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Vintage Tools


Making and Using Tools - Tool Handles


Quilted Madrone Handles by Scott Grandstaff

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Well, I was desperate for tool handle stock.  I like a larger grip and more curve than stock designs. And needed to fit some obsolete tools you can't buy standard mill handles to fit anyway.  So I decided to try the madrone.

I can't say its much fun carving it.  The stuff is slightly harder than granite.  I have carved ebony that was way easier.  It just doesn't want to cut.  It'll cut reluctantly with a shallow cutting tool like a spokeshave.  It does scrape well enough with scrapers.  But a razor sharp Jas Swan 10" drawknife will hardly even bite it.  You start to cut and it just bogs.  Just stops and feels like you are trying to cut into solid delrin plastic (think football helmet) or something.

I don't really even know how long the handles are going to hold up.  Maybe forever. If I grip the tool head and the bottom of the handle and twist with all I have, they don't even flex.

Because the early and latewood is the same color, the figure doesn't show like it does on maple for instance, but its there, no doubt about it, its there.

Better stand back when I pick this up. Its not joking.

I have worked the hammer pretty hard now in down and dirty heavy garage mechanic work.  Feels fantastic and very strong.  I like to make and weld straps onto all my heavy hammers. A strapped hammer lasts 10 times longer because 90 of all handle breaks occur just below the eye and the straps stop that.  I like to say, "Lasts until somebody steals it!" heh heheh...

Better stand back even a little further :)

I have only "messed around" carving with the ax so far.  But it was built for business, believe me. A broad hatchet this size (6" edge and 2 1/2 pounds) and especially with a handle you can hang onto, will flat bite into some wood, or anything else you swing it at.  On your very first meaningful swing with one like this, and razor sharp, you know for sure you better watch your a--.  You are playing in the big league now.

yours Scott
November, 2010

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