Shop's Log #9: Split Nut Driver

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Blog entry by terryR posted 04-08-2014 04:22 PM 3216 reads 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Two More Pipes Part 9 of Shop's Log series Part 10: Red Oak Cat Shelf »

Hi everyone, another short blog in an attempt to get caught up with shop activities…

I have an 1870‘s Shelton and Sons back saw that I’m trying to bring back to life. Tote is in aweful shape; missing the lower half with the sexy lamb’s tongue, missing half of upper horn, many cracks…As you can tell, I’m looking for an excuse to replace it. LOL.

Actually, that decision is still up for committee to decide, but before anything can happen, the old brass split nuts HAVE to be removed. Priceless, yes. Fragile, yes, again. And since my existing split nut driver didn’t fit the nuts, time to make a split nut driver…

Looks like lots of folks modify a 1/2“ spade bit for a driver, so that was my plan.

First, I cut off the tip, trying to use the existing hole in the bit to start my needed slot. I should’ve made the cut closer to the tip, so more ‘hole’ was left closer to the 1/2 mark, so don’t copy me exactly! :)

A cut-off wheel in the Dremel proved very effective at overcoming that mistake, and roughed out a nice slot…

Then, a bit of work with a small file to square off all the edges. Like the ‘hardwood flooring’ I’m working on? It’s just chips from the lathe, but they are spreading over a 4×8 foot area now! I’m undecided on whether to vacuum, or just go with it. LOL.

At this point, the driver would probably remove most split nuts, but the guys I’m dealing with have been sanded until there’s hardly any slot left, and I need a sharp edge on the driver. Grinding wheel? No, I chose the slower route…sandpaper…

First, coloring the area I was about to work with a sharpie. And just rubbing the bit against 80 grit sandpaper, I was able to place a sharp bevel on both sides fairly quickly…

That’ll work!

I wanted to leave some of the initial number 2 just for the heck of it…made it look shop-made, ya know? At this point, I couldn’t help but try out the driver, so attempted to remove the split nuts in question. A lil downward pressure, twist about 5 degrees to tighten, then loosen gently. Ahhh…no problems with removal of the 130 year old brass.


They are all bent pretty badly. Just as expected. I’m actually new to restoring saws this old, but have been told these appear about average for this vintage. Jeez…

No worries, an LJ buddy is already on the task of turning me some new split nuts for this saw. I’ll try to straighten the screw on the Medallion slightly, and re-use it.

Meanwhile, this blog…the driver now needs a suitable handle! I chose a section of Bloodwood, drilled and turned it on the lathe so that it fit the steel shaft. And cut a brass plumbing fitting in 1/2 to use for a ferrule.

Somehow, I failed to get any photos of the lathe work, but here is the finished driver.

I also managed to epoxy the ferrule on backwards, the beveled end should’ve pointed towards the steel, not left to create a gap between ferrule and wood. Oh well, for less than $5 I think I can live with it. LOL. Plus, there’s always time for another one…

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed:

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

13 comments so far

View TerryDowning's profile


1103 posts in 2295 days

#1 posted 04-08-2014 04:44 PM

You really do great work Terry.

Nice Handle.
Nice tool.
Good luck rehandling the saw.

-- - Terry

View Don W's profile

Don W

18990 posts in 2745 days

#2 posted 04-08-2014 04:54 PM

Nice work Terry.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View AnthonyReed's profile


10041 posts in 2617 days

#3 posted 04-08-2014 05:16 PM

She’s a beaut’. Well done Terry.

-- ~Tony

View chrisstef's profile


17721 posts in 3184 days

#4 posted 04-08-2014 05:34 PM

Right on Terry. Good luck with the restores!

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View shampeon's profile


1860 posts in 2361 days

#5 posted 04-08-2014 06:10 PM

Nice. I like the bloodwood handle.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View summerfi's profile


4025 posts in 1864 days

#6 posted 04-08-2014 06:18 PM

Great job Terry! I love your turnings. Anxious to see what you decide to do with the handle.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works

View Brit's profile


7528 posts in 3020 days

#7 posted 04-08-2014 08:45 PM

Lovely job sir. Can’t wait to see the saw once you’ve worked your magic.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View CFrye's profile


10444 posts in 2017 days

#8 posted 04-09-2014 01:49 PM

Nicely done, Terry! How did you burn the lines in? Looking forward to the saw handle do over.

-- God bless, Candy

View terryR's profile


7403 posts in 2486 days

#9 posted 04-09-2014 02:22 PM

Thanks, everyone!

Candy, burn lines in with wire…nearly any kind will work. I use worn out guitar strings cut down to about 12” from my best friend…free! Turn the lathe to max speed and carefully touch string to workpiece. Different species burn quicker…just use caution at every step!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 1833 days

#10 posted 04-09-2014 06:52 PM

Nice work Terry, the lines are a nice touch.

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View CFrye's profile


10444 posts in 2017 days

#11 posted 08-25-2015 08:53 AM

Thought that those bent bolts looked familiar! :-)

-- God bless, Candy

View terryR's profile


7403 posts in 2486 days

#12 posted 08-25-2015 03:27 PM

^LOL. You found the photo I was going to share on the Saw Forum yesterday; how funny!

Those nuts were a devil to remove! I think you know the feeling! :)

Hey, those $3 saws you’ve been collecting lately with hardware are a smart investment! just scan eBay for the cost of hardware minus the busted saw…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View blue77's profile


140 posts in 1085 days

#13 posted 01-27-2016 07:30 AM

Thank you this is just what I need! I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

-- I make bowls and spoons.

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