Full Chisel Blog

June 8, 2014

Tapered Reamer with a spokeshave blade

Yes this one has been on my list ever since I saw it illustrated in Salaman”s book and I did a more detailed sketch on page 48 of Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker originally published in 1981.

Richard McDonald did the turning in hard maple for me, and Mark Schramm made the special long spokeshave blade, similar to these but 4″ long with short 1″ tangs.  [If you are interested in one of these blades send me an email.]

spokeshave tapered reamer

The layout was interesting and a bit challenging to get the cutting edge near the center line of the turning.  I drilled the through holes with gimlet bits starting with my smallest and working up a couple of sizes.  I then worried the square holes with a small 1/8″ chisel and used the ends of the tangs to scrape the holes to their final shape.

spokeshave tapered reamer2

I then had to cut off some of the lower tang so it did not protrude from the wood on the back side.  I waited until it was fit up before I sharpened the blade with a file and honed it on a whetstone.

spokeshave tapered reamer1

I had to make a recess for the chips to escape and not clog up the works as it cuts the taper.  I used a small gouge to carve the shape then one of my Tombstone Scrapers to smooth it out and deepen the channel.

All in all, I am happy with how it turned out and how well it works, even though it was not the easiest tool I have ever made it is finally off the list.

Now where is that list to see what is next up?


March 3, 2014

Walking Wheel Spindle Head Repair III

The walking wheel spindle head repair is complete and now that I have a proper size mailing box I will put it into the post soon.  Here is the first part, and here is the second part.spindle head12This is the small pulley repair with its first coat of stain to match the original.

spindle head3a

This is the pulley with the final stain and ready for the installation of the whorl, end, or flange of the iron spindle.  I first roughened up the area where the whorl will be fixed, then I washed it down with alcohol and etch the metal and the inside of the maple whorl with a fresh clove of garlic.  It is attached with Fish Glue.

spindle head7a

The whorl glued in place with its first coat of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil and yellow ocher dry powdered pigment.  I allowed 24 hours to dry before moving on to the next step.

spindle head7b

A coat of thinned shellac and a coat of burnt umber dry powdered pigment with a bit of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil.

spindle head13

Another thin coat of shellac then some Oil with black iron oxide which was allowed to dry overnight.  The final coat was thin shellac.

spindle head14

I had prepared the braided corn husks for the bearings and attached them with hemp string.  I will include a couple extra braided corn shuck bearings for future replacement when and if necessary.  I also included a hemp drive band treated with Drive Belt Dressing.

Job done.



February 19, 2014

Walking Wheel Spindle Head Repair II

I started talking about this restoration here.   I made a drawing for making a new maple whorl [head or flange] on the spindle.spindle head4

This is the whorl temporarly fit to the metal spindle, I will later roughen the spindle slightly, etch with garlic and glue in place with Fish Glue.  spindle head7

Here is what the mother-of-all looked like when it arrived, I discussed replacing the obviously newer maiden with a proper one.  My client said that would be fine but insisted as much of the original should be maintained, music to my ears.

spindle head1

Here is the new replacement in birch to match the original.

spindle head6

In order to get the finish to match the original it took several steps, the first is a mixture of Moses T’s St. John’s Oil and yellow ocher dry powdered pigment.

spindle head9

The next step is a coat of shellac with some burnt umber dry powdered pigment.

spindle head10

Then a bit of black iron oxide dry powdered pigment with shellac to get near the final color.

spindle head11

Then some abrasion of the shiny finish and a coat of wood ashes makes it a good match to the original, there is no way to do this in one step to match the old finishes.

Here is the damaged pulley on the shaft together with the replacement part and the pattern that matches what is remaining on the original.

spindle head8

Having fit up the two pieces, I etched them with garlic and glued them in place with Fish Glue.  It was impossible to clamp so I held it in my hands for 10 minutes then set it aside to cure.  A little work with a chisel and I gave it a coat of shellac with burnt umber pigment.  I will add a bit of black later.

spindle head12

I still need to braid up a couple of corn shuck bearings and tie them onto the maidens.  This is an unusual method of attaching the bearings, most are secured through a hole and fixed with a wedge.

spindle head5

I was able to fit the pieces back together to determine just how they were tied on.  This job is nearly complete.



November 27, 2013

Spinning Wheel leg[s] repair

This is a wheel I have been working on for a while, it is a painted lady, base coat of green paint followed by a coat of black paint and lots of grease [lanolin] on some parts.  It had suffered from powder post beetle infestation and the bottoms of the legs were in bad shape.  The legs and other parts are made from beech.

