Errington School of Woodwork and Design, Vancouver Island British Columbia
Woodwork classes, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
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Course 6–

Simple Tool Making
In Wood and Metal

hand-made mallets and chisel handles

Course Schedules

Course Description

This course is suitable for students with experience in Course 1 or Course 2.

The aim of the course is to help students acquire tools that are normally difficult to find in typical retail outlets. View some examples.

As well as making tools from basic materials (like brass, high carbon steel and hardwoods) students will be encouraged to find discarded or second hand tools that might be restored to something that functions better than ever before.

In this course students may choose to make several tools from the list that follows:

  1. Hardwood Mallet – The mallet may be made in various sizes. There are two pieces; a head and a handle. The choice of material is very important. We like to use yew, hickory, cherry, maple or beech but any close grained hardwood will suit.
  2. Marking or Cutting Gauge – This gauge is made from a dense hardwood. It has a metal screw for adjustment and a tool steel spur.
  3. Marking Knife or Layout Knife - Such a knife is very difficult to find, so we make our own from saw steel. A thin bladed knife is best for layout work. We use a pattern for the shape of the blade and it is ground and filed to shape. The blade is then hardened and tempered. Two hardwood cheeks are riveted in place to form a handle. Finally the knife is honed to a keen edge.
  4. Bench Stop – This may be made from steel or brass or dense hardwood. It is modeled after the bench stop used here at the school. Precise measurement is required to make the bench stop. For the metal stops, careful soldering completes the fabrication. The wooden ones are glued together.
  5. Dovetail Template – This is made from solid brass which must be annealed before bending. The slope on the dovetail is made to suit the type of wood selected for the work. Most tool boxes contain at least 3 or 4 templates with different slopes.
  6. Bench Hook – A properly made bench hook is indispensable at the work bench. Any good, stable hardwood will suffice. It is best made without metal fastenings.
  7. Vise Cheeks – All cast iron vises are likely to damage woodwork and tools if the castings are not covered properly with wooden protectors known as vise cheeks. Cheeks are made from close grained hardwood. This should not be seen as wasteful or extravagant. A pair of vise cheeks in regular use will last 30 years or more. We have patterns available for all Record vises. Vises from other manufacturers can be similarly guarded.
  8. Depth Gauge - This is easy to make from a block of hardwood and a length of dowel. This useful tool ought to be made in a variety of sizes. It is useful for finding the depth of a mortise or a carved recess etc.
  9. Chisel Handle – Sometimes at a flea market or a garage sale one might come across a chisel with no handle. Sometimes such a tool will be of superior quality and a new handle will restore its usefulness. We make handles from woods like yew, ash, arbutus and hickory. The handle has an octagonal section tapered and chamfered to suit the chisel. This kind of handle works very well.
  10. Cabinet Scraper – Although rectangular scrapers are readily available, we find at the school that scrapers with curved edges are equally important. We make scrapers from the saw steel salvaged from discarded hand saws. The scrapers we make range in size from very small (finger and thumb type scrapers) to the more common large sizes. Often the shape of the scraper is ground and filed to suit the contour of the work in hand.

Course Content

  • Measurement and lay out
  • Use of the bench and vise
  • Safey in the workshop
  • Sharpening edge tools
  • Choice of suitable tools
  • Choice of suitable hardwoods and their sources
  • Use of the band saw
  • Use of the table saw
  • Use of the drill press
  • Use of files and precision filing
  • Use of the grinder – wet and dry
  • Hardening and tempering of steel
  • Annealing and normalizing metal
  • Cleaning and pickling non-ferrous metal
  • Hand polishing
  • Machine polishing
  • Soldering
  • Riveting
  • Thread cutting

The cost of all materials (wood, metal, glue, abrasive paper, finish coatings, hardware
and fastenings etc.) is the responsibility of the student.