Introduction: Making Awesome Tool Handles on the Lathe

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Making your own tool handles on the lathe is a really fun projects. I'm going to be making some handles for a couple of different kitchen tools, however you could use the same concepts to make handles for chisels, files, knives - or whatever you need. By gluing up different woods you can get some really cool designs, and it's also a perfect opportunity to use up scrap wood!

Step 1: Design

So for this project I looked through my scrap bin and I found a couple of pieces which I thought would be cool to utilize. When you glue together pieces of wood for the purpose of turning, you can get really creative and make all sorts of patterns and cool designs by gluing wood together. While in a block, it might not look like much, but once you start turning, your patterns will emerge.

I decided to use some maple and ipe scraps, and I also have this piece of plywood. I created it by cutting Baltic birch plywood in thin strips, turn them on end, and glue them together for a cool affect. I cut this board up in a couple of pieces.

Step 2: Glue Up

I wanted to create a kind of striped look one, horizontal design and one vertical. So I cut up the wood in smaller pieces, and then arranged in a few different ways to glue up.

I used regular yellow glue, made sure I had good coverage and I made sure to clamp all the blanks really well.

Once it had dried, I cleaned up the blocks on the bandsaw.

First step here is finding the center on both sides and making a mark, so it's easier to put them on the lathe.

Step 3: Turning

At that point I was ready to start turning, and this first one is maple and ipe. After a little rough turning, I made a tenon, so I could put it in the chuck for some extra support.

I like to start with a roughing gouge first and then move on to a square bit tool. I'm using carbide tools and they work really well. The handle for the ice cream scoop comes with a ferrule, so I'm checking the interior diameter of the ferrule and then working on getting the wood down to that size.

Then for making rounder shapes, I'm using the round carbide tool here, which works really nice and for marking the end sections as well as creating some decorative lines I'm using the parting tool.

Next I'm working on the plywood block, and this one was a little trickier to turn, it chipped quite easily, so I moved to the round bit quite early on and it did a much better job, plus I also sanded this one quite aggressively and that worked much better for this material. This handle is for the pizza cutter.

Step 4: Shellac

I really like to finish pieces on the lathe, and this time I decided to go with shellac. It goes on so nicely and it also dries super quickly since it's spinning so fast. And finally I'm turning the piece meant for the opener.

Working on the lathe is so much fun. It's one of those tools that you didn't really know you wanted or needed, until you actually try one out and start playing with it. I've been using mine now for a couple of months and I've turned lots of little accessories, knobs and things like that as well as handles and even a baseball bat. So you don't need a huge lathe to be able to make lots of cool things with it.

Step 5: Drilling & Gluing

Once I had all the handles turned, I used a compass to find the center. Here I'm marking out the depth of this threaded insert which is meant to screw inside the handle, so the tool can attach to it. So drilling holes in all the handles and then screwing in the threaded insert.

And it creates groves on the inside so it grips to the wood, and then simply spinning in the attachment. For the ice cream scoop I simply epoxied in the ferrule and the scoop part, and then set it in a clamp to dry.

Step 6: Waxing

After sanding all to handles with some fine sand paper, I applied some of tung oil wax polish to bring out the color and add a nice feel.

Step 7: Conclusion - Watch the Video

For a much better perspective, make sure to check out the video!