The point I am about to make is obvious to most experienced woodworkers, but it was not to me for years, and my work suffered. I think the first time I saw this in print was a blog entry by Chris Schwarz, so its not my original idea. This idea is especially applicable to curves, but valid for all woodworking. When working wood, one should be mindful to move from coarser, less accurate tools and progress to very fine tools. With that in mind, I approached the shaping of the tiller in this sequence. First, I marked out the taper and curves on the sides by making a template. Then I cut the tapers and curves on my roughest tool, the bandsaw. The taper and curves were then fine finished with hand planes and a spokeshave. Next I marked all of the depths for the roundovers, and shaped them with rasps. Finally all was cleaned up with sandpaper.
Here is the curved blank with the template glued to it with contact spray. It is hard to tell in the picture but when looking from the top the tiller has 9 inches with parallel sides, then it tapers slightly all the way toward the handle end. The full length is 43 1/2 in.
Here I am cutting out the tapers on the side.
First I will square and flatten the parallel sides with a block plane, then the long tapers with a 5 1/2 plane.
After finishing the tapers on the sides, I laid the tiller on its side and marked the curve for the handle end, using the old tiller as a template. Don’t you love that old tiller? Even with duct tape holding her laminations together, she provided years of faithful service.
Then back to the band saw to cut out the curve, which was finish shaped with a spokeshave and rasp. If you don’t have one of these hand stitched rasps, I highly recommend getting one. Its not the sexiest tool in the workchest, but it will remove an incredible amount of material at a time and seldom causes any tearout.
Here is the tiller at this stage, with all her beautiful curves. At this point she only needs the roundovers completed, some final shaping and sanding.
At this point I thought it wound be good time to drill the holes for hardware. I have no idea what this hardware is called, but the large one is wonderful cast bronze or brass, we will see after I clean it.
Nearing the home stretch here on the shaping, I used an adjustable try square and pencil to mark the extent of the roundovers.
The rasp is used in a curving downward motion to round over the edges. The guide lines give it a uniform appearance, but you can still tell its not machined, which I like.
After sanding by hand with 180, then 220, here is the result, two lovely sisters.
And my shop mark, before applying finish.
-- Joe, South Carolina