I am a nosy teacher. During classes, I always like to poke through my students’ tool collections (with their blessing, of course) to see how they have modified their tools.
This weekend, I stumbled on a honey of a bird-cage awl.
One of the students in a class at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking was an accomplished turner who was new to the world of “flat work.” He had some nice tool handles.
By far the best was the handle he turned for a bird-cage awl kit he’d bought from Czeck Edge. (The kit is $20 and is available here.) He’d turned the handle from she-oak, an Australian timber, and used what he termed “an English profile.”
The awl was perfect. The little peak near the ferrule allowed you to use your fingers to push the tool into the work instead of your palm.
If you are considering making one of these tools for yourself, I highly recommend the above handle pattern.
Veneers used to be cut by the hand-saw; at present, the circular saw is, I believe, universally employed in England for this purpose, with the advantage, not only of cheapness and expedition, but of a smaller waste of wood in sawdust, and for greater accuracy and precision in the thickness of the veneer — a quality essentially requisite to produce good work in the finished article.
In a large veneer-mill which I had an opportunity, through the kindness of one of our members, of visiting, there are five circular saws. Each consists of a strong, stiff, circular frame-work, of the shape of a plano-convex lens, or rather a low hollow cone, tapering gradually to the edge, from which projects a ring of soft steel a few inches broad, pierced with many holes. The saw is a plate, or rather a flat ring, of well-tempered steel, about twelve inches broad, pierced with as many holes as the former ring, and firmly secured to it by means of screws: a band over the axis of the saw communicates motion to it, by connecting it with the first mover, which is a steam engine. (more…)