Blog and Gallery of Mike Miller

Making a Wood & Brass Burnishing Tool

At the moment I am still really new to the woodworking community on instagram. I’m a little over a month in, and I’ve already met a ton of local craftsman and artists in the area. Seeing how I am meeting so many gifted craftsman, I figured I would prep a few gifts for new friends.

Browsing instagram, I came across a sawyer @theforesterswoodco based in the central Indiana area that had been milling up some burls. He mentioned a local artist that held some of his materials for local pickup so I went and got a few pieces. 

I had never worked with burl on the lathe, and in my experience with the crazy grain directions in burl I had always stabilized my blanks using cactus juice or a similar material. The burl as a material itself cut like butter, but I immediately noticed that it seemed to be very fragile. Making the most shallow and careful intentional cuts was still resulting in tear-out and chunks flying toward my face shield. Rather than continue to waste the material, I put it aside and switched to another blank I had on hand that was in good condition for making my burnisher. 

I went with a small piece of Myrtlewood I had picked up from an online shop some years ago. I then grabbed a 2 pack of brass water hose quick connects from my local box store and went to work. Brass turns on the lathe, but dulls tools quick and doesn’t cut very fast. I’ve heard using carbide makes a great difference, but in my case I was able to remove a lot of waste with my lathe tools and files. I finished the handle with a few coats of super blonde shellac, applied several coats of lacquer and sanded back to a matte finish. The tool turned out great overall. I am not thrilled with the quality of the “tool steel” I bought, so I think I may go with a higher grade, or more reputable steel supplier for the next. It turned out great, and will have a wonderful home in the toolbox of the areas finest furniture restoration specialist and my new pal Jeff Stafford of JFF’s Fine Finishing

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