OldTools Archive

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275846 scottg <scottg@s...> 2022‑07‑03 successful failure
A few weeks ago I was musing how come I had never seen a dedicated bench 
froe.
For splitting off tenon cheeks or small blocks to be driven through the 
dowel plate.
Lots of small jobs around the bench you need to split wood along the grain.

  I'll admit I had always just used a wide chisel for this.
Sort of brutal for fine chisel though.
But mostly, the angle of attack sucked being so high above the bench. 
(work height + chisel height and up on top of the bench, on top of a 
sacrificial scrap of wood)

So I found a piece of steel. I believe it had been part of some kind of 
custom prybar. It was long enough and wide enough and was about spring 
tempered for hardness.

I cut out what I thought I needed and set to, and massively ground it true.
   Full taper ground from the spine to -almost- the edge.

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe2.JPG

A froe is never sharp. Dull as a froe is a saying. You want to part the 
fibers, not cut them.

I grabbed a scrap of wood from the scrap box and tried it out.
  Hot damn! Split easy and true!
I was feeling pretty smug when I took a second look.

Oh crap, my soft easy work had made a shallow mark across the face of my 
1930's vintage Plomb Los Angeles solid brass mechanics mallet!!
This would not do! I am not beating up my favorite tools!!

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/oldtools/plombmallet.jpg
http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/oldtools/plombmallet2.jpg

   So I grabbed a scrap of hard wood from the scrap box and tried that.
It worked alright but it --really-- beat the crap out of the wood. Froe 
clubs always wear fast, but this would be ridiculous.
   Hitting hardened steel with a steel hammer is never a good idea. Bad 
things are waiting to happen there.

Grrrrrrrrrrr heartbroken, I just set it aside.
Mumble mumble mumble ughghghggh

A few weeks later I saw it forlornly laying there on the corner of my 
bench and got an idea.
  The froe is about spring tempered and industrial steel pipe is barely 
any softer that that.
Its pretty tough. Its supposed to be tough.
   So I searched though my tiny boneyard of scrap steel and found a 
piece of full thickness 2" plain pipe. (its at least schedule 40 and 
maybe schedule 80)
   I tried it and not only did it part the work, but it left no trace at 
all on the either the pipe or the tool.

   Hot Snot I was back in business!!

  I grabbed a handy limb from my stash (yes I have always saved good 
sticks when I come across them). I think it was maple from my front yard 
but it could have been the wild cherry.
I made the piece of pipe into a mallet.

  I searched out some cocobolo to make the froe handle. I always liked 
coffin shaped bowie knife handles so I did it at least a little of that 
flavor.

   Got myself a bench froe!!

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe1.JPG

Now if I just had a perfect place to stash it between 
uses...........................haaahaahahaaha

  yours scott

-- 
*******************************
    Scott Grandstaff
    Box 409 Happy Camp, Ca  96039
    scottg@s...
    http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/
    http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/hpages/index.html
275848 Peter Marquis-Kyle <peter@m...> 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
Nice one, Scott!

Your froe reminds me of my old glazier's hacking knife.

Unlike your stylish froe, the hacking knife has leather scales riveted 
on, and is made of softish steel, suitable for hitting with an ordinary 
hammer--and it works nicely as a bench froe.

-- 

Peter Marquis-Kyle
conservation architect
5 Colton Street, Highgate Hill, Queensland, 4101, Australia
phone (07) 3844 3501
email peter@m...
web www.marquis-kyle.com.au
275850 Michael Blair <branson2@s...> 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
You're talking about a knife froe, Scott.  Like as not, a necessary tool
for sash makers and a lot of furniture makers back in the day for making
the pins that held just about everything.  Then it was a common enough
bench tool.  I forget where I first saw one in use (maybe on The
Woodwright's Shop), but take a block of wood, say two or three inches
deep.  Tie a string around it, lay out a grid.  Then whip out your knife
froe and split out a whole bunch of stock for pins.  Nifty, I thought,
but I kept using a chisel to make the occasional pin.  Then came
coopering demos.  Needed a bunch of 2, 2 1/2 inch dowels to make up the
heads.  So I found and bought a 19th Century English knife froe.  Made
by the dozens in Sheffield. 

