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The Restoration Posts

Experimental Walnut branch tool handle.

December 5, 2017 • jdonahue

It was one of those nights where one thing leads to another. I had a pile of nice steel cables that needed a temporary hanging place. I looked next to my workshop, and noticed the Walnut tree had a dead branch. So I sawed it off, leaving a stump to hang the cables on.

I noticed the branch had a nice little bit of heartwood, which I decided to make a sledge hammer handle from. I’ve used Walnut one other time, with good results. I couldn’t use the lathe this time because the branch wasn’t straight enough. So I removed the sapwood with a circular saw. Then i cleaned it up more with a four inch angle grinder that had a metal shaping attachment. It’s an odd looking thing, has all these little bits of metal or diamond welded to it. Man does it remove wood. I also used a flap disk and a bench sander.

it’s only a small six pound hammer, and I haven’t been able to test it yet, as I threw my back out again yesterday. That hasn’t happened in a couple years. I then hung the cables up. I saw experiment, because the branch did have a couple knots on one side, which I normally reject. But they’re only one side, and, it was supporting all the weight of the branch and leaves. That might make it a very sturdy handle.


Tool handle wedge idea.

November 27, 2017 • jdonahue

I finally found a fast way to make a great steel wedge for striking tool handles. More info at THIS PAGE.


Making 19th Century Paints

August 27, 2017 • jdonahue

This is a subject I’ve been interested in for years; I’m finally exploring it. HERE”S a page I made about it.Chef_LeVarneesh

Carbide Scraper Test

August 12, 2017 • jdonahue

Tried a very nice carbide scraper on some old planks today. Read more at THIS PAGE. plank_1

Experimenting with Oilcloth.

August 2, 2017 • jdonahue

For years, I wanted to make things out of oilcloth. It’s what they used before modern tarps. I experimented with a small one, made from Duck cloth, and Linseed oil. The stuff is DANGEROUS, so read the warnings At This page.


The Molly S. Wire Brush

July 18, 2017 • jdonahue

Serendipity can be awesome, and this time is no exception. A gal at Grainger help chat led me to make a wire brush that’s new to me. the details can be READ HERE.


Painted Rooster for Pigeon Forge.

July 8, 2017 • jdonahue

A recent project, more pictures and details can be seen at THIS PAGE


Tool report: different wire wheels

April 17, 2017 • jdonahue

ox_cribNot all wire wheels for a 4 inch angle grinder are created equal. Or I should say created the same. I’ve encountered 4 types: Cupped braided, cupped unbraided, flat braided, and flat unbraided. Since the cupped wheels spin in a smaller circle, they usually are less aggressive. Unbraided is less aggressive than braided, so the cupped unbraided is the least aggressive. I’ve heard people say that wire wheels don’t actually remove rust, they merely polish the surface. There is a lot of truth to that, but not always. The nice thing about a wire wheel is that it can conform to, or reach places that other tools won’t; such as around large rivet heads. The wire wheel is a tool I use a lot.

In these pictures, I’m cleaning some bronze mechanical parts, for the sake of appearance. That’s why it’s not necessary to polish the entire piece. In the first picture the bronze piece has been cleaned with the flat braided wire wheel visible at the bottom of the picture. The unbraided wire wheel is mounted on the angle grinder. The next pictures show what a difference the softer wire makes. The braided wheel is indispensable for steel, but not as good for softer metal.bronze_1bronze_2bronze_3

Seizing Ground

March 28, 2017 • jdonahue

This blog is of course, about restoration of “men, machines and things”. America also needs restoration. I’m a member at Gab, a relatively new social media site. It’s not censored like other social media, it’s populated by the gamut of those who are conservative. No RINOS, but just about everyone else. I recommend that you look into it. Being at that site, along with recent events, has inspired me to start a new blog called Its about retaking ground from the global liberal agenda by replacing the influences of education, news, and entertainment.


Old School Paint Making

February 12, 2017 • jdonahue

I’m in the process of restoring an old piece of equipment for a client. I’m using paint stripper to get the old paint off, instead of power tools. When I got down to the metal, I noticed something I’ve seen on other projects; a layer of brown dusty material.powderThere is no way the painters would have left the surface in that condition, besides, I’ve seen it on other equipment, I doubt there would be widespread mistakes of the same kind. Lately I’ve been wanting to start making period paints, so I’ve been investigating how they were made. Some were made with iron oxide mixed into linseed oil. The pictures I’ve seen of the pigment vary quite a bit in color, so at this point, I think it’s likely that this was primed with an iron oxide paint. The paint stripper probably broke down the binder (linseed oil) and left the powder.

It turns out that iron oxide powder is dirt cheap, $4.99 for 5 lb. What I needed was a tool called a Muller. They’re made of glass, and the larger one is around $70. I decided to make one from steel. I looked around for a small handle, but saw this railroad freight car pin, and used it. I welded it to a round steel base I made, and that worked really well. You can see it in the picture below. IO_primer_1Here’s what the powder looks like:IO_powderIn the next picture, you can get a better idea of the size of the tool. The length and weight of the handle make it work very well. It the middle of the picture is the paste made by grinding the powder with linseed oil. The plate I’m grinding on is a piece of leaf spring from a 1946 diesel locomotive. What’s interesting is how heavy the paste is. The powder takes up less space when wet. Grinding is mostly making sure there aren’t lumps in the paste. In the last picture, I’ve added more oil to the paste, along with some Japan drier, then applied it to the tool itself. My plan is to see if I can wet sand this primer, and use it to fill small pits in the steel surface. I’ll post the results later.mullerIO_primer_2