In about a month and a
half I will be doing a frontier coffin making demonstration at
Cumberland Gap National Park and will be using original tools
that were in use at the time Daniel Boone and others guided
thousands of settlers westward through The Gap.
The target dates are
circa 1785-1815. I have some 18th Century chisels with original
handles but I do not want to use them so I am putting handles on
some that are not quite so historically significant.
I selected a William Butcher chisel and will make a tapered
octagonal handle for it. It is a decade or two later than 1815
but will look enough like an earlier chisel that it will pass as
one. I selected a piece of dense dogwood for the new handle. It
is so dense that it almost looks like boxwood.
Dogwood can take a beating and not chip or splinter. In several
posts I will show how I make octagonal handles without any power
tools. This is the way I was taught by the oldtimers.
Lying on the dogwood stock is the
William Butcher chisel that will have a new tapered octagonal
handle. Scattered about are some of the tools I will be using to
First a deep scribe line is cut on
all four faces of the dogwood. I know someone will ask about the
stop on the square blade. It is a counterweight so I can simply
lay the square on the wood and it will balance there.
The counter weight keeps the square
handle level when the square is unattended on the workpiece.
Bruce Debo taught me how to do that.
Next I use a chisel to cut an
inclined scarp to the line in which the saw will rest.
This assures a perfect 90 degree
end once sawn. The saw will slide down the incline and nestle
against the scribed line making a true cut.