Mine's much prettier, but figure 7 in this article shows 3 examples; 
https://craftsofnj.org/index.php/froes-by-hank-allen 

Mike in Woodland.
275851 gary allan may 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
That's a good idea, Scott. Drive the froe with a length of black iron pipe. I'm
on it.

                   thanks again; gam in OlyWA/USA


How horrible it is to have so many people killed!---And what a blessing one
cares for none of them!
Jane Austen 

    On Saturday, July 2, 2022 at 05:14:31 PM PDT, scottg  wrote:  
 
 A few weeks ago I was musing how come I had never seen a dedicated bench 
froe.
For splitting off tenon cheeks or small blocks to be driven through the 
dowel plate.
Lots of small jobs around the bench you need to split wood along the grain.

  I'll admit I had always just used a wide chisel for this.
Sort of brutal for fine chisel though.
But mostly, the angle of attack sucked being so high above the bench. 
(work height + chisel height and up on top of the bench, on top of a 
sacrificial scrap of wood)

So I found a piece of steel. I believe it had been part of some kind of 
custom prybar. It was long enough and wide enough and was about spring 
tempered for hardness.

I cut out what I thought I needed and set to, and massively ground it true.
   Full taper ground from the spine to -almost- the edge.

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe2.JPG

A froe is never sharp. Dull as a froe is a saying. You want to part the 
fibers, not cut them.

I grabbed a scrap of wood from the scrap box and tried it out.
  Hot damn! Split easy and true!
I was feeling pretty smug when I took a second look.

Oh crap, my soft easy work had made a shallow mark across the face of my 
1930's vintage Plomb Los Angeles solid brass mechanics mallet!!
This would not do! I am not beating up my favorite tools!!

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/oldtools/plombmallet.jpg
http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/oldtools/plombmallet2.jpg

   So I grabbed a scrap of hard wood from the scrap box and tried that.
It worked alright but it --really-- beat the crap out of the wood. Froe 
clubs always wear fast, but this would be ridiculous.
   Hitting hardened steel with a steel hammer is never a good idea. Bad 
things are waiting to happen there.

Grrrrrrrrrrr heartbroken, I just set it aside.
Mumble mumble mumble ughghghggh

A few weeks later I saw it forlornly laying there on the corner of my 
bench and got an idea.
  The froe is about spring tempered and industrial steel pipe is barely 
any softer that that.
Its pretty tough. Its supposed to be tough.
   So I searched though my tiny boneyard of scrap steel and found a 
piece of full thickness 2" plain pipe. (its at least schedule 40 and 
maybe schedule 80)
   I tried it and not only did it part the work, but it left no trace at 
all on the either the pipe or the tool.

   Hot Snot I was back in business!!

  I grabbed a handy limb from my stash (yes I have always saved good 
sticks when I come across them). I think it was maple from my front yard 
but it could have been the wild cherry.
I made the piece of pipe into a mallet.

  I searched out some cocobolo to make the froe handle. I always liked 
coffin shaped bowie knife handles so I did it at least a little of that 
flavor.

   Got myself a bench froe!!

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe1.JPG

Now if I just had a perfect place to stash it between 
uses...........................haaahaahahaaha

  yours scott

-- 
*******************************
    Scott Grandstaff
    Box 409 Happy Camp, Ca  96039
    scottg@s...
    http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/
    http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/hpages/index.html
275852 Bill Kasper <dragon01list@g...> 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
nice, scott.  that’s a great project!

bill
275853 scottg <scottg@s...> 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
Geeze Mike  You were hiding them all this time?
  Maybe they were common in Sheffield, but 10,000 yard sales and 8000 
antique shops and
1000 swap meets digging deep, I never saw a single one.
  You could have just sent me a sack of them you know hahaahhaah

   How close can the picture of the froe be blown up? Anyone??
If you can get in tight you'll see what a custom ground counterbore will 
do.
I ground it to fit the standard cutlers rivets.
I will be pissed if they one day adopt another size as standard. haahah

I have ground counterbores for the 2 most common size saw screws too
What a pleasure to use.

