Return to Shop Made Tools

Entry for Australian Wood Review Tool Competition 2009 

I was asked to enter a tool in the competition being run by the Australian Wood Review magazine (this is the premier Aussie woodworking mag). Everyone makes planes, so I decided to make another brace and include a few modifications.

Version #1 was a Jarrah brace and driver in a She-oak box.

For Version #2 I reversed this scheme.

Again, this is a small brace, one to be used in place of an eggbeater, such as for drilling holes for screws in delicate areas.

Its total length is 400mm (15 3/4") with a 100mm (4") throw.

The pad is Tasmanian Blackwood, my absolute favourite wood - stable, hard and a usually having stunning grain and chattoyance.

One criticism of the previous brace had been that the pad was fixed in place. The irony is that I made it to turn, using a steel rod as the basis for the mechanism. It was fractionally off centre and, in a moment of obsessive-inspired frustration, I epoxied the mechanism so that it would not turn. Well I was determined that it should not occur again ...

An old, rusty Stanley brace sacrificed itself for the upper connection. This turns so sweetly.

A shot of the bandsawed body and the pad with connector ..

Finally, the chuck is made from a spring-loaded clip-on driver holder. I wire brushed the anodising back to a steel finish.

Constructing the Brace

Construction: after bandsawing out the basic shape, the final body shape was achieved with rasps and scrapers. Sandpaper to smooth. Oil and shellac finish.

I cut out the rough shape on a bandsaw, as with the Jarrah example in this picture ..

Spokeshaves were used to work to the bevel lines drawn in ..

After this you are working my eye! The She-oak was too interlinked, too hard, and had too much reversing grain to be easily worked at these angles using spokeshaves, so I mainy used rasps ...

.. and a scraper I made to both shape and size the body ..

The final shape was finished with sandpaper to 800 grit, then shellac and waxed.

The body was drilled with eggbeaters for pilot holes, then gradually increased in size using a power drill.

The connector for the drill bits comes from a snap-on type connector.

This is how it started life ..

The Toolbox

The box must not detract from the tools, yet must be beautiful in a restrained manner. Or so I hoped! I decided to build it from some nice figured Jarrah with plain Tasmanian Oak (really just a gum, not an oak) as a foil. The top of the lid is also Jarrah, and it took some tme to find a piece that was a colour match and similarly figured, yet would not overwhelm. I had a nice board cut ready to be installed, then noted that it was the wrong colour when I finished a piece for the drawer pull. I also had to cut off the drawer pull and make another.

The boards for the box are 1/4" thick (partly to keep the weight down and partly because the end result just looks more aesthetic to my eye. This meant that I could not groove the sides. The base boards (there are two to house the drawer) are attached/glued to spacers and slips. The construction is very solid, the wood is dry and hard, and allowance is made for expansion by attaching the base boards on three sides only.

Here is a pre-glue up picture:

The drawer was marked out with a cutting gauge.

I used a thin-bladed veneer saw to cut it out as the face was to be saved with as little loss of size as possible. This was slow cutting.

The base of the box is, as mentioned earlier, double skinned to fit the drawer. Here is the underside of the box (before the lower skin was attached):

Later the lower skin was attached and the sides bevelled ..

The drawer is a solid piece of Jarrah that was routed for drill and driver bits. To this was glued the face cut from the box. Then the front of the drawer was morticed for the drawer pull ... what's that? You don't have a 1/8" mortice chisel?!

The drawer pull was shaped with a chisel and rasps. It is easier to form a long tenon first, since this may then be clamped in a vise to hold the work, and cut/shape the pull at the end.

The box is now at the stage where it will be sliced through its centre on my bandsaw, and the upper panel then inserted.

Cutting the box

This is a reconstruction as I accidentally deleted the original images.

The box was taped off to reduce break out, and a new blade was installed in the bandsaw.

Attaching the lid

The sides of the box are approximately 3/8” while the lid panel is only 1/8”. The reason for such a thin lid was simply that I had run out of space inside the box! I estimated that I had about 1/32” head room!

I had found a suitable piece of timber for the lid and book matched it on the bandsaw, then finished it with handplanes. Here it is installed ..

Owing to the this sides, the lid could not be housed in grooves. Instead it was supported by beading.

For strength, the beading was glued to all four sides of the box. To allow for expansion, the lid panel was glued on three sides only. The one end was left with a 1/32” gap.

The beading was shaped by first bevelling the end of a board with a chamfer plane, then ripping it off on a tablesaw.

These were cut to length on a mitrebox, then trimmed on the shooting board. Final

levelling was achieved by pulling the pieces across an upside down BU jointer.

I added beading to the lower section of the box for symmetry.

The tool stands

A 1” Jarrah dowel was turned and sections taken from this for the stands. Each section was shaped with rasps to the contour of the brace and driver ..

Leather strips were screwed from the rear left, below) and a brass hasp was turned into a catch (right, below).

These were attached to the base of the box by drilling several holes in the bases to act as keys. The nail (in the picture) provided additional strength but was also used for alignment.

Wooden hinges

I have written up the building of the wooden hinges in a separate article. Here are just a few images …

The hinge is based on a box joint:

Shape the ends with a rasp …

And after rounding and final shaping, this is the final result …

Final Pictures

Well, how did it turn out?

I was away from Australia for two weeks during the time the results were published, and returned home to find a box and a copy of the Australian Wood Review magazine waiting for me on the hall table.

And that is how I discovered that I had won a prize, a set of Colen Clenton tools - 8" square, 45 degree square, and cutting gauge.. To say I was surprised would be an understatement!

Regards from Perth