Workshop Heartbreak

Whether it’s an automobile accident, a severe whip-out while skiing or other catastrophic event, bad things happen in slow motion. My devastating, catastrophic, bad event happened this week in the shop.

I was in full work mode, which means that most of my tools were spread over my bench like a bad game of 52-card pickup. Each time I returned to the bench with a new part ready to work, I would have to clear a portion of real estate. To do so, I would slide the tools, project parts and scraps across the bench. That worked a couple times before disaster jumped up and bit my butt.

With drawer parts in hand, I returned to the bench then waved my arm across the bench with a mighty sling. Right then, as I watched in disbelief, my Klaus & Pedder dovetail saw tipped off the side of my bench. It must have taken three minutes for the saw to reach the concrete floor, but I had absolutely no chance to get there before impact. (Bad things happen in slow motion.) What a terrible noise as my dovetail saw hit the floor.

I peered over the bench edge to see that my saw handle had snapped. I guess I should be glad it was only the handle that was damaged, but seeing the broken wenge brought a proverbial tear to my eye.

I immediately thought repair, but how many saw handles have you seen that were misaligned or unsightly when fixed. Next I wondered if I could get the makers to produce another that would fit my hand as well as the original or what wood I would use to make a new handle. I stared at the broken pieces. As near as I can figure, the handle hit directly on the fishtail or bottom horn. The break was across the long-grain, as I assume most are. Long-grain glue-ups can be successful if you get the parts properly aligned. An attempt at glue-up would be worth a try.

I applied glue to both pieces then pushed the handle back together. Regular shop clamps were out of the question, so I turned to my favorite clamping method for inlay, rubber-bands. Once twisted around the parts, it seemed as though the piece were aligned and tight. After I wiped as much glue off the assembly as I could, off the saw went to heal overnight.

The next day I sacrificed the rubber-bands and checked the results. Not bad. I lightly sanded the glue off the handle, then, because I don’t think I sanded through the original finish, I added a thin coating of wax, thanked my lucky stars and returned my saw to action.

I know there is a lesson to be learned – put tools away as you work. That’s a lesson I’ve been trying to learn for a long time.

Build Something Great!



Filed under Hand Tools

6 responses to “Workshop Heartbreak

  1. Howdy Glen!

    Thank you for informing me of what you’re doing! Good to hear from you!

    When I first saw the title for this, I thought “Oh NO… hope it wasn’t too bad… thinking you got CUT!”.

    Glad that a simple Glue-up made the required repair. It could have been worse.

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who messes up their bench with stuff! LOL

    Later… & Have fun,

  2. Michael Egbert

    Hi Glen.

    Thanks for including me in your mailing list.

    Slow motion, that’s funny. I’ve got tons of nick marks where chisels have hit my boot as I wildly stepped to the point where they were going to land.

    That handle reminds me of some repairs that have been required of me over the years, and a trick that I’ve learned can make is so things never break again.

    Take both parts that need to be reattached and drill/bore a hole in each piece. Make sure the holes are aligned with each other more or less. Then get a metal rod that is smaller in diameter than the hole and take a file to it to give it some tooth. Partially fill the holes and coat the rod with epoxy and press the parts together. Epoxy cleans up with denatured alcohol so you can get all the squeeze out off the piece. If the rod is smaller, say 1/8″ total, in diameter to the holes then precise alignment won’t be needed.

    It may seem like a lot of hassle, but I guarantee you that handle will never break again. At least not in the same place.

    Thanks again for including me in your mailing list.
    Michael Egbert

  3. Slow motion…hmmm, so that’s what that is every time you show up at my place…

    Glad to see you live and on the web, my friend. Great stuff so far. Keep up the good work.

  4. Dan Kugel

    As you once told me in class, the difference between a good woodworker and a great woodworker is that the great woodworker know how to fix his mistakes!

    Dan Kugel

  5. Charles Wilson

    Glad to see that your concrete floor didn’t mess with the cutting part of the saw. My concrete floor isn’t so forgiving.

  6. a49model

    “Put tools away as I work”…..surely you jest.

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