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.

Drawn lines on bone folder

Unfortunately, the execution of my concept took a long time. There was so much filing. So.much.filing.

Carved lines on bone folder

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.

Chasing tool - end with shape drawn

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.

Chasing tool - filed

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:

Chasing tool

Chasing tool

After I finished my chasing tool, it was back to the bone folders. Here’s the completed quilted bone folder in all its glory:

Bone folder

And here’s a bone folder I started yesterday – I call him The Worm:

Bone folder

Bone folder

Only one day left. 🙁

2 Responses to “Cus­tom Bone and Steel Tools for Book Work­ing with Shanna Leino – Day 3”

By HWP - 6 June 2012 Reply

I think these are beautiful. I am looking for a supplier of elk bone. Any ideas?

By Elissa - 6 June 2012 Reply

Wesley –

I was going to add this to another post, but I’m happy to share the information now. Shanna recommended Eidnes Furs. Thankfully, the bones come cleaned.

I just checked their website and they don’t just sell elk bones – they also have deer, bobcat, bear, and wolf!


So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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