Introduction: Making a Skew Chisel for the Lathe

About: I'm a self taught troublemaking woodworker that loves scroll sawing and making other random stuff and love to get dirty while doing it. I also mess in metalworking and love making sparks fly.

There's nothing like the satisfaction of making and using your own tools:) No matter how hard it was to make, its still fun to use because its made by you and is customized to fit your needs.

I recently made a wood lathe. It took a lot of time, thought, and effort, but was much cheaper than buying one. But, not having a lot of money to spend on my woodworking hobby I don't have any tools to go with it.

So, keeping to the homemade theme, I decided to make my own tools. The chisel is made out of an old table saw blade that I got for 1$ at a garage sale and a cutoff of a dowel for the handle.

-this may seem why to big of a project and look intimidating but just think of it as many small things put together.

Enough with the backstory, on with the instructable

Step 1: Make a Pattern

I made a simple pattern using paper, a ruler, and a pen. No fancy computer software needed:)

The metal in the skew will be 4 inches long with 1 inch being recessed in the handle with pins to secure it. I started by making a line 4 inches long. Then I marked 1/2 inch to the right of the line on the top and bottom. I connected these with a line and added 1/4 inch to the top for the point. After that connect the high and low end of the sides to form an angle.

You now have a skew chisel pattern! I cut mine out so I can trace it the outline onto the metal to cut it out.

Note-The angle changed after i cut it out and sanded it. It now looks about like a 15-20 degree angle.

Step 2: Make Some Sparks

I cut the skew out of a old table saw blade using an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel. just use a permanent marker to trace the pattern onto the metal and cut it out. I started by cutting the 2 ends and then cutting the length of the part. For the length you could use a straight piece of wood or metal as a guide to cut straighter.

To hold the blade down while I cut it I used a sacrificial board and screwed the blade to it, then clamp the whole thing to the table.

Or if you want to simplify things just use a metal cutting bandsaw- I don't have one:)

Step 3: Final Profile

For this I used a 4x36 belt sander with a 80 grit belt. Basically all I did was make the sides straight and the surface shine:)This could also be done with a file and hand sanding.

For the surface sanding I used a magnet to keep a better grip on the part. All i had was a small rare earth one but a bigger one would work much better.

-You can also use water to keep the metal from overheating while sanding.

Step 4: Drill Holes

I am recessing the blade an inch into the handle and I am also going to pin it for extra security. ie-so it doesn't go flying out in the middle of turning and everything self-destructs.

Mark 1 inch in from the recessed side and then i marked about a 1/4-3/8 inch in from both sides-I eyeballed it:) Then using a ruler mark half of the width at each hole location. the cross is where you will drill your holes.

It is best to mark them with a center punch to keep the drill from wandering.

When drilling the holes be sure to have the metal clamped securely. Not doing so and trying to hold it could result in the bit catching and the metal will wrap around and hit your hand at 310 RPM-a minor problem. anyway when drilling in metal of any sort it is best to use oil for lubrication while drilling(also makes drill bits last longer:).

Now of course, my holes didn't come out centered but thats OK. Because the blade is set in the handle you won't be able to tell if the holes are centered. Besides who cares how a tool looks? Its made to do a job not look pretty

Step 5: Heat Treat the Cutting Edge

For this I used a heat gun on the highest fan speed as my blower.(you could also use a hair dryer)

The "blower" was then connected to a pipe that was holes drilled in it on one side about 6 inches in(for air flow to the fire)and plugged on the end with a stick:). For the forge part (where the fire actually is) I used a old chimney flue and a rock and a concrete brick to block off the back opening.-fire bricks would be better for this- As fuel I used hardwood lump charcoal.

There are plenty of instructables out there on heat treating so I'm not going to go into to much detail. Anyway all I basically did was build a fire in the flue with charcoal and put the blade in it. After it was a bright orange I quenched it in water.(you could also use oil) To check if it was hard I used a file on the edge of the blade.

It did warp slightly from the heat and quench, but it wasn't major and I will grind/sand them out later.

-If the the metal is hard the file should skate off instead of digging in and removing material. luckily it hardened on the first try:) if it doesn't harden the first time you can try repeating the process 2 or 3 more times.

Step 6: Tempering

Right now the blade is hard as glass, but also as brittle as it too. Tempering basically keeps the blade at a high temperature for a period of time to remove stress from the quench.It also makes it slightly flexible and durable so if you drop it it won't chip as easy.

