A combination square is such a ubiquitous tool that many woodworkers take it for granted and do not get the most from it.
I recently wrote an article on this topic for Fix.com and thought you might also be interested in reading it. In the article I talk about some of the more interesting uses and accessories that will help you get the most out of your combination square. You can check out the full article here.
Some of you might be asking — ‘What is Fix.com?’
The semi-official marketing answer is:
“We are Fix.com, a lifestyle blog devoted to bringing you expert content to make your life easier. We’ll cover everything in and around your home, like landscaping, gardening, outdoor activities, home maintenance and repairs. From products to projects, well be providing you with a daily fix of content from our experienced and knowledgeable team of writers.”
My less official answer is:
It’s a new blog site with a distinctive visual style that caters to folks who are passionate about woodworking, cars, exercise, fishing, gardening, grilling and motorsports. It will be interesting to see where this site goes as they produce more content and get a wider base of readers. If you have a few minutes, it’s worth checking out.
Below is a sample of some of the visuals from this article:
I’ve got some more articles in the works with Fix.com and you’ll be able to check out those posts as they get linked to my Fix.com author page here.
Every year the tool show gets earlier and earlier. I’m referring to the semi-annual ‘Live Free or Die Tool Show and Auction’ in Nashua New Hampshire which occurs every April and September. On Friday and Saturday the highlight for most folks is normally the tool auction at the Nashua Holiday Inn. Outside in the parking lot vendors setup to sell or swap tools — many fresh from the auction. That is where I spend my time and money — I’m into nice user tools.
Folks would get there earlier and earlier on Friday. Vendors started getting there on Thursday to be ready. Eventually those folks figured — well if I am already at the hotel on Thursday I might as well setup and sell what I can. This process repeated itself and now some folks are dealing tools on Wednesday afternoon.
This year I went on Thursday morning again and about 80% of the usual vendors I like to buy from were there and I figured I’d have an edge in getting whatever tool I was hunting for or whatever new treasure I didn’t know I needed until I saw it. Unfortunately the early bird did not get the worm this year — I only bought a couple of small items and only saw a few friends from NBSS. Normally the tool show is one of my favorite days of the years but the meager haul left me wanting more — so I decided to go on Friday morning to see a lot of my friends from NBSS and meet some more of the new students.
Friday was a much better day — less wind and a little sunnier. It was great to see lots of old friends and the rest of the vendors I normally frequent. I also found a couple of great items that made my day. Throughout this post you can see a sampling of some of the more interesting tool chests and cabinets at the show. It is interesting to see what has survived and how folks laid out their tills and decorated their tool chests.
Directly above you can see an interesting workbench. Designed for manual training or a similar classroom setting, this bench looks like it was a competitor to the Larsson Improved workbench I wrote about here.
This year there were more vendors compared to recent years and there was a particularly great selection of molding planes and bench planes.
The iconic tool tote above looks like it had a long service life — hopefully it went to a new home where it will see some use.
The tool chest above with simple finger joints and nice hardware looks pretty new, but I am glad to see some more recent projects circulating around.
The chest above which I believe was being offered by Patrick Leach was an incredible piece. With multiple levels of till, some on hinges and some with telescoping elements this chest looked quite heavy even without any tools in it. It clearly showed off the skill and the massive tool set of its original owner.
I was drawn to this interesting hand drill with a nice turned handle and unusual machined elements.
Shown above are a nice selection of cooper’s planes — used to plane down staves — the plane is fixed and the stave is moved along the sole of the plane to make a shaving.
My friend Billy McMillen (Of Eastfield Village, Historic Richmond Town, EAIA and CW Tinsmithing fame) had this nice plumb level for sale. The plumb bob and string is a age old way of determining level that dates back to ancient Egypt or earlier times.
A larger cousin to the Sloyd Tool Cabinet — this Hammacher Schlemmer tool cabinet was home to a large set of tools targeting a high end home user market. I was surprised to see two of them for sale. One model was joined via finger joints and the other was held together via rabbets and nails. The cabinets had an austere look and did not seem to make good use of the space in the cabinets. I spent some time examining the hooks and clips that once held the tools in place, but most of of the clips and hooks were pretty simple and straightforward.
And now on to the big finale — what did I get this year? I got some nice items off the nice to have tools list in my head. I’m particularly excited about the large and complete Stanley 358 Miter Box and large Disston saw to use with it — I’ve wanted one of these boxes for a while. Once I clean it up and tune it, I’ll post about it. In the back of the photo you can see a round sign for the ‘United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners’ that will look nice hanging in my shop. On the left side of the photo you’ll see a large and heavy duty snatch block that will come in handy when moving heavy timbers and the like around in the yard. On the miter box you’ll see a Stanley mini-framing square, a handle for square tanged auger bits, a Starret 12″ Satin Rule and a 12″ Starrett Rule that is metric on one site and 1/10ths of an inch on the other. In the foreground is a nice pair of Starrett loose leg dividers. On the right is an ECE/Ulmia frame saw — I seem to be going through a frame saw phase, and given I have more frame saw blades than frame saws I figured, what the heck. All in all, it was a good show. I look forward to putting these new tools to use in the shop. Now it’s time to start saving for the September show.
This past Thursday and Friday I made my bi-annual pilgrimage to the ‘Live Free or Die’ Tool Show and Auction in Nashua, NH.
I always enjoy hunting for whatever oddball tool I have on my wish list or whatever new treasure I didn’t know I couldn’t live without until I discover it.
Beyond my own tool shopping its good to see old friends and familiar faces at the show.
Some years you’ll see tons of a given type of item, other years that same item might be real hard to come by. This year hand drills and Stanley 45s and 55s seemed to be plentiful.
Tool chests on the other hand were not in season it seems. So I grabbed a few snapshots of what I saw this time out, but nothing overly notable.
Some years I come home with a ton of stuff from my mental list and some times I don’t get much but I still come home with some finds. This time out I got some great deals and found several items I’d been hunting for, for a long time. I found a nice LARGE Starrett No. 85 dividers which are great for laying out staircases and other large scale projects. I also got a deal I could not pass up on another Tite-Mark, an Ulmia Moving Fillister plane and a nice old Starrett depth gauge with a real nice micro adjustment knob. Since the last show I seem to be really into Miller’s falls double gear hand drills — which I first learned about from my friend Tom Fidgen. Last year I picked up a #5 that I now use all the time. This time I got 2 real nice #2s an a nice #3 for the shop.
I also found some nice old tool catalogs including a 1938 Starrett Catalog, a reprint of an 1883 Atha Tool Company Catalog, and a book from the 1950s on old Virginia furniture with great shop drawings inside. My favorite find which was given to me for free is an old EAIA Pamphlet from 1971 that was put together for Old Bethpage Village in NY (which I remember going to in grade school) called ‘Of Plates and Purlins — Grandpa builds a Barn’ This great little pamphlet has a very Eric Sloane-esque feel to it and walks through the basics of building a dutch barn.
And last but not least was as real nice forged cant hook from Maine. In the coming weeks I need to clear some land out in the yard for a forthcoming timber framed barn/shed so I am sure it will get some good use.
Now it’s time to get out to the workshop, try out the new toys and start and start saving for the next show in April….
A Joiner's Guide To Traditional Woodworking and Preservation