Sunday, April 3, 2011

Some Tool Making

I needed to make some tools.  I don't have a try square at all, and the regular square I've been using is a big steel framing square that came out of my grandfather's tool chest.  It's overkill for 99% of what I do, and I wanted something smaller and lighter.  About this time I discovered Christopher Schwartz's very nice wooden square that is illustrated in Popular Woodworking.  It's beautiful, and I have tons ot strips of maple laying around from gun stocking - no problem at all to plane up some strips and knock this guy out.

I sawed the cheeks on the the tenon of the main junction, then put the mortice down on the bench with a hold fast and chopped out the mortice.

I dressed the mortise out with a pillar file and after several trial fits it folded together nicely.

The cross brace is laid out, the shoulders and half lap mortice cut, and then it's glued in place.  The decorative details on this square are just great - ornate and restrained.  Really nice.

I switched gears and started work on the try square.  I had a block of ebony, and if you have any ebony in your shop, you're definitely going to find uses   for it, it's such a wonderful material.

Ebony body, maple "blade" - is that what you call it?  Not rocket science. 

Pegged and glued.  Tradition calls for three, but two is plenty.  It was pretty much a perfect fit.

I nearly cut my hand on this crisply planed ebony - especially the two bottom corners.  I quickly filed on a decorative treatment that is very comfortable in the hand and looks distinctive.  Working ebony is like working brass - you want to file it and work it more like metal than wood.

Once the layout square was finised, the glue dried, and the surfaces planed and sqared, I slapped on some linseed oil mixed with varnish, colored with a few drops of alcohol stock stain, just to give it some color.  The try square I left unstained, I just used oil and varnish.

Beauty shot.  Not a bad day, and two great,versatile tools that should last a century with care, and can be remade in a few hours at no cost in the shop.  You can't beat that.

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