I’ve made several lever caps and lever cap screws to date, all reasonably presentable and quite serviceable, and all without any specialist metalwork tools – just the ones that woodworkers are likely to have in their workshops. These are actually quite easy to make once you know how, and the methods are very basic. Perhaps it is cheating, but until I have the equipment to make the Real Thing, these will do.
Here are a few examples.
A restoration of a Spiers infill smoother …
and a bevel up infill smoother …
Variations of the lever cap include using wood as an infill and banding with tinted epoxy.
My aim here is to offer a pictorial tutorial, showing the sequences and the methods I used to make the ones above.
The ingredients for the lever cap screw are obtained from the garden section of your local hardware store (this being a hose connector for the knurled ring), a brass bolt of the desired thickness (for this you may need to seek out a specialist company that sells screws), a coin (I used an Australian $1 coin for the Spier cap screw as it is the same colour as brass, while here I used an Australian 2 cent coin to match the colour of the lever cap), and two-part epoxy.
Step 3: Fitting the parts together.
Step 4: Mask off the thread and the knurled ring (it is difficult to later remove epoxy from these), making sure everything is carefully aligned, then pour in the two-part epoxy. The epoxy makes a strong bond. I first made cap screws this way 5 years ago and these are still going strong.
Step 5: Unwrap and clean off the residue.
Step 6: Chuck the screw in a drill ….
Step 7: … and begin to shape the coin on a disk sander. Spin both the drill and the sander at the same time to maintain an even grind. Dunk frequently in water as the coin will heat up – too hot and the epoxy will melt!
Step 8: Beginnings on 80 grit.
Step 9: … then 120 and 240 grit disks. Be careful that you do not grind too close to the edge of the coin and into the ring.
Step 10: Now move to a fine deburring wheel on the drill press. Again, spin both together.
Step 11: And finally buff off the fine scratches with Veritas green rouge on a stitched cloth wheel.
The lever cap screw is now complete. All that is left is to cut it to final length.
The example I offer here is a simple, basic design. It is possible to make one like the Spier in the picture above with some additional filing and a thicker section of brass.
I have obtained much of my brass and bronze stock from salvage yards, and the material I chose was a piece of phosphor bronze, which has a pink colour similar to copper. All I can say is that you need to be a masochist to work this stuff, it is that hard! But it toned in well with the red tone of the Jarrah infills I used, so I persevered. In general, unlike this, the brass I have used is easy to cut and file.
Step 1: Cut off a section of the desired brass plate.
Step 2: Mark, drill, and then tap the hole for the cap screw. This is then centred on the brass plate (build the profile around the hole, rather than the other way around).
Step 3: Draw the profile of the lever cap on the plate.
Step 4: Reduce the amount of waste with a small hand grinder or hacksaw.
Step 5: Grind the curves – use a belt sander or file. I used both.
Step 6: Final shape. Note that this picture also shows the screw holes that were drilled and tapped (including a set that were mis-positioned!). Also note that the angle of the lower curve is quite shallow since the jointer has bed of 60 degrees and the lever cap also acts as a chip breaker. Keep it polished (completed as per the cap screw).
Step 7: These are the screws I made for this lever cap.
Step 8: The screws can be made from a brass rod. File down a section(I chucked it into the drill press and filed it down).
Step 9: Cut a slot at the end of the rod, then use this to screw the bar into the tap (i.e. thread cutter).
And you are done!!!