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Plow Planes


Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Cane with a Saw Handle

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After a recent discussion on then OldTools list about using a saw handle on a cane, I decided I should make a cane using that idea.  I had made 2 saw handles a few years ago, and I only completed one of them. 

I used this unfinished handle for my cane.  I want to emphasize that this is not a saw handle, but that it is a hand carved piece of cherry wood which looks like a saw handle.


I did not like the usual method of joining the handle to the shaft, so I decided that mine would be in the shape of a wriggling snake which is biting or swallowing the handle. Next is a picture of the bandsawed shaft cut from a piece of 1 1/4” thick cherry lumber.

Next is the handle positioned with the top of the shaft.

This is where I started this project. I then had to use a drawknife, rasps, and sand paper to get the shaft into a somewhat round shape.  Next I had to make the scales for the snake’s skin. I drew the scales on the shaft with my wood burner.  I filed into the burned lines to separate the scales, and I then used the wood burner’s shading tool to shade the scales along both bottom edges to further separate them.

The next picture shows all 3 operations on the one shaft. At the top the lines have been drawn, in the center the lines have been filed to separate the scales, and at the bottom the shading has begun.

...and a bit closer look.

The next picture shows the filing to create the scales.  You will notice that the scales are not perfectly uniform.  This is not a big deal because when the shading and coloring have been done, the whole piece becomes so busy that the eye does not distinguish small details.

Next is a picture of the beginnings of the coloring of the snake. Using aniline dyes, I dyed the whole stick yellow after it was all shaded. Then I used orange to make the diamonds, followed by green to outline them. (Green over yellow makes brown.)  I like aniline dyes because they color the wood without covering up the grain.  They also run into the grain causing a more natural look to the scales on this piece. I could have painted it, but I think this looks more natural.

I joined the 2 pieces using a loose tenon. I thought I was going to leave the connection as you see it, but my wife advised me to make the handle appear as one piece being swallowed by the snake. I grumped about doing this, but I knew she was right.  The next picture shows the “before”.

The handle connection just doesn’t work to my eye.  I followed my wife’s suggestion about the joint.  The snake now does appear to be swallowing the handle.

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Simonds Backsaws

Atkins Saws


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