Making A Scratch Stock

B, efore the advent of power routers and shapcrs, craftsmen devised simple hand tools like the scratch stock for forming decorative shapes. The scratch stock consisted of a scraper blade (ground to a desired profile) mounted vertically in a block of wood. Bv scratch-

ing this tool back and forth across a wooden surface, a decorative shape emerged.

A scratch stock remains useful today. In many cases, it will do a better job of cutting a small shape than a power tool does, particularly in hardwood. Because it scrapes rather than cuts, it doesn't lift the grain. Figured wood won't chip or splinter. And because it burnishes the surface as it scrapes, the completed shape requires little or no sanding.

You can make your own scratch stock from a block of hardwood and an old hacksaw blade. The simple scratch stock you see here can be modified to suit different tasks. You could even add handles to increase the comfort during longer tasks. If you don't want to go to the trouble of making your own scratch stock, vou can buv a metal one (under

Move blade to adjust.

Line slot with sandpaper to secure blade.

Line slot with sandpaper to secure blade.

Round corners and edges.

WO00EN BLOCK

Fix blade by tightening bolts.

Bandsaw slot for cutter.

Grind cutter from old hacksaw blade.

"beading tools," available from Garrett Wade, 161 Ave. of the Americas. New York. NY 10013 or Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. Rt. 1, Warren. ME 04864).

To use the the scratch stock, draw it over the surface of the wood several dozen limes, pressing down firmly. Lean the blade in the same direction that you draw the tool, like a cabinet scraper. With each pass, the scratch stock will scrape away a small amount of wood until the shape is complete. The lower edge of the scratch stock acts as a guide.

Making Scratch Stock Blade

ViHN. BEADS

SIDE VIEW

FRONT VIEW

ONE SQUARE

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Old-time craftsmen often pegged their furniture together with square pegs driven into round holes. This arrangement prevented the pegs from working loose. Cut peg blanks from a very hard wood. Whittle the bottom ends of the pegs round.
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The front apron on this shelf is pegged to the uprights. To InstaH the pegs, wipe a little glue on the peg, then drive it into the hole with a wooden malet or rawhide hammer.

FIG. 2: EXPLODED VIEW OF REPISA

FIG. 2: EXPLODED VIEW OF REPISA

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IVHN.1
Making Scratch Stock Blade

To use a scratch stock, draw it along the wood with the blade leaning in the same direction that the tool is moving. Make multiple passes until the shape is complete.

This store-bought scratch stock (see facing page for source) may look like a spokeshave but it works more Eke a cabinet scraper. It comes with a set of shaped scraping cutters.

This store-bought scratch stock (see facing page for source) may look like a spokeshave but it works more Eke a cabinet scraper. It comes with a set of shaped scraping cutters.

To use a scratch stock, draw it along the wood with the blade leaning in the same direction that the tool is moving. Make multiple passes until the shape is complete.

rights, the backboard is screwed on, and the remaining parts are assembled with butt joints reinforced with square pegs. (See photo.)

Small bands of beading called "reeds" embellish the backboard and aprons. (See Fig. 1.) These reeds were another popular decorative motif in traditional Southwest furniture, possibly because they were so easv to make. Old-time craftsmen cut them with a "scratch stock"—a tool that scraped a shape in the wood. It's easy to make your own scratch stock. (See sidebar.) You could just as well cut the reeds with a molding plane, a shapcr, or a tablesaw molding head with a set of three-bead knives.

We've painted this repisa with artist's acrylic paint in solid pastel colors. Many repisas were carved or painted with intricate designs. Feel free to experiment. A

Nick Engler is a contributing editor of AW. He's an author and a wvod-wvrking instructor at the University of Cincinnati.

Nicholas Engler

Nick Engler is a contributing editor of AW. He's an author and a wvod-wvrking instructor at the University of Cincinnati.

MARCHWBl 1991 A 63

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A Stone-Age~ "W^l Survivor he enxo (pronounced eri-shaw) is a type of hand adze widely used in Portugal. Carpenters. boatbuilders, millwrights, anyone working with wood is sure to have one in his toolbox. No one knows how old the enx6 is, but the hand adze in its general form dates back to the Stone Age—many have been found with flint cutting edges. In Portugal, miniature stone enx6s occasionally show up with other grave goods in burial grounds.

Primarily used for roughing stock close to its finished size, an cnx6 can remove large quantities of wood quickly. In skilled hands, however, the enx6 can produce shavings, and the work then requires only a few passes with a plane for a finished surface. An enxo can cut inside curves—a chair seat, for example—and it's especially useful for overhead work and getting into tight places.

