Lately I’ve noticed that no matter how careful I am when chopping dovetails that the ends of the tools’ hornbeam handles will become slightly dimpled and dented after striking them with my mallet.
Even more disturbing is that the face of my mallet also becomes slightly dinged when I strike my tools with it.
To remedy this problem, I considered wrapping the handles and the mallet in electrical tape, but I was worried that the adhesive on the backside of the tape would damage the finish on both tools. I experimented with using rubber bands to affix small dollhouse pillows to the mallet, but the rubber bands kept snapping after a few joints.
And so I’ve asked my former shop assistant, Ty Black, to sew up some leather sleeves – condoms, actually – with some elastic openings to keep the leather in place on the tools during use.
I’ve asked him to use veg-tan leather – not chromium tanned – so as to ensure the leather covers will not tarnish my tools.
My hope is that this solution will work well enough that I can also implement it on all my wooden-bodied planes – I have noticed some dents on their wedges lately.
Another disturbing shop problem has been the fact that oil (and perhaps perspiration) from my hands appears to be working its way into the totes of my handplanes, discoloring them in an uneven and unsightly pattern.
I considered wrapping friction tape around them to protect them, but again, I am unsure about how the chemicals in the adhesive will interact with the alkyd varnish on the totes. And so I’ve purchased a pair of ventilated nitrile gloves – nitrile on the palm with a cotton weave on the back – to wear when I am planing.
I know that gloves in the workshop are a safety concern, so I will continue to look for a better solution.
— Christopher Schwarz