View Full Version : Scraping tools, peering into the future

10-16-2007, 01:27 AM
One of the things I bought last weekend was a bag full of scraping tools. These aren't just any set of old tools. They have a face and a personality behind them.

When I went to buy the mill I also bought most of the shop tools that were of any value. I bought a few things that I didn't really need. The sale was at the request of the owner of most of the tools, an elderly gentleman of 88 years named Frank who found himself unable to continue working in his shop. He instructed his son Doug to sell most of his equipment and tools. I know his son, he is the same age as I am and I used to service equipment at the school he administered years ago. We hadn't seen each other for many years but he remembered me immediately which is the main reason I was able to go a day early and take my pick of the offerings.

Doug is aware of my interest in home shop machining and that if I purchased the tools and equipment it would not turn up on e-Bay and would be well cared for and appreciated. This was a great concern of his father who is approaching the end of his life rapidly. Doug's father Frank was extremely pleased to hear that I would be buying most everything that had any meaning to him as the idea of his precious collection being scattered and forgotten was his worst fear.

I had to return home to remove the canopy of my truck and went back to pick up my purchases in the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day for a change, not common this time of year.

Frank was sitting quietly in a chair at the entrance to the garage waiting on my arrival. He said hello in a very weak voice when I arrived. I stooped to chat with him and explain that I would look after his collection of tools and that they would never be sold to strangers while I was alive. This brought a smile to his face. He didn't and couldn't say much as his faculties are quite diminished but he understood what I said.

He watched as we loaded the mill, his measuring instruments and his photographic equipment followed by his collection of electronic paraphernalia, tools and parts. All the while he had a smile on his face. The last item was a black doctor's bag containing his scraping kit. It was with this that he made his living for many years as a scraping hand. As I walked out I stopped to say again that I would take special care of these tools. He said only "They are for scraping bearings" and was quiet although still smiling.

I have been gradually sorting through the items I purchased. What I am finding and what I saw at the shop of this man is that I see myself, 30 years from now. His interests parallel mine closely but even more is that his way of doing things is very much like mine. He would rather build something than buy it and in the shop were two lathes and a vertical milling machine that he had built. Excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail was immediately evident. These were not for sale to the public. The vertical mill went to a grandson and his son Doug kept the lathes. Another lathe, a Shaublin 70 went to another family member.

Tonight I unpacked the scraping tools to take some pictures at the request of a board member. It is strange, like rummaging through somebody's dresser drawer and finding small mementos. The tools aren't just tools, they are well worn and the handles are saturated in the grease and sweat of the man who used them for a lifetime. These tools are now in my custody and I intend to learn to use them. I paid $25 dollars for them, a token amount because it was well understood that I would care for them.

Here are the pictures.





10-16-2007, 02:06 AM
This is a touching story. When you get to be my age (66) there's bound to be a few regrets -- one of mine is that I was given my grandfather's carpentry tools after he died. I took these with me when I moved to New Zealand in 1971. When I repatriated back to Montana in 1978 there were no more ocean liners, so getting the tools back across the waters seemed impractical. I sold them to a carpenter friend in Wellington. But I now sorely miss these tools. Especially the circular plane.

It's just like you said. You can see the sweat and care of the laborer in the tools, handles and blades. If my grandfather Axel's old tools are now in hands as good as Frank's are in yours, that would be a comfort. I need to find out.

10-16-2007, 02:17 AM
Thanks for the story Evan, and congrats on your wonderful find. Well done, and I hope the elderly gent finds some peace with this.

Doc Nickel
10-16-2007, 02:31 AM
All of which lends credence to D.Thomas' guess that your little horizontal is rare in large measure to it being a production machine, which means most of them were used up, worn out and scrapped. The excellent condition of the scraping (and, I'm sure, night tight fit of the plain-bearing spindle) very likely means the old man aquired the mill and refurbished it.

Is he lucid enough to press for details on the mill?


Your Old Dog
10-16-2007, 05:34 AM
Evan I think your post will touch a chord with manu board members here. Many of us are nearing the position that Frank is in and for many of us, our possessions are nearly sacred.

My Father was upset when we had to clean up his backyard as he had to move to assisted living. The yard was just full of old lawn tractors and old pontoon boats and such. Most would never work again but to my Father they represented a dream of making something of them one day. His health saw to it that it would never happen. It's nice that you appreciate what you have. His scrappers all look handmade.

