Reducing the set on my tenon saw – Part V: (The handle)

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This post forms part of the “Reducing the set on my tennon saw” series.

What a journey this has been, and what a transformation.

Last week my pear wood arrived for the handles, and the bolts arrived in the late mail on Thursday, all ready for my Friday off. Yesterday involved cutting out the handle and shaping the handle. I’ve been reading about rasps, as my current file collection consists of some old steel files and newer Aldi types. How a nice rasp would have simplified the shaping process. None the less, the router with a round over bit took care of the large radiuses, whilst a huge effort with sand paper took care of the minor curves and smoothing the router marks.

As my smallest chisel is 6 mm, I fashioned a 3.5 mm chisel from an unused cheep screwdriver as per Paul’s suggestion. It worked a treat in cutting out the recess for the spine. A much better result than my test handle. And I now have a small chisel for other projects too!

I had to trim the saw plate to fit the new handle profile, so again used Ian’s method, but this time used a flat guide bar which worked perfectly. I figured that rather than continue the cut all the way at the new angle, why not leave a little tail, following the contour of the handle. I think it worked rather nicely.

Drilling out the bolt holes proved a triumph. Ian had provided me with wonderful detail of how to prepare for and set the bolts. I read it once when he sent it, and again directly before doing anything permanent. I borrowed a 1/2 ” spade bit from my dad as I have no imperial bits. It was a little blunt; good thing I’ve recently acquired my saw sharpening badge, as this allowed me to put a nice edge on the spade bit. the holes were nice and crisp. Following Ian’s suggestion, I knocked the bolts in a little way to leave an impression of the square section, and using my new mini chisel, pared and hacked out a rough approximation of a square.

Finally it was time for a test assembly. The only issue was that I didn’t have a split washer driver, and looking around the shed, I really wasn’t keen on grinding away the thinnest steel stock I had on hand until it was thin enough. Then it dawned on me, why not simply use some of the blade off-cut. And that’s what I did. I fashioned a handle out of some spotted gum, as it’s very hard, and should resist the twisting of the blade well (and it did). The “blade” is held in with epoxy, so was left overnight to dry.

Whilst the screwdriver was drying, I put on several coats of shellac. It was a little cool yesterday, so gave it a little more time for the alcohol to evaporate before adding subsequent coats. I wrote my name and date below the cow’s tongue then applied about five coats in total.

I left it all to set overnight, and bright and early this morning I gave the handle a rub with steel wool, and applied a coat of wax. Good thing my new favourite finishing technique (shellac, steel wool, wax)is so versatile! And because I’m not a complete savage I shaped my new screwdriver so that it was comfortable in the hand.

Final assembly time.

I think it is simply stunning, and am so pleased with the result. The only problem now is that I can’t simply hang it alongside the rest of my saws. This one needs somewhere special. Another reason to forge ahead with my tool cabinet.

This post is sponsored by Ian and Mike, who very generously donated the saw bolts and pear wood. Thank-you, your gift is truly appreciated.

And just because it’s nice to remember where it all started.

May 2019

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