Cant Gourlay & Co.

If you have seen my recent posts you may have caught a glimpse of my shaper. It was made by Cant Gourlay & Co who made woodworking machinery between 1872 and 1886 in Galt, Ont. Canada. The shaper was originally part of a century old woodworking shop bought by my uncle approximately 45 years ago, and when the original shop was demolished and the machinery moved to the new building, the shaper found itself out in the cold.

It sat outside for probably 20 years before I rescued it and brought it home…here are a couple pics I dug up showing what kind of condition it was in when it arrived…11104-C11104-D

It was a real basket case, I had no idea if the original babbitt bearings were usable or not, the original wooden top had rotted away years ago, and there was the rusted and seized cutterhead spindle  deal with. First up was disassembly of the seized spindle…there was a pair of knife collars on it, well known for throwing molding knives across the shop if not correctly installed and tightened…and it was seized on the spindle. This took days to remove, oiling, pounding, pulling and twisting for hours, until it finally gave up the ghost. I finished disassembly and put all the rusted parts that would fit into a container filled with Evaporust while I cleaned the rust from the rest of the shaper with an automotive paint stripping wheel.

The bearings were in remarkable shape, it must have been rarely used in it’s lifetime. I reassembled and repainted and placed the spindle back in the bearings and rotated it to check for runout and found the spindle was bent ever-so-slightly. I took the spindle to a local machine shop and they machined a new spindle to the same specs as the original, except for one request…I asked them to make the upper spindle 3/4″ vs the original 7/8″ diameter so modern cutters could be used. After installing the new spindle and completing reassembly, I made a new top, wired up a 5hp Baldor motor and control and here she is now…IMG_0518[1]IMG_0052[1]One of the amazing things about vintage machines is how smooth and quiet they are…just need to keep track of all your extremities…they will have no qualms about ripping your parts off!!!

Shaping Window & Door Casing-Part 1

So today I started ripping and jointing the pine I purchased yesterday. I started by ripping the boards into 4-1/8″ wide strips and jointing one edge in preparation for shaping.IMG_0510[1]Once that was complete, I set up a cove and bead cutter in the shaper and used my template to set up the height and fence position and ran all the boards through the machine.IMG_0514[1]Once that step was complete I swapped out the cove and bead cutter for a large cove cutter and  blended the profile of the initial molding cutter into a more gentle transition where the molding will meet the window and door jambs.The last step (not including the applied bead and the bead and cove backband molding) is to mill the large cove in the moldings. This was accomplished with the same cove cutter as was used to transition the initial profile, but in a different position on the shaper spindle to reach the middle of the piece.IMG_0530[1]Last thing will be to mill the large bead and apply it to to the casing, and also mill the cove and bead backband molding. Here is a comparison of where it stands so far-you can see it is starting to take shape…IMG_0534[1]


Back On Track

Since we have been in our old house (a circa 1870’s farmhouse), we have done piles of work to “The Old Barn” as I call it. New basement, drywall, insulation in parts of the house and kitchen cupboards, bathrooms, updated wiring/plumbing etc., but I have been slacking off and have not done any of the trim work other than the coffered ceiling in the kitchen. The time has arrived…I went to the building supply today to pick up some stock to start making window and door casings.IMG_0493[1]We have already settled on a pattern for casing, hashed out through many hours of “animated discussions” as LOML puts it, I produced it months ago, but never actually got any farther than the mock up (she is a patient lady as you can no doubt tell by this point…she says that my CDO is the common denominator in all this. In case you are not yourself afflicted, CDO is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but with the letters in alphabetical order as they were meant to be, but we won’t open that can today…). You can see below what the finished product will look like, it is a loose representation of the original casings on our living room windows.IMG_0051[1]I will still need to pick up some two-by material for the applied back band but this will give me a start!

Saw Filing-An Exercise In Futility…

So, as I stated in my previous post, my miter box saw was in dire need of sharpening. My inner idiot whispered reassuringly “Hey weiner, you can do that…”,  so I dug out my saw files and clamped the saw in my  twin screw vise. So it begins…IMG_0487[1]First, I took a single cut mill file and jointed the top of the teeth level, once that was complete I was ready for filing. I originally started out with the idea of filing 20 degrees of fleam (angle across the front edge of the teeth) but quickly realized that was going to get me in trouble with this being my first major saw sharpening, so I decided to keep it simple (KISS) and file straight across the teeth rip fashion and concentrate on maintaining tooth shape and actually getting the saw sharp. Filing a fleam angle into the tooth will result in a saw that will shear the wood fibers more efficiently and is smoother running in the cut, but I am more concerned at this point in getting it in working condition again. I may experiment with fleam angles during subsequent sharpenings.IMG_0490[2]Once I had completed the filing from the heel of the saw to the toe, it was time to look at tooth set. Running my finger down the side of the teeth told me there was not much set, and what was there was pretty uneven…I put a pine board on edge in the miter box and made a cut down the width of the board and the saw drifted towards the side with the most set.

Next step was to set the teeth on my newly sharpened saw. On the saw set there is a dial that sets the offset based on the number of TPI of the sawplate. Once the set was dialed to 11 TPI, I started at the heel of the saw once again, and worked my way down the sawplate setting every second tooth with the plunger on the saw set. Once I reached the toe of the saw I turned it around and worked my way back down the saw setting the alternate teeth in the other direction.IMG_0491[1]So far the saw cuts like corn through a goose. The filing is not perfect, but it isn’t too bad considering…after all, even idiots can surprise you sometimes.

Stanley 358 Miter Box Ressurection

I had been looking for an old Stanley Miter Box for a while, and last week I was rewarded with an ad on Kijiji listing a Stanley Miter Box in excellent condition for the paltry sum of $50. On the way home from work I went to take a look, and after confirming all the parts worked and were present I paid the fellow his fifty and loaded it in my truck and raced off home like a giddy schoolgirl.IMG_0484[1]Over the weekend I disassembled and cleaned the box while I soaked the saw plate in Evaporust to get rid of the rust staining. Once clean, I could make out the etch on the saw plate a bit better-Shurly Dietrich Atkins, Galt, Ontario Canada ( a 1950’s or 60’s model I think…). I reassembled the miter box and saw and was ready for a trial run. I tried my first cut in a piece of 1X3 pine, and while the cut was pretty accurate, the saw was miserably dull…another project.


I have decided to start a blog to chronicle my woodworking endeavors, a place to document my projects and tool restorations and record my random scattered thoughts. I will admit I have absolutely no business writing a blog…if this all goes in the toilet, I will blame my friend who was the one that inspired me to write it. Thanks T!