Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Squirrel Handle and Henning Norgaard Inspired Table Part II

You'll remember in my last post I indulged in a bit of ADD Woodworking, I started to rehandle a mortise chisel shortly after starting a major project.

The good news is I finished it.
My handle next to a Gramercy Ray Isles mortise chisel.

You'll remember I left off with this photo:
Unfortunately I didn't think to take many pictures of the hard parts of this project. The tang of the chisel was rectangular in shape, which was a bigger challenge than previous chisels I've done with square tangs. I found a planemaker's edge float was helpful.

The other part of this project that was important was layout. I started with an oversize block of beech. Once the chisel was mostly seated, I drew new layout marks on the blank consisting of centerlines based on the blade of the chisel, since it was expectedly off-center now.

With that done, I marked the shape of the handle from the center points. This handle is essentially square and tapers in both directions from small at the bolster to bigger at the end.

Once that was marked, I used my Dick Saw (a Ryoba Japanese pull saw from Dictum's line of tools labeled "Dick") to cut on my lines for the rough shape of the handle.

From there it was just a matter of cleaning everything up. I had the best luck with my block plane, although I did chew up the blade pretty well by the time it was done. I suppose I knicked the metal bolster a time or two, and a scraper.

Once the general shape felt good in my hand, I did no more measuring. I figured I could have chased my tail all night getting everything perfect. In the end, the tool should work, even if it isn't millimeter perfect.
Cleaning up the ratty bits with my block plane...

...and my card scraper.
Having smoothed the square bits, I did the chamfers, continuing the pattern from the bolster. In the end it looks more square than octagonal.
I might re-do the chamfers on the end to make them much bigger.
I even decided I should practice with my maker's stamp.
On the other hand, it doesn't look so bad.
I'm pleased, and now have a 3/4" pigsticker that can be used.
Whether or not I ever have a project that needs it is another story.
I also will need to sharpen it someday, as it is as blunt as could possibly be.

It is quite comfortable to hold.
As far as the table goes, I bought some ash (Fraxinus excelsior) for the base. This is beautiful, straight grained stuff. To make the table extra special, I will cut the pieces out so the grain runs at a 45 degree angle, making each face look the same rather than have quarter sawn on one face and flat sawn on the other.
To do this requires a bit of creative sawing. This is actually quite easy to do with a hand saw.
Here is one finished stick. 15 more and I'll be able to start the joinery!
A fellow Munich woodworker let me borrow him and his shop long enough to run my oak tops through his jointer/planer. That saved me quite a bit of time.
A preview of the top of the table.
The table top will be about 28 inches square.
I will have a few days before I get any more shop time, so I will let these oak pieces acclimate a few days before I do anything else with them. Clamping them up will hopefully prevent them from turning into potato chips.

Next time I will glue up the panel, plane the bottom flat and install some cross battens to keep the panel flat over time.


  1. That handle looks really good.
    I think that clamping the top before letting it rest is a good idea. Hopefully it will prevent movement.

    1. Thanks, Jonas. I'm pleased with the handle. I've been screwed with warping boards before, hopefully this works.

  2. Good timely post, that remind me I have a couple pigsticker that need new handles...

    I tried before to clamp wooden maple slats to prevent twist, the dam stuff twisted between the clamps!! If wood wan to move, its going to...
    Im sure glad you clarify the dick saw, had me worry there for a sec :-)

    1. One bit of warning: I wasn't exactly careful and as a result the blade on my block plane will need to be ground out.

      The oak panels should be OK like this until I get a chance to smooth plane them after glue up. They have been acclimating in my shop since well before Christmas.

  3. Yeah, dick saw isn't the cleverest term in the world and can be confusing :-)
    The handle is well done.
    How easy is Ash to handle with hand tools?

    1. Well, the company has been around a long time. Lucky for us English speakers.

      I really like working with this ash. I have been lucky and had really straight grained and clear stuff to work with. It planes silky smooth, and I've had no problems cutting it. I did try to turn some a couple years back, and found it a bit splintery and rough, but it probably had more to do with my (lack of) technique than anything.

  4. Nice looking handle! By the way, I'm going to borrow your expression to buy time, "I need to let the oak pieces acclimate a few days, then I'll get around to it". Funny though, I don't think my wife will buy that... Best Regards. John