Friday, September 18, 2009

Making handles with a spokeshave and froe

Blacksmiths are one of the few tradespeople that are able to make most of their own tools. The blacksmiths in the Fields' Shop have a tradition of making their hammers. Once you have made the hammer head, where do you get the handle? From the woodpile, of course!

Any ash wood found in the woodpile is set aside for making tool handles. Billets are split out of the firewood using a froe. Then the wood is shaped while sitting at the shaving horse. That is a traditional workbench used to hold pieces of wood while it is shaped to make wagon spokes, or in this case, hammer handles.
The billet of wood is first shaped using a drawknife. The tool is pulled toward you and shaves large slices of wood away. Next a spokeshave is used to take finer shavings of wood off the billet. The handle eye, neck, and body are shaped and smoothed. Finished handles are set aside for use, while the wood shavings produced are saved to start our daily fire.

Thanks to volunteer Michela Lachance for demonstrating the process!

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