I needed to replace a large part of one leg and add on to the other two legs.  The long repair took place after I removed the damaged portion of the leg, this included the hole where the treadle axle pivots.  The damaged axles had rinded out the pivot hole and will require replacement and repair, this I will show in a later post.

I posted about the turned leg part here.  Here is the photograph of the cut being made; the turned leg is held in V-blocks held in my patternmaker’s vice.

leg repair1

I actually got a fairly square cut considering I was eye-balling the cut, it took just a little work with a chisel to get a good joint.

leg repair2

There is still some worm damage in the leg but the wood is not as punky as the lower part of the leg.

I used the V-blocks to hold the leg upright so I could drill a 1/2″ hole down the center {I wish I had my new doweling jig}, using my Fray & Pigg coachmaker’s brace.  I eye-balled the hole by sighting down at 90 degree angles.

leg repair3

Then a little chisel work and it came out fine.

leg repair4

The replacement part is extra long and will be cut off later.


leg repair5

When gluing up some of the Fish Glue came out one of the worm holes.  Also note that the new part is a bit proud.

leg repair6

I took care of the proud part of the new turning with a chisel, it was easy working down the grain, I smoothed off the chisel marks with a card scraper.  I will do a bit of sanding before painting, which I will do when all repairs have been made.

leg repair7

I used my miter block to cut off the damaged ends of the other legs and will scarf on new pieces of beech on the bottom of each leg, the angle worked out at 45 degrees.  If you look closely you can see the thin wafer of wood I removed to get to sound wood.  Note the rinded out axle hole from the treadle.

leg repair8

This photo shows how the scarf joint will look, the piece is longer than it needs to be.

More later.



July 5, 2013

Carved Mirror Frame Restoration & Gold Leaf

carved frame1

This carved mirror frame is made of some sort of South American hardwood, the species of which I have no idea.  When it was brought to the shop the owner wanted the pretty lavender paint removed for some reason.  So I obliged and suggested maybe they want the sun gilted, to which they agreed.

carved frame2

I removed the paint one section at a time, using blue masking tape to isolate surrounding areas for better control of the stripping process.

carved frame3

carved frame4

carved frame6

carved frame5

I worked my way around the frame again isolating areas with blue painters tape.

Once I had all of the paint removed, I used the slow acting citrus stripper, I cleaned up the surfaces with alcohol then added a thin coat of shellac.

Next I put a coat of gesso on the carving to fill the grain and smooth out the surface.  The gesso is hide glue size and marble dust with a bit of whiting and a touch of red iron oxide.  I lightly sanded between coats until the surface was smooth.

carved frame7

carved frame8

carved frame9

I then mixed up some bole using kaolin pipe clay, red iron oxide and hide glue size and painted it over the gesso.  I applied about 3 coats of the bole, smoothing them with a piece of coarse linen cloth between coats.

Next it was onto the gold size [a mixture of 10% hide glue and 90% distilled water.  I put a couple of coats on allowing them to dry between coats.

carved frame10

carved frame11

carved frame12

On to the gold leaf, because of the nature of the carving [not intended to be gilded] it required several applications to get it covered.  The gold size is made ready by applying gilder’s liquor a mixture of distilled water and alcohol to activate.

I got to use my gilder’s cush and gilder’s knife that I made, also my gilders tip, although I need to make another as the bugs did damage to the bristles.

After I finished I mixed up some shellac, red iron oxide, burnt umber and black iron oxide to cover a bit of gold that got on the side of the carving.  This worked better than trying to scrape off the little bits of leaf.  I also touched up the lighter area on the top right side of the frame.

carved frame13

And the customer was happy.


January 11, 2013

Shepherds’ Compleat Early Nineteenth Century Woodworker – First Review


This is the first book review of my first book that was originally published in hardbound in 1981.  This review appeared in Smithsonian Magazine April 1982.





I found this while doing research at the University of Nevada, Reno at their excellent library.

Now I need to find the reviews in Workbench Magazine, Soldier of Fortune Magazine and Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly.

Available at Tools for Working Wood

and The Full Chisel Store or from Amazon.  Amazon also has original hardbound editions for sale.


December 6, 2012

Traditional Molinillo / Chocolate Pot Stirring Stick

I got an order from the Tinsmith over at Hot Dip Tin for a couple of chocolate pot stirring sticks or molinillos for his chocolate pots.  I looked at many designs mostly from Mexico but did see a few European style from which I took the pattern and created my own version.