The enxo is a simple tool that has changed little over the centuries. The three enxos shown in the photo span 100 years.

The one in back is a century-old enx6 that came from Guiniara£s in northern Portugal. The blade is quite flat, has a projecting tang attached to the wooden handle and a cast-iron strap. The blade is held in place by a wedge of hardwood.

The second enxo, shown on the left, is more recent. It has a curved blade, which, too, is attached to the

This ancient tool caters to the modem craving to get things done Quickly. The enx6 b a convenient, one-handed tool used to rough stock down to sire handle by a strap.

The third and most modern version has the blade attached with a pressed-steel bracket. However, the handle is still notched as if for the iron strap—a rare glimpse into the evolution of an ancient tool.

Old blades vary in size, but the newer ones I've come across are 4'/: in. wide and about 5 in. long. The front of the blade is slightly curved and ground to a 25° bevel. The handles are made of eucalyptus, orange wood, or local oak, and there is a sideways extension under the right side of the grip to protect knuckles from splinters.

I've used an enx6 in many aspects of rough carpentry for quite a few years. I have found it a handy, versatile tool much easier to learn to use than its two long-handled cousins, the lipped adze and the railroad adze. If you measure the radius of curvature on the enx6 blade, you'll find it close to the length of your own arm from the hand to the elbow. This is why, after only a few hours of practice, you'll feel quite comfortable using it. Another advantage of the enx6 is that it only requires one hand, leaving the other hand free to hold the work.

The enxo works best on softwoods and green or partially dry hardwoods. I use one frequently in Nova

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The three enx6s shown here span a century—the oldest one in back to the newest one in front

Scotia where I have a home with no electricity. I find it handy for building and repairing docks, making log cribs and all manner of rough carpentry including shingling. An enxo is also useful when it's not feasible to use a bandsaw either because the work is too heavy or because it is already built into a larger structure. Bevelling the frames of a boat is a good example. The men that repair and build boats in Portugal seldom have portable power equipment available. A tool that rapidly dimensions lumber on the job is especially useful.

Other uses are to strip bark off trees, shape masts and flag poles and put up temporary scaffolding and concrete formwork. I've even seen enx6s put to use cleaning the cement off used formwork. As one Portuguese carpenter said of the enxo: "It's not a toy. It's for real business—you can even cut through nails with it."

In Portugal, choosing an enx6 is easy. There is only one manufacturer, "Jaguar," a firm known for quality

The modern way to sharpen an enx6 is with an electric grinding

The modern way to sharpen an enx6 is with an electric grinding

Using a small

Using a small hone the bcvol and the back side to eliminate the wire edge left by grinding.

tools. A Portuguese, when buying one, detaches the blade and "rings" it, choosing the one that "makes the best music." A dull chink might indicate a crack in the forging.

There is another version of the enxo made in Spain, the "Bellota." but nobody I'd met ever tried one. This may have been because Portuguese tend to take a dim view of things Spanish and are fond of quoting the proverb: "From Spain come only bad winds and bad marriages."

Sharpening the Enxo

With older enxos you can touch up the edge with a file. The steel in the new ones is so hard that it can barely be scratched, so you must use a grinder when sharpening. When sharpening a new blade, I first remove the enxo s handle and set the tool rest of a drv m grinder to conform to the factory-ground angle-about 25°. Grind the bevel maintaining the same curve on the front edge.

After you feel a burr on the upper surface, use a small oilstone (a soft Arkansas works well), to gently hone both edges until the burr disappears as shown. As the edge dulls with use, hone it again with an oilstone. If you hit a nail or otherwise damage the edge, you'll have to go back to the grinder and repeat the process. W'hen working with used lumber with the risk of hitting old nails, a secondary bevel of 5° would give a stronger edge.

In Portugal, workers mostly use a whetstone with water—the same kind farmers used for sharpening sevthes and sickles. These carborundum stones are

•r cheap and portable but leave a rough edge. As someone explained to me: "For delicate work an enx6 must be sharp. For rough work it can be quite dull."

After sharpening the tool, make a blade guard of wood or leather before doing anything else. Your other tools can jostle the exotic newcomer and damage the edge—or vice-versa.

Wrhen learning to use an enxo, practice first on the edge of a piece of 1 -in. stock. Draw a line, and try hewing as close to it as you can get. Be alert about the grain slope, and if the wood seems to be tearing up, reverse the direction of cut. Next, try drawing a line with a gentle concavity and hewing to that. Pivot the tool from the wrist as you would swing a short-han-dled hammer.

