Custom Bone and Steel Tools for Book Working with Shanna Leino – Day 3
I got to Shanna’s class early so I could get a head start on an idea – I decided to carve a quilted design into one of my bone folders. When I sketched out the design, it looked pretty cool.
Unfortunately, the execution of my concept took a long time. There was so much filing. So.much.filing.
I had to put the work on hold when Shanna told us about out new project – making chasing tools. She advised that the process was “simple, but not always easy.”
Chasing tools are used to create pattern/texture in metal, leather, wood, or clay.
Shanna gave us pieces of 1/4″ high-carbon tool steel that were 3.5″ long. Deciding on a design took me way too long. I finally decided that an asterisk would be just fine. I drew the symbol on one end of the rod using permanent marker.
We used files to rough out the shape on the stamp end of the tool. To refine the shape further, you’d use a jeweler’s saw.
The back end of the tool needed to be flat with sloped edges – this helps to distribute force evenly when striking it with a hammer. She advised to not let the tool flare out at the top (like a nail).
When the stamp end of our tool was complete, we had to make sure that the surface was completely flat (using a file) – this would ensure a consistent impression. The sides of the tool were the filed to create a gentle taper.
To decorate the sides of the tool, you can use a jeweler’s saw to cut lines to the depth of the saw blade. Guide the blade with your fingernail. You can also use other chasing tools to stamp designs and/or texture into the tool. I decided to use sandpaper to create a brushed finish.
Then it was flame time! The tool is heated twice to both harden and temper the steel.
Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how to take pictures while I was working with the torch. Something about safety or whatever…
Holding the tool with pliers (be nice to your hands), heat the stamp end in the flame of a torch until it glows cherry red, then quickly plunge it into water. This process hardens the steel. Rub the tool with sandpaper to remove any oxides so that the tool is once again a shiny silver.
Next, you heat the stamp end of the tool again, this time holding the torch 4″ – 6″ below the steel. The tip of the flame should be positioned 1″ away from the end of the stamp end of the tool. Then this magical color change happens – it starts with blue and moves into brown. When the tip turns a light straw color, the tool is plunged into water. This process tempers the steel.
Rub the tool with sandpaper and steel wool for a final cleanse and it’s done!
I was bummed to find that I didn’t do a good job at leveling off the tip of my tool – one edge was slightly uneven, which turned my asterisk into a kid’s chubby hand. And once you’ve heated your tool, you can’t fix it.
So if you know anyone interested in creating a chubby hand texture, I’m your gal!
I’m still thrilled with how cool the tool looks:
After I finished my chasing tool, it was back to the bone folders. Here’s the completed quilted bone folder in all its glory:
And here’s a bone folder I started yesterday – I call him The Worm:
Only one day left. 🙁