View Full Version : Advice on Chisel Handles

31st Mar 2004, 07:38 AM
A friend is having problems with fitting new handles he has turned, to his wood turning tools. He has found that the handles are splitting.
Anyone out successfully turned and fitted new handles ?? If so, can you please share your method with us?:D

31st Mar 2004, 09:29 AM
He needs to put ferrels on the end where he is putting the chisels in. I used old brass king pin bushes cut in half. Just turn a section on the handle to the inside diameter of the bush with a reasonably tight fit and it should stop the splitting.

It is advisable to drill a hole down the centre to remove some of the timber to releive some of the pressure on the handle.

31st Mar 2004, 11:45 AM
Yeah Barry, he is using stainless steel ferrules but the splitting is occurring beyond that, ie, on the handle itself. I thought that maybe he is drilling the hole too small for the chisel itself, and the pressure is splitting it. Is it an idea to use wedges or glue the chisel into the handle?

31st Mar 2004, 03:01 PM
Well I made my handles over 50 years ago and I can't remember what the timber was that they where made from but it may have been Maple.

I did make the holes only slightly smaller than the tangs of the chisels but apart from the gouge all my chisels are made from old files which may have maybe smaller tangs than what he is using.

It would be preferable to drill to the depth of the tang with a smaller drill and then drill out with a bigger drill to about half the length of the tang.

The harder timber the more likely it is to split.

I have just jammed the chisels into the handles without any glue or wedges.

31st Mar 2004, 08:45 PM
GaryO, I have made many handles from different timbers and never had any split, I think your friends timber may a bit too green.

Cliff Rogers
31st Mar 2004, 10:03 PM

If you are making a handle for a round tool, IE: bowl gouge then try drilling a hole to suit the shaft of the tool & grind a 3 or 4 sided point on the butt of the tool before inserting it in the handle. Once it in the handle, drop the whole tool, handle butt down on a piece of scrap wood a couple of times. This will drive the point into the handle & hold it there. If it comes loose, drop it on the scrap again. That way it can be removed from the handle easily if you should ever want to. If you reckon you don't ever want to remove it, you can glue it in.

If you are making a handle for a tool with a tapered tang, then you have to make an approximately tapered socket for it that matches the taper as close as you can get it. Do this by using varying drill diameters at varying depths to suit the shape of the tang & then fit the tool the same way as described above.

Jim Carroll
31st Mar 2004, 11:21 PM
Cliff has the right idea for sizing the holes for the various tangs etc and also by hitting the handle butt end on a peice of timber helps swage the tool into the handle. Splitting is mostly caused by hitting the tool into the timber so forcing it in where it does not want to go and splitting the handle.By hitting the end of the handle it creates its own wedge and does not split the handle as long as you have drilled the pilot holes accordingly.

2nd Apr 2004, 10:54 AM
Thanks for the info. I have passed it on and hopefully he won't have the same problems.

Much appreciated.


David Paterson
8th Apr 2004, 10:42 AM
I have done this lots, but method is a bit different. The idea is a standard apprach used by some blacksmiths.
I usually make my handles from the firewood pile (mostly red gum, yellow box, and the occaisional exotic like ash or prunings from fruit trees) - the material is not a huge success criteria. My heat source is a little camping stove with disposable canisters - it lives near the bench as is used for everything. Ive just had to change the canister after more than two years.

Firstly, if you are using green wood the Ferrules will come loose over time as the wood dries. My approach (mostly successful) has been to turn the seat a little larger than the ID of the Ferrule - perhaps .5mm but not critical. I make the ferrules from copper or brass tubing, and have about 150mm of the tube handy as a seating tool. Heat the ferrule to a bit short of red heat, if you get green flame from copper that is probably a fraction too hot so wait a sec before the next step. Drop the, now larger, ferrule onto its seat and quench quickly with water. You don't want to char the wood. You might have to use the extra bit of tube and a malet to seat the ferrule nicely against its shoulder.

Remount the wood and turn the handle, leaving a bit of waste (2-3mm) over about a third or the handle diameter after parting . (I bore the hole as the first cut and mount the tool using a live centre in the tang hole. This makes sure the tang hole is in the centre of the handle.

To seat the tool tang, you need a hole about 3/4 - 7/8 of the tang size and a little deeper. It can be cylindrical. Have a vice with soft jaws set up to hold the tool. Heat the tang until it is hot enought to sizzle spit. quickly clamp it straight in the vice, and drive the handle on with a mallet or maul, striking on the waste you left when parting. Quench the tool throughly.

Clean up the waste.

You need to be careful to keep the handle straight when driving the handle because the hot tang will seat wherever you put it, my first couple were a bit off. This approach will seat a 5*10 mm tang (small scraper) into a 7mm hole in Claret ash.

My kids think this process is a hoot

8th Apr 2004, 11:49 AM

You've obviously had success with that approach. However, I wondered if heating the tang would cause it to expand and then shrink later when it cools down? I was actually contemplating sticking the tool in the freezer for a few hours so that it contracts, then bang it in the hole and allow it to come back up to room temperature. What are your thoughts on that?

9th Apr 2004, 01:31 PM
your idea would be (dare I say?) cool.

Bob Smalser
18th Apr 2004, 01:18 AM
Here's how I do it in step by step detail ...I can make them with or without a lathe...tanged as opposed to socket chisels simply need another ferrule at the tang...but be sure to bed everything in epoxy and they'll not split on you: