Tool making

Over the years I have often enjoyed the opportunity to make my own tools. Mostly, I have tackled the standard stuff like marking gauges, bow saw frames and hand planes. I used to make a lot of hand planes and at a certain point, I started making my own icons and caps out of 0-1 tool steel.

Some guy bought the first plane I made right off my workbench so I made another. Another guy bought that one so I made two more. Soon I had a number of really nice wood bodied planes and every now and then I sold one or two. I even made some knives but that never went very far.

In the late 80s, when I got sucked in to cabinetmaking, there was little need for hand tools and even less time for making them. But recently, I began doing a lot of lathe work. I had a pretty good set of lathe tools but I needed some smaller tools for fine detail work. Being a bit more cost conscious these days than I have been in the past I thought I would take a crack at making some.

The first thing I made was really just a modification of an existing tool. I needed a very fine skew so I reground an extra one I had. That was enough to hook me back in and since then I have made a dozen or so small lathe chisels. I haven’t tried a gouge yet but I have made some gouge-like tools and may get up the moxie to attempt an actual bowl gouge. In the meantime, I am rediscovering the pleasure of working with a tool I made myself and also enjoying the groceries I was able to buy with the money I saved.



  • Jim Allen says:

    I have found the neccessity of making my own tools on occasion.As a carver, finding the unusual tool right for the job on the shelf is problematic. My first was a spoon gouge made from a ten penny nail for one time use. Worked great, still have it, havent needed it since. I have also made curved bottom planes. One has a 12 inch radius longitudinally and 4 inch radius laterally. Worked great on a large inside curve of a sculpture. I also find myself making special jigs and fixtures for holddowns, table saw, bandsaw, lathe.

  • V. Moore says:

    I so enjoy reading AJ’s and David’s blogs that when David’s blog did not appear a couple of weeks ago I actually worried that he had quit writing, or that something terrible had happened. Was he in a car accident? Was he ill? Or just on vacation?

    Anyway, you both are such great writers and always have an entertaining way of expressing yourselves. I hope you both keep up the great work for many years to come

    Best regards,

    V. Moore

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