Full Chisel Blog

October 29, 2009

Spinning Wheel repair…

and a couple of bellows boards for a bee smoker.

I managed to find enough chestnut to make the repairs on this American Spinning Wheel (the famous not a German Wheel).  I turned up two missing spokes and this is the dry assembled piece.  I also had to make tenons for all but one of the spokes.  Spinning wheels usually only have their tenons on the hub side, the rim side is slip fit and held with pegs.

The above assembly is called a ‘speech’.

I had to repair some chips on the wheel itself, also made of chestnut.  These two repairs are to the off side of the wheel and are aesthetic in nature, just to make the wheel look better.  This damage would not interfere with the wheel operating properly.

I had to match the grain, remove the damage and make good gluing surfaces (Hide Glue of course) and cut the new pieces to match.

I have shaped some of the repairs, I did that with a small curved bottom bronze patternmaker’s spoke shave and shaped the outside with a 1/4 and 1/2 inch chisel.  I will finish off the other two repairs on another day.

I also made three wire hooks for the flyer.  I used piano wire (of which I have a great deal) for the hooks, cut and bent them to the proper shape.

The flyer is made of white oak and has seen some wear and has been repaired with soft wire twisted around the ends.  It has a fracture that I need to deal with and I am going to remove the wire repairs.  It is in good enough condition, and I always maintain as much of the original as possible, I am going to do repairs, first applying Hide Glue to the fractures and then by serving fine linen twine around the arms of the flyer (as soon as I make a serving mallet), followed by a coat or two of thin varnish.  (By the way McCloskey’s Marine Spar Varnish has gone up to $60.00 a Gallon!).

While at the shop I made up a couple of bellows boards for a reproduction bee smoker that Mr. Lelegren over at Hot Dip Tin is making.  It is a copy of one in a local museum.  The large hole will have a leather flap valve allowing air to be sucked into the bellows and the small hole will have a small valve to allow air out of the bellows.  The small hole was drilled with a 3/8″ Duck Billed Spoon Bit from Lee Valley, I used it to drill the hole to allow the coping saw blade to go through and cut the hole.  I smoothed them up with a round file.

I ended up using my sawing jack upside down on the bench held with a hold fast.  This is one of the few instances that I use a saw on the pull stroke, the saw being fit up with a coping saw blade.


October 21, 2009

Tool Handle Treatment

Filed under: Historical Material,Nautical,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 12:18 pm

While this is nautical in nature, certain types of knot work lend themselves to woodworking.  While this is not a woodworking tool, it is a handy tool for any shop.  And the shaft is made of 1/2″ hickory, so some woodwork is involved.

The leather strap is attached through a hole in the hickory shaft, using a knot out of Ashley’s Book of Knots and is quite clever.  The leather ‘hand’ is a pattern of my left hand, I take a personal hand in the demise of the flies.  The needle hitching is done with waxed linen thread.

This is called needle hitching and it is a little tricky to get the tension correct as you can see in my first attempt.  Where the pattern is fine, I pulled too hard when I was hitching the loops, I lightened up and got a better pattern.

I also tried my hand at fender hitching on a small ink bottle.  Next time I will put more hitches to add more ribs.  The wooden needle case has a Turk’s head knot varnished to the lid and I did a needle hitch down the sides.  I still need more practice.

I have a couple of mallets that I am going to put some kind of hitching on, both to give them a better grip and it makes them look attractive.

I am also going to do some hitching (not sure whether fender or needle) on a couple of hand blown bottles I have, and I think I am going to needle hitch some thick linen thread on the bottom of a beer bottle.  I will then varnish it to harden and use it to keep my hand from warming the beer prematurely.


October 19, 2009

Universal Receipt Book is available

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Publications,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 4:25 pm

At long last, I have copies of the 1824 Universal Receipt Book in hand.  This one has been a particular struggle to get from the original document to the finished copy.  First I had to pay a book binder $100.00 to properly take the book apart to individual signatures.  I then had to copy every single page and that was a chore as the book has 848 pages.


This photograph does not do the cover justice, you will have to see it in person to appreciate its great looks.

I also had to re-scan the last 200 pages, three times in order to get a good image, but it was well worth the time.  I also had problems with the galley proof I received from the printer.  The inside front and back cover were not included and their software changed one word on the title page, and I dealt with both those issues and the book was done.

