First page of the Spokeshave archive.

Like a Plumb (handle)

Posted by is9582 on September 23, 2017 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been using quite a few different types of hatchets / axes lately, and many of them feel decent enough in my hand, but one of the older handles is top notch for me. The range of handles are from a number of makers that even the casual user would likely recognize, but the one that stands out for me, is a hickory one in my old Plumb hatchet. Other than the handle on my older Sears hatchet, which is fairly round in cross-section and unfortunately feels like it would be in a lower quality hammer, the rest have some aspect of similarity. These all have a cross-section that is somewhat oval (a bit flattened) or perhaps even leaning towards teardrop in shape, which I find much better than a round cross-section, at least for a hatchet/axe.

The handle in my old Plumb hatchet is much more “delicate” in grip girth, but it has been up for the task. I’ve used this hatchet for a number of years, and it was my grandfather’s before it made it to me, and it’s still rocking the original handle. Pretty impressive for a slim little handle!

 

This is my original Plumb hatchet handle.

This is my original Plumb hatchet handle.

 

When I find something that both feels great and works well, I take as many notes as possible, to help determine what it is that lends to the overall excellence. If applicable, I’ll replicate the design to see how it behaves, and how much time it requires to make by hand. This new version can end up as a replacement for the original, if needed, as long as it feels good in the hand. You never know when you might swing and unintentionally damage a handle, no matter how long its previously lasted.

I made a simple pattern for this handle, using a previously used Priority box from the Postal Service, as the box was of decent size.

 

This is the cardboard from which I made the pattern for the handle.

This is the cardboard from which I made the pattern for the handle.

I measured the dimensions of the existing handle, and found an off-cut in my bin that was close enough to call a match. I honestly didn’t know what type of wood I’d chosen (not 100% sure even now), as the majority of the piece had a dark colored and very rough cut exterior. I used a pencil to trace my pattern onto my blank, and quickly cut it out on my bandsaw. This was the only piece of powered equipment I used to make this handle. After cutting the blank close to my pattern lines, as well as then diving in at the pommel, and cutting a very light taper to create some swell at the end, it was obvious the grain was not nearly as straight-grained as the original hickory version.

 

FullSizeRender (49) from bandsaw 1

 

Straight from the bandsaw, so far.

Straight from the bandsaw, so far.

 

From this point forward, I used a draw knife, my flat and curved versions of my Lie-Nielsen spoke shaves, a carving knife I made last year, along with a couple of chisels and  scrapers (one was a purpose-made card scraper, but even though the other was a bit makeshift, it worked wonderfully for very light cleanup).

 

The top is a regular card scraper, while the lower one with the two holes is a replacement blade for a utility knife. I sharpened the portion in the lower left, where the red arrow is located, and used it without creating any hook. It is a very think blade, and this method of preparation is very useful for very fine stock removal.

The top is a regular card scraper, while the lower one with the two holes is a replacement blade for a utility knife. I sharpened the portion in the lower left, where the red arrow is located, and used it without creating any hook. It is a very thin blade, and this style of preparation made it very useful.

 

My flat-bottomed version of the Lie-Nielsen Spoke Shaves. (Dark handles = flat; light handles = curved).

My flat-bottomed version of the Lie-Nielsen Spoke Shaves. (I have mine so the dark handles = flat & light handles = curved bottoms respectively).

 

The shaping is coming along, but there are still some facets.

The shaping is coming along, but it still has some facets.

 

I find I have a tendency to work much more cautiously when performing the first of a given process, and with finding the blank lacked pure straight grain, I made sure I didn’t bite off too much with the drawknife. Even using the drawknife with the bevel down, as I did on this handle, you could dive into the grain, splitting away so much wood that you’d ruin the planned shape. On this handle, I also wasn’t sure whether I might end up going with an octagon faceting rather than the continuous curve of the original, but as I gradually approached the final dimensions, I decided I’d stick to a good likeliness of the original.

After using the scrapers, I applied a coat of Watco’s Danish Oil in the natural color, which provides a small level of protection as well as enhancing the wood grain. I also decided to sit the handle outside on the hood of my car, during the midday sun, to see if it would get a sun tan. Some woods are known to change in color, with direct sun light exposure, but I’m not sure whether this unknown species really changed all that much, if any. I took before and after photos, and it wasn’t completely obvious to my eyes.

 

 

IMG_3022 danish oil

 

I only applied a single coating of Danish Oil to add a little protection and visual depth.

This photo and the one above, show the handle immediately after applying the coat of Danish Oil, and you can see the difference at the end in the vise.

 

IMG_3043 suntan

 

I snapped this outside while I was letting the handle get a suntan.

I snapped this photo and the one above, while I was letting the handle get some sun.

 

Here is the completed handle.

The final handle.

 

I hope this might spur some of you to try making a handle or two for yourselves, and you might just find you can tweak them so they fit your hand better than anything you’ve ever purchased.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for stopping to check out this posting!

 

Lee Laird

LeeLairdWoodworking@gmail.com

@LeeLairdWoodworking  – IG

@LeeLairdWW  – Twitter

 

 

Ideas for making gifts

Posted by is9582 on October 26, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , ,

I recently wrote another article for Highland Woodworking, for their Christmas idea special, and here is a link so you can check it out.

I’ve written many articles for Highland Woodworking since 2010 and you can search their Blog using my first and last name, which will locate the majority. As info, most of those articles are unique, while focusing on hand tools, and are not duplicated here on my personal blog.

More content to come here on my site soon.

Thank you for stopping by and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

 

Lee Laird

@LeeLairdWoodworking – Instagram

@LeeLairdWW – Twitter

Made a new knife

Posted by is9582 on May 14, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was brought up around all sorts of crafts and the outdoors. Woodworking and leather crafting seemed to be interwoven into my genes, but really didn’t have much in the way of knife making, although my dad did make a knife or two in his younger days. I’ve seen some of my buddies making wooden […]

Pony build progress

Posted by is9582 on January 7, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I just re-read the title of this post, and it sounds like I should be a mad scientist holed up in some distant castle, making lots of muhwahahaha types of evil laughter. Ok, so the last part may be somewhat true, but I digress. After the glue dried, attaching the oak blocks to each leg, I […]

Chisel’s are hanging

Posted by is9582 on December 17, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

A few days ago, I wrote about starting two racks to house some more of my chisels. I’ve been a bit stretched this last week, and unfortunately I didn’t take nearly as many photos of the process as I would have liked. Those of you who also follow my Twitter account, @LeeLairdWW, saw my brief tweet […]