Making tools has become a full time job for some, and for others just a hobby. For me, it is a way for me to save hundreds of dollars and get exactly what I need.
I think some of the old timers would laugh really hard at us for some of the things that we buy. Specially when we call ourselves woodworkers and then spend hundreds of dollars for mallets, marking knifes, straight edges, marking gauges, and many other tools that were once made by the craftsman.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love many of the boutique tools made today and wish I could buy them all, but I can't. And I know there were plenty of craftsman back in the day that purchased tools or had them made for them, but for the most part, anything made from wood was built, not bought.
In my spare time between projects or on nights where I don't have much time, I like to make tools for myself. Most tools can be made in a short amount of time and with a lot less money. I have made tools from scraps, locally harvested wood, exotic, and even fancy woods.
Here are a few tools that I have made, some a while back, and a few brand new ones. I hope they inspire you to make some of your own tools. If you have any questions about them, or if I forgot to mention anything, let me know if the comments below and I will respond.
The Joiners Mallet
This is probably the most traditional tool made by a craftsman. Basically it is just two pieces of wood, though mine does have one face with leather on it.
The mallet I made is 31 1/2 oz , about 14" long, the head is made of Blue Oak (like Live Oak, but a little harder), and the handle is made from Keruing wood left over from my bench legs. This mallet will last me for years and it was made with only a few dollars of wood.
Plane Adjustment Hammer
This little hammer was made from the same wood as the joiners mallet. Works great for setting plane wedges of all sorts and adjusting irons. Best part is it feels good in my hands, because I made if for my hands.
I turned this mallet from another piece of Blue Oak that I had, taken from the fire wood pile. The head is a little bigger than the 1 lb mallet made by Blue Spruce, but it is actually lighter. I like the lighter mallet and the larger handle that I turned. And again, it fits my hand like a glove. Blue Spruce mallet is already gone.
This is the most used tool in my shop and the tool I wish I would have made sooner than I did. Made from a spade bit, a couple brass fittings, and a replacement chisel handle. The HSS of the spade bit makes for a very sharp and durable edge. I have not had to sharpen this for some time and it works wonderful in every situation. The blade is held in the handle with epoxy and the brass fittings just prevent the wood from splitting.
Straight Edge and Winging Sticks
The straight edge is very simple and made from a 1/2 thick piece of quarter sawn white oak. It has been straight now for over a year without ever having to be adjusted.
The winding sticks are made from purple heart, enamel paint for the white, and they fit together with two square pegs. The pegs are for alignment while planing the two parallel to each other.
I am sure I will make more tools for myself in the future. I am already planning on making some marking gauges for myself. But, I think the best part about making my own tools is that I can shape them to my exact needs. They are not all spit polished, most still have tool marks and or mistakes in them. But, they all perform perfectly and that is what matters the most. I don't need to pay hundreds of dollars for something I can make myself, and neither should you.
Until next time, Get in the shop and have some fun.