Adirondack Finishing Tips; More “Oldies But Goodies” Woodworking Tools

In last issue’s Questions and Answers section, a reader had a question about how to finish an Adirondack chair. Another reader, with experience in the matter, offered his opinion. – Editor

“As a former painter for over 40 years and a former paint salesman at Home Depot® for 9 years, I feel I must add my ‘two cents worth’ pertaining to how to finish wooden lawn chairs. Be sure to sand the chair PRIOR to priming and sand lightly between coats. In the past I would use an oil-based (long oil) universal primer properly thinned with a product called Penetrol® (made by Flood). It slows the drying time down of the oil-based primer enough to let it soak in. After a day or two (no longer than 30 days ). I would put two coats of a good quality exterior paint in a gloss or at least a semi-gloss finish. Please allow 24 hours (or more with deep colors) drying time between coats. Considering the changing VOC law in various states, be sure to check to see if oil-based products are legal to use in your state.” – Jim Thomas

A Few More Oldies but Goodies

And here’s a few more stories, beyond those we shared in last issue’s Feedback, of eZine woodworker readers and the oldest tools in their shops. – Editor

“I would guess the oldest tools I have are the #5 Stanley and the block plane that used to belong to my grandfather. He has been gone for about 20 years now and my father gave them to me about 8 years ago as I am the only one in the family that does any woodworking. Dad still has an old #4 and a few old wooden planes that he plans to give to me. I have refurbished the two I have and every time I use them I think of my grandfather. The #5 was made in Canada and, the best I can figure, it was made somewhere around 1900.” – Rick Gibson

My oldest operating power tool is a Craftsman 10” radial arm saw, still in use after several major re-builds over the years. I bought it around 1973, while doing my very first home renovation, and while it’s been moved 9 times since then, I still use it pretty frequently. It’s just as scary to operate today as it was 40 years ago, and I definitely don’t try to do things like long dadoes and cutting moldings with it any more. I do still have the original Craftsman molding head I used to build the custom moldings for my turn of the century rehab in the Boston suburbs with it, and it’s still amazing that I never lost any fingers during that process.” – Andy Van Abs

“This past weekend, my club had a 3-day seminar with Ron Herman on hand tools — or cordless tools, as Ron calls them. We were encouraged to bring in our hand tools, to get Ron’s views on tuning them up. I brought in a Disston crosscut saw, and Ron guesstimated it to be from the 1890s. I got it when my father passed on and thought it was originally his, but now it seems it might have been my grandfather’s. It has a full compliment of carved vine leaves, meaning it is top quality. I only use it occasionally, but I may use it more, knowing some of its history.” – Barry Saltsberg

Rob, I had salivated since the 1970’s over the versatility that seemed to be built into the Shopsmith, wishing I could afford one all these years. I found one, built in 1959 that was on the local Craigslist postings. It is called a Greenie, and after a few part replacements, and replacing a deteriorated power cord, I am just completely in love with it! I don’t have all of the then available attachments, but having a scroll saw, band saw, and access to a DeWalt planer, I don’t need anything else. I saw, use the drill press in all ways, joint, and turn on the machine…I can’t ask a machine to do any more!” – Charlie Zwart

My oldest tool is a Sears Craftsman 10 inch table saw. In 1971, when my wife was pregnant with our daughter, I wanted to purchase a solid wood, ‘Shaker Furniture’ style cradle for the baby. I couldn’t find anything satisfactory and I complained about that to my close friend, Al. He suggested I make one myself. I had zero experience in woodworking, almost zero knowledge about power tools and not much money. I asked him what tool is should buy first. He said that a radial arm saw was very versatile but that a bench saw could be more accurate and could also more easily be adapted for larger projects. Best of all, a decent bench saw was less expensive. Al worked at an advanced machine shop and we took my new bench saw there where he showed me how to “true” the blade arbor, the front face of the tabletop, the crosscut groves and the rip fence. Over the years, I’ve added a purchased extension to the table, made yet another extension, bought and integrated a router lift table and ‘trued’ an expensive German-made rip fence. With that saw in frequent use over the years, I’ve made cradles for my siblings’ firstborn children, Christmas presents, an entire farmhouse of furniture including bedroom sets, dining room sets, dressers, cocktail table and spice rack and two gun cases. The saw will still make repeated cuts to within a couple thousandths and, if you look closely, you can see the criSs-cross pattern of a fresh cut in the surface of wood caused by the offset of a typical saw blade’s teeth. Love that old saw, I hope to pass it along to my grandson when I go.” – Gary Domke

“Quite a few of my tools (mostly hand tools) are about 50 years old now. Two old power tools include a Craftsman die grinder and a Craftsman 7-1/2” circular saw. The saw was the top grade they sold back then. It has been used in home construction as well as remodeling and other projects. Around 1986 or so I replaced a bearing set in it. It doesn’t offer fine adjustments, and a has a stamped steel shoe, so I bought a Porter Cable about five years ago for more accuracy in cutting sheet stock. The Craftsman is now delegated to the rough stuff. I used it three years ago to build a patio and pergola, including cutting the paver blocks for the 16 x 24 patio surface and retaining wall. I have another block project for this summer that it will be used for. With a proper cut-off blade, you can nibble some mighty nice curves…inside and out An angle grinder helps a lot too, of course.” – Alan Wesley

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