One More Tool for the Windsor: A ‘Galbert’ Travisher.

As I was carving the seat last week, it became apparent that it would be difficult to achieve the surface quality that I was after by going straight from the inshave to the scraper. I really needed to add a travisher to my arsenal. I really can’t afford to buy one, and I had been hesitant to make one. It’s a complex tool, and the resources for building one from scratch are mostly nonexistent, so I was afraid I would be unable to make a functional tool without ever having seen one in person.

Ultimately, I realized that there were few other options, so I would just have to make my own. Elia Bizzarri sells travisher blades for the very reasonable price of $30, so I ordered one from him and in a few days it was at my doorstep. I was very pleased with the quality of the blade. The steel is substantial, and it comes with the bevel very well-ground to the proper angle. It’s not honed, but I can do that myself, no problem. It even comes with the threaded inserts and machine screws necessary to attach the blade to the wood – all I had to supply was the wood (I have plenty, just ask my wife!)

I started by googling “Galbert Travisher”and clicking on “Images”. This gave me a wide range of different shots that I could base the design on. I kept the images pulled up on my phone while I worked in the shop. It was a big help to have a handy reference for just about every angle of the tool, almost as good as a measured drawing.

Next I had to choose the wood. I thought about making it in Osage-orange to give it a little bit of bling, and because it’s incredibly hard-wearing. I quickly dismissed that idea, though, because I was afraid I would mess up my first attempt, and if I was going to mess up, I wanted to do it with a wood that was easy to work. I settled on cherry instead. Cherry is quite a bit softer, so it may wear out faster, but I figure if I have to make another body, I’ll do from a harder wood when I’m confident that I know what I’m doing.

Now, on to the build. It’s best explained in pictures, so my commentary will be minimal:

1-Cherry Planed
I started with a nice piece of 8/4 quartersawn cherry. A bit thick, really. 6/4 stock would probably be fine.
2-Travisher Layout
Having no pattern, I just used the blade itself to lay out the curves.
3-Travisher Sawing
I used a jigsaw to cut out the lower half of the travisher. I left the top intact to give me something to clamp while I fine-tune bottom.
4-Travisher Fairing
I used a spokeshave to shape the sole to match the blade.
5-Travisher Curve
Pretty close fit.
7-Travisher Throat Sawing
Then I laid out the throat and used a backsaw to define the sides.
8-Travisher Helper
My shop buddy wanted to help, so I gave her a ryoba saw to cut some kerfs in the waste section.
9-Travisher Throat Paring
Then I used a wide chisel to pare the throat smooth.
11-Travisher Blade Recess
With the throat smoothed out, I cut out a recess on both sides where the blade will be seated.
12-Travisher Screw Marking
Then I marked out the screw-holes,
13-Travisher Screw Inserts
Installed the threaded inserts,
14-Travisher Blade
And screwed the blade in place. I did a bit more refinement to get a consistent reveal around the throat. Once everything looked, good, it was time to shape the body.
15-Travisher Handle Drawknife
After sawing out the top with the jigsaw, I lost my flat reference surfaces, so work proceeded with the drawknife.
16-Travisher Handle Carving
Then I faired the whole body and cut the chamfers with my sloyd knife.
17-Travisher Complete
And there it is. A finished travisher.

Once the tool body was complete, I still had to sharpen the blade. I won’t go into detail here. Claire Minihan has already done that, and better than I could. With the blade razor-stinking-sharp, I re-installed it and gave the tool a test drive. I had to do a bit more fettling with the sole to get the proper reveal (the blade must project slightly above the sole, but not too much) and curve (the sole must be angled slightly so you’re able to carve a dished profile front-to-back).

Before long, I had the tool cutting oh-so sweetly. It’s a treasure to hear the sharp ‘snick’ of a finely honed blade slicing through wood.

18-Galbert Travisher at Work
Lovely, curly, consistent shavings are the fruits of a finely tuned tool.
19-Travisher Silky Surface
And the surface quality ain’t bad, either.

 

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