Out With The Old… (not so fast!)

Those who know me know that I prefer old machinery, almost universally, to new. So it will come as no shock to learn that I have recently acquired a 14″ Davis & Wells band saw, the smaller (and I think somewhat younger) brother to my 1940-ish D&W 20″ saw. I like to leave the 20″ machine set up for resawing, while the 14″ model will serve for smaller jobs, circle and curve cutting, etc. I have to re-rubber and crown the wheels, and repair or replace the broken lower guide assembly — otherwise I think the saw is in operational shape. While it’s down for cleaning and refurbishment, I may strip the original paint, which is a little shabby, and give it a fresh look. We’ll see. I’m really looking forward to putting this saw in service. Here’s a few “before” images:

dw14 dw14 dw14 dw14 dw14

Note: The Comet Manufacturing company, of Los Angeles, made some Davis & Wells machinery in the 1950′s and ’60′s. This saw had remnants of the ‘Comet’ badge (decal) on the upper wheel cover, but the heavy cast base leads me to believe this saw was made by D&W proper, late ’40′s or early ’50′s, placed in Comet’s inventory and badged and sold as shown. Existing Comet product info from the late ’50′s shows the 14″ saw on a steel base.

So, you may rightly ask, why would I think this saw has any advantages over a more modern, or new 14″ saw produced by Delta, Powermatic, or any of the other usual players? Weight, quality of materials and casting, precision milling (where it counts) and overall design and craftsmanship. One look at the trunion assembly under the table, in the image above, says just about all that needs to be said. Compare that to any modern saw, and I rest my case. I would also mention cost as a factor. Typically, you can find older saws (and even an old ’50′s-’60′s Delta beats it’s modern descendant by a long shot, quality-wise, IMHO) for less than you pay for the poorer, newer stuff.

I guess I won’t wait by the phone to field endorsements from the current manufacturers.    :-)


Transitional Planes

The Stanley ‘transitional’ planes, combining a wooden body with a cast iron frame, frog and standard adjustment mechanism, were made between 1870 and 1940. You see these things pretty commonly in antique shops and flea markets. According to those in the know, they are not particularly valuable in the collectors’ market (which is why you see so many of them, and so few #1′s). Still, a plane is a plane and a potential working tool, so I set out to find a restorable one for a friend who had expressed an interest.

Stanley 26

The Stanley 26 in pieces

I ended up buying this #26, a 15″ plane that dates (a far as I can make out) from 1898 or so. I got it off eBay for about $25 (inc. shipping), maybe not as cheap as could be but the same you would expect to pay in an antique shop.

Stanley 26

"Parts is Parts"

The beech body was in very good shape, an exceptionally dense piece of timber that had none of the severe bottom scoring or end-checking often seen in these things. The metal parts were coated with light surface rust, but cleaned up nicely. Most of the remaining black ‘Japaning’ came off in cleaning, but that’s only important to collectors. The iron and chip breaker turned out to be a little later vintage, about 1910 (based on the imprinted logo), but were in good enough shape to polish and sharpen for normal use.

Stanley 26

Takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Once the metal parts were cleaned and the iron tuned up, I reassembled the plane and trued the bottom (it had just a slight twist in it, again attesting to the quality of the piece of beech). I took a couple of shavings with it, and these pictures of it, and passed it on to my friend who was pleased to get it. He plans to use it as a shooting plane, which would be a nice fit for it given the heft of the beech body.

Now I’m looking for one for myself!