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Watch furniture maker Garrett Hack demonstrate his methods for making custom scratch stocks. watch the video
After watching Garrett Hack demonstrate his methods for making and using simple scratch stocks at Fine Woodworking Live, I decided to delve into the Fine Woodworking archive for a bit more information on the subject.
What follows is an excerpt from a 2003 article by craftsman Rob Millard. It’s a great technique for producing delicate beads on the finest of furntiure. The one missing component from Millard’s article concerns the type of file to use. For beads, which obviously require a rounded profile, chainsaw files are your best bet.
Use these handmade tools to shape small details on furnitureRob Millard
The scratch stock is a simple tool with an impressive ability to dress up furniture with distinctive decorative elements that are exactly the right shape and size. And while my shopmade tools aren’t as fancy as some commercially available beading tools, they work, which is all that I require of them.
The tool does have some limitations, though. Being slow, a scratch stock is not the right tool for a large run of molding. Also, it’s hard to start or stop a scratch stock in the middle of a board (leaving you with some handwork); nor does it work as well across the grain or on softwoods. A scratch stock is best suited for smaller shapes, but with a closely matched handle, you can create some fairly wide moldings. Another approach is to use several different cutters, in stages, to obtain a surprisingly complex molding.
Click photos to enlarge
The simplest scratch stock I make is an L-shaped piece of oak with a bandsaw kerf cut into it and two screws for clamping the cutter in place. I chamfer the guide edges of the handle to facilitate using it on concave curves with a tight radius. I make the cutters from old cabinet-scraper blades. You might also consider using old handsaw blades that have a nice flex to them.
Add some color to the steel cutting blank. Layout fluid (also called bluing) makes it easier to see scratch marks that define the shape of the cutting edge.
Drafting templates come in handy. Scribe shapes on the cutting blanks using a machinist’s scribe.
Start with coarse files. Remove metal waste quickly with a coarse file, then improve the cutting edge with a finer tool.
Hone the blank to remove any burrs. A pocket-size diamond stone is ideal for sharpening small cutting blanks.
Move the scratch stock against the workpiece. Make the cut in multiple passes, with light downward pressure as you go. On the final few passes, hold the balde as vertically as possible. Rip the bead from the stock.
Move the workpiece against the cutter. With the scratch stock clamped in a vise, make multiple passes. This method works well for delicate workpieces, such as cock beads that will be applied to curve surfaces.
A basic scratch stock for beading. An L-shaped body works well to make simple beads. The cutter is placed right into the corner, where the two wood edges stabilize the blade for a clean, consistent cut. The long edge is chamfered, so the cutter can be tilted to start the shaping.
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Garrett Hack has a fine video on this site as well!
Did I miss something, or was there no instructions re making the holder? Seems simple enough though. Is the saw kerf done with a band saw or hand saw...? Also I assume you could also chamfer the adjacent edge to allow for use on curved pieces, right?
I used Rob's article to make two scratch stocks that I needed to reproduce a length of stair rail for a friend. One scratch stock made a simple bead, and the other made a bead and cove. Both worked, and my friend now has a stair rail in place that blends old and new seamlessly (well, almost). Fortunately, I was working with clear pine; I'm not sure I have enough elbow grease in me to use a scratch stock on four feet of hardwood. That's eight feet of profiling, since I had to do both sides of the pine.
The scratch stock is amazing tool. The article from Dave Moore and Rob Millard are great ones. Also the scratch stock holder is so much better of a design then the ones with just a saw kerf in them. For over time the saw kerf opens up and allows the blade to move.
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