Apr 20 2012

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Lathe Tool Handle

Before I bought my lathe, I made a deal with a friend that if he made me some insert turning tool shafts, I’d give him the free bed extension that came with the lathe. He had access to tool steel and a metal shop and I really didn’t see myself turning anything longer than 17″ — so it was a good deal for both of us.

For my handles I wanted to try something different, rather than a metal ferrule, I wanted to wrap cord around a split handle to retain the metal tang. I haven’t seen many tool made with this method, so I thought it would make the tools standout. I cut some handle blanks out of ash, chucked one into the lathe, and started turning a very simple handle that tapered down from both ends. I made the whole handle slightly longer and thicker than my Harbor Freight turning tools. To retain the cord, I turned down the end of the handle to about 3/4″ and left a lip at the end and a large shoulder. Then I removed the tail stock (I used a screw head stock) and replaced to with a drill chuck for drilling out the tang hole.

To get the cord to hold the tang in place, I took my Dozuki saw and sliced riped a slot across the grain down to the large shoulder. When I first wrapped the handle in cord, I found that I had tag ends on both sides of the cord, so I remove the cord and drilled a small hole very close to the large shoulder to slip the end down into the tang hole. Beside one less tag end being loose, the hole made the wrap much neater and less likely to come undone.

The cord wrap turned out rather well, the whole chisel feels very solid. With the cord wrapped around the handle squeezing the tang, I can’t pull the metal shaft out of the handle with my hands. I also like the design of this handle, but for my next one I think I’ll use some different color cord to wrap the handle so I can easily identify which tool is which.

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