I wish saw medallions would make up their mind .......lol

-- 
*******************************
    Scott Grandstaff
    Box 409 Happy Camp, Ca  96039
    scottg@s...
    http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/
    http://www.snowcrest.net/kitty/hpages/index.html
275854 Dennis Heyza <michigaloot@c...> 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
Nice work as always, Scott!

Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: oldtools@g...  On Behalf Of scottg
Sent: Saturday, July 2, 2022 8:14 PM
To: porch 
Subject: [oldtools] successful failure

   Got myself a bench froe!!

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe1.JPG

Now if I just had a perfect place to stash it between
uses...........................haaahaahahaaha

  yours scott
275856 the_tinker <tinker@z...> 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
Oooo. I just saw a very used-up and busted tobacco chopper at an antique 
store. The blade (and little else) were there. Photo 7 gave me an idea...
275866 Chuck Taylor 2022‑07‑03 Re: successful failure
Scott, you wrote:

====begin snip====
A few weeks ago I was musing how come I had never seen a dedicated bench
froe. For splitting off tenon cheeks or small blocks to be driven through the
dowel plate. Lots of small jobs around the bench you need to split wood along
the grain.

...So I found a piece of steel. ... I cut out what I thought I needed and set
to, and massively ground it true. Full taper ground from the spine to -almost-
the edge.

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe2.JPG
====end snip====

A truly impressive tool! Easy of the eyes too!

For those of us who lack the skills to make a tool like that, what would you
think of using a "Batoning Chisel", available from Lee Valley, for similar
functions?

Cheers,
Chuck Taylor
north of Seattle USA
275870 gary allan may 2022‑07‑04 Re: successful failure
Hi Chuck!
  I'd say 'no' to the 'batoning chisel', on account of the chisel edge. I think
a symmetrical edge is called for. Although, for tenon cheeks, it might be
better....
  Just a thought, there are many cheap and dinky meat cleavers in Sallie's and
Goodwilly's kitchen tool bins---not many nice ones---of course, but even a
cheesy and unsharpenable HSS souvenir from "The Sizzler's Belt Buster Platter"
---one of which I actually own---would make a nice little froe...for now, not
for me, I'm busy looking for a short piece of 2" drill casing to make a full-
size froe club like Scott's. Wish me luck.
   
    see you tailgating at Best In The West?
                     hope so; gam in OlyWA


How horrible it is to have so many people killed!---And what a blessing one
cares for none of them!
Jane Austen 

    On Sunday, July 3, 2022 at 04:06:38 PM PDT, Chuck Taylor via groups.io
 wrote:
 
 Scott, you wrote:

====begin snip====
A few weeks ago I was musing how come I had never seen a dedicated bench
froe. For splitting off tenon cheeks or small blocks to be driven through the
dowel plate. Lots of small jobs around the bench you need to split wood along
the grain.

...So I found a piece of steel. ... I cut out what I thought I needed and set
to, and massively ground it true. Full taper ground from the spine to -almost-
the edge.

http://users.snowcrest.net/kitty/sgrandstaff/images/hometools/benchfroe2.JPG
====end snip====

A truly impressive tool! Easy of the eyes too!

For those of us who lack the skills to make a tool like that, what would you
think of using a "Batoning Chisel", available from Lee Valley, for similar
functions?

Cheers,
Chuck Taylor
north of Seattle USA
275871 Michael Blair <branson2@s...> 2022‑07‑04 Re: successful failure
Chuck Taylor asked:

> For those of us who lack the skills to make a tool like that, what would you
think of using a "Batoning Chisel", available from Lee Valley, for similar
functions?

