After a little nudging from Bob Rozaieski, I’m convinced the original handle is made from beech. I love everything about it too; the patina, the size, the feel. It is an awesome handle other than it’s soft. I’m going to hold on to it (seriously, no pun intended) for use as a model, but it has fulfilled its purpose for this saw.
There didn’t seem to be any point in making this more difficult than it had to be, so I simply traced the shape of the original handle onto a piece of card stock. I like to do this for anything that I may want to reuse in the future. It’s easy to make copies to use in the shop.
I used the saw plate to line up the handle and mark the holes for the saw nuts. You can see how the original shape was left on the saw plate. I still don’t know what the fourth hole (the bottom left one) or the cutouts at the back of the plate were for. Manufacturing? If any of you saw gurus have details, I’m all ears!
I had some walnut leftover from making the Danish Lounge Chairs. One piece had a little figure in it that I thought would make a good and aesthetically pleasing handle. I used hand planes to flatten one side and ran the other side through the planer.
Using the template, I marked where the kerf for the saw plate would go and marked off a line 90 deg. to the kerf. This way I could set the blank on the table of the bandsaw.
Then I cut out the overall shape on the scroll saw and drilled the holes for the saw nuts.
The rest was just a matter of shaping with chisels and rasps until I got the shape I wanted.
I followed the advice of Joshua Farnsworth (who got it from Bill Anderson) and finished the handle with Minwax Antique Oil. After the finish dried, I finished the finish with a coat of wax.
And the takeaway?
I have a saw handle that will last the rest of my life. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be more complex than that.