My next step was to bore the holes for the blade pins. If I had been smart, I would have done this, as well as chopping the mortises, before I cut the blanks to shape. Since I’m not, I had to use a handscrew clamp to hold the pieces in proper alignment. That done, I then chopped the mortises for the stretcher, again using a clamp to hold things steady. The size of the mortises isn’t critical, since they simply align the stretcher. In fact, they should be a bit oversize to allow it to shift as tension is applied.
The tenon stretchers are a bit more work. They were cut to length during the rough-out in the previous episode, but now are cut to width, and the shoulders curved to match those of the mortises in the saw cheeks. I transferred the width with the marking gauge used to define the mortises, but had to adjust the length slightly due to the fact that the cheeks are a bit thicker than the stretcher. I then sawed down to the tangent of the shoulder with a dovetail saw, and removed the waste by paring straight down with a gouge. In this case, a #3 sweep carving gouge was perfect.
Now, it was time to shape the parts. For me, this meant saddling up the shavehorse and breaking out the spokeshaves. If you don’t work that way, don’t worry – there are plenty of other ways to perform this operation. The stretcher has a tapered octagonal shape that is easily done with the spokeshave. Another option would be to make an oval instead of an octagon. Don’t make a big deal of slavishly copying the pattern here. The whole point is to lighten the structure somewhat and make it easier to work the toggle. Go for smooth flowing lines.
The cheeks are a collection of various shapes. I decided to begin by rounding over the bottom of the cheek where the pin passes through. To do this, I clamped the piece in the vise and cut facets on the corners with a rasp. These were then rounded into a semicircle with rasp and file.
The finger rests were then shaped using the round side of a rasp, which makes a perfect indentation, then cleaned up with a half-round file.
A close look at the pattern reveals that the horn end of the cheek tapers to about half its original thickness. For this, I went back to the shavehorse and gently worked the taper with a sharp spokeshave. I then shaved as much of the bullnosed edges of the cheeks as possible, then switched to rasps & files for the rest. This was followed up with a general clean-up and smoothing with sandpaper. I paid particular attention to the horns, removing any distinct corners and creating a near-oval shape. This area would hold the string in tension, and I didn’t want any sharp corners causing fraying.