Probably could.  But froes are knife "sharpened" (recalling Scott's
phrase, "dull as a froe'), not chisel sharpened.  They're meant to
divide the fibers of wood, not cut them. A bit of time with a file can
turn a few inches of mild steel into a froe edge.  I think most of us
are capable of that. 

But the "batoning chisel" strikes me as (inverting Mick Jagger's
immortal words) "the things they used to do we think are new."  

One day a Japanese-American co-worker showed up with an odd looking
tool, blade about six inches long, that had belonged to his father (born
circa 1920).  It looked like a very short tanto in shirasaya mounts. 
https://www.lot-art.com/auction-lots/Tanto-Tamahagane-Antique-Japanese-hira-
zukuri-tanto-yoroidoshi-in-shirasaya-Japan-Muromachi-
period-1333-1573/32621773-tanto_tamahagane-21.12.19-catawiki


But the blade was straight with no taper to the tip, and the tip was
about 75 degrees to the back of the blade.  All chisel sharpened.  His
father had been a carpenter.  Well, I was hooked! A few months later I
found one on eBay.  It's sitting on my desk as I type.  Samurai wood
working! Before "batoning."  The blade on mine is 7 1/4 inches from the
hilt to the tip. Does wonders cleaning up a mortise. Can be used like a
drawknife, pulled or pushed, or a paring chisel. It's a long version of
a batoning knife long before anybody thought up the name and announced
it as a new invention. 

Mike in Woodland
275872 Phil E. <pedgerton66@g...> 2022‑07‑04 Re: successful failure
Most of the froes I see here in the Appalachian Mtns. are chisel sharpened.
But they are ALL "dull as a froe".

Phil E.
275916 the_tinker <tinker@z...> 2022‑07‑12 Re: successful failure
So I was near the store where I saw the tobacco cutter and it was still 
there. Grabbed it and would like to report the knife part makes a 
passable light duty bench froe. My chisels are happy.

https://mega.nz/file/FBkWkRAQ#ZL4BHr01zcHICeOPuQWHawdaXISOeUodhRTqCSmx4T0
275918 Greg Isola <gregorywisola@g...> 2022‑07‑13 Re: successful failure
>
> Eureka, a tobacco cutter:
> https://mega.nz/file/FBkWkRAQ#ZL4BHr01zcHICeOPuQWHawdaXISOeUodhRTqCSmx4T0
>
> Thanks for sharing this--and for adding tobacco cutter to my flea market
> target list! I split lots of small bits of quartersawn spruce at the bench
> when building stringed instruments, and I've used everything from
> (relatively) dull chisels to strips of saw blade to an old, badly reground
> butter knife. It all works ok, but so far nothing is optimal as a real
> small-scale bench froe, especially for longer pieces that need actual
> riving. I've also looked at the Lee Valley batoning chisel, but I don't
> think it's the right tool for this, either, for reasons already detailed
> here. Anyway, I'm now on the hunt for a tobacco knife or a small
> cleaver-type item to repurpose. Sure, I could make one from scratch, but
> adding a new item to the target list gives me a reason to get out of bed
> early and meet the fellas at the flea (plus the breakfast burritos and
> decent company).


Take care, all of you,

Greg Isola
Alameda, CA
275919 gary allan may 2022‑07‑14 Re: successful failure
GGs:
   I once had a local woman try to sell me a 'tobacco cutter' made in
Massachusetts clearly labelled as a 'Lion Miter Trimmer'. She had owned it for
many years, and displayed it in her restaurant; Jules Mae's of Georgetown WA,
along with other doodads from the woods.
   I know I'm not the only one who told her 'It's not for tobacco.'
   Point is, I've been watching people smoke, sniff and chew for 60 years or so,
and I never saw anyone use one of these to cut tobacco. Them as couldn't bite
off a chew always used a pocketknife, as I recall.
  Nice knife, though, whatever its intended use.
                    and best, to all galoots everywhere-gam in OlyWA



 

