A Proper Travisher

A short while ago, I posted about my experience in modifying a convex spokeshave to make it more usable in seat plank hollowing.  In other words, making it a travisher “on the cheap”.  After reading my post, Jim Crammond volunteered to help me in the making of a proper travisher.  Many of you may know Jim.  He is a “known entity” in the Windsor world, and has taught Windsor chair making at Tillers International for a number of years.  Tillers, like the John C. Campbell School teaches traditional crafts, as well as sustainable agriculture practices and appropriate technology application.  It’s a pretty cool place.

So we met at Jim’s shop where we did the “blacksmithing part of the project.  Jim is a student of John Wilson’s (Charlotte MI) method of making travishers.  The method is very traditional.  That said, traditional shaves are “friction fit”.  Mr. Wilson uses set screws to hold irons in position and that method works quite well.  I had envisioned a day spent at a big Peter Wright, “beating” the iron into just the right radius.  Turns out the the 3/16″ O1 steel could be easily cold formed around a set of “dollies” (bending forms).  The dollies, with the iron, are positioned in a substantial vise (not a pattern makers vise, as shown) then pressed into the appropriate radius.  The irons were curved only after they were ground to about 25 degrees.  The tangs were heated just enough to allow them to be positioned at the appropriate angle.  The irons were heated to “cherry”, then quenched in peanut oil.  We then heated them to a “straw” color and quenched them in water for tempering.  Really it was a very simple process, well within the capabilities of even a novice woodworker.  We returned to my shop to make the body of the travisher.  Jim was kind enough to share several pieces of Apple wood with me (from the firewood pile, he said).  The results are above.  Apple is wonderful for tool work or turning, by the way.

The results are fantastic.  Due to the traditional design, the travisher is capable of taking very agressive cuts or doing fine “clean-up” work, without re-positioning the iron.  It is simply put, a marvelous tool.

I want to thank Jim for taking time to share this method.  I’ve never met a woodworker (worth his salt) that was unwilling to share his experience (given that the learner showed real interest).  Guys like Jim Crammond keep renewing my interest in woodworking, even after all these years.

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One Comment on “A Proper Travisher”

  1. Jim Crammond Says:

    Dennis,

    Thanks for the kind words, your travisher looks great. I’m very happy with the way mine turned out. It works great, for some reason, though, the radius did not turn out as sharp as I expected.

    Jim


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