I was making replacement handles for my chisels. I tried the sockets and tang versions with good results. I got some old chisel handles that had leather washers at the other end. I was curious if I could make them too. I did the usual searches and had found great information. Since several LJ members is curious about the how they were cut, I have decided that I’ll post the process here.
How the leather washers look really desn’t matter. It is an intermediate step of the chisel handle construction. After gluing up the washer on to the blank I put it back on the lathe to turn it to shape the profile. I have tried the two methods below, It will work just fine but seems a bit too time consuming, if you have a lot of washers to cut. Also if you want the circles cut out neatly and centered, there will be issues. The methods are:
#1. Drill a hole and cut out the perimeter with scissors. The center hole is not very clean and the hand cut edges are horrible.
#2. Use a leather hole punch. The center one is easy but I didn’t have money for the large punch for the outer circle so I am back to the scissors.
The method that I come up with will speed up process and also improves the quality of the washer. I also kept a watchful eye on the budget. I believe the process is actually very simple. I use a modified large spade bit. I have purchased a large spade bit set from HF. Selected one with a larger diameter and grinded away. I am far from being any kind of expert on metal working but the task really doesn’t require that level of expertise.
After the grind, I have two cutters that stick down from the main body of the spade bit. They are spaced to the approximate inner diameter and outer diameter of the washers desired. The inner cutter is a bit longer than the outer cutter. I think there is an approximately 1/16” differences. This will ensure that the inner circle completes the cut before the outer circle gets done, otherwise the center hole may not get cut completely. I hand sharpen the cutters with a file and stones. You will have to make sure you sharpen on the leading edge per the rotation of the drill press (same as conventional bits) of the cutter blade. Since it is a quality HF blade, stroping and honing is often necessary during batch jobs.
Put the bit on your drill press and pretty much use it as though you are drill holes on wood except:
You want to use a sacrificial board underneath and a HOLD-DOWN PLATE is necessary. The bit has a tendency to grab the leather and pull on it. It is a bit too scary for me to try to hold the leather by hand and the leather gets pulled. The hold-down plate is just a piece of scrap board with a larger diameter hole to permit the bit to get through. Hand pressure should be adequate to hold the leather in place and your hands will be farther away from the bit.
Inner & outer circles are centered and are cut with speed.
Leather washers in use on hand tools.
Leather washers are glued and stacked on to the handle blank.
It all starts with a junk spade bit (HF specials).
The bit is grinded with a profile as shown. Note that the inner blade is slightly longer.
The blade is then sharpened with a file and honed.
The bit is place on a drill press. The picture illustrates how the blade cut into the leather to form the washer.
The back drop, piece of plywood is my fancy jig, the “HOLDDOWN PLATE”. The hole is where the bit suppose to go through. You have a sacrificial board underneath the leather. Right? The plate will allow you to safely hold the leather in place and prevents the bit from pulling leather (and maybe your hand) into the spinning bit.
Alternative just get some bird toy. but making your own cutter does allow you with the freedom of getting the dimensions that you want and the type of leather to be used.
Oh yea, I buy my scrap leather from hobby lobby with their weekly coupon (40-50 % off)
-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS