Menna Jones

Making a Scoring Tool

Making a scoring tool

Take a piece of silver steel rod that’s 6mm in diameter, if you’re making a tool in your own workshop, it wouldn’t matter if it were thinner than 6mm. We used silver steel because it is easy to buy in one length, you also only need a gas torch, water and a file to make it. Using 6mm diameter rod is also safe as it won’t break as easily.

To start the piece, we made the tang which needs to be 4 sides and ideally tapered, 25mm long and 3mm square at the end.

Whilst holding the piece of metal with prongs, heat the end of the silver steel rod until its cherry red, this makes it much easier to forge.

When its cherry red, put the silver steal rod on the anvil and tap it with the forging hammer, turning it 90 degrees to create a square. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfectly square because it will be going into the handle. We have flats on it so that when it gets put into the handle, the handle can’t spin on the tool, if you were to score and the handle turns it will not end well. Carry on reheating and tapping the piece until you get a square. (if it doesn’t go very square, you can sand it on the linisher as a cheat- if you have one in your workshop).

When you have a square, you must heat it up and let it cool slowly because it needs to soften, we need to normalise the steel (this term is used for steel, it’s called annealing when its being referred to precious or non-precious metals) as we will need to file it. If you quench it fast, it will be as hard as your file. 

To make the part that’s going to be doing the scoring, heat the opposite side of the metal to a cherry red colour. Put the metal on the anvil and tap so that it goes a little bit flat (squashes it flat according to Paul). The hammer will flatten one side and the anvil will flatten the other so you won’t need to hammer both sides.

Reheat the rod and bend the flattened piece over the side of the anvil, 15mm from the edge (about the width of your finger). Reheat the piece again, and hammer it on both sides to make a square. Heat the material up and let it cool slowly like before to make it normalise (soft) to file it.

To file the cutting edge put it in the vice with soft jaws made from either aluminium or brass. (never put silver in aluminium soft jaws because if the aluminium gets into the silver, when you anneal it, it can burn holes in your silver). Put the steel rod into the vice with the handle pointing down and set the top edge level with a file across the top of the vice. The file and the material are the same width. If you do not have a straight file, you can turn a half round file upside down which gives you the same height.

We need to file an angle of 91 degrees (45.5 degrees on each side). Always start with 180 degrees when finding an angle for scoring. For example, if you want to fold something at 60 degrees, you would take 60 away from 180 which leaves you with 120 degrees, 120 degrees plus 1 degree (121 degrees) would be the angle you wanted your scoring tool to be. You need an extra 1 degrees because it gives you a little leeway to fold the metal. (Wobble room according to my tutor).

Hold the file at 45.5 degrees on the side and start filing to the centre, file both edges to create a point. This is the important part, if it isn’t at the correct angle, your scoring won’t be correct. Be patient and get the correct angle.

When you have filed both sides into a point, use an engineers protractor to measure the angle. (hoping its 91 degrees first time, which mine wasn’t!). If you don’t have an engineers protractor you can use an ordinary protractor by cutting a piece off your cereal box, drawing the angle and cutting it out with a pair of scissors and measure the angle from that, it will be accurately enough.  

When you have, the angle filed and correct, turn the piece so that the handle part is facing up, the part you’ve filed is a little bit out of the vice on the bottom and it is tilting forward a little. Do not tilt it back otherwise you will need to start again. It is worth putting a piece of foam or something soft over the handle at the top to protect yourself from hitting it or getting hurt. File straight across the piece you have filed to create a point. This point will act as your scoring tool. Make sure it is level otherwise if you have a rounded point, you must start again. To sharpen it up, use a sharpening stone and sand across the filed edge.

Polish the tool prior to tempering.

When hardening the tool, heat the tool up slowly. Pushing the flame up the tool, until you can see a yellow tint reach the top of the tool. Quench and stir the tool in water. This will temper the tool and make it as hard as a file. (below is a tempering chart from the technical directory from how to make a burnisher)

Heat the Tang in a vice, and hammer a wooden handle onto the tang until you hear a hollow sound. You now have a scoring tool. (my handle is a little bit lop sided and I wasn’t hammering straight, it didn’t affect my scoring.)