Monthly Archives: March 2012

Handle Finishing

Where did my weekend go?  I had to replace the faucet in the kitchen and a couple of light switches.  Any home project seems to involve a minimum of 3 trips to the hardware store.  Yuk.

I did most of the refinishing on my saw handle, although I still plan to put a few more coats of Shellac on it.  I started out by sanding it smooth, starting with 80 grit on the rasped areas, then 120, 220 and 320.

I wasn’t sure how to proceed, and I probably rushed things a little.  No patience.  Next Day Air is an interminable wait for me.  I had thought about bleaching the handle first to try to average out the colors, but didn’t wan’t to wait for that to work.  So I put a little Georgian Cherry gel stain on the patched areas and let that sit a few minutes.  Then wiped a quick coat over the entire handle.

There was still too much contrast, so I put another coat of stain on the patched areas.

Then I put on one coat of plain boiled linseed oil.  Again, probably too soon.  It removed some of the stain.  I rubbed more on the patches and left it alone for an hour.

Then I started applying coats of Garnet Shellac.  I put a few coats on, let it dry, sand it with a 500 grit norton sponge and some linseed oil for lubricant, then apply a few more.  This is after the first coat.  I will sand and apply more tonight, hopefully that will get me to the glossy finish I want – it’s mostly there already.

I also cleaned the saw plate and sharpened it.  I’m not happy with the job I did filing it.  The files I bought have too much radius on the corners, and I probably should have just re-toothed it from scratch.  I may still do that.  I think it’s around 15ppi, probably too fine for tenons.  It is certainly too fine for my Stanley 42X saw set.  Maybe 10 or 11?

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Handle Shaping

Progress on the tenon saw.  I have the handle rough shaped now…less rough and more shaped.

I started off by making a pattern from the lower horn, then aligning it and tracing around it onto the top patch.

For the other patch I can just use the right side of the saw as my pattern of course…

I used a coping saw to remove the bulk of the waste.  So far, so good. (I shouldn’t have said that…)

I have a handful of rasps that I’ll be using.  These things are kind of unbelievably pricey, especially compared to the hardware store tools.  They are kind of unbelievably better too.  The two large ones (one coarse, one fine) I got a while ago from Stewart-MacDonald, who sells them for instrument building.  The three smaller ones came from Tools For Working Wood.  I ended up using primarily the large 10″ fine cut, the small cabinet rasp (2nd from the left) and the curved saw tote rasp.  That last one was handy, but you could do the whole job with just the one cabinet rasp.

At this point I was pretty confident, I was sure I could rasp the handle into shape.  On the second or third stroke I poped a chip out of the replacement wood.  There was a tiny knot in that part, but I didn’t really think about it being fragile.  I super-glued it back in place and continued on.  Well, I super glued it to my fingers first.  Then I glued it to the handle.  Always something.

My approach for shaping the patches was to first get the profile – the side view – in good shape.  Then I used the rasp to flatten the extra material from the two sides.  The horn still needs more curve underneath, but it’s close.

While I was working on the 2D views I drilled the hole through the patch.  I traced around the fastener to get the size for the recess and used a couple of small chisels to remove the waste.

I had to make the notch for the saw back.  I wasn’t really sure how to approach this.  I slipped the blade in and marked approximately where the notch needed to be.

It struck me that I could cut this with my dovetail saw, like the pins on a half blind dovetail.  So I did.  Then I chopped out the waste with a small chisel and pared the sides and bottom so that the blade would fit.  It wasn’t that hard, but I’d been worrying about it.  Whew!

Next I blended the horn into the handle.  This is sort of a gut-feel thing.  I rasped it until it was blended initially, then held the grip to see how it fit and looked at the shape to see if I liked it.  Then I removed more material, and checked it again.  I also rasped in the bevel on the sides of the notch for the saw back.  At this point the shape is at least 95% there.  I’ll refine it a little with the initial sanding.  All of this work took maybe an hour.  Less time than it took me to edit the pictures and post them here.

I’m still waiting on the finishing supplies I ordered, but I’m eager to get some finish on the handle.  The color match with the wood is terrible, so I’m not sure what the best approach (short of black paint) is.  I’m thinking I’ll stain it, maybe working in more stain on the patched areas.  Maybe bleach the original handle wood?  The grain isn’t a problem, but the color is distinctly different.

While I’m pondering finishing I’ll sand the handle and clean up/sharpen the saw plate.

I got this picture from Watson’s “Hand Tools” book, which has great illustrations.  I’m really growing to like that book.  At first it seemed like a repeat of information I already know, but it’s still useful.

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Tenon Saw Handle

Between making dinner, getting my son to do his homework and getting him off to bed I managed to make a little progress on my tenon saw handle.

