I Restored an Old Tenon Cutter Back to Life
I was working on one of those silly and quick projects that pop up in the average woodshop. Y’know the ones? Where somebody asks you for a favor or you are procrastinating on another project and decide you have to have this other thing before you can continue. Regardless of the catalyst, you find yourself quickly trying to knock it out.
So here I am in my shop spokeshaving a scrap piece of Cherry into a comfortable to hold handle for a mallet. At the top of the handle I needed to make a tenon to fit into the already bored hold of the mallet head. So I make a shallow kerf with a backsaw where I wanted a square shoulder to but up against the head and I started chiseling away to reduce the square-ish stock to a round 1/2″ tenon.
It was then I remembered that I had a vintage tenon cutter (or hollow auger) collecting dust on the shelf in the corner and thought
“Why not make this simple, silly project into something more complicated? Its the woodworker way!”
I pulled it off the shelf and blew off the dust, scared away a spider, and wipe it down with a rag. It was one of those fancy adjustable ones with the rotating collar for various diameter tenons. I had bought it during a trip to Liberty Tools up in Maine 2 or 3 summers ago. I had not pressing need for it, frankly it just looked cool.
It only took about a minute to sharpen the blade. There was a huge back bevel unfortunately that I just had to embrace and sharpen it as a double bevel tool. I loaded the blade back up and went back to work. Most of the tenon was already formed so I dialed back the cut to take a light pass and started twisting with my brace. In a few seconds I had a perfect round and straight 1/2 diameter tenon. But the cool thing with this style of cutter is you get a square shoulder.
It always is satisfying when you put an old tool like this back in to service and this one just needed a wipe down and a sharpening. It does have a depth stop but a long time ago someone drove a wood screw into the depth stop carriage so mine isn’t that effective. The head of the screw prevents the carriage from rising very high and I’m limited to only about a 2″ long tenon. For this handle I actually took the depth stop off so I could get a longer tenon.