Just in time for the Olympics, we’re now having a heat wave, so I decided to sharpen Big Joe.
This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to sharpen it. When I went to Paul Sellers’ saw sharpening workshop last December, I took it with me and tried to sharpen it rip.
It looks like I know what I’m doing in that photo doesn’t it? Au contraire mon ami. I made a right pig’s ear of it. You’ve heard of progressive filing haven’t you? Well ladies and gents, I give you eratic filing. Just remember when Lie Nielsen takes it up, you saw it here first.
Now you’ve stopped laughing, I’d like to point out that I actually sharpened each tooth to perfection, they just didn’t belong on the same saw. After I finished, Paul invited me to try it out at his bench. Whilst with such an uneven toothline it was anything but smooth, believe it or not, it actually cut wood quite well. It was at that very moment I realized that whilst I might never be the worlds’ greatest saw sharpener, with a bit more practice I probably could become proficient enough to maintain my own saws. At the very least, I was encouraged to persevere.
So seeking to restore some honour to Big Joe, I completely removed the teeth with a view to starting again. This time I decided to sharpen it crosscut with 12 TPI, 12 degrees of rake and 20 degrees of fleam. I drew one of my templates in Google Sketchup, stuck it on the saw plate with double-sided tape and filed in the new teeth.
Then I set the teeth and was 2/3rds of the way through my last pass of sharpening when the wife decided to engage me in conversation. I tried desperately to ignore her, but wives have a way of breaking your concentration. Before I knew it, instead of skipping two teeth, I skipped one and sharpened it as I answered her. Then I skipped two teeth and sharpened that one. I sharpened eight teeth incorrectly before I realised what I’d done.
Now at this point I should have packed up, opened a cold one, sat in a sun lounger and soaked up some rays, but I really wanted to get this saw finished. I jointed it down, sharpened all down one side again and then started sharpening the other side. The only problem was I forgot to turn my rake guide around, so I made a right mess of the first tooth. At this point I decided the saw was jinxed, kicked the sodding Workmate and put everything away.
Not wanting to waste the day though, I decided to tidy the garden. After cutting back some shrubs and pulling some weeds, I turned my attention to a Davidia (hankerchief) tree that we had bought a few years back with a view to replacing one of the Scott’s pines in our garden. All of the trees in my area have protection orders on them which means you can’t even trim them without applying to the council. We had applied to have the Scott’s pine cut down and the application was refused. We appealed and the appeal was refused. With no place to put it, the Davidia sat in it’s pot until it became pot-bound and died. Shame really, because the Davidia is a beautiful tree.
So I cut off the branches and dug the trunck out of the pot.
I was just about to saw it up and dump it when I found myself wondering what Davidia wood was like. I could see a plane adjusting hammer handle in that wood, so I grabbed my side axe (thanks Brad) and chopped off the root ball.
After telling the Workmate it was a shave horse, I grabbed my drawknife and removed the bark.
After a bit more shaving, I cut out my hammer handle from the rest of the trunk.
I then continued shaping it with my No.4 1/2 and my block plane. I didn’t have a shape in mind when I started working it, but the wood kind of dictated how it wanted to look.
After sanding up through the grits from P80 to P600, I had my basic hammer handle. It isn’t finished at this stage. I still need to shape the butt end and saw the tenon to fit the brass head (once I’ve made it), then wedge it in.
By the way, Davidia is a lovely wood to work. Very close grained, planes well and sands to a high polish. Shame it is such a rare tree as I’d love to get hold of some decent sized planks.
As for Big Joe there’s always tomorrow, although I’m convinced it’s not me, it’s the saw.
-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)