Make a Scratch Stock

The Nicholson bench I will be building in the coming months require a profile on the edges of the ship lapped boards for the shelf.  Well, it isn’t required but I like the detail it will add to the bench so I am going to make it a requirement.  I want to build the bench with mostly hand tools and I don’t have any moulding planes so the solution is the scratch stock.  There are plans available for this and the Nicholson bench on the sidebar.

I searched the ether for a few minutes and finally came to a scratch stock style that I liked as it looked comfortable in the hands and functional for different sized cutters.  So the build began.

I have a sizeable scrap bin in my shop (as most may) and I rummaged through it looking for something that would pair well with brass.  I found a perfect sized piece of rift sawn 8/4 walnut I had left over from a coffee table build but it had a good deal of sapwood in it.  Not a problem as Dark Walnut Danish Oil blends it fairly well with the heartwood.

I pulled out 3 washers, 3 threaded inserts, and 3 brass knurled thumb screws to use as the holding power.  Some of the designs I saw simply used machine bolts and nuts that you tighten with a Philips driver each time you need to change the cutters.  I wanted something a bit faster and stylish, naturally.

To start, I sliced a 1/4″ off the material at the band saw and set it aside.  At the drill press, I bored a few 3/8″ diameter holes 1/2″ deep for the threaded inserts.  Changing out the drill bit for a 1/4″ bit, I bored the holes through until the brad point exited the other side.  Flipping the piece over and finishing the hole so I didn’t get any blow out.  I used a 1/2″ bit to mark the countersink for the washers.  Finally, I used a 1/2″ Forstner bit to flatten the countersink so the washers wouldn’t bend over time.

I resawed the material in two equal parts.  Initially I cut the piece leaving 1″ at the back to hold the stock together.  This made it so I couldn’t fully tighten the thumb screws at the end completely to hold the cutter fast.

Now the inserts were driven into the 3/8″ holes.  I used a machine bolt to help drive the inserts into the stock.  The machined slots are too soft for a slotted driver and will strip so using a bolt adds the ability to use a Philips driver for extra control.  After all three inserts were in place and slightly countersunk, I glued the 1/4″ slice back on keeping the grain aligned.  After the glue was dry I cleaned it up with chisel and plane, then cut the reference faces on the stock.

The bevels on the horizontal reference surface were marked and cut.  These allow you to tilt the scratch stock for the initial cuts to establish the profile.  I cut these by hand and then cleaned them up with a chisel.  You could cut them at the bandsaw if you tilt the table.  It was just faster for me to cut these with a hand saw.

Shaping was the last order of business.  I chose to round over the corners that were to be handled and then chamfer the edges.  I used a combination of rasps for the round overs and a block plane for the chamfers.  In the end, the feel and look of the scratch stock are great.

The cutters were made from pieces of my old Wood Slicer Bandsaw Blade.  I cut the piece to length, drew a profile on the face at the corner, and used a combination of flat and round files to shape the profile.  To sharpen the the cutters you can just rub the faces on a stone as you would a marking gauge cutter.

A little of the aforementioned Danish Oil was wiped on and it was ready to go.  Simple, quick, and a good use of the scrap wood and old saw blades you may have laying around your shop.

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