This weekend I drew up the plans to make a new tote for my No. 2 plane, and I realized I need to order a $10 drill bit to do the job. So instead I decided to modify the existing tote to see how far I could take it.
After studying the tote for the No. 2-sized Millers Falls tote, I drew some lines on the existing tote and fetched my rasps. After about 30 minutes of work, I could grasp the tote with a three-fingered grip. After another 10 minutes I had removed the odd flats and it wasn’t half-bad.
Before I called it done, I set the plane aside and came back to it this morning. As expected, I found a few more spots I could refine with a fine rasp. Then I removed the rasp marks with a scraper and some fine sandpaper.
Now I had an unfinished tote and a finished front knob. What to do?
I stripped the varnish off the front knob and fetched my propane torch. Like a lot of woodworkers who read the April 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I have been experimenting with a charred finish thanks to a great article by Seth Gould. (Order the issue here; visit Seth’s web site here.)
I’ve experimented with the finish on about a dozen test pieces and have been scrubbing the samples with a homemade wax mixture and (sometimes) a polissoir.
The finish took about five minutes of work and looks nice to my eye. I’ve decided to give this modified tote a good test drive before making an entire new tote. After all, I like building furniture a lot more than mucking about with tools.
— Christopher Schwarz
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