Mortise chisel restore (Vintage French bedanes) #1: New handles from fire wood

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by mafe posted 05-13-2011 11:47 AM 14125 reads 5 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Mortise chisel restore (Vintage French bedanes) series Part 2: Flatten, sharpen, finish and more. »

Mortise chisel restore
Vintage French bedanes

I was lucky to get these old French mortise chisels at a fair price (app. 25 dollar for all including the convex spokeshave) on E-bay.
Or I was lucky to get this junk metal on E-bay some might say… Others again might just call me stupid!

This is what I decided to give new life.

In France they call mortise chisels for Bedanes.
The chisels are Klingenthal (Klingen=blades, thal= valley), was originally located in Alsace.
The factory was founded by the French king king Louis XV to make swords for the French army, but since then the French cut of the head of the king, so they produced swords for Napoleons great army instead.
This was the reason why I fell in love with these chisels.

The handles were well used, so I could not see any reason to keep them,
But I looked at the shapes and studied books to see what they wood have looked like.
And the fact was that the French and the English actually agreed on something! The shape of the mortise chisel handles.

I visited mi Friend Michael, and in his fire wood I found a good piece of beech.

Then it was just to cut some good hand size pieces.

And find a proper size for each tang.

Here the puzzle.

I cut them roughly in the shape.

Some handles came of really easy, others needed love.

Carefully I used a chisel and a mallet to break it apart.

Now time to clean up the tang, this is really a heavy mother blogger…

Shoulders were filed down to level.

Drill a hole in the handle in a small size and all the way down to the length of the tang.

Step up one size and drill only half way.

At the end I used a long countersink to drill with but it could just have been a larger drill that was slightly smaller than the widest part of the tang.

Now clean up with a long thin drill.
To make the sides coned.

I used my knife maker tool to clean out.
It’s a jigsaw blade that I grind in shape and gave a handle.

Fitting the tang in the handle, the hole must be a little too small.

Fasten in the vice.

And BANG!!!

Now draw an ellipse on the end of the chisel.

I used a spokeshave to do the rough shaping but stopped before I touched the metal shoulders.

Like so.
(And yes there is a dry out crack in the wood so I actually needed to shape more…).

Next part was done like this, holding the iron and spinning the machine, it was quite easy.

And a final touch on the top.

My homemade rehandled dovetail chisel set:
My reviw of the Ashley Iles Mk 2 Bevel Edged Cabinetmakers Chisels:

That’s it for the first part second and last part will be about sharpening, flattening, finish and more, I hope this can inspire some to give new life to old tools.

(Yes I post too much these days, but since I’m in my bed due to a nerve in my back that hurfts like …. I was thinking it’s time for some old unfinished posts and blogs).

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

12 comments so far

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3375 days

#1 posted 05-13-2011 11:53 AM

Master Vintage Tool Restorer strikes again!

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3737 days

#2 posted 05-13-2011 12:56 PM

Mafe, your restores are always a pleasure to follow. Nice work on the handles. What kind of clamps are those silver and green ones you are using? Looks like a ratcheting bar clamp?

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View patron's profile


13658 posts in 3883 days

#3 posted 05-13-2011 01:03 PM

i shall have to learn
i have old assorted ones too
and have the same back pain as you

so i will do sometime maybe
or (good dream) you come and help
or (best dream) i bring them
and learn from you
and help

and drink espreso
and we laugh

there is a third way
we both get well
and pass each other
on our way to visit
and work together
and laugh

then finally do get together (somewhere)
and laugh (priceless)

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3322 days

#4 posted 05-13-2011 01:07 PM

Beauty.. Love the restoreing of history, sort of swords to ploughshares eh !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 3180 days

#5 posted 05-13-2011 02:02 PM

Another great tutorial Mads, sorry to hear that you are not feeling well.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View mafe's profile


12144 posts in 3631 days

#6 posted 05-13-2011 03:37 PM

Bob, thank you, yes Patron and I are suffering these days. I was just in the workshop because my sister needed to cut a steel rod, and I could almost not even go there… So to look at those wonderful tools and close the door…
Glen, I will be ready for a war in the workshop now.
David, I would love to come and help you one day, I need to win that lottery ticket and stop buying tools… And you are always welcome here for a espresso, and even my home is small I can make you a bed so stay as you want. But I would love to see that view from your house one day, I can just bring the espresso machine!
Eric, the clamps are Festool, it’s a MFT3 table and yes it rocks. I’m happy that you enjoy my restore blogs.
Thomas, it seems I got a new title agan ‘Master Vintage Tool Restorer’ smile.
Best thoughts and thank you guys,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3235 days

#7 posted 05-13-2011 03:44 PM

I’m sorry to hear of your troublesome back. Apparently, these are compliants that you’re quite familiar with and that makes me sad. These chisels, however, to not have the same saddening effect! There is little to improve upon with a simple picksticking handle that greets the hand in just that way.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Jiri Parkman's profile

Jiri Parkman

953 posts in 4355 days

#8 posted 05-13-2011 04:18 PM

Congratulations. Good job.

-- Jiri

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3649 days

#9 posted 05-14-2011 07:02 AM

OK Mafe and Dave, now you went and dun it….my back is having sympathy pains for both of you. Hope it is over by the time my new saw gets here.

You know that you have the nicest set of old tools on the block. And now I know how to make matching handles for my stuff with out a lathe. Thanks.

View mafe's profile


12144 posts in 3631 days

#10 posted 05-14-2011 09:31 AM

Rand, yes it’s some really comfortable handles, and not too hard to make (probaly why this is the traditional way iy was done lol). Glad I could inspire you. But do not get inspiret on the back thing please! This is not fun.
Jiri, I smile thank you.
Bertha, yes I cross my fingers that it is not a prolapse but it sure feels a lot like it… But yes it was what made me sick in the first place only in the neck then so I am quite familiar with the pain… (One of the reasons why I spend plenty of time in the workshop). But as it is now, I can only stand a lay, to sit is impossible, and if I lift more than a kilo I scram of pain, so this one is not suitable for the workshop…
I think of Saint Jude.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View stefang's profile


16821 posts in 3876 days

#11 posted 05-14-2011 01:10 PM

Those chisels are worth their weight in gold Mads. They look extremely sturdy, plus they have a priceless historical value. I can’t wait to see the followup on this blog. I am very glad these venerable tools are falling into your hands where they will be lovingly restored and cared for.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3657 days

#12 posted 05-17-2011 10:36 PM

deffently an improvement :-)
I´m of to the next toturial about them


Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics