So yesterday we went over how to fit a socket chisel with a new handle. Yay!
But what if the chisel in question has a tang? Un-yay?
No big deal. The big difference is that instead of fitting a socket, we need to fit a ferrule, and we have to bore a hole in the handle. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same. But for today, I thought I’d show a variant of this process.
My wife had a dog grooming comb that had broken teeth, and it was annoying her. She asked if I would fix it. Really, she said, she just needed the gap-toothed section gone, then she could use the leftover spine as a handle. I said I would not only do that, but make it better.
The first thing was to pull out the teeth from half of the spine. When that was done, I smoothed the spine down with a file, and then filed a few divots into it with an old saw file. I’ll get to why, but then I drilled a matching hole in a piece of cherry, deep and wide enough to accept the spine. If this were a chisel handle, I would need to bore a tapered hole. My big tapered Irwin drill (for #14 screws) works for most of the small ones. If you need a bigger hole, or don’t have tapered drills, then there’s a section in The Joiner and Cabinet-Maker that goes over chiseling a tapered hole. Either way, you want the hole to have a diameter large enough that the chisel tang will slide in to ¼” or a little less away from fitting completely. That will allow us to seat it securely later.
Once you have the hole bored, fit the handle blank into the lathe, with the tang hole going over a live center. Take the ferrule you’re using (I use a lot of ¾” brass tube, but in this particular case I’m going to use a little copper) and set the inside diameter on your outside calipers. Mark the length (I usually use 5/8″) of your ferrule on the blank, then turn that section down to where it will only just let you get the ferrule started. Then seat it onto the blank by malleting the back of the blank. Don’t hit the ferrule until it sits flush with the live center end of your blank. Then, you’ll probably have to get out a punch and steel hammer and gently tap around the circumference of the ferrule to make sure it seats dead flush with the shoulder of your prospective handle. You’ll probably have a smidge of wood sticking out of the end, but that’s fine, and you’ll pare it off flush later.
Once your ferrule is fit, turning the handle is straightforward, with the procedure of sizing down to your target diameters, then connecting points just the same as before.
When the profile is done, and sanded to 400, I put some garnet shellac on while it’s still in the lathe. This really accentuates the reddish tones of the cherry.
Finally after the handle is done, I epoxied the comb into the handle. A tang chisel wouldn’t need epoxy, but seated with a mallet up to the little shoulder on the tang. Since the comb wasn’t tapered, we needed something more. The little divots we filed into the handle help create a mechanical lock between the rough walls of the hole and the spine of the comb. If you were bedding a rifle action into a stock (one of uses for epoxy in woodworking) you would strenuously avoid doing this, but for this purpose, it will keep everything together through thick and thin. Once the epoxy cured, I sanded the shellac down and put on another coat, finishing at 800 grit. Then a little paste wax over that, and the comb (or a notional chisel!) was done.