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Make your own whetstone holder, Tony style.

holders01Here’s another whetstone holder you can make from a piece of 50mm downpipe and a small piece of copper pipe. I’d been tripping over these bits for years, and thankfully I never threw them out. I had to buy a 50mm polypipe cap from the Hardware shop for about $3.50, but some hardships can be overlooked. The design of this holder has the added benefit of the holder being able to stand on a flat surface, so you can use it while you’re sitting or working at a bench.

holders02Cut the piece of downpipe to about 180mm. You can just use it in its current shape, but if you want the holder to have a more standard “oval” shape at the top, you can steam heat it and bend it at this point.

Hold the pipe over a boiling kettle until it gets hot (use gloves), and press it down on the bench.

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Now for the belt clip.
Cut off about 80mm of copper pipe, then cut it lengthwise and open it out with whatever you have at hand; like a cold chisel.

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holders07Using something like a ball hammer, hammer the piece of copper out flat. This piece will become the belt clip, so mark out a shape that suits you, cut it out with tin snips and file down the rough edges.

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You have to start shaping the piece of copper with a hammer (preferably a ball peening hammer). This is the more interesting part of the job as it gives you a real insight into the properties of the copper and of metals in general (something you can relate back to when peening). At this point I would like to sing the praises of a piece of railway iron. A small piece makes an excellent anvil, so if you know anyone who can spare you 20cm worth, buy them a Guinness; it will be well worth it. I use my anvil for many different jobs including peening.

holders10Clean the copper up with steel wool so you can see what you are doing to the metal. I started by lightly hitting the copper with a ball hammer along the top to give it that “beaten” texture that looked so tacky in the 1970s (just because it’s nice to see how the metal responds to the hammer). What you’ll notice is how the copper bends towards the hammer, and this is just how you’re going to shape the piece into a belt clip. Keep hitting the clip at the top to shape it to the curve of the downpipe.

Flip the piece over and mark a line across the clip about 30mm or an inch and a half from the top. If you hammer along this line the copper will bend up and this will be where the clip bends away from the holder to fit your belt (or in my case, my back pocket).

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Flip the piece over and mark another line and hammer across the clip; this will bend the clip back more or less parallel with the holder. I’m making it sound really quick and easy, but be prepared to hammer; check; re-hammer; re-check and then flatten it out and start again.

holders13While working the copper I alternate between the anvil and a piece of tree stump. A coarser bend can be obtained from striking the copper on the softer wood, while a finer bend is supplied by the anvil. Keep hitting; you’ll work out what I mean. Keep checking the shape next to the downpipe and when you’re happy, look down the length of the clip just to make sure it’s straight.

holders14For a final “tweak”, put it in a vice or in a strong pair of pliers and straighten it up if it needs it. Copper is such a beautifully strong, yet pliable metal, and perfect for your first foray into metalwork.

holders15 Mark two crosses on the inside top of the clip and lightly punch and drill two holes in the copper. The size of the hole, in my case, was dictated by the size rivets I had in the shed. The width of the rivets shouldn’t matter too much; just make sure their length is enough to go through the pipe and the copper with about 5mm to spare. The rivets I used had a shaft 4 x 8mm. May be a bit short, but it still held.


Mark the holes onto the pipe and drill. Pop rivet the clip onto the pipe. I made sure prior to this point that the clip would sit well against the holder; I wouldn’t like to try to bend the clip out for a final, FINAL “tweak”, and pull my cheap rivets out through the holes.

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Apply a little silicon sealant around the bottom of your cap and push into place, and that’s a job done. It took me about an hour and that included mucking about with a borrowed camera, as well as playing about with the copper on the anvil.

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It doesn’t take long to get to know where to hit the metal along a line to make it bend the way you want it to go, and if it isn’t moving the way you expected you can always flatten it out and start again.

I only used polypipe because I had it lying around the place, but I my son and I made him a holder from a bamboo cup we found at the op shop. I tried to get a friend of ours to send down some bamboo from Queensland, but Customs frown on that sort of thing. But if you’re on the mainland…