Caught a hot mic

Millers Falls No. 701R 1 inch micrometer in original box

There is joy in Mudville tonight! My son-in-law collects old USA made mechanics tools; wrenches, ratchets, sockets etc. He likes old Plomb (Plvmb), Proto, Williams, and Sherman Klove (S-K) as well as others.

During one of his rust hunting excursions to a local estate sale he bought a box lot which included many auger bits for a brace, a couple of hand planes and a little 1″ micrometer in addition to the wrenches he wanted.

My S.I.L. Sent me pics of the tools he picked up at the estate sale and I gushed over the mic. Now, he and I trade tools from time to time. I might find a good bargain on old wrenches, he may find old planes or chisels and we just pass them back and forth. It has been a good basis for bonding and we enjoy the interaction. Today he gifted me the mic he picked up in exchange for whatever I might find to trade him for. I wanted to pay him for it, but he wouldn’t have any of that. He is a good guy.

Millers Falls No. 701R 1 inch micrometer in original box

This wasn’t just any mic, this was a pristine, like new, in-the-original-box, Millers Falls No. 701R 1 inch micrometer.

IMG_1596 Millers Falls No. 701R 1 inch micrometer in original box
I have been looking for a 1″ mic for a while now, but budgetary constraints have made me hold off on purchasing one. I am not a machinist, but I do have occasional need for a mic to determine sizes for parts I am needing to replace on machines, or wanting to mic out a handsaw plate thickness, or just for giggles see how thin my smoothing plane shavings are…(oh, come on, you have wanted to check your shavings too…) And, I like me some Millers Falls tools!

So here it is, my (for all practical purposes) New Old Stock Millers Falls 1″ micrometer.




On The Level

I have been looking for a used machinist level for a while to aid in machine setup.  This weekend I went to an antique co-op which occasionally has some interesting items. I found 3 levels; one an L.S.S. Co. Athol (early Starrett) bench level in a 4″ size, a Stanley Sw era small round level with a rotating cover that I later realized is probably the level insert for a model 36 (?) cast iron Stanley level, and a 10″ no. 10 Stratton Brothers brass bound rosewood level in remarkable condition.



The Stratton Brothers level has spaces for spirit vials both for level and plumb. (Level is on the long edge, plumb is on the end).  There is an intact spirit vial in the long edge, but no vial on the end. I cannot find any evidence that there was ever a vial there despite the brass bound window cutout to read a vial. There are no traces of glass, and there is no evidence of plaster of paris or other bedding compound in the space. The location where the vial would rest is an almost pristinely clean vee notch in the end of the rosewood.


From the factory, a vial would have been bedded into plaster. Since there is absolutely no trace of plaster, I am left to wonder if this was shipped from the factory with just the Level vial. Perhaps this was a cheaper option, (although the cost of these is in the rosewood and brass and labor to fit and finish) or a mistake from the factory but one would think a purchaser would have taken it back to the store for a replacement.  I suppose it is possible that the vial became broken at some point and the prior owner meticulously cleaned out the vee notch and pared away any trace of plaster, although I think this unlikely.


At any rate, I have a fine example of a late 1800’s brass bound rosewood Level in need of a plumb vial. Lacking an original to measure, I am going to assume the diameter was the same as the level vial. I will measure the length of the space and look for a high quality glass replacement.  Anyone having new old stock spirit vials, or knowing of a good resource please let me know.


That old saw?

I have decided to begin to chronicle some of my woodworking, tool acquisitions and tool rehab activities. This largely for myself, as I don’t know that I will blog on a regular basis.

I have been in a saw sharpening mood lately and went through about five of my handsaws. Now, I am not a saw sharpening expert by any means; I gathered the info available on the internet and began to learn.

Several of the saws I sharpened were in decent shape and really only required a touch up filing. As I looked through the saw till I realized I didn’t have a decent 8 point crosscut fettled and ready to use. I had a couple of 10 and 11 PPI saws which were sharp, but nothing for quickly breaking down stock.  So, I picked out an old lightly breasted Disston D-8 skew back that had a good apple handle on it and went to town.

When I started on the saw I thought the tooth line was in decent shape and attempted to just file the teeth to sharpen them. I didn’t attempt to joint the tooth line first and that was a big mistake.  I set up to sharpen with 15* rake and 20* fleam (matching existing rake and increasing the fleam from the original 15*), filed the etch side of the saw first flipped it around and completed the job. When I took it out of the saw vise I almost cried. The tooth pattern was awful. I had “cows and calves” where every other tooth was significantly smaller than it’s neighbor.  Well, crud!

