I was very lucky and managed to squeeze in some shop time this weekend. One project that has been in the works for some time now was making a 3 point tool.
The "need" for this tool can be traced back to when I took William Duffield's shop built 3 point tool for a test drive at Bill Grumbine's BBQ this past summer. Once I discovered how easy it was to roll a bead with this, I knew I would love to have one of these tools in my arsenal. Stacey Hager's article in last year's "American Woodturner" (Fall 2005, Vol 20, No 3) gave me most of the details I needed. With some more help from William, John Lucas, and another American Woodturner article by Stacey Hager (Spring 2005, Vol 20, No.1), I learned how to use a compression nut and a specially cut handle to act like a collet system. In essence, I could remove the tool rod at any time and replace it with another. While I don't plan on switching around that much, I like having the ability to remove the tool rod when it came time to grind the profile. Who knows, I may end up grinding another profile on the opposite end. I figure it's nice to have that option.
With the reciept of a couple drill rod blanks graciously sent to me by Steve Antonucci, some assorted brass compression nuts from Lowes, (1) cherry and (1) walnut tool handle blank, I was ready to roll.
Steve me a 1/2" and 3/8" dia drill rods (and some small ones I plan on using later on for hollowing tools). At first I was going to make two 3 point tools (one 1/2" dia and one 3/8"). But I came across another article written by Stacey Hager in this month's American Woodturner. The article contained complete and detailed instructions for making a "Half-round tool". If you've seen the "Skewchigouge" as featured in Packard Woodworks catalog, then you have sort of an idea what this looks like. After seeing this tool advertised, I got curious about how it handled. So this was a good opportunity to make one and see how I liked it. I decided to use the 1/2" diameter rod for a 3 point tool, and the 3/8" diameter rod for a half-round tool.
I modeled the shape of the handle off of my Sorby Sorby 1/2" skew. The 1/2" diameter tool rod meant that the 3 point tool was going to have with some heft to it. So to give me a bit more control, I decided to make the cherry tool handle a bit wider at the front. I have somewhat large hands, so this gave me a very comfortable grip. The half round tool's handle was sized exactly the same as my skew and fits in my hand rather comfortably.
I used calipers and judicious application of a parting tool to size the end of the tool handles to perfectly fit the compression nuts. I then threaded them with the appropriate die. While holding the handles in the wooden jaws of my bench vise, I used a dovetail saw to cut the two perpendicular cuts in the "collet" area at the ferrule. These cuts allow the jaws to flex, and when the ferrule it tightened, grip onto the tool rod. After making sure the compression nut fit perfectly, the threaded area got a coating of thin super glue to help minimize the damage caused by threading and unthreading the ferrules.
Since I went and used some pretty nice wood for the handles, I prettied them up a bit. Each handle got decorated with some burned rings as well as my signature.
Grinding the profiles was a snap. The articles gave me all the information I needed. William's tip on using the hex nuts to establish the angle for the 3 point tool came in very handy.
I finished up the tool handles yesterday and gave them a coat of danish oil so they wouldn't absorb too much dirt. I ground the profiles this afternoon and took both of the tools for a test drive on a pepper mill body turned from some very hard and dry Osage Orange. I was extremely pleased with ease that I could roll a bead with my new 3 point tool. And if you've messed with rock hard Osage before, you know that rolling a clean looking bead in this wood in no easy feat. I tried the half round tool to modify the profile at the coves. This tool took some getting used to. But overall I was pleased with the surface it left.