Turning Archive

buying tools without handles *PIC*
Response To:
bowl turning ()

John K Jordan
>>>...after extreme excitement of receiving my gouge there was no handle so i had to order that . It would seem that the handle would be included however thanks again and am looking forward to my new handle and get rid of my problems

There are several reasons people buy tools without handles.

- The tool is less expensive and it is so quick and easy to make a handle.

- You can make a handle of the length and shape to suit yourself instead of take what someone else decided was a good compromise. I usually use long handles for big bowls and very short handles for delicate spindle and detail work.

- Many, many use purchased handles with a quick connect or set screws to hold the tool. This allows one handle to be used for more than one tool. (This can save a LOT of space if you accumulate a lot of tools - you can keep a few handles in the the rack and many tools in the drawer.)

I personally never buy a tool with a handle. Years ago I bought a number of very heavy duty commercial handles which I use for larger tools. For most tools I make metal inserts and fasten into wooden handles. I put these in long or very short handles depending how I use them.

These provide several huge advantages. One, they are almost free.

Two, I can sink much of the tool shaft deep into the handle to have a shorter and more controllable amount extending from the end of the handle. This also lets you have the same length of tool extended over the years as the tool is shortened by sharpening. I find the consistency in length translates to consistency in control.

Three, I can change from a dull tool to an identical tool in seconds and keep turning instead of having to stop to sharpen. (For example, I keep several of my favorite spindle gouges ground identically and sharpen them all at once, swapping as needed.)

These inserts are also available commercially but there are good reasons to make your own.

I made these two for spindle roughing gouges:

Here the third and fourth handles from the left use commercial inserts. The third one shows one problem with these - the insert is 1" in diameter but I prefer a smaller insert for a 1/4" tool shaft:

I make most of the inserts from steel or aluminum on the metal lathe but I've made them on the wood lathe as well from aluminum, like this one:


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