Holly go nicely…

I have always wanted to make a saw tote out of holly. I think the cool white color and tight grain of the wood could look simply stunning on a saw.

Well, leave it to someone else to beat me to it. I taught my ‘Build A Backsaw’ class over the weekend at Shady Lea Woodworking and as we were getting ready to start class, one of the students, Nick, pulled out a piece of bone white wood and asked if I thought it would work for a tote. I nearly leaped onto the workbench and screamed hallelujah. Yes, I think it will work, I replied calmly in stead. The wood was indeed holly, and I couldn’t have been more excited to get started.

As the first day of class progressed it was clear that this holly tote was going to be special. Nick had never used rasps before and he had never worked saw steel, let alone made a saw. Nick’s approach to the tote was meticulous and steady, and his work on the saw plate and back was equally mindful. As his saw began to take shape my excitement grew. As class was winding down, I held Nick’s saw and was so impressed by it. Nick decided to follow my advise and burnish the tote with very fine abrasives and then simply apply a paste wax and buff it after he got home. (We don’t apply a finish in class…I leave that for everyone on their own) I asked that he send me some pictures once he buffed it out, as I really wanted to see the holly in finished form.

Well, yesterday Nick emailed me pictures and my jaw hit the floor. His work speaks for itself…

The burnished and waxed holly practically looks like ivory. The lines on the lamb’s tongue and horns are precise and balanced. Nick even rounded the heel of the saw plate in counter-point to the tote cheek. Ditto on the nose of the brass back….the subtle radius is perfect.

Like all the students, Nick started with a square steel plate punched with teeth, a raw brass back and a chunk of wood. His creativity and skill turned it into a work of art that is also wonderful to use. I made some test cuts with it at the end of class and it cut as smooth as the grain of the holly.

Here’s another shot….

Awesome, right? In class I try very hard to not play favorites, but Nick has out done himself. I think he has a future in tool making.

Look out Mike Wenzloff…..the gauntlet has been thrown down. ;)



6 Responses to “Holly go nicely…”

  1. TJIC says:

    I almost took the class the other weekend, but couldn’t because of a previous commitment.

    …now I’m sort of glad I waited until the next time around, because it would have been intimidating to work alongside a guy cranking out that masterpiece!

    Nicely done, Nick!

  2. Stunning! The holly tree in my front yard, which I have never really loved, is starting to look a little nervous each time I eye it now…

  3. Steve Jones says:

    WOW! ‘Nuff said.

  4. Bill White says:

    What can I say other than ONE OF THE BEST I’VE SEEN! Yep! I was yelling. Well done.

  5. Galoot says:

    Holy hell, what an inspiration.

  6. Joe McGlynn says:

    Wow, nice curves. Really delicate and graceful.

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