Tuesday, June 28, 2022

New Old Disston


My friend Nick Turner (check out his knives, they're beautiful) gave me this old 26" Disston skewback. I haven't measured it, but it looks to me like about 10 tpi.

It was in pretty sad condition, but fundamentally sound — the plate was very rusty, but straight, and Disston's steel is (or was) excellent. No missing or misshapen teeth, which is unusual in a neglected antique like this. The handle was shabby and all the old finish was peeling off, but the wood is still sound.

I dropped the plate into a salt-and-vinegar bath overnight, and refined and refinished the handle. After it came out of the bath, I scrubbed the plate down with steel wool to remove the rust layer, gave the whole thing a going over with a wire wheel, and then wiped over a light coat of oil.

The plate went back into the handle again, and with a good sharpening it's cutting as good as new. Or as good as old, which is better.

I think this is going to become my favourite ripsaw. It cuts good and straight with a nice narrow kerf, and with no bows or kinks to get in the way.

It's pity that I didn't get a "before" photo; you'll just have to use your imagination.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

New Saw

I've been reshaping the handle of the Spear & Jackson skew-back saw I got from Amazon. It will have very little effect on the usefulness of the saw, but I'll like it better. I've given it a few coats of shellac, which should probably have been a bit thinner to get a properly smooth finish, but never mind.

The original handle is fitted with brass-plated locking studs, and they work just fine — if they ever get a bit loose, all you have to do is hit them with a hammer. However, it does mean that the handle can't be easily removed as they have to be drilled out and destroyed to do so. I replaced them with connector bolts and caps, since actual genuine brass saw nuts are amazingly expensive.

I had to anneal the saw plate around its holes so that I could drill them out to 8mm. I could have just drilled them out without all that faffing around if I'd had any 8mm cobalt bits, but I don't. As far as the saw's function is concerned, the discoloration is just aesthetic, but one side-effect of the annealing is that the plate got a bit deformed in that area, which makes it a bit more difficult to get the handle on to the plate. Not impossible, just more difficult.

The discoloration on the plate came away with a bit of scrubbing with emery tape, so that's all right then.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Oak Platter


Not very spectacular, but quite fun to make, this is just a platter turned from a grungy old oak off-cut. It's about 240mm in diameter, and about 25mm at its thickest. This is about the largest diameter my little lathe will handle.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Knife Re-Handling


This is my favourite kitchen knife. It's a very old freezing works butcher's knife, from way back in the day before they started using plastic-handled knives, and it's been sharpened and sharpened over the decades until now it's reached the proportions of a boning knife.

Its old handle was rimu I think, and it had suffered badly from years and years of being submerged in dishwashing water, and had warped badly. The slot cut to accept the knife tang had splayed open, creating a nasty place for dirt and fat and bacteria to collect. So I decided to make a new handle for it, to keep the knife alive.

I used a piece of oak, which is not an ideal timber for this purpose, but it's what I've got. It's not a fancy handle, but it is functional, which is all it needs to be.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Porridge Bowl


One sure way to find out all the cracks and flaws hiding inside a piece of wood is to put it on a lathe and try to make something nice out of it.

This piece of oak looked fine from the outside, but once the outside was gone, all of its cracks and things became glaring plain. Hey-ho, never mind.

The shape of this bowl is based more or less on a porridge bowl I had as a child. It flares out towards its flat base, so that it's harder for a toddler to up-end and get porridge all over everything.

The piece is 170mm in diameter by 45mm tall.