Forrest Addy
10-16-2007, 05:46 AM
I hope someone like Evan comes along to take care of my collection of treasures when the time comes. My family has a vague appreciation of my equipment but practically no understanding. I fear most of it will go in grab bags to a bidder ignorant of the use of a single article seeking only to make a find he can profit by.

Evan, those scrapers were once used by a master of his trade getting at the inaccessible details of the machinery he once used them on. Those old hook scrapers are particularly fascinating. I suggest it would be a greeat stroke of kindness to question the old gentleman if his vigor can tolerate it so you can generate some kind of providence for each item, the dates they were used, where he worked, people he worked with, etc. Old tools are merely dusty junk without a providence to connect them with their past. Then they become historical artifacts.

Note to self: generate some providences.

10-16-2007, 08:11 AM
I am afraid that Frank isn't up to it any more Forest. I had the distinct impression speaking to him that he enjoys only limited times of lucidity. His son explained to me that he will be moving to assisted living (perhaps dying?) in the next few days.

It's a shame that I didn't somehow come to meet him at an earlier time. He must have been a very sharp man. His interest in electronics was intense and considering his age very unusual. He had a full appreciation of the use and operation of integrated circuitry and apparently liked to salvage such items from old equipment, the same as I do. He has built several devices which are basic logic analyzers to determine the type of IC based on the outputs generated by inputs for use in testing and identification when the type is unmarked with standard numbers, a common situation with proprietary equipment.

Among other things I purchased a Heathkit oscilloscope, bench power supply, signal tracer and generator, Vacuum tube volt meter and several other items of test equipment.

I digress, but only slightly. Many of those items have little practical purpose today but I felt that I should take it all in consideration of the items that I did buy of much greater value than I paid in dollars. I only paid a token amount for most of the items. Doug mentioned to me that this avoided the necessity of allowing the general public inside the shop which was at the least distasteful to him and his father. He also sold me Frank's black granite surface plate to go with the scraping tools for a nominal sum. Niether of those items were displayed for sale. I didn't ask about either the tools or the plate, he brought them out from a storage area and insisted that I take them. The surface plate no longer has the certification sticker but appears in excellent condition. It is at the limit of portability being 24" x 18" x 4" in size. I am just able to carry it for short distances.

Alistair Hosie
10-16-2007, 08:42 AM
Wow Evan I had no idea you had such a big heart.what a nice considerate guy you are.Alistair

daryl bane
10-16-2007, 09:12 AM
Evan, MANY THANKS for posting the pics, especially the good closeups of the cutting edges. It seems the Europeans have a different way of scraping,and I understand this is how its done at SIP, but I'm glad to get a good look at this type of tool. If and when you start learning this type of scraping , if possible please document your learning process here, as this really is a dying craft.

10-16-2007, 09:53 AM
Thats good you gave the tools a new home.

My step dad passed away about a month ago, he lasted one day in a nursing home, he was ready to go.

I ended up with all his tools that he gave me a few months back, the stuff I have now is incredible. My shack of a shop looks like a tool store inside.

I will think of him whenever I use them, it would be a shame if it all went at a yard sale run by my mom.

Some of the tools still are marked "From: Mike, fathers day 1977",,,

Steve Steven
10-16-2007, 10:19 AM
The scraper with the replaceable carbide inserts looks like a Sandvick "Coromrant" tool, an early one. (Later ones had red plastic handles) The red plastic box is a dead giveaway. I used to buy those for the group I worked for, There are still 5 or six left in the tool locker. The inserts are pricey, $25 - $35 each if I remember correctly. The flat head socket screw holding the insert keeper is a metric size, I had to buy replacement screws and get correct allen keys when I joined the group as they had used incorrect US keys and ruined the hex recess. I think I still have my purchase documents on this computer, and could get you the part numbers if you want.

10-16-2007, 10:31 AM
The scraper with the replaceable carbide inserts looks like a Sandvick "Coromrant" tool, an early one.
You're right.


I have full metric tooling including a complete selection of metric allen keys, thanks.