There was no easy fix for this. I was going to have to reshape each tooth-a task I had never attempted before.  I went back to my on-line resources and read about shaping the teeth to equalize tooth size and realized I was going to have to joint the entire tooth line, attempt to maintain the breasting and file each tooth straight across in a rip pattern to shape them. All of that time spent attempting to sharpen earlier was a complete waste.

I was really intimidated by the thought of re-toothing this entire 26″ saw.  That’s 208 individual teeth which would have to be first filed to shape, and then do the same 208 teeth again to file in the fleam and sharpen it.  What if I screwed it up, made it worse?  I thought about sending it to a saw doctor…I mean I really considered it. Just pay a professional to do it right and fix my mistake.  After much internal debate I decided to give it a try. This was a near full depth saw plate so if it didn’t go well there was still plenty of plate for someone else to fix.

I also decided that if I was going to go to this much trouble, I was going to completely rehab the saw. Remove all of the rust, polish the plate as best I could and re-finish the handle.  What I intended to be my quick and dirty rough saw for breaking down stock was going to become a really nice saw…maybe.

I jointed the tooth line down about a third of the height of the teeth and almost panicked when I saw the huge flats on top of what used to be teeth. Now it just looked like a lot of alternating wide and narrow high desert mesa. Well nothing to do now except get to it. I began to file straight across applying pressure towards the larger flat and cutting down into the plate.  As the wider flat became narrower, the opposite tooth began to get larger. (I know, I know that is the whole point, but I was kind of amazed to see it happening.)  I did the first six or seven teeth and stopped to check my progress.  I’ll be darned if filing to the flats wasn’t working! Those first teeth were now mostly even and with the correct rake.

The file I was using was now screeching with each pass, so I turned it to the next edge which also turned out to be dull.  I went through my file drawer–doesn’t everyone have one of those? I dug out several 6″ extra slim files and they were all dull.  The cutting teeth on the edges of them were chipped off essentially making them worthless for saw filing. I looked at them and realized they were all new Nicholson files, and they were all crap. Terribly brittle with the teeth fracturing off in just a pass or three.   I found one new old-stock Nicholson file in the drawer and tried it. Man, what a difference! The old USA made Nicholson held its cutting edge and really sped up the shaping of the teeth.

I worked my way down the saw plate, occasionally going back three or four teeth and adjusting them until I was done re-shaping. I filed until the flats disappeared. It’s pretty amazing when the flats disappear, viewing from directly over the teeth, you can no longer see the points.

I pulled the saw out of the vise and held it against a white background to examine my work.  I had a pretty consistent tooth pattern all at the same rake. Success!  I identified a handful of teeth that needed some more adjusting, fixed them and then set up to sharpen. I quickly realized that filing in the fleam was a matter of watching the light reflecting off of the edge of the tooth I was working on. Since the teeth were shaped straight across, and I was now filing them at a different angle relative to the face of the plate, I could watch the new facet gradually move across the cutting edge of the tooth until the old facet disappeared. At that point that tooth was done, I could skip a tooth and start the next one.  I completed the first side of  the saw, turned it around in the vise and completed the job.

I then began to set the teeth.  I should’ve set them after the shaping, but before sharpening them but I didn’t think of that. Lesson learned.  The saw set I was using was a maroon colored Stanley 42 saw set. The hammer in it is very soft and was deformed at the striking face. I had to disassemble the saw set and file down the hammer to re-shape it. The hammer and anvil on theses saw sets are supposed to be hardened tool steel. This one wasn’t hardened at all, it filed easily.  I have to get a new (older model) saw set. I will look for a Stanley 42X with the black japanned finish. The older ones should be made better than the maroon one I have now.  After setting the teeth, I took one pass down each side of the plate with a sharpening stone to remove any burrs.

On to the handle. There was quite a bit of crazing in the original finish, so I stripped it back and put on a couple of coats of amber shellac and the wax.  The handle was in very nice condition and cleaned up easily.

I reinstalled the handle and made a test cut in pine, and then white oak. It tracked to the line very well, and cut almost effortlessly.  I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Here she is, my new best 8 point crosscut saw:

img_1564.jpgCompleted saw

Nice apple handle
Newly shaped and filed teeth. Not perfect but darn good for my first attempt retoothing a saw
Nice and straight