Step 1: Historical Combs
Most of these are made from antler but there are some wood ones mixed in.
Looking at the historical ones we find clues to technique and construction methods, there are also clues to what tools were used. Put on your investigator hat and take a close look at all of them then move on to the next step
Step 2: Evidence 1
In the top two examples there is evidence of cut marks on the spine lames or pieces made from a very thin saw but the space between teeth is wider then the saw cuts and there are no wide cut marks on the spine.
The blade is wedge shaped on cross section
The blade and spine are seperate pieces
The rivets are mushroomed on both sides
There are rosettes used as decoraton and the width of the rosette arc is the same as the width of the teeth.
The distance between rosettes is the same as the width of the rosettes.
So what we know is that the blade was made seperately from the spine then the blade was most likely scraped to form the crosssection of the teeth most likely using the same tool that is used to make the rosettes. The tool besides insising also funtioned as a caliper. Is there a tool that does this? No although a sharp caliper can be used.
Step 3: Evidence 2
With all of this we can make our special tool that will play a pivotal role in construction.
What is important is proportions not specific measurements, if you want to make a 4 foot comb that's ok but it needs to be scaled proportional and the rosette cutter/tooth scraper/caliper is the key, once we have that we will use it for layout and construction.
Step 4: The rosette cutter/tooth scraper/calliper
Any piece of steel that you can work will be fine as it is much harder then wood, softer steel will have to be sharpened often but is probably in keeping with the average hardness of steel available historically. Don't get me wrong there were hard steels available that scissors and razors were made from but the average was not that great.
The best way to make this is with a piece of 1/4 x 1/16 x 8 inch piece of softened tool steel then temper it as hard as possible but if you don't have those skills it's OK because steel is harder then wood and you'll just have to sharpen it more often, a convex or oval crosssection jewelers file is great for shaping the cut after you make it with a hacksaw..
Expect better info as soon as I have the camera.
Step 5: Harvesting the wood
Soemtimes I buy the wood sometimes I split it from a larger piece, a froe would be an improvemnet on my technique and one of these days I'll make or buy one. A froe is a knife like blade mounted 90 degrees to a handle and is used to split off shakes or boards on straight grain wood.
I used two splitting wedges and followed season cracks in a piece of white oak fire wood, to split of a shake about 1/2 inch thick, it takes some practice but it's a lot easier then sawing the wood and you get grain that is completely intact as oposed to sawed lumber. It makes for longer and stronger teeth on the finished comb.
Step 6: Drawing the Board
So vice or clamp you board and thin it down to a uniform 1/4 inch.
Taper the end to form the blade of the comb, spines are easy to make and you can use scrap for them but the blade takes work and practice. The teeth will be scraped and sawed in line with the grain. Actually the grain will become the teeth.
Step 7: Making rivets
Vice up the form so it's nice and even, drop in some straight copper wire the same size as the holes but a little longer.
File the tops that are sticking out to flat
then peen the portion sticking out to hard against the form. Remove the form from the vice and when you break it open you have rivets. If you are careful to make your form fit nice and smooth together you can sometimes use it to cast rivets instead of forging them.
Step 8: The pieces
You can see the process from this pic though.
I've also changed up to straight copper wire because the heads are unnesasry, when you peen the copper it expands into cone shapes that are closer to historical pieces.
Step 9: Shape and final finnish
Cut the blade flush with the spine lames and then sand everthing to the highest finish possible.
Finnish with olive oil or vegatable oil, linseed oil will leave pieces of finnish in the hair.
I ussually make cases for the combs, it adds to their appearance.
I'm going to have to beg off here to and promise better as soon as I get the new camera, I'll do a start to finish to include the case. And close details of how to use the rosette cutter and shape teeth.
I'm not sure how soon I'll get the new camera so don't wait on me if you want to do this, just look over my past works and the historical pieces. If you need a plan make one and then just do it.
Keep the first one and give the rest away.