First I planed the top horn, until I’d removed all of the chipped horn.  I would have preferred to have the glue line parallel to the grain, but I didn’t have enough Apple scrap to do it that way – it would have removed a lot more of the handle.

I also cut off a small bit of Apple wood and planed one face so I’d have a decent surface for gluing.  I don’t know about the color match — the wood on the handle has a deep, even red color.  The scrap I have is lighter and has a more pronounced grain.  I may have to stain it or use a dark finish to get it all even looking.

I used some Titebond 3 and a pair of rubber bands to clamp it up.  After the glue dries I’ll saw off the excess and rasp it into shape.

OK, now what to do about the missing chunk?  I laid out a trim line to cut away the damaged wood so I could have a straight joint.  This seemed to be the best approach.

I sawed out the waste, but couldn’t get a plane in to smooth it out.  I pared it with a chisel and then planed the scrap of Apple I had left.  Unfortunately it wasn’t big enough to align the grain properly.  I also planed the side that faces into the saw slot.  In fact, I put the saw blade into the slot when I glued and clamped the new part in to make sure the blade slot was properly aligned.  I’ll have to chisel out the notch for the back after it’s dried.

Note that the patch bisects the hole for the saw nut.  Not a big deal, I can drill it out from the opposite side.

There were a couple of cracks in the handle on the right side I flowed some CA into the cracks to seal them and reinforce the area.

So, the handle is looking a lot like Bride of Frankensaw at this point.  I left it to dry overnight before I start cutting and filing.  I think it will be a decent looking saw when it’s done.

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Tenon Saw Detour

The next step on my saw chest it to make the lid.  To do that I need a tenon saw, a mortise gauge and a mortise chisel.  Whoops.

The mortise gauge is on order.  I am getting the 1/4″ mortise blade for my Glen-Drake Tite-Mark.  I love my Tite-Mark, but I wish it had a wider base, round bases are needlessly wobbly.

For the mortise chisel I’m re-working an old English mortise chisel.  It measured .290 wide, and was rusty, so I’m grinding it to .250″ and will do a general tune up on it.  I’ve just rough ground it here, and will be hand sanding it (on a surface plate) to get all of the sides clean and true.  Then I’ll sharpen it, and hopefully not poke any more holes in my hands.

Finally, I need a tenon saw.  I have a Bad Axe Beastmaster that I found on eBay, but it is WAAAY too big to cut a dinky tenon on 3/4″ pine.  I have another Bad Axe tenon saw on order, but I don’t expect to see it anytime soon (14 to 16 week wait list!).  So I picked up this beauty on eBay for cheap.  It has a chip out of the horn and a chunk out of the front of the handle.  It’s pretty rusty, but doesn’t appear to be pitted.

The chip should be pretty straightforward to repair.

The chunk I’m a little concerned about repairing.  I’ll need to cut out enough that I have a straight, flat area to glue in a new piece.  And it needs to be fairly horizontal so I’m not gluing end grain (and to help hide the splice).  It will probably go through the screw hole.  and it’s right on the groove for the blade and back.

First order of business, take it apart.  I scrubbed the handle with a scotchbrite pad in acetone and got all of the old finish and dirt off.  I cleaned the saw nuts in acetone too, I’ll polish them before I put it back together.  The saw plate I treated with Navel Jelly rust remover, two applications.  Then I dried it and soaked it with WD-40 to keep it from rusting inside the back.  I don’t want to take the back off if I don’t need to.

Fixing up the plate is going to be simple, just some detailing and then re-sharpen it.  The handle will take a little more effort, so I’d better get to it.


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Saw Chest, Adding a Skirt

I ran to the store and picked up more white pine.  This stuff is awful.  I picked through all the stock to find the straightest boards – which isn’t to say these were straight.  But they were straight enough, I planed them up square and cut the ogee into the top edge.  I have that molding plane working pretty well now.

My biggest job today was to re-grind and sharpen the blade in my #8.  I nicked it yesterday and took a small chip out of it. It’s a Hock blade, and it took a lot of work to get it back in shape.  It’s sharper now.  I flattened the back, which was pretty far out of flat.  What’s up with that?

I cut the miters with my new Langdon miter box.  The saw needs to be resharpened, but it’s usable.  I glued the face of each, and glued the end grain at the miter too.  I nailed the skirting on, including sinking a couple of brads into each miter.

It’s not a thing of beauty, but it’s going to be functional.  I’m looking forward to working with some nicer wood in the future.

The lid is going to be a frame-and-panel piece with a skirt.  I think I’ll do bridal joints on the ends of the rails and stiles, it will be good practice as I haven’t done that before.  After that I just need to make some dividers to hold the saws and paint the chest.

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My Miter Box

After repairing Marilyn’s Miter Box recently I wanted to pick up one myself.  The right deal came along (thanks Kurt!) and I’m now the proud owner of a Langdon/Millers Falls All-Steel miter box.  Since I’m stalled on the saw chest until I make a run to the warehouse of twisted wood (Home Depot), I decided to unpack and set up the saw.

