Sunday, September 9, 2012

Felloe Saw

I’ve been planning on making a treadle lathe for awhile now. The design I settled on will have the drive wheel off to the side to accommodate for its large diameter. A problem I encountered is that I don’t have a band saw to cut the curved felloes and I want to make this lathe as much as possible with tools available from the late 18th century. No problem right? Just make a Felloe saw.

I’m in the mindset that bigger is better (not always a good mindset) so I researched old photos and came up with a saw that is 40 inches square. I used oak for the top and bottom stretchers and to cut down on weight I used pine on the sides. Al l the corners are chamfered for comfort as well as looks. I forged the hardware because I didn't want to have to use any tools on it when I tension the blade; also I wanted it to look 18th century. The blade is made from a 3/8th inch band saw blade.       

I think the saw looks great, but then my standards are low. The real issue is the saw is not controllable, the blade folds over and the saw will not cut to a line. I’ve tried hook tooth blades and regular tooth blades without success. All my blade widths have been 3/8 inch. Maybe I need to try a ½ inch blade. Do they make band saw blades of different thickness? Maybe its not ridged enough. Please if you have any suggestion let me know. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Filipino Bolo

I’m somewhat of a complicated guy, one part of me is interested in the Stone Age world the other the eighteenth century. I can make and use stone tools and I can make and use eighteenth century tools.  I’m not great at any one thing, but I can do them both satisfactory. I guess if I was to define my interests they would be in woodworking and wilderness survival. I find it interesting that people from both the woodworking and survival community are always asking the same questions. What tools are the best to have? For me, if I could only have one tool for either interest it would be my Filipino Bolo.

Of my 22 years in the military I spent 14 years as a Survival Instructor. While other people were learning valuable technical skill in the high-tech world I was teaching how to fall out of airplanes and how to properly skin rabbits while hiding from the enemy. It was the best time of my life and that’s where I got acquainted with the Filipino Bolo. Below are its advantages
  • Unlike an axe it has no handle to break
  • It is lighter and less cumbersome than an axe
  • You can dig with it (try that with your Gränsfors Bruks axe)
  • You can use it like a froe
  • You can use it like a draw knife
  • Like an axe you can cut large trees down with it
  • You can use it like a knife (I guess that’s kind of obvious)
  • The least unbreakable of any cutting tool I’ve owned
  • Easy to sharpen even with improvised devises
  • You can butcher small and large game with it
I have two bolos; the first one (top bolo) was purchased in the Philippines by a friend for $15 dollars US. I carried this while teaching survival and now I carry it for work. I’ve used it in all environmental conditions. Its total length tip to end of handle is 17 inches. It is about 3/16th thick and was made out of a leaf spring of a car and it has a solid tang. The handle is water buffalo. The metal is pretty easy to sharpen and I do that with a file. Notice the end is blunt; this is so you can dig with it. The sheath is made of mahogany, notice the belt hook. The duct tape is not holding the case together it is there to peel off to repair other items.

My other bolo (bottom bolo) I found on eBay for about $40 dollars US. Its fancier and I really haven’t used it much. It still is very heavy unlike a cheap bought machete. I like my beat up bolo better. I’ve dragged that thing around the world so I have more memories with it.

Here is a site I found on making bolo’s I have not purchased anything from this site so I can’t vouch for it, but they do have a good video showing bolos being made.   

Get a bolo you might not carve any cabriole legs with it, but they are a great tool to use in the yard and on the trail. Bolos are also an easy blacksmithing project.