The time and effort was well worth the investment as the books look great.  I would like to thank Joel Moscowitz, Gary Roberts and Kari Hultman, Joel’s blog had pictures of old period texts, Gary made some suggestions and Kari put it all together on the cover, great job.

I showed the mock-up/galley proof of the book to a friend who had seen the original and his comment was that the re-print was easier to read than the original.  And it is true, much of the bleed through and foxing just doesn’t show up on the scans.  There are still some smudges and spots but nothing that interferes with reading and enjoying the printed text.

Books are on their way to New York and Joel will have them shortly, I have already approved the text for his catalogue and the book will also be offered on his website.

I really haven’t had an opportunity to read the entire volume as I wanted to spare the original, so I know what I will be reading in the next couple of weeks.  (I will be mailing out individually ordered books tomorrow.)


October 16, 2009

Nantucket Shoals Lighthouse Ditty Bag

Filed under: Historical Material,Nautical,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 12:07 pm

And the wooden parts and tools used to make this ‘reproduction’ of an original illustrated in Clifford W. Ashley’s Book of Knots.  It is slightly smaller in all dimensions of the original, as I was limited by the scrap of 1/2 inch pine I had.  It is 5 1/2 inches in diameter, 8 inch tall canvas bag with a double stitched seam, with an inch and a half stitched top seam and a half inch folded seam on the bottom.  The bottom is secured with a 1/2″ leather tape held with brass canoe tacks.


The netting was done with this netting needle, the smallest one I have ever made and the first row is stitched on and gauged with a small 5/8″ wooden spool for spacing.  The first row is waxed linen string and the subsequent rows were done with waxed elm flax string.  The net on top of the bag is 5 inches from the top of the bag to the leather gathering strap.  The service berry wooden toggle is lashed in a loop that forms the gathering strap/lanyard.

I also used this lignum vitae seam rubber to smooth the stitched seams flat as well as shape the damp canvas to form straight seams.  One face is convex and the other face is smooth.


October 13, 2009

Out of the woodwork

Filed under: Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 12:34 pm

Well, the Haunted Village has started at This is the Place Heritage Park and this year I requested a non-screaming position (one where I didn’t have to scream), all positions cause the guests to scream.

This year I am in one of the historic buildings (the Andrus Half Way House, half way between Great Salt Lake City and Provo, about 30 miles south.)  They constructed a special doorway with the upper panel removed and replaced with some sort of flexible material.  The hall is dark, with just two small sconces on the opposite wall.


When people come in I push a Styrofoam head into the material.  This picture is actually my face, I don’t use it because some people get freaked out and hit the head.  It is either real scary for people or they comment on how ‘cool’ the effect appears.

Lots of fun.


October 12, 2009

Rigger’s Knife

Filed under: Historical Material,Nautical,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Sharpening,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 4:25 pm

Well, I picked up this Green River knife blank when at Ft. Bridger Rendezvous and ground off the end to make it a rigger’s knife.  Riggers worked up in the yards, so the knife had no point just in case it was dropped.  I have no intentions of going up in the yards.

I selected some curly maple, to match my other tools.  I split the slab in half, then smoothed it with a rasp and toothing plane.  I found a large round wire nail that matched a drill bit and fit through the two holes in the handle of the blade.  I cut the wire nail into two pieces, slightly longer than the thickness of the two handle slabs and the blade.  I then peened one end to give it a slight rivet head. 

I etched the metal blade handle with garlic, then used LV Fish Glue to secure the handle.  I then peened the other side of the rivet to secure the handle.  Just in case I served some hemp cord around the handle until the glue dried.  When I washed off the glue, I got the handle completely wet to raise the grain. 

I used a flat chisel to shape the handles, avoiding the metal of the blade and the two rivets.  I then scraped the surfaces and raised the grain again. 

After it dried I scraped the surfaces smooth and stamped my name in the handle.  Then a coat of linseed oil/turpentine and it is ready to go.  I may or may not add a lanyard to the knife.

This knife is handy for cutting rope.  Properly used the rope is placed on a stump or board, the knife placed where the cut should be and the back of the knife is struck with a marline spike, belaying pin or mallet to cut the rope.


