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Using wood for restoration of vintage and coachbuilt cars

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  • Using wood for restoration of vintage and coachbuilt cars

    I have volunteered to give a seminar at a wood working group that I have been attending for about two years. many of the members give these seminars to share their prowess with making furniture, cabinets, etc., etc. I felt compelled to do my share of the work, but lacking any actual wood working 'prowess', all I could think of that I used wood for was in the tools that are used by metal shapers, namely hammers, hammer forms, stumps, bucks and so forth. In this and upcoming posts, I want to share my thinking in the hopes that others may increase my knowledge based on their own experiences. The seminar is not until February of next year. I have accumulated a LOT of pictures for the presentation and will post some of them. As a result of this endeavor, I have gotten more interested in making some of my own tools as I learn more about wood characteristics, and that has led to me starting with this post. I am prone to use SolidWorks 3D software to work out my thoughts and have a water jet man that is VERY good to me. This post shows my thinking about some hammers and corking tools that I have drawn and had cut at the water jet place. My intent is to not use these for heavy pounding on the stump and bag with a blocking hammer, but to use in learning more about metal finishing. I wanted to learn about wood 'hardness' and found that the specific gravity, density, weight and hardness are RELATIVELY related to each other, so I decide to use the Janka method (developed in the early 1930's to measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear.) to decide what type of wood to seek based on local availability. The Janka method applies a load to a .444" diameter ball and measures the force needed to imbed that ball halfway into the wood. Hear are some of the forms that I uncovered. I apologize for the actual hardness sheet as I have not been able to 'computer' my way to a better copy.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Here are some SolidWorks drawings that I made for the handles and the heads and the parts that came back from the water jet. One profile is done with the water jet and the other will have to be put in by hand. The handle design is heavily influenced by Fay Butler. I was fortunate to send three days with Fay a few fears back, and he is very opinionated about his vision of the metal shaping craft. He, along with Snapon, prefer the contoured handle to control the hitting angle, which I found to be a very good thing for me as well. He additionally like to thin down the forward portion of the shank as it was his thinking that this reduced the force/vibration from multiple blows affecting the wrist and forearm. I chose this out of respect and the challenge of drawing this in SolidWorks.
    For my use, I have acquired some Purple Heart (1,860 Janka) for the hammer 'heads, Apitong (1390 Janka) for the handles, and for a 'special' head I want to use laminated sections of Lignum Vitae (4,500 Janka). I have some concern that these wooden heads might not be heavy enough for the 3003H14 aluminum metal finishing that I intend to use them for, so in at least one of the Lignum Vitae laminated heads, I want to try to drill a hole from each end of the head and put lead shot inside prior to the laminating process. This all might sound unusual, but I want to try some things out for myself.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      One of the pictures in the above post shows some the water jet pieces that include some of the parts I had made to make some 'corking' tools with. Again the water jet can only cut one profile and the remaining work will have to be hand worked. I am all new to this work, so progress will likely be slow. All of the corking tools will be from Purple Heart wood.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Very cool, Will. I've been waiting to see & learn about this from you. Didn't expect to see it posted, but am very glad it will be here & accessible.

        Two things I did think about since we last spoke about this wood data-

        I wondered how humidity or water content might be of benefit or detriment to wooden striking tools? I'm thinking more about storage after humidity levels have been stabilized and whether drier wood would be more brittle or be more durable whether protected from or subjected to a humid environment.

        Also thought about using a metal striking cap (similar to what is used on pneumatic stone chisels so you can use a hand swung hammer- imagine a thick cap like used to cover the end on copper plumbing pipe) ) fitted on the striking end to simultaneously protect the struck wooden tool and possibly provide a greater mass characteristic to a wooden tool while benefiting from the wood-against-work characteristics.h

        edit- just for nomenclature trivia, I meant to add that the profiles of the above tools look like granite hand tools. Square/flat end tools are called a handset. Steep double sided bevel (very sharp, thin edge) is called a tracer. Lower angle double bevel is called a chisel. Single bevel with flat opposite side is called a chipper.
        Last edited by cliffrod; 05-10-19, 04:45 PM. Reason: see edit


        • #5
          Cliff, I have shared your concern regarding the effect of humidity and dampness, but I have not heard anything about it from past experience with the metal shaping community. My concern about just that led me to contact the makers of the West System epoxy wood glue. Titebond glue has a tensile strength of less than 4,000 psi, but the west System epoxy glue has tensile strength of more than 8,000 psi and they make this for marine applications and suggested that if you warm their product prior to application it can be spread rather thinly and used as a wood stabilizer and has NO shrinkage. I am not able to correlate the tensile strength to compressive strength, but I am thinking of doing as they suggested, as it should also leave a more glossy finish as well as protect it from humidity, however, the area of impact is not likely to uphold very well. Thanks for the nomenclature update, I will try to incorporate this info into my presentation. PS: I also have thought about a metal 'tip' on some of these tools, but was concerned about leaving marks on aluminum, but then I discovered the hardness of the Lignum Vitae, and will see how far I can get with that.

