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Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


 
 

Scratch Awls and Carbide Scribes

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Here are four scratch awls
done in different styles.

 

 

 

 

Scratch Awls

You could make any style you like.

The materials for the shafts comes from worthless screwdrivers.

I smash the wood and plastic handles with a hammer to remove them. Many old screwdrivers have wings forged at the butt end. These ensure that the shaft won't turn and try to come out of the handle.

Wood handles screwdrivers usually have a ferrule which can be installed on a new tool. These can be quite attractive. If there are wings on 2 sides of the butt end, you will need to grind one off so the butt end can chuck into a drill.

A steel ferrule came on a wooden screwdriver, I ground off one of the wings on each of these shafts so it can be chucked into a drill. The shaft is spun against a spinning grinding wheel to form the delicate point on the working end. Look back at the picture showing the finished tools and see how the shafts come to a point.

This will show how I hold the drill and the shaft to taper it. Move the shaft forward and back while it (and the grinding wheel) is spinning, and the wheel will grind a very nice taper.

It is very difficult to get a decent picture of the grinding process. I just keep the tool spinning at top speed in the drill motor while moving it in and out across the top of grinding wheel. When I get a shape I like, I am finished. The next step is to go to several different grits of sandpaper to polish out the grinding.

Finally, you make a handle that you like. I make a lot of these to give to my various clubs where they include one in the raffles they have. I also give away a few at Galootaclaus time.

At a recent meeting of my woodturners club, the most skilled of all our pro turners won one of my scratch awls. He came to me after the meeting and just raved about the tool. He has more turning talent than I will ever have, but he liked something I made. That feels good.


 
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