October 11, 2009

To proper scale

Filed under: Historical Material,Layout Tools,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 3:41 pm

Or as a rule(r), this one is quite nice.  A friend of mine picked this up at a local flea market and I quickly acquired it from him.  He knew I would appreciate having one made of boxwood instead of modern materials.  I have an Engineers scale made of plastic and this one is much nicer.

I didn’t think I needed to include the gnomon as the size is well marked.

I am not sure when the triangular shape was introduced, this one looks like an early twentieth century school model.  It does say U.S. ST’R on it but I am not sure what that means other than United States Standard.  It is not an Engineers scale and I think it is an Architects scale.  It has the following scales: 1/16, 3/16, 3/32, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 3.8, 3/4, 1 1/2 and 3 inch.

It is in remarkable condition, not big dents or missing wood, the lettering is sharp and almost all of the finish is in tact.  It had some surface ink that was easily removed using the universal solvent, spit.  The edge is ideal for inking because of its angle, you don’t get any bleed under as the bottom edge of the very edge is behind the top edge of the edge.

Anyone have any idea when the triangular scale was introduced?  And what is the difference between a scale and a ruler?



October 7, 2009

Universal Receipt Book – Galley Proof

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Publications,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:22 am

Yesterday, after much technical delay, I received the galley proofs of the Universal Receipt Book.  (I cut out the cover, folded it and put in all the loose galley pages.)  I had to re-scan the last 200 pages three times, the first time, the pages were too dark and two up on the scan.   The first attempt didn’t work (had to be one up) but the second had problems (re-scanned the 200 pages again) and the last one took.  It is the thickest book the printer has ever made.  They had to use thinner paper in order to be able to get it bound.  The photograph doesn’t give you an idea of its bulk, it is 1 5/8″ thick and the printing of the pages is good.  I was worried about the size of the print, but it actually is easier to read than the original.  The cover is also a bit greener in person.

There is some foxing and bleed through that showed up in the scan, I did what I could to make it easier to read.  And all of the text can be easily discerned.  Not bad for a book that is 185 years old.

I am very pleased with the Cover of the book, a joint effort from Joel’s Blog to Gary Roberts suggestions and culminating in the brilliant work of Kari Hultman who put it all together.

While the production of this book has been a nightmare, with repeated obstacles and set backs, it is just about done.  I need to make sure the inside covers of the book document gets included.  There is also one technical problem with the title page, one word was changed into a modern font, but that is an easy repair.  Should have books in hand next week!


October 6, 2009

Oldest Tool* I have ever made…

Filed under: Historical Material,Nautical,Of Interest,Proper Tools,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 8:54 am

and I didn’t realize it until I was done and looking at the completed bone needle.  I needed this for my rope and knot work, so I cut it out of an inexpensive bone roach spreader.  Used by Native Americans in a dance headrest, they have a long pointed end with notches for lashing it to the headdress.  *Of course this is not the oldest tool in terms of chronology, I still have a square and ruler I made in 1973, but the oldest style tool.

At this point I had already repositioned the piece of bone twice, only exposing a bit above the jaws.  I generally followed the layout lines in pencil.  I then used a rasp and a series of files to get it to shape.  I used a scraper to smooth them down, then buffed them with white rouge on a leather hand buffer.  The holes were drilled with a small drilled and worried to shape.  Bone works well with woodworking tools, it is just harder than wood.  It does have a grain, in this case it runs from end to end, no doubt a cow rib bone.

This is the rough cut outs, I knew I would get two small needles and it wasn’t until I looked at the pieces, I realized I could get a large needle.  I can use that for seat bottoms, etc.

I had not yet polished the large needle.  Once I got the hole through the bone I used a round file to elongate the hole.  When I looked at the finished needles, I realized that I had made a tool similar to those made tens of thousands of years ago.


October 5, 2009

Stolen Woodcarving

Filed under: Carving,Historical Material,Of Interest,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:32 pm

This is one of four woodcarvings done by a friend of mine Richard McDonald for the Assembly Hall Organ on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The originals were carved in 1984.


It is rift sawn white oak 7/8″ thick and 3 1/2″ in diameter.  It was pried off the organ and is now missing.  It has a pencil inscription on the back that says ‘Sego Lily’.  The one in the photograph is one of the remaining three that was carefully removed so Richard could make another to replace the one that was stolen.

I hope this makes it difficult to sell, if you see this for sale on the Internet or anywhere else, notify authorities.


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