First page of the drawknife 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

 

 

Workbench top progress

Posted by is9582 on December 18, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was planning to plane the larger 6’+ sections of the Soft Maple, that I bought for my workbench upgrade, on my saw horses. This morning I had some time scheduled to start on these bigger slabs, and when I looked at my saw horses, I just wasn’t sure I would get the results I was after. When I saw how solid the stack of wood looked, where I had it stickered, I decided I’d just work it as it lay.

 

My No. 6 sitting ready to start planing.

My No. 6 sitting ready to start planing.

 

The first board had a bit of twist going on, so I found a big Ash wedge from my Drawknife horse, and slid it in nice and tight. I noticed there was a substantial hump running the length of the slab, which I wanted to remove in the course of removing the rough sawmill surface. I grabbed my Stanley No. 6, as usual, and set the cambered blade to take a thick cross-grain shaving. I clamped a couple of boards onto the stickering boards beneath this slab, to help minimize the wood from moving around. I started working from the right end of the board, and keeping my passes with the plane so they overlapped the previous stroke. I knew this large of a slab was going to take some time, which likely led me to set my iron a little deeper than normal, and before I put a chamfer on the out-flow side of the slab, bam! I knew I should have taken the time to make the chamfer, but the nice splintering really drove the point home. To rectify my mistake, I first trimmed the thick spelching with a large paring chisel, and then used my plane to create a decent chamfer.

 

This is after the first pass (you can already see the large spelching) and the chips begin to fly.

This is after the first pass (you can already see the large spelching) and the chips begin to fly.

 

As I was working the wood so close to the floor, most of the time I knelt on the floor, while using my arms to handle a bit more of the work than normally. I was still able to get into a decent work flow, and the work progressed fairly quickly.

 

On longer boards, I work my way down them in segments, especially when I'm not starting with completely flat slabs. The red arrow is pointing to a block I clamped to prevent the board from moving to that side.

On longer boards, I work my way down them in segments, especially when I’m not starting with completely flat slabs. The red arrow is pointing to a block I clamped to prevent the board from moving to that side.

 

It took just over an hour to get the first face-side 95% complete, which wasn’t nearly as long as I initially thought. And, if I already had a workbench large enough to support the size slab, I may not have used quite as many breaks, since my body did seem to wear out quicker working in the alternate kneeling position.

 

This is after about an hours worth of planing (just look at all of the shavings/chips).

This is after about an hours worth of planing (just look at all of the shavings/chips).

 

After getting the slab fairly far along, I decided to work directly down the length of the hump. with another cambered-iron plane with the iron set to a more reasonable depth. The first few strokes felt somewhat awkward, so I shifted to using a side “throw”, where I had the plane about 90-degrees to my body. I faced the side of the board, and moved the plane so it was going the length of the slab, which actually felt much less awkward. I saw @Paul Sellers use this planing technique in a video he posted some while ago, so figured I might give it a try. Everyone reading this, should give this planing motion/position a try, as it can help to spread the load around to other muscles, since the load can be significant on bench top constructions.

I’m going to head back out to the shop, but thought an update on progress could both give me a little break, and keep all of my readership informed.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Lee Laird

New Saw Sharpening Vise – what a beast

Posted by is9582 on March 5, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve recently written about my earlier saw sharpening vise, which I made 5 years ago, and after finishing the article I thought about building a beefier version. I moved in a totally different direction, with the new vise build. I met Jason Thigpen (Texas Heritage Woodworks) at the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks Event in Round Rock, TX, […]

What to use – My Hock Drawknife of course!

Posted by is9582 on February 16, 2015 with No Commentsas , , , , , , ,

Ok, I’m sure there are some readers asking themselves if they’ve somehow missed a big announcement about a new tool from the Hock Tools. While it is possible this could be the case, but this drawknife isn’t one that you missed. I wrote an article for Highland Woodworking recently discussing my need for a tool […]