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Turning the Handle to it's Final Dimension

Now that I have the handle roughed out, I can bring it down to its final size.  I turn the lathe up to a higher speed (something like 1100 rpm, IIRC) from here on.  First, I thickness what will be the tapered part of the handle to its dimension at the top - 5/8" (I usually stay just a bit thick - you can always take wood off, but it's tough to put it back on):

Once I've got it to this point, I bring the remainder of the handle down to finished thickness, then finish sand it - first using 100 grit, then 150 grit, then 220 grit - being careful to remove the grooves left in the wood by the last run of coarser paper.  When I'm satisfied that the handle is smooth enough, I then mark the end of the taper, then using a parting tool, thickness it to its final thickness, about 1/4" in this case (I use the measurement gathered with the drill bits and dowels from earlier to determine what dimensions to work to):

Then, using my pointed scraper and small skew chisel, I create the taper using the the cut made above, and ramp it up to the finished thickness at the top:

This last step I usually just do by eye, and it's usually close enough.  After all, I've got the small measurement for the one end, the larger measurement for the opening, and any intermediate measurements marked out and cut to approximate size with the parting tool as reference.  From there, it's just connect the thicknessed areas by ramping between them with the skew.  
I usually extend the taper 1/4" to 3/8" past where it's actually required so that I have some extra handle to mess around with if needed.  Also - it never hurts to have some extra for when the handle eventually dries out, possibly shrinking somewhat.
Did that just make ANY sense?  It's a bit harder to describe than it is to do...
At this point, I'll touch up the taper with a light touch of 150 grit paper, and the lathe work is done.  So, I thin the cut made at the top of the handle to about 3/8" or so, then use the parting tool to cut the bottom of the taper off, and remove it from the lathe.  I don't take off the part at the top of the handle yet - I'll use that for something to clamp the handle into the vise without damaging the handle when I fit the handle into the chisel socket.



Hello Leif,

I have been going over your web site with a great deal of interest.

What you are doing is fantastic and I would like to thank you for your inspiration.

I have only just gotten into woodworking, even though I had all the powered tools to do so.

But I dont have a bandsaw or tablesaw. I do have a lathe and a homemade router table.

I have been restricted to mostly turning handles and making rough cupboards for the shed.

After discovering you web site, and a few others, I went to the local trash market and got some old Taylor Chisels

and some old english plane blades.

I am in the process of making the chisels complete and when they are finished, I am going to tackle some of the planes you have fantastically documented.

As I live in Australia, I am going to use Australian Blackwood, which is very hard.

I also like your poll about tthe ecomony (I'm in the tank), have not worked for 6 months. I am a mechanical designer and I am going to create some 3d models of your planes if thats ok?

Many thanks for your effort and keep up they great woodworking that you have accomplished.....

Regards Glenn


Hi Glenn!

Glad to hear you like the site, and thanks!  I hope you find woodworking as satisfying and challenging as I have over the years.  Tools are - well - overrated.  You don't need a full shop to do good work... I've seen some absolutely incredible work that, after looking at the tools actually used - I figure the woodworking must have been done by force of will alone!

Sorry to hear you're in the tank - I put the poll up because I was curious as to the depth of the current situation.  My work - so far - has been OK, but the forecast is gloomier every day, making me very nervous indeed about my future.  I hope the best for you and that the current situation is truly short-lived.

Fight the good fight, keep up the good work, and let us see the fruits of your labor when you get them finished!


p.s.  Feel free to model or use anything on the site you want to... I only ask that anything used is only for personal and not commercial gain and that you pay it forward when you are able.