity burning I waited another couple days for the Pony Express to finally arrive.

When stating the proscribed shipping times from out of Happy Camp, the standard line they all must recite at the shipping counter?  Well, no postal clerk has ever been able to manage a straight face.

Those of us who have lived here long, smile just as broadly over the ridiculously optimistic delivery times ourselves.  Exactly 2 more very long days passed, and a small box appeared.

Inside was a treasure.  At least itís a treasure to me. Oh, the follow up note from Mr. Driggs says, "You just test drive it for oh, say, the next 25 years??"  Yeee-Haw, music to my ears!!!

The Stanley #80 gets no respect in tool collecting circles. None at all.  And yet, more were made and sold, over a longer period of time, than any other scraper design ever made.  More than all other designs put together!  They are lightweight and simple to set up.  Easy to use, even for a newbie.  Almost bulletproof really!

It is a terribly underestimated tool in my experience.  I would never want to be without one.

Factory made tools of any period are often minimal to my way of thinking.  Usually they are accurate enough to get a job done, and little more.  Every factory's overall goal is to produce as much sellable goods as possible, in the least amount of time, for the lowest price, that will still be acceptable to the general public.  9 to 5 factory work at modest wages, what can you expect?

Homemade, or custom shop, benchmade or user made tools (all meaning the same thing) often fall into one of two categories.  Either totally splendiferous take-your-breath-away, or crudely made and unfinished.

The scraper inside was well made, but unfinished. Rough sand cast by a real expert patternmaker, but never finished.  For the previous 100 or so years, nobody had wanted to take on the challenge of making it work and making it nice.

Until Charlie...  Charlie, who got this from eagle eyed, tool dealer extraordinaire Tony Seo, btw, had already flattened the base and the blade bedding surface!!

Plus he had added his trademark balancing weights to the screws.  Big jobs on a rough casting like this!  But it still didn't work well. Not for me that is. 

To work well, there were still a couple of "gotchas" about the tool.  First, someone before Charlie had drilled the all important adjustment screw in the wrong place.

Having the hole drilled this high meant the screw was just pressing against the hold- down bar that secures the blade in place.  So it had no operational adjustment. I took a torch and brazed the original hole closed, and drilled/tapped it lower.  I drilled my hole as low as practicable for maximum blade flex action.

The other killer for best performance was the absence of a back bevel in the blade mount.  There are 2 ways to make a scraper work.  2 entirely different schools of thought.

One way is to use as flat a blade mounting as possible for the most blade support, and then use a very thick very hard blade.  This works and good work can be done this way. But itís a pain.  The blade has to be meticulously prepared and razor sharp.  Chatter and tearout is a heartbeat away at any given second.  The forgiveness factor is nearly zero.

For the rare occasion all this is necessary, having a tool to set up this way is fine.  But I like a much more casual approach to life.  I like a thin flexible scraper blade. Everything is so much easier and more forgiving this way.  The thin blade flexes backwards a bit in use, presenting the hooked edge to the work in a soft manner.

Apparently Stanley liked thin blades too. Every scraping tool they ever made was set up for a flexible blade.  The #80 has a clearance bevel filed in. The last 1/4" of blade intentionally hanging in free air, in order to have flex room.  The #81, ditto.  The #12 and #112 adjustable angle scrapers have a knuckle joint at the bottom that leaves the last portion of the blade floating free as well.

The only plane they made with a possible rigid blade mounting was the #85 and that was a user preference ordeal. As supplied, this plane comes with a thin bed liner that ends before the sole of the plane. If you wanted, you can remove this liner and have a rigid bed. I have never seen an 85 with this liner removed, btw. 


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