Tool Handle From Pipe!





Introduction: Tool Handle From Pipe!

About: Husband to a great wife, father to my baby girl, and child of the one true king. 9-5er during the day and woodworker the rest of the time. Follow along as I offer tips, tricks, and woodworking plans. I st...

This is a project I originally posted on my blog Stop by sometime and check out my other projects & tool reviews. Now, on to the tutorial!

Want a metal handle with a comfortable grip for your turning tools without the big price tag? I'll show you how and have a bit of fun in the process! The best part is that I was able to find all of the necessary components at my local Home Depot to make 2 handles.

Interested? Here's what you need to get going!

  • Determination to save some greenbacks
  • A tool for which to make the handle
  • 1/2" pipe nipple (I used 18" and 12" long pieces)
  • A 1/2" cap for one end of your pipe... I mean handle
  • Two 1/4-20 set screws per tool 1/4-20 x 1/4, 1/4-20 x 1/2
  • 3/4" ID hose to provide grip. I used braided vinyl, but you can use whatever you like.
  • Nylon spacer(This one is optional)
  • 5/16 set screw (Only if you buy the spacer)
  • BBs! Don't shoot your eye out!

Step 1: Bore Out ID for 5/8" Bowl Gouge

Alright, ready to make a tool handle? 1/2" pipe is "supposed" to have a nominal ID of 5/8". Mine did not. Apparently, the manufacturer didn't get the memo. So, I had two options here. I could either put my piece on the wood lathe and free hand the cut or take it to my friend's shop and borrow his metal lathe. I chose the latter. Here I'm using a boring bar to open up the ID of my pipe.

After boring the ID to just the right size, I drilled and tapped two 1/4-20 holes for my set screws. Sorry, no picture. I got too excited to finish up my new toy!

Note: Don't be like me and tap the threaded section of your pipe. No, my drill didn't break, but there is barely enough wall thickness for your set screw to bite into. However, just one set screw is holding my 5/8" gouge just fine. You're better off to cut off the threads on one end and then bore to the proper ID.

Step 2: Add Grip

Now, back at the home shop I brute forced the vinyl hose onto the pipe. This kinda looks like a snake shedding in reverse huh? This was by far the most time consuming part of the whole process. I would recommend a heat gun and petroleum jelly.

Step 3: Bushing for 3/8" Spindle Gouge

Here I'm making a bushing for my 3/8 detail spindle gouge. I've turned the OD of a piece of cherry so that it will be a press fit into the pipe. I'm now drilling out the bushing to accept the tang of the gouge. I drill this slightly undersized as to have a good snug fit.

Step 4: Drill Through Hose for Set Screws

Now, I make a pilot hole with an awl. This allows me to drill the hole in the right spot. Novel, I know... The third picture is running the set screw into place before inserting the tool. Trying to start the set screw through the hose with an allen wrench proved futile.

Back out the set screws before installing the tool. Oh, the face? Yeah, I was goofing around after a long day at work. I didn't think my wife was taking the picture yet...

At this point you will add the spacer and BBs, if you opt for it. What is the spacer for? Good question. The spacer isolates the BBs from the tool. This way you can remove the tool for sharpening or to switch tools without your BBs running all over the floor. Also, the 5/16 set screw is just threaded into the spacer to close the hole. You could always just turn a small cylinder to fit the ID of your pipe and forgo the $1.96 to buy it at HD.

Step 5: All Finished Up!

To buy a premade handle for your new lathe tools, it's gonna cost you at least $45 for a decent one. My total for this project with tax was $37.86. When you consider that the most expensive item was the hose at $18.50 and I bought 10', I'd say this was a pretty good project. Just take a look at comparable handles and you'll see that you can't even buy one for the cost of materials to make two. That works for me!



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    Very nicely done! This is a great idea. I'm saving up for a lathe, and I like this idea for the hand tools. Thanks!

    4 replies

    9 months later...

    I don't know if you already bought a lathe, But Matthias Wandel has an awesome DIY Lathe, If you wan't to check it out :)

    Hey yonata24,

    I'll check out Matthias's lathe, but yes, I'm set with a lathe. Here's a shot of the one I built a while back! I love it!

    Big Blue, Featured Image.jpg

    That's a different kind of lathe, For making bowls, Right?

    Yes, I don't do much spindle work. It's either bowls, hollow forms, boxes, or vases. At the very most there's 20" between centers, but that involves using a short live center and having the tailstock a bit past the end of the bed :) Not really the best idea...

    I love those handles! I may need a few of them for come new lathe tools I plan to have in the near future. one hint.. the hose dipped in boiling water will do wonders for sliding it over pipe

    1 reply

    That's an assume idea! I used a heat gun both times when making this style handle. Honestly though, I think I'm going to go the para cord route from now on. I posted an instructable on that too.

    That step between the tool, and the handle never causes any issues? I guess there is plenty of tool to rest on.

    1 reply

    Hi pfred2,

    By "step" I assume you're referencing where the tool and handle meet? No, this is well out of the way of the tool rest and has never caused any trouble. This handle is actually a lower profile than an equivalent wooden handle & in fact, every woodturning handle has a similar step where the handle and tool meet.

    Hope that helps! Thanks for asking.

    seamster, glad you like it! have you thought about building a lathe? I built mine (not my first lathe though) it was a fun build, but a long one.