Exercises in Artisanship #4: New designs, challenges and styles to find!

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Blog entry by jjw5858 posted 04-10-2012 01:07 AM 8897 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Making a saw handle PART 3 Part 4 of Exercises in Artisanship series Part 5: Handles, auctions, and progress »

Hey friends, hope all is well. Thought I would post the latest shop endeavour….making a new handle design with this maple stock!

Not sure if everyone caught the final to the last handle project so here is the link for that:

My objective for the first project was to stay conservative while still taking some chances. As I finished the project I was very happy with the outcome and still honest with myself about what I can improve on in the future.

Overall I figure that to go and copy a Disston pattern or another classic handle template takes extreme ability and I hold high regard for that…..but in the end…..those companies did that already….and very well indeed….lol. So taking lessons from my guitar teaching past experiences, I would often stress to my students….learn from the greats….but at some point you must find your own style! So that was and is my thinking as getting to the sketch pad and finding my own way!

The session really got started off in a jazz like fashion….just letting the lines and ideas flow. As I went on I began seeing it piece together, instincts along with carefully executed risks and rewards.

Let the pictures…begin!

A view on the path to my shop…wonderful. For me I have to see, breath and be in touch with nature and I am very thankful for it.

The new design…..I wanted something different!!

I got away from old habits of nursing my files for chamfering angles on the outside and inside edges…...and finally put new skills to work by firing up my chisels! Once I got in the groove it was a very enjoyable experience.

A recessed area for my southpaw pointer…..why not!

More dimensions for this build….I wanted to blend carving, shaping and layers….I learn as I go!

So far a lot of learning….and a lot left to do!

I have now reached a 2 year anniversary of doing woodwork… has really been amazing. Before that at 38 years of age if you told me I would be able to nail two boards together correctly…I would have said…....nah….lol…..that’s not my thing. here I am at 41…well…..a month away yet…lol…...and have discovered all of this!

I was just someone who always loved the woods…and loved to see everyone else making things with wood.

One night about….2 years ago…lol I saw this show…...something that was a complete blast from the past….I said….haaaaaaa oh man..I remember this guy although had no interest and never really watched the program… was the Woodright Shop. I tell ya….I saw this with new eyes….and people….the woodwork bug was full on!

From going to nothing at all… being floored, honored and humbled by that very great teacher once replying to me…....

Your work is really fine. All your work is really creative yet seems to tap into classic, whimsical visual rhythms.”
Roy Underhill

The more I do the more I entirely respect those great craftspeople that handcrafted these handles, totes…etc. Just amazing skill and talent.

The best way to sum it all up….take a little from all the artisans, machinests, people you admire…..even outside of woodworking…then add a touch of what they alll give you…in spirit and inspiration…..and you have…............your own style!

Thanks for your great styles friends
Stop by again & great shavings,


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

6 comments so far

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2947 days

#1 posted 04-10-2012 01:25 AM

Very nice work. It seems you can transfer your visions onto a piece of wood. That is natural talent…not something one learns.

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3691 days

#2 posted 04-10-2012 01:41 AM

Way to think outside the box! Very nice.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View Brit's profile


7828 posts in 3382 days

#3 posted 04-10-2012 07:14 AM

Wow Joe! This one looks like it is going to be a lot of fun. I’m totally with you on the skill old saw makers demonstrated when crafting their totes. Did you know that there was once a separate profession called ‘Saw Handle Maker’ and you had to serve a 1 year apprenticehsip before you could call yourself a saw handle maker?

When I was researching the history of some of my English (sheffield made) backsaws, I found myself studying some old street maps of the town. In the 19th century there was actually a public house right in the heart of Sheffield called The Saw Maker’s Arms. It was owned by one of the Ibbotson brothers. They say that you could hear and feel the thump of the tilt hammers shaping the steel and the tables in the pubs had bars around them to stop people’s drinks vibrating off onto the floor.

I would love to attach a pair of the experienced saw maker’s arms that drank in that pub to my own shoulders to see how they went about it and what tools they used for each facet of the handle. They had some skills that’s for sure.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brit's profile


7828 posts in 3382 days

#4 posted 04-10-2012 07:32 AM

Check this out this bad boy Joe. It is from an old Spear and Jackson handsaw (circa 1830) and is probably my favourite of all the handles on my saws. Notice the subtle curves (all hand work) that take your eye on a journey of discovery around it’s shape.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View stefang's profile


16812 posts in 3873 days

#5 posted 04-10-2012 08:54 AM

I am glad you are experiencing the joy of woodworking and it looks like you are good at it too. Your handles look great. Who knows what the next two years will bring?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3141 days

#6 posted 04-10-2012 11:32 AM

Thanks friends for all of the interest. Andy, wow….I love that handle for sure and great history. Thanks for passing it on I surely see why it is a favorite! When you look at these classic works of art how can we not be in awe of them. You have an amazing collection. Old tools have a history and soul all their own. Stay tuned for a fun blog in the next day or so….ya know me…I found some neat saw finds at an auction…

All the best,


-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

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