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Handle wood omnibus

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D_W

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linseed oil without a long soak makes almost no difference - the wood just doesn't absorb much.

Oiled on the left. Straight shellac on the right.
 

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marcros

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linseed oil without a long soak makes almost no difference - the wood just doesn't absorb much.

Oiled on the left. Straight shellac on the right.
I dont dislike it. it isnt the most standout of timbers but beats cherry and beech on looks IMO. scores extra interest points for being unusual.
 

D_W

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you're right on that....after being disappointed at first, it's growing on me a little. It doesn't look too much like bubinga (Just not a huge fan of the bubinga look - on too many chinese tools, etc), it's harder than bubinga by a fair amount, and takes a really great polish.

It's just bonkers hard, though (about the same as verawood) ,and I wonder if there's a limit based on feel/vibration. I use a urethane mallet, so it'll never really bother me.

Not hard to find for about $4 a handle (Which will sound a lot to folks using 8/4 beech or something to make handles, but not bad for a straight grained exotic). If I have my way, I"ll make about 20 sets of file chisels, and get a chance to see what the handles look like in sets. This disappointed at first because I was looking for deep reddish brown, and that's what it looks like when heavily waxed on the surface and oxidized.
 

Tony Zaffuto

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Not sure about boxwood here. Definitely no foreign fruits, bugs, ivory or tortoise shell, though. The former is for fear of pathogens and emerald ash borers, etc.

EDIT: i checked customs rules here. There's nothing that suggests boxwood would cause a problem, but there's a requirement in the US to declare and provide for inspection any plant, wood, straw item to customs to inspect. Probably not worth the trouble (never had anything seized by US customs that wasn't supposed to be - which translates to never having anything seized. Had a contract customs service in the UK seize and auction off a norris no 2, though. ).
Parts I manufacture for export, palletized on special heat treated pallets, with inspection stamp. Have received import shipments with no stamp!
 

Tony Zaffuto

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2008 (remember the year well, as it was the year before our middle daughter got married), I experimented quite a bit with resin impregnated wood (for turning), and in fact sent out turning stock to several boutique chisel makers. Several years after another maker started offering resin impregnated handles. Wood would turn like butter and open pore species turned much nicer. No finish needed, just high grit polish.
 

D_W

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The CBP document brings up all kinds of things that none of us would think about (you would in your business, but the rest of us), such as whether or not the pallet being used to bring in a piece of chinese machinery is OK by customs standards. Not for quality or safety, but to ensure that it won't loose some fungus or bug on the united states that would do something like......destroy all of our ash trees.
 

D_W

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2008 (remember the year well, as it was the year before our middle daughter got married), I experimented quite a bit with resin impregnated wood (for turning), and in fact sent out turning stock to several boutique chisel makers. Several years after another maker started offering resin impregnated handles. Wood would turn like butter and open pore species turned much nicer. No finish needed, just high grit polish.
I recall those samples. I think I turned too much off of them and was left with mostly plain wood in the center.

I've been making pencils (fewer lately) and when the weather changes, the pencils bend like a banana. That led to a question as to why commercial pencils don't as they're not that easy to glue together once the wood is waxed. What I am guessing is that the pencils made commercially are subjected to a delivery medium (mineral spirits or naptha) with wax carried in by such. That would be one way to make these dark, but it's getting to be an awful lot of trouble for making chisel handles to go that route. It would change the working properties a little bit to be like you're saying, smoother.

Pencils only need a very thin mixture of wax (like 1 ounce of wax for 20 of mineral spirits) to not move with seasonal change, but I'm guessing darkening the katalox to look like the wax layer does on a turning blank will take more. I'll try it with one of the offcuts from these handles and see if they will become darker through and through

(Indian rosewood is so inexpensive right now, though, that there's not much reason to experiment - except or the fact that it's got significant pores and it takes some extra effort to fill them. The brown tone of it is lovely, though)
 

Tony Zaffuto

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I recall those samples. I think I turned too much off of them and was left with mostly plain wood in the center.

