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Turning a Handle, Woods & Tools

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Tue 14th Jul 2020
Blog Categories: Wood Engraving Tools | Wood Engraving Printmaking | All / Filter

Either my hands are larger, or my extensive use of woodworking hand tools means I want larger wood engraving tool handles, with more space to put my little finger - the ones supplied as 'standard' feel too small for me, so am turning some new ones myself, quietly on a lathe I built myself. I also want to turn them from better looking woods, with better finishes. This series of blog articles tells my story of this.

The Test Handle

Today I found time to turn a better test handle using Beech wood this time, and whilst I haven't got this one quite right, it is getting close to what I want.

My main aim is to have the 'back' part a larger diameter so that it fits better into the palm of my hand, and more space for my little finger, so I can 'hold' and push through it better, as I find the ones supplied with the 'off the shelf' tools too small for me. Mine are about 32mm diameter, this one is a little larger.

Below are a few photos of it partly made on the lathe - yes you can see the inside of the handle needs cleaning up more (lines in there at present), but as I'm focusing on getting the overall shape right just now, I'm not going to spend precious time getting that right at this stage.

The next stage will be to put it on a metal tool and see how it works. And then once I've got better handles put on the tool steel, to do some engraving!

Large handle
You can see more space for my little finger, and a larger diameter back

Side view of handle
Perhaps the main part of the handle is too deep, I'll test that out. The wood to the left of the handle will be cut off - this is where the shaft of the lathe 'holds' the wood. You can see at the other end turned space for the ferrule, which will be brass for me

The Test Handle

Today I found time to turn a better test handle using Beech wood this time, and whilst I haven't got this one quite right, it is getting close to what I want.

My main aim is to have the 'back' part a larger diameter so that it fits better into the palm of my hand, and more space for my little finger, so I can 'hold' and push through it better, as I find the ones supplied with the 'off the shelf' tools too small for me. Mine are about 32mm diameter, this one is a little larger.

Below are a few photos of it partly made on the lathe - yes you can see the inside of the handle needs cleaning up more (lines in there at present), but as I'm focusing on getting the overall shape right just now, I'm not going to spend precious time getting that right at this stage.

The next stage will be to put it on a metal tool and see how it works. And then once I've got better handles put on the tool steel, to do some engraving!

Large handle
You can see more space for my little finger, and a larger diameter back

Side view of handle
Perhaps the main part of the handle is too deep, I'll test that out. The wood to the left of the handle will be cut off - this is where the shaft of the lathe 'holds' the wood. You can see at the other end turned space for the ferrule, which will be brass for me

The Woods

I've got a reasonable amount of Beech wood, and it is relatively easy to turn, so I'm trying this out to start with.

However, once I've got the sizes right, I want to use much better woods and finishes to get some really nice looking handles. I've got some lovely American Walnut which is a dream to turn, and looks great both in it's colour and grain, so I hope to try this soon. I've got some Holly too, and some other woods. And wouldn't it be great to have some made from Box wood - Box wood handles, engraving box wood blocks?

American Walnut
American Walnut to try once I've got sizes sorted

The Woods

I've got a reasonable amount of Beech wood, and it is relatively easy to turn, so I'm trying this out to start with.

However, once I've got the sizes right, I want to use much better woods and finishes to get some really nice looking handles. I've got some lovely American Walnut which is a dream to turn, and looks great both in it's colour and grain, so I hope to try this soon. I've got some Holly too, and some other woods. And wouldn't it be great to have some made from Box wood - Box wood handles, engraving box wood blocks?

American Walnut
American Walnut to try once I've got sizes sorted

The Turning Tools

In Part 1 of this series I explained why I was using a pole lathe (it is quiet, and I can use properly dried hardwoods as I'm working small). However, as I'm working small, the 'standard' pole lather tools are way too big and clumsy for this - and are designed for working 'green' (i.e. freshly cut wet wood), whereas I'm using dry wood.

This means I've had to make or adapt my own turning tools. This isn't a big deal as I designed and made the lathe myself. I need tools with thick steel due to the stresses placed on them. I have some old mortice chisels with good thick tool steel, so decided to adapt some of them. A wider one I shaped with a curved end, like a 'scrub' wood working plane. For thinner tools I just sharpened them, and use them upside down, with the tool rest low and the tools low, so they work at a similar angle to a woodworking hand plane in the plane edge to wood angle. It works for me, so I'll use it, and it is quiet.

Modified chisel
Modified mortice chisel for pole lathe wood turning (note to self - photo needs replacing!)

The Turning Tools

In Part 1 of this series I explained why I was using a pole lathe (it is quiet, and I can use properly dried hardwoods as I'm working small). However, as I'm working small, the 'standard' pole lather tools are way too big and clumsy for this - and are designed for working 'green' (i.e. freshly cut wet wood), whereas I'm using dry wood.

This means I've had to make or adapt my own turning tools. This isn't a big deal as I designed and made the lathe myself. I need tools with thick steel due to the stresses placed on them. I have some old mortice chisels with good thick tool steel, so decided to adapt some of them. A wider one I shaped with a curved end, like a 'scrub' wood working plane. For thinner tools I just sharpened them, and use them upside down, with the tool rest low and the tools low, so they work at a similar angle to a woodworking hand plane in the plane edge to wood angle. It works for me, so I'll use it, and it is quiet.

Modified chisel
Modified mortice chisel for pole lathe wood turning (note to self - photo needs replacing!)

The Quietness

It is important for me that this turning work is done quietly, partly for my sake, and partly the neighbours. Turning on a pole lathe could be noisy as the tailstock pin can 'sing', so I bought some special lubricating wax to stop this - and it works a treat - it is so quiet.

Quietness
Quietness

The Quietness

It is important for me that this turning work is done quietly, partly for my sake, and partly the neighbours. Turning on a pole lathe could be noisy as the tailstock pin can 'sing', so I bought some special lubricating wax to stop this - and it works a treat - it is so quiet.

Quietness
Quietness

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


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

All text, images and illustrations © Copyright David Rodgers 2020 unless stated otherwise. No copying in part or whole without written permission.

Disclaimer

All articles made are based on my own personal experience, and may not be suitable for everyone. They are not to be taken as formal advice; always seek personal professional advice before doing anything, especially if it is health related, or might affect your health.

Where links are provided to external sites, I am not responsible for the content of these sites.

All content is believed to be correct at time of writing, but policies and prices change over time, and this article is not updated to reflect this. Double check all facts before making any decisions.





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