A few weeks ago Paul Sellers had a blog post where he showed a fly swatter with a leather business end. I liked the idea and immediately began searching the internet for similar designs.
Note: Paul Sellers has since made his fly swat design a Masterclasses project.
In my searches I found a few references and photos to a Shaker version of a fly swatter with a turned handle and a leather business end. Perfect! That fits in with my ongoing obsession with the spring pole lathe. So I sat down and worked out a proportional drawing to use as a guide. I say guide because this project will be mostly adhoc using whatever bits of lumber I can cull out of the off cut bin. The leather portion is a bit more regulated, but I won’t hesitate to alter it if my material on hand calls for it.
To test my design I pulled a piece of white oak from the bin. It was about one inch square and roughly twenty inches long. I knocked the corners off with my drawknife and mounted the blank onto my lathe. Again, I didn’t get too anal about the shape. I simply turned it by eye until I like the look of it. The only hard part was dealing with the whipping of such a thin piece on the lathe.
I did end up making a template for the leather part. It makes the cutting much easier and I knew that I would be making several of these as Christmas Gifts. Anyway, I had a piece of 8oz leather that ended up yielding seven fly swatter heads. I punched a pattern of holes in the leather to make the swatter a little snappier thru the air. Ideally the holes would be a bit smaller, but all I have is a 1/4″ punch.
Mounting the leather to the handle required cutting a narrow slot in the handle. To cut the slot, I first drilled a hole thru the handle to act as a depth stop. Then a marked out the required width. Then began two saw cuts. Sawing a little down each side of the slot, then switching to the other side. Alternating like this gives decent support for saw kerfs that are very close together.
To secure the leather to the handle I used two bamboo pegs and installed them in a draw bore fashion. Offsetting the hole in the leather so that pegs pull the leather deeper into the slot when they are driven through.
These fly swatters are fun to make, will make great gifts and are a productive use of those small off cut pieces that tend to pile up.