Eventually I’ll restore it, but it’s in decent shape…except for the saw handle.  It has several splits, some chips and dents and a general lack of style.  No surprise, I knew this was something I was going to want to fix up already.

My initial plan was to make a new handle from scratch, but I thought I’d see if I could make this one a little nicer so I could put the miter box into use for making the trim for my saw chest.

I put some superglue in the cracks to reinforce the handle, and broke out my rasps and tried to add a little more shape to the handle.  I tried to blend all the contours and accentuate the shape to make it a little more dramatic.  It still needs a little more work to get the rid of a few lumps and flat spots, but it’s already looking better.

Next I sanded it with 120 grit to remove the rasp marks and help blend the contours.  This is the most time consuming part because it is a lot of sanding tiny areas with little bit of sandpaper.  Once the shapes were acceptable I went over the handle with 220 grit.

I gave it one coat of Watco Danish Oil, leaving it soaking for a few hours.  I’ll put a few coats of Tried and True oil/varnish blend on it tomorrow and see how it looks.  It already looks 100% better to me.  I’d like the color to darken more, and to build up some gloss, but I’m also eager to put it back on the saw and see how my new miter box works out.

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Saw Chest – The Bottom

I just installed the bottom on my saw chest.  I skipped the bead and just fit the boards together with tongue and groove joints.  I wasn’t happy with the tiny bead, and the larger one wasn’t cutting well.

I nailed the bottom on with some 3D headless brads – cut nails – from Tools for Working Wood.  4D might have been better, but I didn’t order any in that size.  Honestly, I thought I showed considerable restraint in only ordering the 4 sizes of nails I got.  Their Cabinet Maker’s Hammers were calling my name.  Loudly.

When I was a kid I was forever getting into my Dad’s tools.  As it turn out I don’t seem to have a nail hammer, so I borrowed my son’s.  I knew I should have ordered those hammers from TFWW.

I left the bottom boards long the way Chris Schwarz shows on his toolbox.  I started using a crosscut saw to cut off the excess, but it was unwieldily and I bailed.  It would either break off the excess while I was sawing, gouge the side of the case, or undercut the bottom.  I used a scrub plane to take off the excess, which was more work than sawing, but I was more comfortable with it.  I bit of work with my block plane to even things out and that was that.

Next up I started on the skirt for the bottom. I’m using 1″ x 3″ white pine from the Home Despot.  I swear, they must “dimension” this stuff while it’s still growing, every piece is twisted, bowed or cupped.  Sometimes all three.  Out of a 10′ section I got two 13″ pieces for the ends, the others were twisted beyond saving.  Back to the store…

But I took some time to tune up a molding plane I picked up from Josh at Hyperkitten.  It does a nice job, and will dress up the skirting nicely.

So what’s left?  Buy more wood, finish the skirting and make a lid.  I have no idea what I’m going to do for the lid.  The easy way out would be to just have a single board, but I may try to do something a little nicer.


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Saw Chest – Bottom Experiments

I snuck a few minutes in the shop to experiment with what I want to do for the bottom of my saw chest.

I cut a bunch of 12″ long 1″ x 4″ white pine boards, and shot one end square.  I’m not going to bother squaring up all 6 faces as I don’t think it’s necessary, but I wanted to make sure one end of each piece was square so I could line them up.

Then I planed one face – just to remove the dirt, and assorted dings and dents from the big box store.

Then I did a quick sharpen job on the blades for my Stanley 48 T&G plane, and made some test cuts.  it seemed to work OK, but the result is a little rougher than I’d like.  I’ve read that this is typical, but I’m going to spend a little more time honing the blades to see if I can get better results.

Also, the tongue doesn’t fit into the groove without persuasion – but it’s easily corrected with a few swipes of the shoulder plane.  I suspect that I can tweak things slightly to get the fit correct right off the plane.  Used hand tools always always seem take a bit of fiddling to get the working properly.  Not surprising if you figure that these have been in a box or sitting on a shelf somewhere  for 50 years.

The tongue cut seems to do a better job than the groove.

There is some tearout in the groove.  Sharper blades, more care to keep the plane vertical, and perhaps a slightly lighter cut will probably help a lot.

The last step is to cut a small 1/16″ bead.  Again, this tool probably needs to be a bit sharper.  I can only use it in one direction, so the odds are I’m going against the grain sometimes – which leaves a fuzzy surface in places.

Aesthetically I’m trying to decide between one bead or two.  One seems too small and dainty.  The only other beading plane I have is a 1/4″, but it’s too big to use next to the T&G joint (no clearance).  Maybe I’ll try a ship lap with a larger bead?


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