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Making and Using Handtools

  Making Burnisher and Other Tools by Charlie Driggs  

First is an update on that Zaffuto burnisher - it needed some additional care, as the piece of plum branch I used to turn a handle turned out to be not quite fully seasoned. A few days after I finished it, a leettle crack started forming at a tiny knot in the handle. I went on vacation for a week, and when I returned, that crack had propagated about 4 inches, including through the end of the handle to the former center of the branch, and was headed in the other direction for the ferrule.

So, I used a back saw to kerf out the crack, found a scrap strip of cherry about the right size to fit, cleaned out the cut with a 3/32" chisel, fit the cherry, glued it up, shaped the repair to match the handle profile, scraped and sanded everything smooth, waxed out, and it is usable again without pinching my palm.

Ahhh, well, better a save than just sorry.

This morning I broke down and bought a new 20oz. finishing hammer I've been eyeing for a while.  Not an old tool, but a surprisingly well balanced modern Stanley product with a forged head and vibration damping handle.  Works very nicely.

That got me thinking about the rest of my hammers again, and the rock hammer I had brought back from my uncles'/grandfather's farm three years ago stared back at me from the hammer drawer.  The one with the half-broken through handle just below the head.  So, I went out in the garage/small wood stock seasoning center and retrieved a two year resident elm branch the right size.  Shaped the new handle, removed the old handle, and cleaned up the head a bit before mounting it on the new handle.

A curve in the branch produced a very comfortable shape in the handle, and another slight curve in the horizontal plane provided a small amount of offset that seems more comfortable in swinging this hammer.

I like it so far, and now that old tool is useful again.

Charlie Driggs
Newark, DE
July 2007

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English Chisel


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