A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Monday, 16 December 2013

As the Wood Turns

I have been quite busy lately with travel and have been challenged to finish the Christmas presents that have been ordered by friends and family. I am pleased to say things are done and this past weekend I have been doing a little shop project for myself.

Blue Spruce (USA) Cocobolo Handled Chisels and Mallet
(you may recognize this shot from last year's tool calendar)
A while ago I decided I wanted to make a set of handles for the new Veritas PMV11 line of chisels that Lee Valley brought out last year. Most of the user chisels I have are made from various exotic handle materials, and I felt these should be no different. A few of my current users are to the right.
The Blue Spruce set is my main bench set that stays in my bench tool slots and I have the full range including the beveled, fishtail and marking tools.
Harold & Saxon (Aus), rippled blackwood bench chisels and
Australian ironwood mortise chisel set. These boxes allow them
to be stored and kept organized when being used, the chisels are
held into place with rare earth magnets.

The Harold & Saxon bench chisels are the ones for prolonged dovetailing sessions. made from one of the hardest tool steels in the world, I can usually make an entire project without feeling the need to re-sharpen.  The mortise chisels are very substantial and take a serious licking and of course stay razor sharp throughout the abuse.

BRW Blanks - aren't they precious??
The Veritas chisels' project commanded some nice handle material. I really wanted Ebony, but after searching high and low was unable to locate blanks of the requisite size, so I looked for inspiration elsewhere. I recently scouted some local old stock Brazilian Rosewood for a buddy who was shopping from afar and needed eyes on the prize before pulling the trigger. He did not buy everything they had, so I picked up a couple for myself. These were old stumps that had been harvested long after the trees had turned into guitars elsewhere; the price was right and these blanks all had the awesome figure that we love in BRW and the stump areas have more figure than normal tree sections - I was in love...

Once I cut into the larger piece the figure amazed me and the turning project was on. The challenge for me was getting the handles' shape to match the originals and for them to be close to identical in shape - lots of stopping the lathe and checking with the caliper to make sure everything was in spec. I chose not to shape the flat that the originals had on the handles, as these will be used in a box like the H&S ones above.

I also managed to score a couple of advance copies of the 3/16" and 1/8" sizes to make a complete set in one go. I have been advocating for the 1/8" size for a while; I understand they are VERY hard to make which is why they are not that common. Having used this one for a couple of weeks now, I think Veritas has nailed this and I would strongly recommend this for almost any type of woodworking - one of those tools you don't think you need, but cannot live without once you have had one. I have a 3mm one I bought from a luthier supply house many years ago which is on my wall rack, ready to be used on every project.

Okay, okay, enough pontificating already, here's the money shot:

Brazilian Rosewood Veritas PMV11 Bench Chisels (L-R 1",3/4",1/2",3/8",1/4',3/16",1/8")

Thanks to my friends at Lee Valley for helping out with this project; I hope I have done their work justice.


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