Brian lives in Oadby, Leicester and has been turning professionally for about 7 years, specialising in making tools and handles, often to renovate old and often abandoned tools. He very kindly made available a printed page describing his demonstration which saved me a great deal of note taking !
For this evening’s demonstration Brian made a handle for a brand new 3/8” spindle gouge. The equipment needed for the project was listed as :-
- Wood blank (2” * 2” * 14”)
- Scrolling 4 jaw chuck with jaws to suit the size of tenon required
- Spindle roughing gouge
- Spindle gouge and/or skew chisel
- Ferrule – either a length of copper pipe or a straight copper connector sawn in half.
- Drill chuck and drill bit (13mm for this example)
- Sanding sheets (120-240 grit)
- Finish (Shellac sealer & Friction polish)
The way the handle is produced is the same for most types and sizes of handles, all that changes are the overall dimensions.
- Mark both ends of the blank for centres. Brian prefers to use a scribe rather than a pencil as it gives a finer line (and doesn’t need sharpening all the time !).
- Mount the blank between centres (always turn between centres rather than in a chuck if possible; it gives far more accurate results and much better feedback) rough out to a cylinder.
- Cut a tenon to suit the jaws of your chuck. Then remount the blank in the chuck.
- True up the end grain then sand and finish the end at this stage.
- Mount the drill chuck in the tail stock and drill out the hole to accept the tool tang. Brian starts the drilling using a machinist’s centring bit to ensure the hole starts accurately. If the tool tang is tapered, then drill the full depth using a narrow bit (eg. 8mm) then drill to half the depth using a broader bit (eg. 10mm) and finally to quarter depth using the final bit size (eg. 13mm). Always drill at a slow speed (400-500 rpm) and withdraw the drill frequently to clear out the shavings.
- Remount the cylinder between centres, supporting the hole end with a live cone centre.
- Mark the length of your ferrule and turn off the excess wood to ensure a snug fit for the ferrule. When this has been achieved remount the cylinder with the ferrule in place to help reduce the risk of the end of the piece splitting. Brian recommends having two ferrules, one pretty one for the finished handle, and one sacrificial one for this part of the process that won’t matter if it gets marked during the turning.
- Shape your handle as desired, checking the size and shape mostly with your hand as this is where it is going to sit when finished. Starting with the transition from ferrule to handle create a palm swell and then working your way to the butt of the handle creating a taper that swells out again (essentially a large flat cove).
- Work the end of the handle down to the final shape leaving a small nub at the end (c.3mm minimum).
- Sand the handle to the desired grit (240 is fine enough), apply sealer and finish. Brian recommends applying multiple layers of both the sealer and the shellac based friction polish leaving a few seconds between each application to allow them to ‘spirit off’.
- Cut off the nub with a small saw and tidy it up with a knife or chisel. Then sand and finish exactly as done for the rest of the handle to ensure it blends in correctly.
- To give the finish a longer life, you can give the handle a final buffing with carnuba wax applied with a mop.
- Glue the ferrule in place and glue the inside of the tang hole (Brian uses 5 minute epoxy), insert the tool into the hole, twist to achieve the preferred grain alignment, press home and clean up any glue squeeze.
- Job done