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While most newly purchased chisels come with integral protection, any vintage tools, mortise chisels, angle chisels, and all gouges do not come with that protection.
A few years ago I wrote about a technique for protecting the edges of your chisels and gouges by using cardboard and rope to make a bespoke guard. But recently I have developed an even better system that is easier to work with. Heat shrink tubing or heat shrink insulation is an electrical wire and cable insulation technique in which a heat-reacting plastic tube is placed on the exposed wire and with the help of the heat gun the tube shrinks onto the wire and insulates it. I’ve used heat shrink tubing for a variety of purposes, from building a makeshift handle on a piece of steel bar to fixing my Mac computer’s frayed charging cable. I recently came up with the idea of using plastic to thermal reaction to form the perfect cap on my cutting tools.
My method, step by step:
- Wrap blue tape about ¾ “away from the edge of the tool. This buildup of tape will flare the cap opening and consequently help slide it over the tool.
- Cut a piece of heat shrink tubing to size and mount it on the edging tool. Most pipes will shrink to 50% of their diameter, so you will need to make sure you use the appropriate diameter, not too narrow and not too wide. The length of the sleeve should extend from the edge of the tape to approximately ¾ ”past the edge of the tool.
- You can oil or wax the edge of the tool to prevent the tube from tightening too much when it shrinks.
4. Heat the tube with a hair dryer or heat gun. Move the heat around to shrink the entire surface of the pipe and to prevent overheating of the pipe or steel.
5. When you think the tube has shrunk around the edge, pinch the excess tube (the amount that exceeds beyond the tip) with the pliers. I used a frame cloth that pulls the pliers, but any knurled pliers will do. This pinching creates a nice grip tab to help pull the cap out if needed.
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