Hand Tools Archive
Bill Tindall, E.Tn.
Tools of the Trade
The string cutter is a Lee Valley marking gauge that was an impulse buy that worked out well. I find that impulse buys from Lee Valley work out more often than not. This item seems to have disappeared from stock. It is a nice tool. The string sizers are home made with the one made from a scraper working especially well for final sizing. The holly is from a log sawed last winter. Note that I got it dry and it stayed white.
The trough making tools are a combination of homemade and the cutter is from Lie Nielsen. While a fan of LV stuff I was told that their trough cutter was not particularly efficacious so I bought the LN version. It works quickly and reliably. The small sweep is handy for tidying up the ends of troughs, as needed.
The pattern is similar to a classic pattern found on Chester County stuff. However, I have modified it to where the bows at 45 degrees stop at the diamond in the middle rather than pass through it. The result is an uncluttered diamond in the center. This pattern is a bit harder to execute but I prefer the result.
Literally, pin point accuracy in laying out the points is essential or the points of the bows will not meet to make nice points. The string is only 0.32” wide so the tolerance for stuff coming together to make an attractive point is only a few thousandths of an inch. It all begins with laying out the points around the circle with a divider so that each quadrant is the same size, +/- the width of a pin point. Trial and error and patience lead to success.
There is some strategy to the order that the troughs get cut. Some experience in this regard results in crisp intersections. A practice piece is worth the effort to work out the best strategy. You will see in this sequence that the ends of the initial strings are then cut by later strings, resulting in perfect intersections.
It remains to scratch the two circles, border, and the bows in each corner, then add berries.