Saw makeovers and what kind of wood is this?

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Project by dbockel2 posted 02-24-2016 04:07 PM 1508 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Has this ever happened to you? The one thing that irks me about these hold hand plane handles is that they always seem to be made in a manner that the grain of the handle is aligned in such a way that the handle is weak and they frequently fracture right across the grain at the bottom of the tote…

So I headed to Woodcraft and sorted through the scrap bin and ultimately decided that I would make a new tote for my #4 but would also make new handles for my cross-cut and tenon saws, which are not anything special. However, with nice handles on them and some TLC for the blades I can make them quite nice. I picked up this one piece of scrap that I have no idea what it is. It is not mahogany—it is much harder and it smells kind of bad when I cut it. But I was fascinated with the two-toned grain pattern and decided to use it. Finished with some shellac. Saws great! I haven’t finished the new tote handle—I’m doing it in mahogany—and it should be done tonight. I love mahogany…

If anyone recognizes the variety of wood used for the saw handle, I’m curious.

7 comments so far

View Andy's profile


240 posts in 1303 days

#1 posted 02-24-2016 11:33 PM

Your handle looks great. Im not sure about that wood, my best guess would be walnut but the light colored part makes think its not walnut. Also since you got it at woodcraft it could any type of exotic wood from any country imaginable.

-- Andy Smith

View GnarlyErik's profile


321 posts in 2610 days

#2 posted 02-25-2016 01:26 AM

This handle appears to be made from ebony, a very dense wood from Africa and the Far East. I believe most ebonys are now illegal to import to the US as threatened species.

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

View dbockel2's profile


108 posts in 1426 days

#3 posted 02-25-2016 12:57 PM

Nah—it’s not ebony. I think the lighting was bad. I think it is just the standard rosewood that probably has been stained/shellacked a couple of times, making it look darker than it is. I meant the wood I’m replacing it with. Based on the smell alone, it is not walnut (I think walnut smells quite pleasant when it is being worked with. This board had a stench).

View Andy's profile


240 posts in 1303 days

#4 posted 02-25-2016 01:04 PM

I looked for some woods that look like that yesterday and i couldnt find anything close to it. Yea its definitely not walnut but it is nice wood so i would like to know what it is as well. Zebrawood stinks when you cut it, my wife called it zebrapoop wood, but i doubt that helps but thats not a domestic wood its from another country for sure.

-- Andy Smith

View Underdog's profile


1386 posts in 2511 days

#5 posted 02-25-2016 02:28 PM

My first thought was Sapele. But I’m not sure it’s a stinky wood. Looks a bit like a Mahogany of some sort. Of course what’s called Mahogany in the lumber industry includes several different species these days…
Maybe Lauan Mahogany?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View dbockel2's profile


108 posts in 1426 days

#6 posted 02-26-2016 01:55 PM

Finally finished the tote last night. It is slightly beefier than the standard sized handle which feels more susbstantial in my grip—I like it. Also, the grain runs more vertically now which I think will mitigate the common problem of the tote splitting along the horizontal axis with the grain which I think has to do with how pressure is applied along the tote when using the plane. The biggest challenge in making a tote is the very first step—drilling/boring out the hole from the top to the bottom where the tote screws into the sole. It’s hard because it is an angled cut that must be almost perfectly aligned and centered or else the screw will not line up and the tote will not attach. I actually went through 4 iterations before I got a result that I was satisfied with. I am very happy with the final tote.

Handle projects complete!

View Wav's profile


45 posts in 1733 days

#7 posted 03-20-2016 03:13 PM

Nice work. I just finished restoring an old #5 Plane that looked more like scrap iron than a woodworking tool. It was rusty and pitted and missing the Tote altogether. I couldn’t find a suitable replacement so I rummaged through my scrap bin and started whacking. I also mad made my Tote larger than those on other planes. it just has a better feel to it. I used a Brazilian Rosewood that was piece of scrap from an old milling operation that shut down in ‘64.

-- Maddog Creations

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