As I have confessed on more than one occasion and to anyone who will stand still long enough, I love antique hand tools. I have, however, in the most recent years started to be a bit more choosy about what I purchase and include in my collection. I'm not becoming choosy because I only want to collect pristine works of art (unless I come across something really special and my wife isn't looking), on the contrary, I am being more particular about buying tools that I think I'll actually use. I am not a true collector (in the strictest definition of the word) as I restore and use many of the tools I collect. A few dings, dents, user repairs and signs of use are something I actually enjoy about old hand tools. I have several new acquisitions that will undoubtedly help me round out my "collection" and will hopefully serve as patterns for some future Polthaus tools, if the stars align.
One tool that I have been pleasantly surprised by has been a 1 inch Marples screw box (sounds dirty, but I assure you it is not...well maybe a little). This little guy turns a one inch dowel into a 5tpi wooden screw which is a lower tpi than many of the modern boxes which are often 8tpi. I got this to make something totally unrelated to my woodworking addiction, but it turned out to work so well that I couldn't part with it after its first use. Unfortunately though, I purchased this one at a real discount because it is missing the tap (a rather critical part if you actually want the screws to work). I believe, however, that I can make a replacement with my South Bend, a dash of elbow grease and generous helping of time and do-overs. Once the tap is made, this will make some nice wooden screws for a shop made Moxon Vise
(on the cheap) which will undoubtedly be added to my traveling tool box.
|Marples Screw Cutting Box With Factory Test Piece|
|The Chips Come Out Of The Mortise In The Side|
I have come across some of these screw boxes in the past and, unfortunately, unless they are in decent shape they aren't really worth the wood they are made from. If the threads inside the box get broken or if the box won't stay shut, it is better to move along to the next one. You could also buy the broken one for the cutter and and tap (assuming it is still located with the box) and make your own box.
|And On The Inside...|
|Here You Can See The Cutter Adjustment Screws|
|Simple Cutter Geometry Makes This Easy To Sharpen and Hone|
After a quick honing of the triangular cutter on a leather paddle, I cut a poplar screw as a test piece and it turned out really well. I think a harder wood like maple would produce better threads but even in the softer poplar I got well defined deep grooves and nice strong threads with a single pass through the box. A nice feature about the box is that it was created with a tapered tap. This results in the exit threads at the bottom of the box being just ever so slightly narrower than the starting threads at the top of the box, so that upon exiting the box the threads are burnished. Once I get the accompanying tap made for this thing and I can actually put the screws to use I'll be one happy camper with one less loose screw...sorry I couldn't resist.
|Poplar Wooden Screw Test Piece|
And now I will part with the chant of my old Air Force Civil Engineers
Softball Team "Nuts And Bolts, Nuts And Bolts...We. Got. Screwed!" We didn't win very many games..
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