Tiller #2: Shaping

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Blog entry by Porcupine posted 11-21-2013 07:37 PM 1448 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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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

4 comments so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1248 posts in 1764 days

#1 posted 11-21-2013 09:13 PM

Looks great.
I really like the design of your shop mark!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View shipwright's profile


8000 posts in 2848 days

#2 posted 11-21-2013 09:54 PM

Nice work Joe. Are you going to carve the end ….. maybe a turkshead?
What kind of boat so it for?

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View bobasaurus's profile


3497 posts in 3234 days

#3 posted 11-22-2013 01:34 AM

Quite a lot of work there, and very well documented. Your makers mark is nice, too. How do you like that low angle spokeshave? I want a few of those rasps too :) .

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View Porcupine's profile


31 posts in 1960 days

#4 posted 11-24-2013 01:21 PM

Thanks for the positive comments.
Paul, I’m not going to carve the end, though that is a great idea. I absolutely love the Turks head idea, I think I will experiment with that. Didn’t even think of it, thanks.
Allen, the spokeshave is a veritas. I think for a lot that I do a higher angle might actually be better, you have to keep it really sharp and mind your grain direction or you will get major tear out. The blade is funny to sharpen because it is so short. Lee valley make a jig for sharpening, I don’t have it. Those are the negatives, but the tool has a nice fit and finish, and feels good in the hand. It works really good if you are pulling across grain, but that is not often.
The makers mark was made by infinity stamps, I designed it.

-- Joe, South Carolina

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