          Here is an updated list of hardness gleaned from the internet. It does NOT appear to be generated on Janka figures, but can be used as a general guideline.
          Attached Files
          Last edited by RockHillWill; 05-10-19, 06:06 PM.


          • #6
            Here are some pictures of some stumps that I have encountered. The Janka numbers are at the end of the picture titles.

            edit: the numbers did not show up in the photos.

            The first pic is of an Elm stump - Janka 3690
            second pic is of a White Oak stump - Janka 1360
            third pic is of an Osage Orange stump - Janka 2620
            fourth is another pic of the Elm stump
            fifth is a picture of a Black Oak stump - Janka 1290
            Attached Files
            Last edited by RockHillWill; 05-10-19, 06:33 PM.


            • #7
              Originally posted by RockHillWill View Post
              : I also have thought about a metal 'tip' on some of these tools, but was concerned about leaving marks on aluminum, but then I discovered the hardness of the Lignum Vitae, and will see how far I can get with that.

              All good info, Will. The striking cap goes on the butt of the tool (where it is struck with hammer/mallet/dummy) to keep a smaller diameter pneumatic tool shank from being deformed by the swung hammer. See the added link. It will also add mass to a lighter chisel when carving stone, so I would expect it would do the same for a wood tool against sheet metal.

              My thoughts about adding a striking cap related to wood corking tools was to add simultaneously protect the struck end of the tool and to add mass for greater inertia. There's likely a break-even point where the heavier wood tool will splinter or break. If mass of cap is coordinated with this limit, the effectiveness of the wooden tool may be enhanced. It would also significantly protect the butt of the tool from splintering when struck with a metal hammer, which seems to be the most common problem I have with using wooden corking tools.
              The Striking Cap is made of wear-resistant steel and provides a durable detachable striking surface that slips securely onto any of our 1/2in shank pneumatic chisels.


              • #8
                I have been working with wood in a temperate climate since 1973, so I offer the following advice;

                Linseed oil is the best thing ever for tool handles, to protect them form excess moisture and excessive dryness. I oil all of my wooden tool handles about every two years; gardening tools every year and all of them are stored inside out of the sun and I have never had to replace one, due to splitting or cracking.

                To support Cliffy's suggestion about a "striking cap"; I suggest fitting a metal ring around the striking end, which can be glued or staked to the wooden handle. In woodwork terms this is called a ferrule; on wood chisels a ferrule is required at the bottom end as well to stop the tang splitting the handle in half. An old adage for preserving handles, is when hitting them to use wood-on-wood and metal-on-metal. This means for a wooden handle to strike it with a wooden mallet.

                Cheers Charlie


                • #9
                  Will, I have been reading and studying about Maglio hammers and see references to (at least) the arms of the Maglio being made from wood. Maybe the type of wood used for such a demanding application would be a good detail for your presentation.


                  • #10

                    Good info here. I'm in the process of getting my tools in place (kind of a hand tool fanatic I'm afraid) and this information comes just in time. Have my drawings ready for corking, slappers and a bodyfile (for which I have a 35cm file blade).

                    As I'm not completly sure what shapes will work for me (in corking tools), so I'll be using widely available oak for the corking tools, wooden slappers and bodyfile(handle).
                    I will share the final (analog) drawings and the results after completion so others could benefit.

                    Question: do you share my opinion that it would it be advisable to create a topic per tool type (corking, slappers, body files) so all can add there findings/drawings and other information on a per tool base. (sorry, I like structure and intuitive searching/finding.)


                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by johnmar; 17-10-19, 09:38 AM.


                    • #11
                      I think that would be a good idea.


                      • #12
                        Well things went differently (in a very good way), y father (approaching 80) is a carpentrr by trade and although he can't do real carpenting anymore, this was something I could ask him to make for me (not that I can't do it myself).

                        This week I got the results back from him. Today I covered then in linseed oil for protection.

                        the sl app ers, corking tools and body file are made from oak tgat het had lying arround. The mallets from a dough roller (birsch).

                        As I asked him, he marked every tool with his tool marking.

                        I'm over the moon with these tools that are not only to be used, but also something special to remember my dad by.

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                        • #13
                          That is a great set of tools. Thanks for sharing. Goes to show that every post has something it it for someone. I never would have thought of using a rolling pin for a mallet. Off to the kitchen... Reporting back... No rolling pin.


                          • #14
                            Nice collection johnmar!

                            Always something special about having your father's, or grandfather's tools in your hand,

                            Cheers Charlie