While looking around for a piece of maple to make them from, I came across some maple balusters I have been packing around for several years and immediately saw that I could get a stick from each one.

Probably would have been easier to chuck it up and re-turn the top handle, but I chose to shape it with a drawknife, spokeshaves to get the rough shape.  I sawed off the ends and used chisels to carve the round bottom part, both a V chisel and flat chisel to form the reeds.  I used carving gouges to shape the fluted transition to the round handle.  I also used my tombstone scrapers for the final shaping.

I raised the grain and lightly sanded the finished stir stick and applied a coat of Hemp Seed Oil for the finish.  Yes hemp seed oil is a drying oil like linseed oil, walnut oil, and poppy seed oil.

Now to make the other one.


November 29, 2012

Hand Carved Mirror Frame/Looking Glass – Restoration

A friend picked this up in Oregon, he didn’t buy it the first time he was there, but when his wife traveled to Oregon, he had her go find it, which she did with much trouble.  For some reason he doesn’t like the color paint and wanted it restored?

I used a citrus based stripper [in a modern spray can, well it was modern paint] to remove the paint, I did one section at a time, masking the surrounding surfaces with modern blue painter’s tape [it was modern paint!].

After the stripper had been washed and scrubbed of with an old modern plastic toothbrush [it was modern paint/stripper], and water, which I allowed to dry completely.   I washed down with alcohol to remove the residue of stripper.  I also used a brass wire brush to remove some of the residue in the grain and fine crevices of the details of the carvings.

This is a picture with half of the frame treated with Moses T’s Reviver, showing the difference, I then treated the entire frame with Reviver.

I then used a bit of Reviver and added some burnt umber, yellow ocher, and red iron oxide dry powdered pigments and applied a thin coat of this stain over the entire frame.  I also stripped the back and treated it in a similar manner, taking special care that the rebate for the mirror was stripped and stained.  Failing to do so, it will show up when the mirror is installed.

The final photograph is with a coat of very thin shellac.  After I took this picture, I did some minor touch up with shellac and burnt umber and red iron oxide pigments, then applied another fine thin coat of shellac.

The next step will be gesso and bole then gold leaf on the sun carving.  Should be fun.



September 29, 2012

Traditional Tanged Spokeshave Workshop – Reno, NV Sept. 2012

The workshop for the Nevada WoodChucks was a success, at the end all of the people had a usable traditional spokeshave with a tanged blade.  When I teach workshops, I build one to show the various steps, but in this case I didn’t have an opportunity to finish the one I was working on as I had to help a couple of new students with their project.

I did manage to finish mine when I returned home.  It is fancier than most I have made, I usually go for an earlier style like here.

Joe has taken my class before and here he is concentrating on his task of smoothing the throat.

Ed, a vetern of several workshops I have taught in Reno goes about forming the throat of the spokeshave, good two handed technique.

Rod [on the right], another repeat offender brought a friend to audit the class.

Jim is a first time participant in one of my workshops.  I spent additional time with him and Skip another first timer.

Charlie, my youngest student ever [6 years old] had an impressive set of tools, his dad Chuck a turner said his son owned all the bench tools.  Photo below shows a trusting father, with a bit of concern in his look.

Chuck and Charlie watching Rod at work on his spokeshave.

I demonstrated how to use a burn auger and a video was made so here it is.  We turned the fan on after the first one to prevent the smoke alarm from calling the local fire department.

burn auger video

The spokeshave blades required sharpening, which was done with a file.  Two of the blades proved to soft and needed to be heated cherry red, quenched in water, polished bright and heated to temper with a straw color, then quenched.  The spokeshaves were all finished with Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish.



May 29, 2012

Repairing Buddha

A friend of mine brought this to me to do a repair, it is not terribly old, the carving is good but not great and it suffered from a seasoning check.  It may have cracked shortly after being carved, as it is carved from a round log of wood.

It had been ‘repaired’ at least twice, the first time with some sort of colored clay that almost matched the crack.  It had then been worked over with what looks like a wax furniture repair stick, the lighter color.

The crack goes from the toes to the top of the head.  The first repair was almost undetectable, especially under the bright orange wax work.

Using a thin pallet knife and small needle, I removed the previous ‘repairs’.  I also used an old toothbrush to clean off any residue.

I will mix up some Beaumontage with dry powdered pigments and fill the crack.  I choose not to replace the missing with wood as I think the crack will continue and this ‘repair’ can be easily redone in the future.


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