Sunday, May 17, 2015

Making a canvas tool roll for mortising chisels.

I haven't got any room for the mortise chisels in my tool locker at home, and wrapping them up in paper and putting them in the tool chest seems like a guarantee, that I will never use them.
So instead I have decided that a tool roll could be a good idea. It will protect the edges of the chisels while stored, and I can bring the tool roll with me when I am going to use the chisels for e.g. timber framing.

I have brought some canvas with me for this trip, and also my sail makers needles and a sail makers palm.

The first thing I did was to lay the mortise chisels on the table, so I could get some measurements.
I like the model of tool roll, where the blade is inserted in a pocket, because I don't like that the sides of the blades are banging together during transport.

I read somewhere, that you could stuff some fabric into the pockets, so the tip / edge of the tool would seat in that rather than at the bottom of the pocket itself. This fabric can even be treated with a bit of oil to help prevent rust. The idea sounded good to me, so I made the pockets about 1/2" longer than the actual blade of the longest chisel.

After marking out some cut lines on the canvas according to my sketch, I cut the canvas using a scissor. I started sewing the pocket for the blades. When both sides were sewn, I turned the inside out, so the seam was on the inside of the pocket.
Here after, I measured the width of the pocket, and divided it into 3 equal pockets. I used a normal ball pen for marking as I was to lazy to fetch a pencil, and besides most of the line gets covered by the thread anyway.

I took a small break from the sewing to go down to the workshop to make a couple of D-rings. These were made out of some bronze rod (5/64") that I bent into shape and then silver soldered.

For making the tape to close the tool roll with, I cut out a narrow piece of canvas that I intended to fold three times, and then sew. After playing a bit with this idea I realized that it would probably be too stiff to be practical.
So I decided to only triple the end for the D-rings, and then leave it as a straight piece of canvas in the tape end. It'll maybe start flossing at the edges, but I am willing to take that chance.

My sewing technique is to use two needles, and work from both sides. When I stop a seam, I take a stitch back again, and then weave the thread under 3 stitches.
The thread length I use is a bit more than 3 times the length of the intended seam. That will allow me to still have sufficient thread left to work comfortably for the entire length.
Before I thread the needles, I draw the thread several times through a lump of beeswax. This will help to lubricate the thread, so it doesn't wear thin and breaks while I am in the middle of sewing, and it also helps the thread seat well. I know it sounds contradictory, that the beeswax both lubricate and helps to stick, but that is how I see it.

I can see from my sewing that it is many years ago that I have been doing it, but it will hold the chisels and protect them which is the main purpose.

The finished canvas tool roll.

The first pocket is sewn, but not turned inside out yet.

Pocket divided into 3 smaller pockets.

Tape with D-rings sewn on.

Chisels inserted in the tool roll.

My drawing (Nothing compared to Greg Merrit standards)


  1. Looks great. The stitching looks good too. I usually have to stitch a practice piece for 12" or so before I can get back in the swing of it.

    LOL...there is nothing wrong with your drawing. Its clear, concise and has all the information needed. Perfect!

    1. Hi Greg.

      I am too lazy to do a test stitching, so I normally just take my time.
      Besides, I figured that a tool roll for mortise chisels could be viewed as a test piece on its own. The real tool roll will be one for chisels.

      I guess that the drawing is OK given that it fulfills the function required, but don't expect it to become a habit for me to show my sketches for future projects.
      Now that I think of it - I rarely make any. An exception being if it involves more drawers. Because I normally strive to make those graduated in height, and I always try to calculate the height of the individual drawers before starting. But those sketches are mostly just a bunch of calculations, and maybe a rough squarish sketch with some stripes and measurements on.


  2. I think it looks great! I'm once again impressed by your work, though I am not surprised. You must do me a favor and convince Misses Confused to get me a leather working set. I wanted one for Christmas and she was too enthused about the idea.

    1. Hi Bill

      Thanks for the nice comment.

      I would really need a hair cut to be able to even approach Misses Confused without getting yelled at as I look now. I didn't take the time to go to the hair dresser while at home, so I look like a bum. To make matters worse, my youngest son always likes me to try out a new beard style while I am away. It is one of those few advantages of sailing a ship without passengers, that I don't have to look neat and respectable.
      The idea is that he suggests the style of beard he want me to try, and then I'll try it if it is possible.
      This time he suggested a beard that is basically a chin strip combined with a straight mustache going all across the width of the face. (The mustache goes from one side-burn to the other, ruler straight across the face, maybe 5/8" wide. The chin strip is kept at the same width - it looks weird. I'll probably be stopped at the airport going home. Anyway, I just keep the beard for one day, then I'll shave it off and return to my regular sideburns.

      Wow, that was a lengthy explanation on why I couldn't tell your wife that you should get a leather working set.

      What I can do is to supply you with some facts that you could perhaps use yourself to convince her:

      Leather or canvas working doesn't produce a lot of dust, so it is a thing that can carried out in e.g. the living room, if you vacuum after yourself. So you can sit and participate in watching TV with the rest of the family, while you work it.

      If you don't plan on using any rivets, it is very quiet too provided you don't stab yourself with the awl.

      For leather working you can get a long way with a hobby knife, two leather needles, a small block of beeswax, an awl and a steel ruler. I would just use a normal cutting board while cutting out the pieces.

      A revolving punch pliers can be helpful sometimes. (The tool looks like the old type pin wheel from a cowboy spur mounted on the end of a set of pliers)

      A set for attaching rivets or eyelets can be added later on if you want to, but it is not necessary.

      Leather can often be found for a song, if you know where to look for it. My dad has taught me to look for leather bags, and leather jackets at flea markets, thrift shops and garage sales.
      If you need some specific size you can buy it from new also, but for stuff like tool rolls etc. an old suede jacket will be hard to beat.

      I have heard people being fond of a "Speedy Stitcher", I have never tried on of those myself, but It could replace the awl and the two leather needles in one tool. It should be pretty effective even in heavy materials, so maybe I should get one some day.

      Thin leather or suede can be a great handwork experience for children.
      If you cut out the pieces to be sewn together, and make a series of holes using the revolving punch pliers. Then your daughter can sew these pieces together using leather string. The same stuff that can be used for making rustic necklaces.

      Basically it is a lot like woodworking, in that there are so many different tools that can be handy or look impressive, but if you have a bit of imagination, you can go a long way with just the basic tools and some materials. I just checked Ebay, and you can get a brand new Speedy Stitcher for around 15$. I guess you already have a hobby knife.
      If you want to try your hand out making a tool roll, you can even cut suede or thin leather with scissors. The hobby knife is mostly if you plan to work really thick leather.
      Then it is merely a question of finding a leather or suede jacket at a garage sale, and get started.


  3. I like using suede, and I once made a utility knife holder from suede that turned out fairly nicely. The only problem was that I was using it "in the field" as we say and it just wasn't strong enough to hold up to the pounding it was taking every day. It would get caught on ladders, or rub up against machinery ect... and it just ended up looking like a mess. However, it would have been a perfect holder to go inside a tool chest or box.

    We have several craft stores in the area, and one in particular has a very impressive section for leather work. They sell leather and suede there as well, but it is a bit pricey, but the tools are reasonable, and the quality seems to be pretty good. So I may ask for a basic set for Father's Day (that is if I get a gift at all!)

    P.S. My wife actually likes beards, but she tells me that she doesn't like how it feels, as in it can be rough. So of course I sometimes will walk over to her and rub my stubble across her cheek (and my daughter gets the same treatment)


    1. My wife likes the sideburns, so I normally stick to those, and I think they have more or less become part of my "look".
      I'll see if I remember to take a picture of this beard fashion before I shave it of. It might serve as a warning. :-)

      Our electrician on board lives in Argentina, I once asked him if he could find some cheap leather to bring on board.
      He found an outlet not far from his home, and came on board with 1 square yard of gold colored soft leather. I had told him that I would have liked some natural colored leather, or perhaps black, but this was so far off.
      It looked like something for a Donna Summer dress in the 70'ies!

      My wife liked it though, and had a local shop make some pillows for the couch out of it. They actually look quite cool. But I never got a piece for a gold colored tool roll. I think it would have been too flashy for me anyway.