top of page

Tool Making

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

The early craftsmen made a lot of their own tools, and so can you!

There is a certain satisfaction, even a joy when using a tool that you’ve made yourself. I have a number of factory-made planes, both metal and wood bodied ones, but the ones that I most often reach for, are the ones I made myself. Tool making is in itself a craft that brings together skills from different domains. I have often combined woodworking with metalsmithing and one example would be the two vises I made a while back.


Vises are important tools that will hold your work while in-process.


The first one, patterned after a blacksmith’s vise, has an oak body and the screw and pin on which the jaws pivot are made of steel and the jaws are lined with angle iron. The spring that keeps the jaws open under tension is made from a blade of a gang saw out of commission. It required annealing (take the temper out) in order to shape and drill it, and then temper it back again.


Sometimes one thing leads to another and not being fully satisfied with my newly made vise due to its inability to have its jaws parallel except when fully closed, I set out to make another vise, this one patterned after a machinist’s one.


The antique hand tools you see in museums are sometimes very ornate, decorated with engraving, carving and inlay work. These embellishments don’t add to their functionality but they are a testimony to the level of skill of the maker and a source of joy and pride to the one who used them. In a very small way, I try to emulate that in my toolmaking endeavors.


Two planes, the small one made of Rosewood, the larger one of Macassar Ebony, both with brass "throat irons" and knurled set-screws and high speed steel blades.

A Spokeshave of Bird's Eye Maple, a Tramel and a Rosewood and Beech Square.


A Shop Knife (Kiridashi), and a Bird's Eye Maple Square with "Engine turned" beam.


A Stitching Pony is a sort of a vise for holding leather while it's being stitched.



31 views2 comments

2 comentarios


What beautiful tools!! I think I might have the twin of the Bird's Eye Maple Square in my hand tool collection 😉, Thanks!!

Me gusta
Contestando a

This one is from a new generation, as I have made a couple and gave them to my best apprentices to put in their tool box. One of them is in Ireland!

Me gusta
bottom of page