A couple of tools

I just finished making these. They aren’t based on anything in particular but nor are they glaringly modern. I recently got a gas torch and some refractory bricks which means I can do very very small scale forging, perfect for awl blades and small tools. I am very much a novice at both forging and woodturning but they came out Ok I think. Both are usable.

Eventually I want to try making some medieval punches for openwork shoes but that’s probably going to require forge welding which the little torch won’t do and mandrels I don’t have yet.

The first is a pegging awl I need for a pair of 16th century shoes which have partially pegged lifts. It’s driven with a hammer and makes a square hole through two layers of thick leather into which a slightly oversize wooden peg, roughly the same cross-section as a matchstick, is driven. Done right, it’s incredibly secure. I’ve never done it before so I have no idea how well this will work out. I plan on experimenting once I’ve cut some pegs. I have some scraps of beech kicking around which is good peg wood.

This was the first blade I made, it was too small and badly heat treated and it snapped when I was driving the haft on.

The second is a grooving tool. It’s entirely conjectural since I’ve never seen an example of a medieval or renaissance grooving tool but I have seen examples of cut grooves which are distinct from grooves that have been scratched or inscribed with an awl.

My first attempt at a grooving tool was a length of nail with a hole drilled through the end and then filed and polished at the tip to sharpen the rim of the hole, sort of like a very very small scorp. I used that on a couple of projects and it worked but I didn’t think it was a particularly plausible construction for a medieval tool. If you’re forging, a small round bar with a hole in the end is a lot harder than a bar with a flattened end folded over and sharpened so I made one like that. It seems to work quite well.

This is it from the back:

This is the blade before it got mounted, you can see the sharp edge:

Not a great photo, I need to rejig my lightbox so I can take photos straight down on things.

The hafts are turned from Ash, which I have lots of scraps of lying around after using it for tent poles. The ferrules are strips of brass bent and nailed in place. A similar ferrule was found in York and is pictured in Leather and Leatherworking in Anglo Scandinavian and Medieval York.

The form of the mushroom-shaped haft is very approximately based on this haft from the SO-1 shipwreck, a late 16th century wreck in the Dutch Wadden Sea, on which the shoes I’m going to recreate were also found.

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