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W. & S. Butcher


Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Octagonal Tapered Tool Handle  


There have been some
posts on this website about making octagonal tapered handles for chisels.



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 bolt perfectly.

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
June, 2017





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