I was looking through some of my older tools and came across three cheaper Stanley chisels that had small plastic handles.
The tools have always performed fairly well, but I was always annoyed at the handle size. It was time for an upgrade.
So without further ado, let's get started!
Step 1: Removing the Old Handles.
I first had to remove the plastic handles from the chisels. This was really simple.
I clamped the handles of the chisel in my Jawhorse clamp and used a wood handscrew clamp on the blade. This gave a lot of surface area contact and the wood prevented scarring of the metal. This gave me the leverage I needed. Moving the clamp backwards and forwards, allowed me to remove the blade from the handle in short order.
Step 2: Cleaning the Tang on the Chisels.
Next, I spent a few minutes with a wire brush and cleaned up the tang on the chisel.
Step 3: Gluing and Drilling the Handles.
Looking through my scrap bin, I had some left over walnut boards that I glued up to 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch blanks and trimmed them to 7 inches length. Allowing the blanks to dry overnight, I marked the center location on each one and drilled a 1/4 inch sized hole, using the drill press.
Step 4: Preparing Handles for the Lathe.
I found some brass tube that matched the hole I drilled previously.
I cut a small piece off that protruded slightly out of the hole in the blank and wrapped the end with painter's tape. More on why I did this, in just a minute.
This created a nice, tight fit and after, I tapped it in preparing it for the lathe.
*Note, I am definitely not a expert on the lathe, having only finished a few projects in the past.*
Step 5: Sticking the Blank Into the Lathe.
I mounted the blank in the lathe, using the end with the brass tube to ride agains the live center. I am not sure this was totally necessary, but it felt like the hole in the blank would weaken as I lathed the handle.
With the blank mounted, I went to work in smoothing the wood to a dowel shape and then proceeded to form it into a handle shape. I found this process enjoyable and it was challenging getting the shape I was looking for.
Step 6: Attaching the Ferrel.
I formed a smaller tenon that would hold the ferrel. This was a little challenging and required the use of a cheap caliper to ensure that I got the size right.
I then used a 1/2 inch copper tube and used a pipe cutter to cut three identical ferrels. As part of this process, I removed the now formed handle blank and friction fit the ferrel on the end.
Step 7: Finishing Off the Handle Shape.
I remounted this back in the lathe to finish shaping the handle, including the transition from the handle to the ferrel itself.
Step 8: Smoothing the Handles.
Once I had the shaping pretty much complete, I worked through an assortment of sandpaper, using grits 60 to 220. I finished the sanding by using 0000 steel wool, which gave a very fine, burnished look to the handle. Remember to sand the ferrel as well, as it will shine up the copper nicely.
With the first handle complete, I parted the handle off using my Japanese pull saw. Afterwards, I simply repeated the process with the other two handles. The advantage now was I could use my first handle to help match the dimensions on the other two handles.
This worked pretty well.
Step 9: Epoxying the Chisels.
I clamped the chisels by the chisel's end in my JawHorse clamp. I mixed up some quick setting epoxy and set the handles.
Step 10: Finishing the Handles.
Once dry, I gave each chisel several coats of tung oil, lightly sanding with the 0000 steel wool between coats. This really brought out the beauty of the wood.
Step 11: Success!
Overall I am happy with the results and I feel like my lathe skills are slowly improving. It was nice taking a cheaper set of chisels and upscaling. Without a doubt, the quality of the chisels is no better than before, but they sure look nice!
Thanks for checking this out, be sure to let me know what you think and if you have any questions!
Also be sure to check out the video of them being made: