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The Norse Woodsmith Blog

On the Cusp: Bad Axe Tool Works Back Saws

General:
 

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A Bad-Axe Tool Works Prototype.
 

 Having this web site has given me the great privilege of watching and conversing with some of today's finest toolmakers and restorers from their very beginning.  Every story is different, and all of the toolmakers each have their own individual talents and approaches to challenges, but yet all of them seem to be cut from the same cloth. 

Each are fiercely independent, entrepreneurial, and motivated.  And each want to have their own "stamp" on the tool.  Some are more artistic, some more attached to historical preferences, and some - like Mark Harrell of Techno Primitives.com - are simply out to make a quality tool.

Now, Mark - who has been mostly restoring saws until now - has decided to turn his talents towards sawmaking.  The results look stunning. 

Marking and Cutting Gauges

 

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Figure 1. A freshly made set of marking and cutting gauges, ready for use.
 

 Have you ever had a favorite old tool that you have used absolutely forever, and weren't willing to give it up even though it's worn far past the point of usefulness?  I have two such tools - both, unfortunately, happen to be marking gauges.  One is an old Stanley #97 wheel marking gauge, the other a Stanley #77 mortise gauge.

This errant devotion to these old tools finally led to frustration when I realized that on the #77, the pins had worn down to the point that there wasn't enough pin left to mark anything with.  Over the years I had filed them down to tiny little nubs - there simply wasn't enough of them left to do the job anymore.

Something else - I didn't have a decent cutting gauge, something that I am going to need for my radio cabinet project.  Very similar to a marking gauge in construction, they use a knife blade rather than a pin to cut rather than mark the surface, and are often used when cutting veneer parallel to an edge when installing inlay.

I could buy all the gauges I wanted, but getting all I wanted would cost a bit of cash, and the way things are I figured it might be cheaper (and funner!) to make them myself.  Besides, I had all this brass stock laying around and also had this one, perfectly quartersawn piece of coco-bolo I have been hording since I found it years ago that was just begging to be used for some small tools just like these.

Hammer Veneering a New Top

 

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Figure 1. The finished top, ready for the next stage of the restoration.
 

 The existing mahogany veneered top of my latest project, a refinishing of a 1928 Brunswick radio cabinet for use as an LP player stand, was in horrendous shape.  The years of misuse were particularly hard on it...  It appears that for many years it has served as a plant stand, and had many patches of veneer missing, dented, or discolored right through the veneer.  My original intent was to patch and refinish it, but the damage was simply too great.

I decided to re-veneer the entire top (figure 1).  I didn't want to disassemble the top from the cabinet, so a vacuum press was out of the question (if I even had one).  I decided to go old-school on it and hammer veneer a new top on using hide glue.  All the veneering I've done before has been for smaller pieces - I've not done it on this large of a scale before. So, this is going to be a bit of an adventure and a learning experience as there's a few new things I'll be trying.  

A More Complex Veneer Repair

The side of the radio cabinet I'm restoring has a good deal of damage to its side.  In this article I'll take you through the steps I took to repair that damage:

Veneer Repair 

The damage is enough to seriously detract from the beauty of this 80 year old mahogany cabinet.  Some might argue that a true repair might involve replacing the entire side - or at least the veneer for it.  I don't want to get that involved or invest that much time into it, nor do I think there is any real reason to...  While this is a fairly complex repair, it certainly is not a difficult one... It's more likely to test your patience than it is your skill. 

Repairing Broken Feet

General:

One of the issues I have with the radio cabinet I'm re-finishing was that three of the feet had pieces missing - here's a typical foot showing a missing piece:

The foot is made from the base of a single stile that rises the height of the cabinet.  The original maker added pieces around the perimeter at the foot to allow them to make the foot larger - it's these pieces that have come loose, knocked off for some reason in the past.

I don't have the original missing pieces - I'll have to make them.  I'm sure the original would have been mounted in a lathe and the foot turned, but as I'm not going to disassemble the cabinet turning is not an option for me.  Looks like I'll have to do it the old fashioned way - glue a block onto the foot and form it with chisels and gouges.

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