Archive for the Tool Making Category

Why I write Make Stuff With Your Hands

Posted in Blathering, Forging, knifemaking, metalwork, Tool Making, Woodworking on May 6, 2010 by Jim

An ulterior motive!

Could it be that I have a sneaky ulterior motive? Well of course. Sort of. Except, it is not sneaky, nor ulterior.

I love to teach, I really do. I want to teach classes on how to build things. I want to write books that help people learn how to build things. So many of the techniques that I use, I learned in books and I want to write one of those great books. I want to write something as amazing as The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking by James Krenov. I want to write something as useful as Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. I want to write something as beautiful and inspiring as Sam Maloof, Woodworker. This is why I am here. I practice my writing so I can put my thoughts in words and pictures for you – even as I practice my craft. This blog will help me write a book that will be easy to learn from and full of amazing projects that you will want to build!

Amazing Teachers

I surely did not figure all this out just with books. My dad is a maker and put tools in my hands straight away. I also had an amazing apprenticeship with a master carpenter. Besides being a carpenter, he had an art degree, and was a musician. He stood next to me every day for years and he taught me how to make things. When I asked him if I could be his apprentice, he told me that I could if I promised to pass it along. Passing along making is why I write Make Stuff With Your Kid. I apprenticed under a master furniture maker for a year and he and I inspired each other – then we made a ton of wooden hand planes and patted ourselves on the back a little too much. (but anyway…)

My Future

I am going to keep writing for you. I will share my projects, and if you ask, I will help you with yours. I am making teaching and craft a part of every day of my life. It brings me great joy and I and hope that I can help you like others helped me. (John, you said I had to promise, and here I am!)

Alright, enough jawing already and on to the Craft…

I promised you some draw-knives and here are some draw-knives:

Hand made draw knife

My dad made these little beauties out of an old hand saw blade. I hope to turn some handles for them this weekend. I could not wait for handles, so since I took this picture, I sharpened them and tried them out. The are as sweet as they look. I took a few pulls at a duck decoy I have in the works and they are lovely. I can already tell that these will be my go-to tools for roughing out a new carving.

Thanks for coming by,


Six Micro carving chisels for 20 dollars

Posted in Carving, Forging, Tool Making on March 21, 2010 by Jim

While working on the Praying Machine, I ran into problems carving the wings. I just can’t get up under the edges of the small feathers with the chisels that I have. I looked at Woodcraft and saw that I was going to spend $35 apiece for good carving chisels that would do what I needed to do. Instead of buying those, I made my own.

I got w1 (water hardening) steel rod in 1/16″ and 1/8″ from Speedy Metals for just over two dollars per 3′. I heated the pieces with a torch and pounded the ends out thin. Next, I made the two bends with needle nose pliers. Nearly done, I rough shaped the chisels with files and a grinding wheel:

dog leg micro carving chisel

Here are all the chisels after heating and quenching in water:

handmade micro carving chisels

After quenching, the steel is too hard – brittle like glass really- so I put them in the oven at 450 for a couple of hours to temper the hardness some.  With the steel I used, that should bring me to a hardness that will hold an edge but not break.

Next step was to polish them on a felt wheel with a little rouge:

Polished Micro Carving Chisels

You can see that they are all dog legged.  I made a center v cutting chisel, a right cutter, and a left cutter in each size rod. That should let me get to each part of the feathers on my project.

I heated the handle end of each rod hot again and pressed them into tightly drilled holes in cherry handles:

Micro Carving Chisels cherry handles

I am really pleased with how they turned out and I saved myself quite a bit of money. Shipping included, I spent  20 dollars in total. With the small sized steel I was using, I was able to do the forging with just a hardware store propane torch and I had scraps in the bin for the handles.  All in all, it was a productive Saturday.

Happy Making,


A day for making tools

Posted in Tool Making on February 28, 2010 by Jim

Today was a day for making tools. I was in need of file handles and I hate paying five dollars for one when I have a full scrap box in the shop. Making the handles got me fired up so I also made a maple and cherry mallet, and a shooting board.

Chisel handles maple mallet shooting board

The hand plane behind the shooting board is one I made while reading of all the James Krenov books.