A.K. Boomer
10-16-2007, 11:19 AM
Its strange, there was this old local guy, he's been around for ever, very eccentric and I have to admit he's one of the most amazing persons as far as what he's done in life --- never will his era be re-created and he took full advantage of it, never will modern day people achieve what this guy has done, He was actually an extreme daredevil for back in the day, He was also a machinist most of his life, I and a friend were two of his last sounding boards as he lived next door to my friend, Recently he had to sell his stuff off, he got to the point where he could not take care of himself anymore.

At first I thought it would be an honor to have some of the invaluble trinkits that one can no longer buy, Even though half his stuff was ready for the boneyard there was some priceless little jewels amoungst the old junk,

Something stuck in my craw though ---- the Man was a bigot, and although If I pushed for it I could have had first grab at anything I wanted - I declined - I declined on everything... I simply did not want one thing of his in my shop, not one...

Yes Old tools are simply just old tools untill you uncover thier history --- trouble being for me was the history of the tool is also the history of the man, This could have been a great thing --- so many things to admire, except one little detail, perhaps I hang on to my priciples to tightly, iv always been that way though and dont see a change in that direction...

Interestingly enough He had to get rid of the stuff --- My friend tried to supervise and stayed with the old man while a few invited people went through his stuff and nothing moved without the old guys approval and price but there were some hardcore opportunist's that showed up and either conned the old man into either giving it up for free or paid dirt cheap for whatever it was that interested them, everything was stripped --- even the scrap metal was taken away for salvage, Kinda sad to see a half century's worth of collection dissapear over a weekend --- like a carcass left out on the serringetti, the vultures have arrived and gone...:( Also kinda cool nothing goes to waste;)

Anyways --- turns out the ole boy had a momentary lapse of reasoning and after a month accused my friend of wrong doings and how he let all his stuff go too cheap (no good deed goes unpunished) So glad I dont have that kinda Crap karma hanging around my shop...

To each his own, and everyone has a preference, for what its worth here's mine,
I really dont own my stuff, I may have paid for it and "legally" its mine, but im really just borrowing it, its just a piece of the ground and nobody really "ownes" that either,
When I kack if it can be sold to the highest bidder by my family and the money distributed then thats fine, If one of my family members has a genuine interest in something then yes that takes precedence over it, if my mill gets turned into money for beer thats all good too.
But because I really dont own it --- it dont own me either, you want to pay high bid and then crush it - melt it down and make a couple subaru's out of it then thats your choice ------- Believe me --- I'll have moved on by then:D

I also could give a rats ass if some fat old lady is riding my race bike a half block every day to pick up her mail and takes an extra minute to pry the seat out of her ass when she's done, hope i can see it and have a laugh...

Also --- feel free to play a game of Polo with my head as long as its de-tached from my body --- after all --- im just renting it too, fair warning, its not going to roll very well:p

Happy perspective everybody.

Alistair Hosie
10-16-2007, 12:39 PM
your correct What I was particularly moved by was knowing the old boy was only going to last a few more days at best Evan went a day early to make sure that the wrong kind didn't end up with his stuff.That's the kind of stuff you don't hear about with the young today Evan your a man of principal.Alistair

10-16-2007, 12:59 PM

Thank you. However, my initial motivation was to find a good deal on some machinery. I didn't go there out of the goodness of my heart and didn't find out the story, as much as I know, until I was there and realized what was happening. It was only then that I decided to buy most of his collection of tools and other items. It was also then that Doug decided to sell most of it to me, likely at less dollars than they would have gained otherwise. I also had a budget although I never mentioned it and never questioned the price asked. It is simply how things worked out, for the best in what is an unfortunate and always unavoidable situation. I also found myself staring mortality directly in the face, something that happens more often these days.

john hobdeclipe
10-16-2007, 10:24 PM
Much of my shop equipment has been purchased at estate sales. In a few of these cases, I, too, have looked at the stuff, looked around the house and shop, and wished mightily that I could have spent some time with the owner.

Both my first metal lathe, a Craftsman/Atlas 6" and the EMCO 10" that replaced it were from estate sales. Both were in superbe condition, which testifies somewhat to the attitudes of the former owner. In the case of the EMCO, the sale was done by the deceased owner's daughter, herself in her upper seventies, and she said I reminded her of her Dad. Looking around the shop, and at the evidence of myriad interests, and looking at the clean and well maintained condition of the lathe I had just bought, I took that as a bit of a compliment.

I hope that, when the time comes, that my tools will find their way into the hands of someone else who can appreciate them and create with them.