There have been some
posts on this website about making octagonal tapered handles for
In this post I wish to point out
that that style of handle can also be used on tanged tools other
than chisels. The tool I chose for adding a handle is an old
hand vise that I rescued years ago from the bottom of a bucket
where it had been in standing water with nails.
This type of vise was used by
gunsmiths and clock makers but also show up in joiners' chests.
They were probably used by woodworkers for holding metal hinges
and latches while filing them for final fits. It had nails
adhering to it in caked rust.
I cleaned it up a little and it has
been languishing in my shop for about 30 years. Last week I
found it and felt it was time to bring it back to life. I soaked
it in PB Blaster for a couple of days and scraped the rust off
of it. It had an old nut firmly rusted in place on the carriage
bolt. That required using a nut splitter to shear and spread the
nut. I found a bronze wing nut in my parts cabinet which fit the
It took some time to loosen up the
hinge for the two jaws but I was successful after another
application of penetrating liquid. To my amazement the leaf
spring that spreads the jaws was intact and strong. Once the
hardware was cleaned, while preserving the patina on the iron
and steel parts, it was time to make the handle.
I selected a piece of scrap
mahogany and planed it square. Then in the center of one end I
bored the tapered hole to accommodate the tang. This was done
with five long bits creating a stair stepped hole, small at the
bottom and bigger at the top. I reamed the tapered hole for
final fit by turning the square tang in it.
The handle was then made around the
hole by planing it to its tapered shape with eight facets. Next
I carved a cylinder on the end and tapped on a brass ferrule
followed by using a very sharp chisel to slash eight facets on
the butt end.
The mahogany was then saturated
with a solution of beeswax, turpentine, and oil. It will receive
a coat of Tru Oil in a couple of days.
James E. Price