When you've mastered edge trimming, take a more solid chunk of wood such as a log. and try flattening one side. You'll find it often works best to cut in a herringbone pattern so you are slicing through the grain fibers obliquely.

Once you get started, I know you'll enjoy this ancient tool and appreciate its versatility. The enx6 is not sold in this country nor in Canada, so I've arranged to import a limited quantity for those who want to try one. The cost, including air freight is $50.00. Allow six weeks for delivery. Wrrite to: Simon Wratts, 720 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94109. ▲

Simon Watts is a journalist and teaches wooden boatbuilding in California and around the country.

Simon Watts is a journalist and teaches wooden boatbuilding in California and around the country.

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have this thing about clocks—I don't like them. No matter what time I think it is, the clock always mocks me with a later hour. Clocks love to have the last laugh. Like stealing the hours of my life is some kind of joke! Well, I don't see the humor. So I've designed a clock that will give me a big head start—about 60 years. This clock—inspired by the 1930's Art Deco tradition—is a friendly, future-meets-past type of timepiece. A cross-breed between Buck Rogers and the front grill of a 1953 buick. Best of all. it's a humble clock —to read it vou have to look</cm7i on it. I have no m doubt my clock will know from its very first tick just who's boss. Then it's sure to keep the correct time ... my time.

This is a stone-simple project. It starts as a turning. After you turn a laminated blank to the profile shown in Fig. 1, you'll saw it in half, then in quarters. By doing this, you'll end up with four clock bodies. This makes it an ideal project for a small production run.

So vou can either make four clocks, or use three as j w trial runs to get a fourth that actually works, as I did (but then, you won't need to do this, since I've worked out the bugs for you).

In Fig. 2 you'll find plans for a V-jig that will make this project a smooth operation. This jig will hold the odd-shaped clock body secure while you perform all the necessary woodworking magic. You'll use this jig several times during the course of the project.

Turning the Clock Body

Start by gluing up a block 9 in. square by 121/-» in. long. Cut the corners off on a handsaw so you have something that approximates a cylinder. Mount this on your lathe between centers. It's a hefty piece, so be

SIDE VIEW
Art Deco Woodworking Designs
FIG. 1: ART DECO CLOCK
Spur Making Jigs

FRONT VIEW

Turn the clock body from a 9-in. sq. x 121/«-la. long block. Shape the block with a gouge or skew to the profile shown in Fig. 1.

Rip the turned form in half on the bandsaw by supporting the form in a V-Jig. Pass the form through the blade skmfy to keep the cut straight sure the spur center is securely embedded, then fasten the tail stock tight.

Set the lathe for the slowest speed, and with a gouge, rough the block into a cylinder. Then, turn the form to the general shape shown in the front and side view in Fig. 1. Feel free to vary the shape according to what you like, but bear in mind that if you make the central portion a tighter arc than shown, you'll have extra work later to fit the clock bezel flush. Finish the surface up with a skew or gouge and sandpaper. (See photo.) When you're done with the turning, you may want to apply a finish to the form while it's still on the

Cutting the Turned Form into Quarters

While the finish is drying, make a jig like the one you see in Fig. 2. This V-jig will hold the turned form steadv while vou cut it in half. I did it on a bandsaw. To do this you'll need a bandsaw with a 12-in. depth-of-cut (on Delta bandsaws you can extend the depth-of-cut from 6'A in. to 12'/: in. with a height extension (available as "Riser Block Set" from Trend-lines, 375 Beacham St., Chelsea, MA 02150). You could also saw the form in half with a hand saw.

To saw the form on a bandsaw, simply lay the form in the jig, securing it to the jig with a strip of duct tape on the end closest to you. Set up a fence to guide the jig, and saw the turning in two. (See photo.) Even with a well-tuned bandsaw and the V-jig running against a fence, the blade may wander off center. A slightly off-center cut is okay—you'll true the quarters up on the jointer, anyway. The main idea is to cut slowly. I used a '/4-in. wide blade, but I recommend you use a '/a-in. wide blade and put a little extra tension on it. (See Re-

Turn the clock body from a 9-in. sq. x 121/«-la. long block. Shape the block with a gouge or skew to the profile shown in Fig. 1.

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Rout round-over profile.

