Old English screwdrivers #1: Restore and more.

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Blog entry by mafe posted 10-12-2011 09:54 PM 18422 reads 4 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Old English screwdrivers
Restore and more…

A few of my fellow LJ’s noticed that I was fooling around with some old screwdrivers.
This blog is the restore of those and some more screwdriver related stuff.

I spend a total sum of seven British Pounds app. 10 US to buy two lots of old screwdrivers, fourteen as I remember.
(Quite fair I think, considering that just one new from one of the leading toolmakers today is 25 US… and I then have to wait for the patina – smiles).

The first lot was ´done when I started taking photos because a fellow LJ noticed and asked.
But this bunch and some more was on its way.
As you can see they were screaming out: ‘I’M DRY, OIL ME PLEASE’...

The once on the right are smiling at me now but they looked about the same as the others when they arrived.
There are no right and wrong here, I love patina and so I will do a lot to keep this, but also I like my tools to be useful, beautiful and functional, but most of all ‘healthy’.
That means not two tools will need exactly the same level of restore and this you will see as the blog goes on.

This fellow was really tired but in a good state, so a sanding to get rid of the dirt and the old layers of lacquer.
I mounted it in a drill and then spin low speed, this makes it easy and even to sand.
Not too much we want to keep the patina and also the ornamentation.

The metal gets a touch up with a brush, again I’m lazy and use a powered one.
And again not too much since I want the years to show.

Here you see the level I go to compared to one that still needs love.

Linseed oil, AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH that was needed, so leave it overnight.

If the screwdriver is not all straight it can usually be bend back in shape.

These handles are all done with the sanding, and you will notice not the same, they all got the minimum that removed dirt and wear but kept the patina.

The ferules are touched up with a fine file.

The end made straight when needed.

This is where we start to look again at design and function, some screwdrivers just need a touch up with sandpaper or a file.

To get a straight head with the desired thickness.

This can also be done on a stone.

A hand grinder.

Disc sander or whatever…
Just don’t over heat it so the hardening gets destroyed.

In the next step I will try to shape the heads so they become uniform.
For this I will use my wet grinder and a jig to make sure I get them to be the same on both sides.

Like this!
(Yes I am lazy…).

But look what a wonderful result, I am really pleased.

Before and after.

New problem, a broken ferule.

Some tobacco and then of we go.

A new one is fitted.

I think Mathisson would be happy for me!

Ok I use epoxy so he might be a bit grumpy…

The end needs a little filler and that is another minute spend.

But look what a wonderful result, tracks of life, patina and now some fresh love from MaFe.

A little oil for the metal to prevent rust.

This one is worse.
I think we need to give up and make a new handle.
First the basic shape.

Then more precise to fit ferule.

Ok a tiny bit too small but I’m happy.

A bank with a hammer on a chisel, and be careful not to hit the tang, then you destroy the chisel, I always cut down a bit of the center to be sure.

Look what a beautiful old ferule, that is really quality.

Here compared to one of the new once I bought…



Final sanding.

Linseed oil.

Polish compound.

That’s almost too fine…

I think we can agree it is better than before…

I almost forgot to add this one, here you can see the types.

I will split the blog here and continue in part two just to be kind to those with a slow internet connection.

It is my hope this blog can inspire others to restore some old beautiful screwdrivers.

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

14 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2374 posts in 2855 days

#1 posted 10-12-2011 11:10 PM

Loving this series, as always :)

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View Andy123's profile


226 posts in 2496 days

#2 posted 10-13-2011 01:33 AM

Mafe, I love it when you post your blogs, because I know I’m going to read something interesting.

-- The mistakes I make in woodworking are not mistakes they just give my projects character- Me

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#3 posted 10-13-2011 02:13 AM

Nice work Mad.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3326 days

#4 posted 10-13-2011 04:36 AM

at first i thought they were spade bits turned upside down and made into a driver…..not a bad idea though,,,,im whipped, i better not comment here tonight, ive taken my drugs abd we wll know wha thappens when ya do that…....10-4 roger and out…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

264 posts in 2619 days

#5 posted 10-13-2011 07:12 AM

If you find an extra #555 this can be converted to a stubby driver for plane irons, by cutting it and regrinding the end to suit….

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#6 posted 10-13-2011 09:15 AM

Good idea Phillip, I have a short one for plane irons, will take a picture. But I will see if I can spare one and convert it into one for the saw split screw.

Grizz, hope you are fine, yes I know about medicine and also I learned that writing and drugs is not at the same moment…

CJIII, thank you my dear CJ.

Andy123, I smile from ear to ear, and never stop to be amazed that it is a pleasure to follow a grumpy Danish guy playing wit tools, even I do the same with others, yes life is just exacty as we see it, and it looks good from here also. Smiles.

Thomas, I’m a big child as you know, did you notice the fine Peugeot grinder.

Thankj you for the comments.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View 58j35bonanza's profile


395 posts in 2715 days

#7 posted 10-13-2011 09:23 AM

Nice blog mafe. I also enjoy reading about the different topics that you post.
They are all very educational.
I am surprised at the difference in quality between the two ferules. I have never seen one with so much metal.
I assume that it is a Marples and Sons, from the catalogue insert that was posted.
What type of tool are you using to split the handle?

-- Chuck

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3137 days

#8 posted 10-14-2011 01:53 AM

another great picture book from you Mads
very good toturial …. now I´m on to read No. 2 off it
expecting it to be educational as this …. thank´s

love your drawings :-)

take care

View philip marcou's profile

philip marcou

264 posts in 2619 days

#9 posted 10-14-2011 08:14 AM

Here is my plane iron screw driver. I do like the old pattern wooden handle screw drivers very much, for ergonomic reasons too.

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#10 posted 10-14-2011 07:32 PM

That is wonderful Philip, I love this place, a bunch of wonderful guys that are all happy to share their passion for good quality.
Yes the handles are not just beautiful but also really nice to use, a good firm grip.

Dennis, thank you, see you in part two.

Chuck, I’m a little embarrassed to admit I used a really fine old Japanese chisel here… But no harm was done, and I promise that I will not do it again.
The london pattern drivers all have a wonderful thick ferule, but yes we are not used to this… Another reason to go vintage.

Thank you all for your comments.
The best of my thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Bricofleur's profile


1444 posts in 3215 days

#11 posted 10-15-2011 11:21 PM

Hi Mads,

Every stick of wood that falls in your hand is well fashioned, treated and perhaps loved. Great work, great details.

According to this picture of your grinder, I wonder how many hours this stone has run, how many turns is has made and/or how many tips it has kissed! :-) I wish I could live as long and be as productive as this one! But I wouldn’t like to be in your hands though… because I couldn’t be able to rest.



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#12 posted 10-15-2011 11:42 PM

Laugh Serge, it is acually the second stone in two and a half years…
Sooooo many tools has been brought back to life these last years in my little shop.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Dan DeGennaro's profile

Dan DeGennaro

4 posts in 1876 days

#13 posted 04-29-2013 02:43 AM

Nice restoration! I teach old tool restoration at a local adult school just because I like restoring and using old hand tools. Anyway, a friend gave me an old screwdriver that looks exactly like an old wooden handled Marples, but the imprint on it reads: GASTSTELL WARRANTED. Any ideas?

-- Dan, Concord,CA

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3111 days

#14 posted 04-29-2013 06:52 PM

Give us a picture Dan.
Lovely work you have!

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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