Wood Crafting, Band Saw 101, and other General Futzing Around…

Hello fellow woodworkers. My apologies for being absent a little more than usual the past few days. I’ve been under the weather yesterday and today. And I’m still not feeling 100%. Also been doing the family thing since Christmas. My daughter was in town, but we both had to work and didn’t have a chance for any woodworking. However, we are going to take chair making class together in May.

Fri evening I was able to split the remainder of the log in half without incident. A good friend has loaned me a 14″ bandsaw and I drug it out as well. A quick trip to the home center and I had a new blade. Spent a little bit of time getting the new blade on and making some adjustments. A 1″ blade was on the saw but all I had available for purchase was 1/2″. This particular saw is a Rockwell that is probably from the late 80s. Each of the pulleys has a rubber belt that is held in place by the belts stiffness. The upper belt was glued to the pulley but the lower one was not. When the motor got up to full speed the centrifugal force was greater than the stiffness of the belt and it would get spun off in fairly short order. I ditched the belt and went with several wraps of blue tape around the pulley for a temporary fix. What I had hoped to get from all of this work is some 4/4 – 6/4 boards for handles and 12/4 – 16/4 boards for mallet heads. Simple in theory.

Not so simple in practice. I openly and honestly admit, I know very little about the subtleties and intricacies of properly using a band saw. Just never had much occasion to use one. But I need to learn. I started with the smallest quarter in the picture shown above and figured I could get handle material from it. I did not have a fence on the band saw’s table, and perhaps that was the problem, so I tried to freehand a straight rip. Ehhhh not much luck. I had trouble keeping the blade perfectly vertical, it kept leaning to the right or the left. I got 3 usable boards, but they were very ugly looking. I went to shorter pieces for mallet heads in hopes that they would be easier, but only marginally so. At this point I am open to any and all suggestions for improvement in my band saw technique.

I ended up with one wacky piece I had hoped to use as a mallet head and Kate’s enthusiasm saved it from the scrap heap. She thought it’s asymmetrical qualities would make it attractive. So I kept it and said it would be hers. Sunday afternoon I worked on its general shape.

It’s a little hard to tell from this picture but there are four faces on this side. One contact face is sloped relative to the handle and the opposite contact face is not. By the time I got to this pointing was liking the head more and more.

One property of the wood that I had failed to anticipate is the moisture content. The middle of these logs are full of water, like a sponge. Any type of cut revealed a dark red color. Left alone for a while and it would dry out. After 24 hours of sitting on my bench, the mallet head appears to have dried out some but at the expense of small cracks on the end grain.

I don’t believe the cracks will impact the functionality of the mallet (pun intended), but I would like to know what I should do to prevent them from occurring. Please fee free to voice your suggestions. This last pic gives a good view of the sloped face and the overall cross section.

That’s all for now. Have a great New Year’s Eve! Be safe and check back soon.


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