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Cut slot for backboard.

lathe. Since I intended to paint the clock afterward, I simply sprayed on a sealer coat of Deft Clear Wood Finish (available from Constantine's, 2050 Eastchcster Rd., Bronx, NY 10461).

Cut slot for backboard.

EXPLODED VIEW

Rout round-over profile.

Todriltbehole for the clock rnovdDcnt, mount the dock body in the V-fig fact up, and begin by drilling apflotholeal the way through.

Todriltbehole for the clock rnovdDcnt, mount the dock body in the V-fig fact up, and begin by drilling apflotholeal the way through.

Garden Bench ImagesGarden Bench ImagesGarden Bench Images

Next, drill down through the face of the dock with a 2 '/«-in. hole saw (top). Dril as far as the hole saw wV alow. Finish up the hok? from the back side. First, dril as far as you can with a 2'A-in. dia. hole saw. On a handsaw, cut away the waste in back so you can dril deeper with the ?/«*. dia. saw. Make the final cut with a 2'A-in. hole saw, and dril in as far as possible (bottom). Kaock the waste away with a hammer.

sawing on the Bandsaw, Scptcmbcr/Octobcr. 1988 AW.) Once you've cut the block in half, secure each half (one at a time) in the V-jig and cut each of these in half. You'll end up with four quarters. True up the bottoms and backs of each quarter on the jointer.

Drilling for the Movement

Next step is drilling a hole through the clock body for the movement. I recommend you use the same battery-operated quartz movement that I did. (Quartz Insert Movement with Arabic Numerals, $16.50, #P-812 available from Merritt's Antiques, Inc., R.D. #2, Doug-lassville, PA 19518, 1-800-345-4101.) This mechanism comes as a complete package —movement, hands, bezel and all (except the size N battery, available at your local market). This movement matches the clock style nicely.

To drill for this movement, you'll need to use two different-diameter Milwaukee-brand hole saws. The front portion of the hole needs to be 2% in. in diameter to fit the body of the clock movement. The back portion of the hole needs to be 2*U in. in diameter to accommodate the back mounting plate of the mechanism. Start by marking the center point of your clock body on the face. With the clock body securely supported face up in the cradle of the V-jig, drill a pilot hole all the way through the clock body. (Sec photo.) To do this, you'll need a long bit that's the same diameter as the pilot drills in the arbors of your hole saws. (I used a 5-in. long, '/¿-in. dia. spade bit.) The bit should exit the clock bodv at the back bottom corner.

Next, replace the pilot drills in your hole saws with metal bar stock of the same diameter as the drills (also the same diameter as the pilot hole). This will prevent the hole saws from drilling off center of the original pilot hole. Chuck the 2U*-\n. dia. hole saw in your drill press, and centering the bar stock in the pilot hole on the front side of the clock body, drill down as far as the hole saw allows. (See photo.) Turn the clock body over in the jig, and with the 27-i-in. dia. hole saw, drill in from the back side as far as the hole saw allows. Then, so that you can drill a bit deeper, knock out some of the back waste on the bandsaw or with a chisel. Finally, finish up the hole with the 2'/4-in. dia. hole saw on the back side. (See photo.) The cylinder you've drilled likely won't come right out, but a few good wacks on the front side of the waste should be enough coaxing. If you've done everything according to plan, the movement should fit in the hole, and the bezel will sit flush against the front face of the clock body.

Making the Back and Bottom Assembly

Cut out the back and bottom boards on the band-saw. It's easy to get a uniform profile by riding a compass, open approximately Vi in., along the top and bottom profile of the clock body. For the lower of the two baseboards, cut the profile on the upper base board first, then use it as a template for your compass while you draw the shape of the lower baseboard. Note that the backboard fits within a notch in the lower base board, and be sure to cut a mousehole-shaped door in the backboard for access to the movement's time-adjustment knob. (See Fig. 1.) Smooth the boards up with a sander or file, and rout a round-over profile on the inner front/top edges of each board. Glue the base together, then screw the clock body down, and screw the back onto the clock body and base. (This allows access to the mechanism for battery changes or removal.) Protect the clock with a clear finish, or a coat of paint. As you might have guessed, mine is painted racer red. A

Fiona Wilson is associate editor of AMERICAN WOODWORKER.

Cut slot for

FIG. 2: V-JIG FOR HOLDING CLOCK BODY

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Cut slot for

FIG. 2: V-JIG FOR HOLDING CLOCK BODY

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Responses

  • jonatan
    Is GarrettWade, 161 Avenue of the Americas, NY still in business?
    3 years ago

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