Vesper Tools Workshop pt 2

While there, Chris was working on making some more of his sliding bevels, precisely machining the blades to the required width.  He certainly takes a significant amount of care with the manufacture of the tools, and it was very interesting watching part of the overall process.

Exotic Timber Storage

Exotic Timber Storage

I also got a bit of a peek around some of the functional areas, including his exotic timber storage room, with carefully controlled temperature and humidity.  Sure is some nice pieces in there!

Preparing the Grind

Preparing the Grind

The grinder reminded me very much of the wetstone waterwheels we use for sharpening.  I’m sure quite a typical sort of metalworking workshop tool (in the bigger shops of course), but I hadn’t seen one in operation.  The stock is held down on the magnetic base, ready for the grind to commence.

Grinding

Grinding

It is a wet grinding process, despite the copious amounts of sparks!  There is a lot of cutting fluid being added (from the right – the fluorescent green liquid), but because of the overall speed of the grinding wheel (significantly faster than the slow speed wet grinders I’m used to for sharpening), the surface speed of the grinding wheel still results in the stream of sparks.  The liquid cools both the wheel and the job, and also helps in catching the metal particles that are removed.  In the photo below, you can see the collection of metal shavings that have been caught by the magnetic base.  The amount of material that is removed is very carefully controlled, and takes a number of passes to get the thicknesses within tolerances.

Another Bunch of Sliding Bevel Blades

Another Bunch of Sliding Bevel Blades

While this process was going on, I had a look at the new batch of tools Chris has been developing.  His Try Squares with a self-supporting tab.  You can read more about it, and its development on his blog here. In that article, he refers to a stack of try square handles ready to go, and that is what I was looking at:

Try Square Handles

Try Square Handles

I also got to play with some of the prototypes (before the documented minor redesign!) (Thus why we have prototypes!)

Try Squares

Try Squares

Finish Bottle

Finish Bottle

Vesper Tools

I had an opportunity to visit Chris Vesper’s workshop recently, and to see some of his collections of historic tools, his current production tools, and some of the handtools in the production process.

The first couple of photos sets the context – not far from Melbourne, a traditional outback is still very much evident. It may normally be this brown a lot further north, nearer the centre of this dry land, but the decade-long drought is really taking its toll.  Vesper’s shed is in the middle of this, surrounded by some of his collection of large, old cast iron machines.  Outside, there are a couple of shipping containers, one full of timbers, the other full of old machines, printing presses and other parts of his extensive collection.

The Mesh Filtering Stack is quite interesting given recent discussions on grits. Each layer is of an increasingly fine mesh. By putting an abrasive (or whatever needs sorting) into the top layer and vibrating it, the substances will slowly sort themselves by size.

Chris’ collection is substantial – drawers of plane blades, cupboards of planes, walls of axe heads, containers of printing presses.  If you are interested in more of what he has, his recently upgraded website now has a museum tag that takes you to a better look at some of his collection.

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