Well cork does come from a tree so….

Progress continues on the bench (though most of my time has been taken up working on the yard) but no one wants to see posts about the same tenon being cut multiple times so the blog has been silent as of late.  

This weekend was a bit different as I headed up to Cody, Wyoming for some fly fishing with my best friend.  He is a resent arrival in town so we were doing a bit of exploring in addition to fishing; there are few places where .44 magnum revolves and bear spray are standard fishing gear.

About halfway through the second day I noticed my reel was loose and attempting to tighten the nut opended a gap in the cork.  A brief investigation back at his garage showed that the cork was a structural component for the reel nuts and the 40+ year old cork had finally had enough (this rod was my dad’s and was one of the first fiberglass rods on the market). 

Seriously, who makes cork a structual conponent?

Well we still had one more day of fishing planned so some 60 minute epoxy was applied and things were good as new; we will see how well it holds up.

Fortunately for the fish, the third day was no more productive than the first 2 but when your casting in places like this, who cares what you catch.

Dining Table bench – mortices 

The massive dirt moving project that is my back yard has been taking much of my  time recently and SWMBO banned morticing while our son is asleep (apparently the hammering was waking him up) so progress has been slow.  

I have cut the mortices in the legs where the skirt attaches.  I used my #45 to plow a shallow groove to guide my mortice chisel and chopped 1/2 inch mortices.  Once they were chopped the #45 and a router plane set the groove to a consistent depth to help keep the rail flat.  The outer side wall 3/8 inch wide which may be a mistake but it allowed for a longer tenon though  I followed the “half the rail” rule for sizing the tenon.


I’m slightly behind where I should have been because on Saturday I had almost finished the first tenon and was just making the final cut when I inadvertently marked the wrong side of the cut and ruined it.  Luckily I had not trimmed side rail to final length so I was able to salvage the part (though the tenons are slightly shorter than planned).

Restoring a Hewing Axe

Two things conspired to delay project on the bench; first and foremost I was in paralysis over how to size the mortise and tenons and second of all my shipment of retaining wall blocks arrived earlier than expected.  Friday I spent the entire day moving 4 tons of concrete blocks and 1 ton of base gravel from the side of the street, up a flight of stairs and into my back yard.  Needless to say I was a bit sore the rest of the weekend.
When I finally decided to get back into the shop I decided that rather than deciding on a tenon size I should fix up one of the hewing (single bevel) axes I picked up last weekend.

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Both heads had been loose so I removed them from the handles and they spent 24 hours in the electrolysis bath, coming out looking pretty good.


The one on the right was obviously commercially made by the Stilleto Tool company which was the largest producer of axes on the west coast (the now specialize in titanium tools); the one on the left has no logo and looks like it’s a laminate between iron and steel so I’m thinking it might be blacksmith made.

The Stilleto’s handle was salvagable and the other needs to have a new edge profile ground so the Stilleto  gets to go first.  The handle had lost a big chip and was missing it’s wedges but otherwise was in good shape.

The other handle was a complete loss so I cut off a section, split it along the grain, and planed both the donor piece and the handle flat.  I managed to clamp the pieces together with some tight bond and left it overnight.

well it aint pretty…..

Once I managed to get the handle locked into a vise (Greg I am very jealous of your new shaving horse) I was able to use a draw knife and spoke shave to smith the two parts together then sanded with 220.  I had ordered a kit from Amazon.com (no hardware stores around me had them) that had two metal and one wooden wedge so I installed the wooden wedge and used a coping saw to trim off the excess before adding the metal wedge.

I had read that soaking the end in oil can tighten up old axes so the assembly went into some raw linseed oil (I’m out of boiled) and I brushed some on the handle as well.

After about an hour I wiped off most of the excess, wet sanded with 320 and let it sit in the sun.  I need to spend some more time smoothing the back with my diamond stones (the back of a hewing axe is not flat) and sharpening the edge but it doesn’t look too shabby.

notice the EX-X that is on the head is apparently also on the handle