June 27, 2012

Mall Tool Co. vintage lock mortiser

I have about 40 doors in my house, which is an 1890s victorian two family, about 325 m^2 (3500 ft^2). You know how those victorians loved their zillions of little rooms with doors separating them! These doors all have nice old mortise locks in them. I'm replacing some of the doors, and want to reuse the locks, but its a bit of a chore to install them in a new door slab.

Porter Cable and Virutex make door mortising machines, but they cost upwards of $1200. I did two doors for the downstairs apartment using a jig I made for the drill press and a forstner bit to clear most of the wood, followed up by a chisel to finish the mortise. This worked fine, but was time consuming and rather awkward. If I only had one door to do, I would just live with that since it wasn't all that bad. However, I have at least 15 more doors to do so I wanted to think about a more efficient method.

I found this vintage machine on ebay for something like $200 and thought I would give it a try. It came in an enormous rusty tool box with no instructions, and the box is almost as heavy as a person. State of the art in "portable" tools 75 years ago. Very solid though, and apparently still functional. I'd be surprised if my router still works in 75 years.

First homemade straight razors - out for heat treating

I'm still a rank beginner when it comes to straight shaving. But I do like to make things, and I've already made myself a strop, shaving soap, and a brush. So it seems only natural to undertake the fashioning of a razor.

I am anticipating that it will be deeply satisfying to exactingly draw a cold, fantastically sharp piece of steel shaped with my own hands across all the tender parts of my face. A tool made from scratch with care and fine materials, exquisitely suited to the one job it was designed to do.