Introduction: Replacement File Handles
A few years ago, when my uncle passed away, I was fortunate enough to inherit a number of his tools. And his father was a professional carpenter, so I inherited a number of quality files, made in the USA in mid- 20th Century, with brand names like "Lutz" and "Nicholson." The files held up well over the decades, but in a number of cases, the wooden handles cracked or went missing.
While working on my Brazilian Redwood/Purpleheart mallet a few weeks ago, I realized I have quite a few wood files that are missing handles. So I ordered a set of cheap, lightweight handles online. These handles work fine for the smaller files (under about 7"), but they are too small for the larger files. I tried one on for size, and it felt like trying to balance a whole pint of ice cream in a single-scoop cone;-} So I decided to make my own.
About a year ago, I broke the handle off a shovel while digging in my backyard, and of course I saved the broken handle, (because you never know when a broken shovel handle might come in handy;-). While thinking about what to use to make handles for my handleless files, I remembered the broken shovel handle... Perfect!
Here's how I made a few file handles (and a link to how I made a hammer handle) from a broken shovel handle.
Step 1: Size the New Handle
First I laid one of my larger files with a handle next to the broken shovel handle and marked off an approximate length. I repeated this process, and cut off three pieces for handles.
Step 2: Hole Saw One End for Collar
With the parts of the shovel handle cut into approximately 5" sections, I drilled holes in the top end with a hole saw to fit a metal collar, and give me an approximate diameter for the top of the finished file handle. This was a little bit like peeling a banana;-}
Step 3: Sand & Shape
With the top section cut for the collar, I took it to the belt sander to sand off the old finish, scuff marks, etc, and shape the new handle.
Step 4: Peg the Hole
The end of the shovel handle had a hole drilled in it for a strap or lanyard, but I didn't want that for my file, so I stuck a dowel in the hole. I didn't have a dowel that fit exactly, so I had to enlarge the hole slightly. Dripped a bit of wood glue in the hole, pounded in the peg with my Brazilian Redwood/Purpleheart mallet, and then trimmed the excess with a pull saw.
Step 5: Coping and Fine Sanding
Step 6: Cutting the Collars
I had a scrap of steel pipe leftover from a previous project, which was once part of steel/wire restaurant-style shelf rack. I cut a few inch length pieces off with a pipe cutter, and filed down any rough edges on the inside.
Step 7: Fit Collars to Handles
This pipe worked perfectly for making the collars, because it has a slight taper to it - a bit narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. It's manufactured this way to hold the brackets that would hold the shelves, but also works perfectly for a file handle!
Step 8: Tape and Stain
I taped off the collars with a bit of painting tape, and stained with light coat of stain.
Step 9: Seal With Spar Urethane
After the stain dried, I added a coat of spar urethane.
Step 10: Finished
I'm very happy with the finished product. These handles have a great, solid feel to them and are far superior to the smaller ones I bought online. I can see them serving me well for many years to come, and keeping these files company for another century.
I could have made a few more of these from my scrap shovel handle, but I decided to save a section to replace the handle on an old Boiler Scaling Hammer.
Step 11: Bonus Handles!
After I used a section of the broken shovel handle to replace the handle on my Boiler Scaling hammer, I had the old hammer handle that I cut off, and I realized it still had a little life left in it. It was pretty beaten towards the head of the hammer, but there was still enough meat left on the bones that I decided I could get two more file handles out of it.
Using the tools and techniques outlined above, I fabricated two more file handles from the old hammer handle for a few smaller files I had; one with a cheap plastic handle, and one with no handle at all.
So all told, from one broken shovel handle, I managed to make handles for 5 files and one hammer, with enough wood leftover to possibly replace the handle on one more hammer! Stay tuned!;-}
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Your price is the same, but I get a small commission to help me build more cool stuff!;-)
Participated in the
Scraps Speed Challenge