This is the fourth entry in a nineteen part series that covers the construction of one of my saws from start to finish. For links to the other entries, please see the full chronological index. -Ed.
Shaping the lamb’s tongue
Since the saw we are following is an open style, there is no return of the handle to the cheeks. As this is an area of great visual interest, let’s take a detour and document the shaping of the lamb’s tongue and associated areas on a closed handle saw.
Although the lamb’s tongue is deceptively simple to create, this detail can really dress up a handle when properly done. The bulk of the work in forming it is done with a 6″ slitting file. This slitting file has a cross section in the form of an elongated diamond, being about 1/8″ thick and 5/8″ wide.
The lamb’s tongue can be carved with chisels, but I find that method slower, as well as riskier (it’s very tempting to pry chips loose, which will often break off the delicate parts of the lamb’s tongue).
There are a lot of angles and curves coming together in this small area, so take your time and study the work often and from varied angles to be certain that the detail emerges symmetrically and with smooth curves.
The next area of interest is aft of the lamb’s tongue. The rounded portion is shaped with rasps, using the layout lines as guides to ensure symmetry and smooth curves. After shaping this area, our attention turns to the notch or clip that marks the transition from that section to the flat, unrounded portion of the handle.
I first clean up the notch with a square and marking knife, then use a chisel to create a flat just in front of that. Finally, I use a rasp to blend the curves up to meet the notch.
The last step is to narrow the lamb’s tongue, which is easily done with a Vixen file. After it is narrowed, I round it over a little more to get back to a narrow, consistent flat (which I forgot to document, but should be very easily imagined).
The lamb’s tongue being now formed, our detour is at an end. Like many other details on shapely tools, this extra bit of work makes a huge difference in the final look of the saw, helping to move it from a utilitarian realm to one where we find pleasure, and even inspiration, in an object whose beauty exists for no other purpose than filling our desires.
The next entry in this series shall cover cutting the mortise for the spine.