    On Tuesday, July 12, 2022 at 02:05:59 PM PDT, the_tinker 
wrote:
 
 So I was near the store where I saw the tobacco cutter and it was still 
there. Grabbed it and would like to report the knife part makes a 
passable light duty bench froe. My chisels are happy.

https://mega.nz/file/FBkWkRAQ#ZL4BHr01zcHICeOPuQWHawdaXISOeUodhRTqCSmx4T0


On 7/3/22 11:16, the_tinker wrote:
> Oooo. I just saw a very used-up and busted tobacco chopper at an 
> antique store. The blade (and little else) were there. Photo 7 gave me 
> an idea...
>
> On 7/2/22 22:35, Michael Blair wrote:
>> Mine's much prettier, but figure 7 in this article shows 3 examples;
>> https://craftsofnj.org/index.php/froes-by-hank-allen
>>
>> Mike in Woodland.
>>
>>
>
>
> 
>
>
275920 Greg Isola <gregorywisola@g...> 2022‑07‑14 Re: successful failure
In typical fashion, Gary raises a solid point...


> I've been watching people smoke, sniff and chew for 60 years or so, and I
> never saw anyone use one of these to cut tobacco.
>

Same here, and me neither. But I was thinking this "tobacco knife" was for
use a bit further upstream, as in maybe part of the tobacco product
manufacturing process (e.g., cutting the leaves to shape for rolling
cigars, etc.).

Huge caveat here: I know nothing of consequence about "the tobacco product
manufacturing process"! I just thought this tool was maybe for something in
that realm, as opposed to something for the end user.

Anyway, I still want one!

Take care, all of you,

Greg Isola
Alameda, CA
275921 Dennis Heyza <michigaloot@c...> 2022‑07‑14 Re: successful failure
My paternal grandmother worked as a cigar maker in Detroit (WW1 timeframe). I
believe they would roll the leaves into a cigar and use those devices to cut to
length, so probably more of a "production" device.

But don't hold me to that...

Dennis Heyza

-----Original Message-----
From: oldtools@g...  On Behalf Of Greg Isola
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2022 1:26 PM
To: gary may 
Cc: oldtools@g...; the_tinker 
Subject: Re: [oldtools] successful failure

In typical fashion, Gary raises a solid point...


> I've been watching people smoke, sniff and chew for 60 years or so, 
> and I never saw anyone use one of these to cut tobacco.
>

Same here, and me neither. But I was thinking this "tobacco knife" was for use a
bit further upstream, as in maybe part of the tobacco product manufacturing
process (e.g., cutting the leaves to shape for rolling cigars, etc.).
275922 Tom S <twschmutz1@g...> 2022‑07‑15 Re: successful failure
Tobacco cutters were used by stores/ individuals to cut a piece to chew when
tobacco was sold in larger pressed blocks rather than loose in bags or smaller
pieces. They were also used by individuals to cut pieces to chew from cured
tobacco farm twisted up leaves (often called home spun). Some of the old local
stores would also buy and sell home spun.

Tom Schmutz.
275923 the_tinker <tinker@z...> 2022‑07‑15 Re: successful failure
What Tom said matched my understanding. They were used in small general 
stores to cut plugs of tobacco to any length the customer wanted (or had 
the money for). The one I destroyed had that knife pinned to a small 
standoff mounted to a small wooden board with a wood fence on one edge. 
There was a extension on the opposite end from the handle with a pivot 
hole in it that I hacksawed off and filed clean. Was not sharpened. More 
like a tobacco pincher than cutter.

-JP
275924 Bill Kasper <dragon01list@g...> 2022‑07‑15 Re: successful failure
a video i watched on youtube (from some historical museum, i can't find the
video again) suggested it was also used to shred tobacco for pipe or
cigarette smoking. you'd just push the pressed block to its edge, just
past, and guillotine it, step and repeat.  this was, of course, showing one
of the champion framed versions with the gold pinstriping :)

bill
felton, ca
just sing "curse sir walter raleigh, he was such a stupid git"

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