Monday, 1 April 2013

Side axe amendments....

I wanted to do some work on a llittle oak stool project that I've had in mind for some time. I'd got some oak split into eigths ready for the legs and had decided I wanted them roughly octagonal. I began by roughing them out on my shave horse with a draw knife - had to replace the front leg of the shave horse in the process as the tenon had rotted since I'd last used it but didn't discover this fact until I was pulling away on the draw knife and it collapsed beneath me.

I then clamped the legs into my workmate and took them down a few mil with my plane, which left them with a little tear-out, but all in all not a bad finish.

My friend Dave had given me a few slabs of oak to use for the seat, so my next job was to even up the thickness of the one I'd chosen to use as it was about an inch and a half thicker at one end than the other. A job for my side axe, I thought.
trimmed the near edge no problem
I'd made this side axe myself some time ago by grinding a flat face onto one side of a cheap hatchet (a trick I'd picked up from Peter Follansbee's site) and I've used it a few times and it works really well. However, I'd only ever used it on small pieces of wood for spoon carving - this slab was considerably bigger and soon gave me a problem. As I worked into the centre of the slab I found I was grazing my knuckles on the rough face of the wood, which flippin' hurt. Time for a new handle.

I'd got some nice curved ash so set about splitting and shaping a new handle that would curve away from the work piece, holding my knuckles away from the wood face as I worked it.

completed handle

new curly handle

now I can work across the full width of the timber without cutting up my knuckles
Once I'd shaped the handle, I left it to dry out a bit but couldn't leave it as long as I'd have liked as I needed to get on with it - the ash was slightly seasoned anyway and I left the wedge high so I can knock it in further if the handle shrinks and the head becomes loose.

face completed

after a few passes with a plane
seat and legs - ready for construction
The side axe worked fairly well, but I can really see the point of the broad faced side axes with beards and goose wings, etc. The narrow edge on mine limits the amount of wood I could remove. Plus, because the axe is only ground on one side it really bites deeply if you're not careful. It took a little getting used to and I could really feel it in my forearms after just a little while.

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