I don’t really write about tools much. I know a lot more about ship models than tools. But, I acquired a few new tools that I thought I’d share here.
Miniature Block Plane
A few weeks ago, I was looking through a Lee Valley Tools catalog. They’re a Canadian based manufacturer and retailer of woodworking and wood restoration hardware. I get their catalog periodically after a fellow ship modeler recommended one of their products.
One thing that I’ve been trying to do more in ship modeling is using a plane in shaping square stock for masts and spars. But, regular hand planes seem overly large and bulky. There are razor planes made for hobbyists, but they are pretty low quality and I haven’t found them to be very useful in ship modeling work. Then, I spotted some miniature planes in the Lee Valley Tools catalog and decided to order one.
It’s pretty darned small…
You can tell when you hold it, that it’s a solid piece of precision hardware. I’m still learning to use it correctly, but I’ve been able to do some really nice work with it. This one retails for $49 and you can buy it from the Lee Valley online shop at: http://www.leevalley.com/en/
Here’s the link for the Veritas miniature block plane, but they also have other miniature planes in the Veritas line: http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=70138&cat=1,41182
One of the nice things about living in the Bay Area is that there are a couple Japanese tool stores. I’ve recently started collecting some small carving chisels and there is a local hardware store that carries some that are very affordable.
I bought my first Japanese carving chisels last year, along with a wet stone for sharpening them. I can’t say I’m very good at sharpening the chisels, but I’m learning.
These tools are from a line called Power Grip, and they are perfect for learning to carve and sharpen as they’re actually quite inexpensive at $7.90 each. You can buy them in nice, boxed sets, but I got mine individually, as I wanted very specific sizes for model work.
I bought a 3mm V-Groove and a 4.5mm straight edge chisel, but they have a u-gouge and skewed edge chisels, and each is available in sizes from 1.5mm to 7.5 mm, except the v-gouge only goes up to 4.5mm. But, if you look around on the Hida Tool website, you’ll see there are plenty of other options, though none as affordable as these Power Grip tools.
I think the one down side of this series is that after a bit of use and multiple sharpenings, you will run out of tool. Other brands run the tool steel well into the handle, and the handles are made to be carved away, kind of like a pencil, so you can continue to use them for a long time. These will run out of use sooner.
In any case, you can buy these online from Hida Tool at: http://www.hidatool.com
Or go directly to the carving chisels at: http://www.hidatool.com/woodworking/carving-tools
But, if you’re in the area, you should visit the shop – a family run business in Berkeley. In fact, if you get there around lunch time, you may find them in the back room serving up some rice and such, but someone always comes right out to help you. If you’re lucky, their store cat, Kotetsu, will come and greet you too.
The shop also has a Facebook page and they are apparently involved in organizing some kind of Japan tour in September for those interested in Japanese woodworking.