I put it into the oven at 400 F for about 30 minutes.After it was done I put it outside on a brick to slowly cool.(you could just leave it in the oven)

Step 7: Polish It Up...Again

After tempering it was back to the belt sander to make it shiny again. I used the same 80 grit belt and the magnet method to remove the scale.

At this point now would be a good time to polish it up to the point and shine that you want it. I only want to 80 grit because it will scratch against the tool rest anyway. If you go to a higher grit I recommend taping it of to prevent scratches while fitting it with the handle and stuff.

Step 8: Add the Bevels

For this I used a 1x32 inch belt sander with a beveled guide block.

Start by marking the center on the blade. Ideally you would want to use a height gauge for this. But not having one, I used a drill the same diameter as the thickness of the blade -about 1/8. Then I clamped the blade to a piece of old plywood with a 10 degree bevel on it.(was cut on the table saw)I used this calculator to calculate my grind angle.

Then basically all I did was grind to the center line. flip it over and repeat.

I put a bevel on both sides. I have seen lathe tools with a bevel on one side and on both sides. It basically just becomes a personal preference. Keep in mind a double bevel is quite hard to get even and straight.

Step 9: Make the Handle

I made the handle out of a dowel cutoff. I cut it to 12 inches long. At this point you could call it good and leave it as just a dowel, but I wanted to add a tapper at the end to a wide point so it won't slip out of my hand.

To do this I put it in the lathe and used a chisels to shape it.(I dont have any real tools yet) I went until it felt comfortable in my hand. Then I cleaned it up with some 120 grit sandpaper. The fancy end thing was done with a 3/8 chisel and the rest with an inch chisel.

Step 10: Make It Groovy

Now comes the tricky, but simple:) part-making the groove in the top of the handle.

Using a compass I set it so it was close to center but not center. Being sure to keep it straight up I put the center part on the outside of the dowel and went back and forth in three different places, giving a pretty good idea of center. I then used a center punch to mark center and drilled a hole the same thickness of the metal. drill a series of holes in a row then evenly on each side of center. Then, using the drill like a mill auger out the wood left in between the holes. Its best to set the depth of the bit so that only an inch sticks out so the groove cant get deeper.

-Be sure to check the fit regularly as it will get wider faster than you think!

Step 11: Drill the Holes in the Handle

This part took some thinking about how to do this !caution severe headache may strike if attempted!-just kidding:)

Put the blade in the handle and mark where the top of the handle meets the blade(make sure its all the way down). To mark it I used a box cutter knife, but a scribe or scratch al would work well too. Using a ruler make sure it is straight across the handle put it on the edge of the blade and mark on one side to the edge with a knife. Do this for the other side to. Then on the outside of the handle line it up with the hash marks you just made and mark the holes and punch them.

To drill the holes use a fence with a right angle being careful to orient the dowel so the bit will go straight in. Clamp and drill

It is best to use the same drill bit that was used to drill the holes in the metal blade so that they both come out the same size. (3/16 in my case)

Step 12: Cut the Pins

For the pins I used 3/16 inch brass rod.(could be any size and material really)

When marking the length of the pins make sure that it overhangs the handle about 1/8 inch for penning it over later.

I used a hacksaw to cut them because by the time you get your angle grinder set up and ready to cut, you could have been done with the hacksaw.

Also be sure to file over the edges of the pins so that they don't catch on anything when you drive them in. This could result in breakage :) see next step or two

Step 13: Fix the Mistake

when dry fitting it together I chipped of the back of my handle cause I didn't file the edges and there was a bur on the pin.

I just used some wood glue and a clamp to stick it back on there.

Step 14: Glue This Mess Together

Its definitely best to make sure the pins fit through the handle holes and blade before you try to epoxy it together. If they don't line up you can always drill them out again with the blade in the handle to make it match.

This is pretty straightforward, you mix up the epoxy and spread it on all parts that are to be glued.

I taped the blade off where it sticks up above the handle to keep the epoxy off. Also its a good idea to tape around the grove in the handle so you don't get epoxy on that either. To drive the pins in I used a hammer.

I didn't take any pics because the epoxy only had a working time of 5 min and I didn't want it on my camera.

Step 15: Peen the Pins

All thats left to do is peen the ends and put a finish on it.

To peen its best to use a ball peen hammer. You hit it repeatedly with the ball side causing the end of the pin to roll over and expand. This helps keep the pins in and makes everything more secure.

After peening I took it over to the belt sander and made them shiny.

Step 16: Done!

Add your favorite finish and vola. Your Done! I didn't add a finish because its still to cold out and I didn't want that smell in my house.If I do later add one I would probably use a danish oil.

Thanks for reading and please vote if you like it.

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