Old school woodworking hand tools

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Forum topic by 56tonyt posted 08-29-2010 12:54 AM 5619 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 2249 days

08-29-2010 12:54 AM

Hello all: First of all, I am new to this forum. My interests in wood working are in the way of hand tools and the old craftsman ways of wood working such as that Mr. Roy Underhill teaches in his show “the woodswright shop”. I would love to learn how to build and or manufacture my own set of wood working tools, sharpen them, maintain them and proper use of them.
Most recently I was lucky enough to get my hands on an old coopers bun bore tool. For anyone who does not know what that is it is a hand boring tool used by the old barrel makers to bore the plug hole in a barrel in a conical shape to accept the conical shaped plug and tap. My question is; how is the proper way to sharpen this tool? Does anyone know how to sharpen a coopers bun bore?
Thank you all
Tampa Bay Florida

19 replies so far

View Max's profile


55996 posts in 3692 days

#1 posted 08-29-2010 01:41 AM


I did some research and I believe you have a Bung-hole Borer rather than a Bun hole borer. Does it have a auger bit at the end or just a point? Is it a “T” type? I couldn’t find any info on sharpening but if it has a slot that passes through the center of the tapered part, I believe that you would sharpen the flat of the inside and not the outer round part. If it has an auger on the end then sharpen the upper part of the cutter.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17574 posts in 3095 days

#2 posted 08-29-2010 01:54 AM

What does it lok like? The cutting edges should be obvious.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View jusfine's profile


2405 posts in 2345 days

#3 posted 08-29-2010 02:35 AM

No idea, but Welcome to Lumberjocks!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View swirt's profile


2107 posts in 2391 days

#4 posted 08-29-2010 02:55 AM

Welcome and there are quite a few hand-tool fans here. You might want to post a photo. It would be easier give accurate suggestions.

-- Galootish log blog,

View 56tonyt's profile


11 posts in 2249 days

#5 posted 08-30-2010 02:30 AM

I hope I am being just a little over sensitive but that one statement sounded like someone was making fun of me for my spelling. My bad I did the best I could to spell it correctly. Yes Coopers bung Bore is what I wanted to say. Spell check automatically corrected it. The tool has a screw leader into a bore and moves up into a conical cone blade and has a T handle. Does anyone (Not guessing or opinion) know the correct way to sharpen a cooper’s bung Bore? I’m not trying to be ugly so If I sound gruff please accept my apology I’ve been picked on before… I hope this picture helps.
thank you
Tampa Florida ♥

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3123 days

#6 posted 08-30-2010 02:59 AM

Relax Tony. No one here is out to get you. And remember the “correct way” to do something is only the correct way because someone’s opinion says it is. Of course that is just my opinion. Hope you get the answer you are looking for. Neat looking tool.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View 56tonyt's profile


11 posts in 2249 days

#7 posted 08-30-2010 03:56 AM

LOL Yes I understand you completely. I HAVE been attacked before because of my spelling and grammar. I am a very old school sort of man. The bung bore it seems to me can only be sharpened correctly one way. I’ve already been told to pull a wire edge on it like a furniture scrape (No go) and to put a beveled edge on it inside our and-or outside in. If you look at how the tool is made you would see two things about it.
1.) The clearance in the opening is very tight and there is very little room for a file.
2.) The leading edge of the blade is flush with the trailing edge so the bite is extremely lax.
I wish I could figure out how to make the tool work properly Easley and smoothly. There must be something simple to it that I am not understanding or seeing. Anyone have any thoughts about it?
Tampa Bay Florida

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2402 days

#8 posted 08-30-2010 04:16 AM

Since this tool is almost like 2 in 1 a bit and reamer. I would sharpen the auger bit at the angle the cutters are positioned and sharpen the reamer edges in the same manner. I remember reading an article on sharpening auger bits and will see if I can find it for you.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Woodbutcher3's profile


387 posts in 2305 days

#9 posted 08-30-2010 04:30 AM


Welcome, we ALL have a lot to learn from each other. So, ignore those who want to gripe about the little things instead of teach or learn themselves.

Does the tool come apart in anyway?? Is anything holding the metal to the shaft? Or does it slide out some how? I would think the cutting edge leads the drill as it turns clockwise to cut. Just can’t quite see how it’s put together.

Drop this into Google no quotes, just as is, and you see some good links that speak to sharpening:

Bung-hole Borer sharpening

-- Rod ~ There's never enough time to finish a project, but there's always time to start another one.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 2478 days

#10 posted 08-30-2010 04:37 AM


First of all, welcome to LJ’s and welcome to the slippery slop of old hand tools. I have to confess to having quite a weakness for the old tools and techniques myself. I have always been intrigued by how ingenious some of the mechanisms and tools they came up with before they had electric power to do all of these operations. Keep this up and before you know it, you will be calling yourself a Galoot. I have never tried to sharpen one of these, but it seems logical that you would do like Greg says and sharpen the auger. This it done by filing the lead cutting edge of the auger. It looks like that part would be sharpened in pretty much the same way that an auger bit would be sharpened. As for the reamer portion, I think Max has hit that part correctly. I would bet that you can find some information on the website. There is lots of information to be found on that website as well as many others. You might want to check out the Old Tools list at There is a wealth of knowledge available from that group. You might also do some google search related to coopering and coopers tools for information.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View 56tonyt's profile


11 posts in 2249 days

#11 posted 08-30-2010 04:58 AM

Thank you Gregn! I would love to see that article to be sure! I feel that the augur works as it should (although a really good sharpening wouldn’t hurt at all) but the “Reamer) or the conical cork and tap cutter is the major problem. There must be some way to rise the cutting edge and put a razors edge on the cutting edge. Ha, I hope I sad that in a way that is understandable. ha, ha! Anything I can do to make the tool work better.

Woodbutcher3; sorry I didn’t get your name. Er ua…Yes I guess the wooden stick of a handle is removable. The one that is in it now, I made myself on my mini 1868 cast-iron foot treadle wood lath. I’ve noticed that the auger is a bit bent out of alignment and I am afraid to try to put it back in-line for fear of snapping that old tool ya know what I mean.\
Your right that I shouldn’t let things bother me so much, In my 50+ years I have rally taken a lot of abuse. Please over look me. I might be a bit over sensitive. I’ve lost so much. I (one day) would like to tell you how my step dad threw away my complete collection of over 30 years of Antique woodworking tools and antique armaments. Something I will never recover from or forgive, so you see I have become a bit biter and over sensitive. Please forgive me everyone. I thought I knew more about Antique tools than most people and being corrected like that was hurtful to me. Like I said I’m afraid I have become a bit bitter. Again Please forgive me.

View 56tonyt's profile


11 posts in 2249 days

#12 posted 08-30-2010 05:08 AM

OH yea Woodbutcher3: I forgot to tell you. You said something about a drill??? No Drill is used with this tool. It is a hand tool and used as is. It is a twist bit Augur and is used slowly. You can not rush this tool! :-) You haven’t lived yet if you haven’t used any tools like these. Once bitten, your hooked for life! I use to enjoy the power tools but now that takes all the joy out of it. I don’t even use store bought lumber any more. I have a fro and Maul I use to split and riv out my own Green planks. Sir you really owe it to yourself to try it! Believe me your missing one of life greatest pleasure if your not going out in the woods with a tool boy , as and or cross cut saw and walking out with a nice table and chairs. building furniture insight of the tree stump where the lumber stood as a mighty tree is a wonderful experience to be sure! :-)

View 56tonyt's profile


11 posts in 2249 days

#13 posted 08-30-2010 05:15 AM

I have about convinced myself that I need to drag out my anvil and forge and band out a new blade and find a way to attach it to the conical reamer. That is not how it was designed to work but I just can’t find any other way to do it. I do not want to do that because I feel that would make the tool an abomination. This tool does not come apart as it is now and there is no evidence that there is anything missing from it and there is a bevel cut in the leading edge in the opening on its business edge.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17574 posts in 3095 days

#14 posted 08-30-2010 08:52 AM

I have one of those around here somewhere. I haven’t sharpened it, but I can assure you a file and stome wil do the job. You don’t need an anvil and forge :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Elaine's profile


113 posts in 3042 days

#15 posted 08-30-2010 03:22 PM

Hey Tony!

Go to this site – great information for old tools, how to use them, how to sharpen them – I usually get what I need from the forums ”:”

I can never figure out how to get it to do a direct link. Please just copy and paste into your browser.

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