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Engraving Tool Ferules

> Blog > Wood Engraving Printmaking > Wood Engraving Tools > Engraving Tool Ferules
Sat 18th Jul 2020
Blog Categories: Wood Engraving Tools | Wood Engraving Printmaking | All / Filter

The metal part of an engraving tool is usually held into the handle by friction - the non working end of the tool steel is pushed into a hole created in the stem of the handle, with sufficient force to allow it to remain in place without failing out. This puts pressure on the wood, which would push it apart (i.e. break the stem of the tool out) if nothing stopped it. A ferule's job is to encase the end of the stem to hold the pressure and reduce the chance of the wood splitting - it is the metal ring at the end of the stem.

So I needed to make some Ferules for my tool handles from the start, this is how I looked at them, and made them.

Ferules on other tools

It wouldn't surprise you to know there are different sized ferules on tools from different makers; there is no one size (or material). I've been fortunate to sharpen engraving tools of other people, and have my own tools, so here are some from various of these, showing just the ferule in relation to the handle.

Different ferules
4 different types of ferule, showing in particular different lengths

It is interesting to note how short some of these appear to be - however I can't say they are wrong because they have stood the test of time - and who am I to criticise the work of others? When measured they vary between about 4 and 9mm length. However, as I tend to have a more belt and braces view of things, I've decided to make mine a little longer (see below).

Most are made of a brass like substance, cut from a tube - except the EC Lyons which appear to be a plated steel with a rounded end, so are presumably pressed rather than cut from a tube. The diameters on the different makes tend to vary from about 5 to 9mm.

Whilst it isn't clear from these photos, some are made from some pretty thick walled tube, some thinner. I couldn't measure them, but I'm guessing some where 1mm thick (or imperial equivalent), others 0.5mm (or imperial equivalent).

Most appear to be a press fit, except the EC Lyons which have little indented studs, so are presumably pressed and 'studded'. It isn't possible to see if any glue is used, without any positive proof of it, I can assume not.

My Choices

Simple - Brass Tube. Easily available and cut to length, and is what appear to be used on other tools. Won't rust like steel and looks reasonable. Available in 0.5mm wall thickness which should be reasonable.

Available in various diameters, I have chosen 8mm and 10mm - 8mm on smaller tools and may need to try 10mm on larger tools such as Spitstickers, will have to see. When taking off a 0.5mm wall thickness, this leaves a stem of 7mm and 9mm, which should be enough. Who knows, I might try smaller tube diameters one day for things like gravers, as that means a smaller diameter stem, but that means turning some pretty small diameters of wood.

Will simply set to width of my flat turning chisel which is 8mm.

Press fit, no glue. Needs to fit on wood and be held, not slide off. Wood tends to shrink and expand, especially across the end grain, whilst even 9mm isn't likely to move that much from dry to humid settings, want to be on safe side.


In an ideal world, if I had a metal working lathe I'd use this to cleanly and squarely cut the brass tube to size, but at present I don't have access to one.

So, I'll use my vice and fine hack saw, along with files, to make. Takes a bit longer, but sufficient for now.

Below are some of the tools and processes used in making the ferules.

Marking out tube
Marking out the brass tube prior to cutting the next ferule

Cutting tube
Cutting the next ferule - the saw may look large, but it is a very fine toothed blade and does the job well on this thin material

Cutting tube
I use various files to ensure cut ends and straight without a burr, here I'm removing the burr

Filing tube
Filing the brass tube prior to cutting the next ferules

Files used
Some of files used to clean up the ferules

Sample Results

Ferule fitted to sample handle
Ferule fitted to end of a sample handle - it is the brass bit on the right hand side, ready to receive a tool. Handles need refining, this is an early one, but I'll get there

Tags: tool handles wood engraving woodengraving wood engravers woodengravers engraving engraver printmaking print making printmaker print maker print printing relief block

Blog Categories: Wood Engraving Tools | Wood Engraving Printmaking | All / Filter

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