Sunday, April 3, 2016

Saw handle blanks from mirabelle prune wood.

Tomorrow Asger and I will take the train to Munich to visit Brian Eve of Toolerable. I wold have liked to bring a suitable slab for a table, but I doubt that the trains stewards will find it amusing if I show up with one. Plus it might make it difficult to navigate the various platforms when we need to change trains.

So instead I decided to make some saw handle blanks for him.
Last time I was home I trimmed a mirabelle prune tree, and the lowest part was large enough to yield a couple of blanks.

This morning I sliced it with the saw mill in 5/4" thickness.
There was a bit of rot in part of the trunk, which was partly the reason for the trimming, but there is enough for some saw handles.

I have read that apple tree was once common for saw handles, and it should be steamed while the wood is still green.
I have some apple wood, but it has been downed years ago, so it is close to bone dry. And the pieces are not sufficiently large to make a saw handle from the heart wood alone.
So the prune was still my choice.

The slicing was pretty fast, so in order to stretch the experience a bit, Asger and I rigged my small deep fat fryer up to make a steam chest that could be used for steaming the blanks.
It was a low tech solution consisting of two plastic buckets mounted on top of the deep fat fryer that was filled with water.

The wood steamed for about one and a half hour, and then we stopped to go in for some lunch.
I'll let Brian Eve take a picture of them once they are dry to see if the colour has changed at all.

Mirabelle prune, fresh from the saw mill.

The steam set up.

The outer bucket helps to keep the temperature high and the steam inside.


  1. Oh, man! This is going to be cool.

    Make sure you guys are hungry when you get here, there will be lots of food.

  2. Have a safe trip. I'm not familiar with steaming wood for making a saw handle, so this should be interesting.

    1. Hi Bill

      We made it home again.
      The trip was really nice.

      I read about steaming apple wood for making handles on I think it was done partly to get a more uniform darker reddish color and also to speed up the drying process of the wood.

      I left the steamed pieces at Brian's place, so he will have to do all the hard testing etc.


  3. Hi Jonas,
    did you know, I was in Denmark that weekend. Hvide Sand (Worst loppe ever).

    We make saw handels from plum on a regular basis. It is my second favorite wood to work with.
    Lots od different colours in that wood:


    1. Hello Pedder.

      I hope you had nice weather for walking on the beach.
      We had excellent weather in Munich, but I doubt that it was as warm in Denmark.

      I decided to make the handle blanks from plum because Brian Eve told me that you often used that wood.
      Your saws are gorgeous to look at.

      Mit Freundlichen Grüssen

  4. Nice wood, here's to you and Brian may you have a good time together.


    1. Hi Bob.


      We had a great time, visited an open air museum and looked at old saw mills etc.
      And gazed on tools in his shop.
      So definitely a great experience.