Making handles for tapered tangs

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Blog entry by hairy posted 06-30-2011 01:07 AM 4487 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I get a kick out of making tool handles. I’ve been putting handles on the files I use the most. The traditional method to fit a handle to a tapered tang is to drill a small hole, heat the tang and drive it on, then repeat the process until you get a good fit. I use another method.

The first step is to mount the blank in a chuck, and turn it to a cylinder. The hole is drilled before shaping the handle.

I measure the tang with a drill index. I use a white pencil to mark 3 dimensions, roughly 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 of the length of the tang. I mark bits of those sizes for the depth I want to drill. I have the bits lined up to show how deep to drill.

The smallest bit is drilled first, to a depth roughly 1/4” deeper than than the total length of the tang. The next bits get drilled to the marked depth.

I use a cone live center in the hole for tailstock support, and turn the handle to shape. If I am going to use a ferrule, I put that on before shaping the handle. I’m skipping the photo’s for that step in this blog, but it’s basically the same as this project.

I part it off and clean up the handle end in a chuck.

That’s about all there is to it. They are a good tight fit, and you can glue them in if you want. Here’s a chisel I picked up at a flea market. The old handle was loose and cracked. I use it to cut a groove when I burn a line into a turning. It’s also good for a small parting tool.

And a few other handles done the same way.

-- stay thirsty my friends...

7 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2765 days

#1 posted 06-30-2011 01:18 AM

Looks good.

View lew's profile


10701 posts in 2847 days

#2 posted 06-30-2011 01:32 AM

Thanks! I wondered how this was done.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2207 days

#3 posted 06-30-2011 01:53 AM

hey those files looks good now :-)

if you want to make the hole fit longer tangs or flat tangs Like on a knife then
take a looke at the blog Mads (Mafe) made about how to make a nordick knife


View Roger's profile


17851 posts in 1896 days

#4 posted 06-30-2011 02:11 PM

great “how-to” Hairy. I’ve got a few files that need handles. your way looks simple. thnx for posting

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe.

View Bertha's profile


12982 posts in 1785 days

#5 posted 06-30-2011 02:51 PM

Wow. Those are some nice looking tools, Hairy. I’ve got some tapered bits for a bit brace. I’ve been wondering how to install them in the lathe. I haven’t yet seen an auger head for the tailstock;) Nice job here.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View hairy's profile


2256 posts in 2624 days

#6 posted 06-30-2011 03:20 PM

Thanks, fellas!

Bertha, if this is what you are calling an auger head, you can get it at Harbor Freight.

-- stay thirsty my friends...

View Bertha's profile


12982 posts in 1785 days

#7 posted 06-30-2011 03:41 PM

Thanks Hairy, I’ve got the regular chuck like pictured. I meant more like a bit brace head that accommodates the old design auger shafts. I’ve tried to chuck one into my normal chuck and it’s difficult to align. I’ll probably just switch to your method, as it gives the added bonus of little gripping edges left by the small step between bits. Really great idea.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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