Full Chisel Blog

January 13, 2013

Experimental Archaeology

Filed under: Historical Material,Moses T's,Of Interest,Techniques,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 10:41 am


And I don’t even need a degree to call myself an Experimental Archaeologist.  I have even done some Experiential Archeology, but I won’t get into that now.  I even think I am going to add ‘Experimental Archaeologist’ to my business card.

This is an experiment I did with a formula from The Universal Receipt Book 1824 for cutler’s cement.

cutler's cement

When I asked for yellow potter’s clay at the local pottery supply house, the salesperson recommended kaolin pipe clay, the stuff they have is white but when a liquid is added it is yellow.  This was 1/2 teaspoon of iron filings to 3 teaspoons of kaolin pipe clay and enough Moses T’s Gunstocker’s Finish [75% linseed oil] to the consistency of putty.

cutler's cement1

I fastened two small carving gouges and an awl into maple handles.  I had tried hide glue, hot shellac, hot pitch, nothing worked they all eventually worked loose.  So far the gouges have performed admirably and the awl is very secure.  They have dried for 30 days before I tested and used them.  I did leave a sample to dry and the thin parts dried in a couple of weeks, thicker material took longer but did harden up.

cutler's cement3

Notice squeeze out

cutler's cement2






I am going to affix the wrought iron shaft of this mulling iron made by Master Blacksmith Mark Schramm to a curly maple handle.  The iron was etched with garlic.  This will be subject to repeated heating’s so I want to see how it holds up.

cutler's cement4

I also attached a handle to a jeweler’s saw, when I got the saw the handle was attached to the end of the adjustable part of the saw.  The handle has a basswood  shim to fill the large void.  I barbed the edges of the tang and etched it with a clove of garlic.

The kaolin pipe clay will act as a drying agent for the linseed oil in the cement as well as the filling material.  The iron filings also behave as a metallic dryer as well as providing mechanical entanglement for the cutler’s cement.



  1. Experimentalist Archaelogist?

    Comment by Gary Roberts — January 13, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

  2. Stephen, That is fasten-ating. Sorry, I couldn’t help it. But it was indeed interesting. I have some carving handles to put on. So far nothing as worked well.
    I noted that you used garlic to etch with. Does that work well?

    I have been using some old recipes to clean wood without hard chemicals, so I’m always on the lookout for new old ideas.

    Thanks for the blog. I have been working on conservation and rebuilding when necessary for 30(ish) years, but just started carving. I have taken classes with Allan Breed and I hope to get some from Mary May soon. I have discovered carving. It is something I really enjoy, so I hope you will keep the carving side coming as well.

    Comment by John Elliott — January 14, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

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