I've been making pencils (fewer lately) and when the weather changes, the pencils bend like a banana. That led to a question as to why commercial pencils don't as they're not that easy to glue together once the wood is waxed. What I am guessing is that the pencils made commercially are subjected to a delivery medium (mineral spirits or naptha) with wax carried in by such. That would be one way to make these dark, but it's getting to be an awful lot of trouble for making chisel handles to go that route. It would change the working properties a little bit to be like you're saying, smoother.

Pencils only need a very thin mixture of wax (like 1 ounce of wax for 20 of mineral spirits) to not move with seasonal change, but I'm guessing darkening the katalox to look like the wax layer does on a turning blank will take more. I'll try it with one of the offcuts from these handles and see if they will become darker through and through

(Indian rosewood is so inexpensive right now, though, that there's not much reason to experiment - except or the fact that it's got significant pores and it takes some extra effort to fill them. The brown tone of it is lovely, though)
I’ve purchased more than a few boxes of Japanese pencils (TomBow one brand I recall), very nice, with a caveat: if you find a brand you like, immediately pick up several extra boxes! I’ve gone back several years later, with different feel. Is it the graphite? Is it the wood? Never have been that inquisitive to investigate!

The US had many excellent pencil manufacturers, even as recently as 30 years ago, but they have all seem to be a shadow of their former selves.
 

dannyr

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Anyone see Pau Marfin handles these days? -- the specialist London/Reading carving tool supplier Tiranti sold all their chisels un-handled or with their own Pau handles (a distinctive 'fat' carver style) -- they also sold these separately at a very reasonable price - I think Melco and some other screwdriver makers also used the same - I have some - and they've lasted v well.

It's a hard yellow wood like box but not quite as dense, with a less interesting figure and doesn't age the same (stays yellow but some patina) - maybe has another name?
 

dannyr

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I think your wild service might be like the French cormier, which was the choice for some of their best wooden tools and handles; charme (hornbeam) and fruitier (pear or apple) came next before the usual beech, ash or oak.
 

D_W

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The US had many excellent pencil manufacturers, even as recently as 30 years ago, but they have all seem to be a shadow of their former selves.
As far as I know, nothing good made here (unless there's something really expensive). Blackwing pearl, tombow (I don't know all of the numbers ,but the 8900s are good) and several of the mitsubishi pencils are nice. I think most of or a lot of them are made in vietnam now, but still nice.

I can't match the smoothness of the lead of any of them with any available drafting leads and would need a kiln to try to make pencil leads out of a mix of micronized clay, graphite and wax.

The wood in the tombows is especially nice, too - lots of wax in it and it comes off smoothly with a good sharpener. They're expensive here, but not in japan.

I recall when I was a kid (early 80s), all of the pencils were US made - princess brand in school. Most are old and hard now. They were always better than anything sold at department stores (i'm sure not as good as tombow or mitsubishi uni, though).
 

dannyr

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know little about pencils, but as you probably know, there's a pencil museum in Keswick, England, where they used to mine the graphite, at least back to 1700s (apparently the graphite was so valuable they used to frisk the miners at the end of a shift).

wasn't the wood usually cedar?

now., back to the tool handle omnibus
 

D_W

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know little about pencils, but as you probably know, there's a pencil museum in Keswick, England, where they used to mine the graphite, at least back to 1700s (apparently the graphite was so valuable they used to frisk the miners at the end of a shift).

wasn't the wood usually cedar?

now., back to the tool handle omnibus
Yes on the graphite mine. There's a book written by an american engineer about the history of pencils - it sounds like the early trades were fairly crooked. When the pencil was first made, the best pencils were made from pure graphite until it was exhausted, and many fraudulent pencils with a mix to look like graphite or with only a tiny bit of graphite were sold. I think the graphite was worth a lot more than a day's wage (the amount that you could sneak out in pockets, etc), but only vaguely recall that from the book.

