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Socket Chisel Handles


First thing to do is mark out where you are going to make your cuts.  Using a drill bit as an index, I find the chisel I'm making a handle for has a socket depth of 1-1/4", is 1/4" in diameter at the bottom, and 5/8" diameter at the opening.  The taper to this socket is consistent for it's entire depth - something you need to check...  I have another handle I just made that consisted of 2 separate tapers - the first went from nothing to 1/4" in half of an inch, then the last inch of depth went from there to 1/2" diameter, making it necessary to increase the taper at 1" deep.  

This diagram is an attempt to show the differences in the two types of sockets I am describing above:
When determining the depth and taper of the socket, I use a drill bit of the smallest diameter that will fit snugly in at the bottom of the socket.  I make a note of the size of the drill bit, and how deep it goes in.  For the first type above, all that's left is to measure the diameter of the opening, then transfer those measurements to the handle being turned,  For the second type above, I try a series of different sized drill bits or dowels and note at which depth they stop. and then transfer those measurements to the handle.

Here's a tip from Stephen Shepherd - use play-doh to find the shape of the socket.... 

This one's easy, as the taper is consistent, as I mentioned.

Roughing Up the Handle

For a handle shape, I use a Stanley 750 as a pattern, but generally make them a bit longer, and don't include rawhide washers, as the ones I'm making are all going to be used for paring.

With the lathe set for a slow speed (about 750 rpm), I start an "indexing cut" for referencing the proper diameter at the top of the taper using the parting tool, turning it down to about 3/4" - or about 1/8" larger than the finished diameter of the top of the socket:

Once I have the diameter about right, I continue that diamter to the end of where the socket is, and start the return going the other way.

This gives me a rough idea of the size of the handle near the socket, and allows me to rough in the shape of the rest of the handle using a gouge.  I also pick a spot that will be the top of the chisel handle, and use a parting tool to turn it to just enough that it will hold together while I'm turning the rest of the handle:

I then turn the diameter of the handle itself down to about 1/8" over thickness.  The actual thickness isn't that important - I just stop the lathe every so often and "try it out" with my hand to see if its comfortable.