Modern leads are a combination of graphite and clay, and probably usually with wax (the really nice pencils have wax in the lead for smoothness). They have to be fired like a ceramic. The combination of that and wanting to make more plane irons out of stainless steels has me on the fence for a knife kiln (which would cook leads no problem). Only hitch at this point is the $1500 price of a kiln.

Wood is typically incense cedar, also waxed for stability - I've waxed mine by dissolving paraffin in mineral spirits (the pencils will soak it like a wick from one end to another). Red cedar and other cedars are fine, but the pencil smell comes from the incense cedar (which to my knowledge, grows mostly in the western US and isn't particularly expensive. Red cedar in the US in any straight clear amount of wood has become kind of pricey.
 

JimB

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I think your wild service might be like the French cormier, which was the choice for some of their best wooden tools and handles; charme (hornbeam) and fruitier (pear or apple) came next before the usual beech, ash or oak.
I think it's the same species. Wild Service is classed as sorbus torminalis and cormier as sorbus domestica. (Yes I looked it up ;)
 

Cabinetman

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Fascinating discussion gentlemen, I’m sorry I can’t really help except to say that after 40 years of walloping with a beech mallet my one ash handled chisel has had to be trimmed where it has burred over a couple of times, but my boxwood chisels are like new still, - no ferrules at the bashing and on any of them.
Pencils, I always use either Staedler or Derwent graphic but always the F rated ones, suits my sketching. Ian
 

dannyr

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Fascinating discussion gentlemen, I’m sorry I can’t really help except to say that after 40 years of walloping with a beech mallet my one ash handled chisel has had to be trimmed where it has burred over a couple of times, but my boxwood chisels are like new still, - no ferrules at the bashing and on any of them.
Pencils, I always use either Staedler or Derwent graphic but always the F rated ones, suits my sketching. Ian
there you go - properly trained - trouble with amateurs like me is, we have a good mallet, but then with chisel in hand -- where is it?, I'll use the hammer - and handle chips/splits
also we like looking at our tools as much as what we're making - hopeless

Your combo of beech mallet (not too heavy or hard, unlike say lignum v) and ash or box seems ideal for cabinet work
 

D_W

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Anyone see Pau Marfin handles these days? -- the specialist London/Reading carving tool supplier Tiranti sold all their chisels un-handled or with their own Pau handles (a distinctive 'fat' carver style) -- they also sold these separately at a very reasonable price - I think Melco and some other screwdriver makers also used the same - I have some - and they've lasted v well.

It's a hard yellow wood like box but not quite as dense, with a less interesting figure and doesn't age the same (stays yellow but some patina) - maybe has another name?
Haven't heard of pau marfin, but guessing it's not like pau ferro based on your description. I have a parlor guitar made by George Wilson that has a Mexican substitute for boxwood, starts with c, but the name escapes me now. It's smooth and featureless, but a little less interesting in color than boxwood. A little more grayish with less life.

Whatever it is, it makes great tuning pegs.
 

D_W

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Another in louro preto. Visually interesting grain without being gaudy. If the chisel looks funny, it's not gotten a bevel yet.
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Bedrock

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As you say, I doubt our elm is the same type as yours, but it is no good for burning - smoke and no heat. The only downside that I have found is that furniture beetle seems to love it.
I have used ebony for small chisels/carving tools for Netsuke, but I think it splits with heavy hitting. There used to be a Japanese tool seller near Ashford, in Kent, which used to have a very enticing catalogue, with very high priced chisels with ebony handles. I think they were only paring type chisels though. Very tempted at the time, but couldn't find a good enough reason to buy.
Given what Jim says re hawthorn, I will try it. The log I have has been knocking around the workshop floor for getting on for 20 years, having originally felled it for the woodburner. I doubt it will split as the grain is so twisty, so will have to run it through my small/old bandsaw.
 

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