James Swan Firmer Chisel Handle

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Project by Thomas Mitchell posted 11-05-2010 05:00 PM 6350 views 5 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I bought two James Swan firmer Chisels off of Ebay a while ago with the intention of making a pair of skew chisels for cleaning out dovetails. I did a lot of searching on the internet for a ferrel to use on the handle but could only find the cheap brass tube with the end rounded over. That would not be good enough for my intentions. I decided that I would make my own. I chose to make the ferrel for these chisels out of Aluminum Bronze (some material I had lying around from my days as a tool and die maker). The wood I used for the chisel handles is Desert Ironwood and man is it beautiful. I finished the handle with paste wax and was sure to coat the ferrel as I don’t want it to oxidize right away. I am going to make a few more of these ferrels in 316 stainless steel and 1018 steel with a black finish for some other chisel and files that need handles. If you want one PM me. Thanks for looking at my post

-- "if you can't set a good example, at least serve as a horrible warning"

13 comments so far

View 4hisglory's profile


73 posts in 3473 days

#1 posted 11-05-2010 05:03 PM

Beautiful to say the least.

-- 3rd generation craftsman ~

View PaBull's profile


956 posts in 3688 days

#2 posted 11-05-2010 05:14 PM

OOOOOhhh, looking very nice!!!

All I come up with on my marking knife was a piece of copper tubing, this is a lot better.

Thanks for the post.

-- rhykenologist and plant grower

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3064 days

#3 posted 11-05-2010 05:16 PM

Very Nice !!!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3021 days

#4 posted 11-05-2010 05:27 PM

I like to use brass plumbing fittings to make the ferrules. Usually compression fittings or reducers work pretty well.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2804 days

#5 posted 11-05-2010 05:45 PM

That is some beautiful work ! Afraid I’m still at the copper or brass pipe stage.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3270 days

#6 posted 11-05-2010 06:30 PM

Beautiful! Just beautiful!

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View swirt's profile


2773 posts in 2995 days

#7 posted 11-05-2010 07:45 PM

Great looking result. At the risk of sounding stupid, what is Aluminum Bronze and what properties does it have that make it good for ferules?

-- Galootish log blog,

View JamieH's profile


52 posts in 2822 days

#8 posted 11-05-2010 08:42 PM

Wow..looks elegant..I’d be afraid to ding the handle!

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3113 days

#9 posted 11-06-2010 01:08 AM

Way too beautiful!
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2997 days

#10 posted 11-06-2010 03:06 AM

Wow, those are purdy
great job

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View AttainableApex's profile


347 posts in 2856 days

#11 posted 11-06-2010 08:15 AM

beautiful wood and handle.
wish i had more nice wood to make handles for my tools.
got a couple i made but would love them to be in some beautiful wood.

-- Ben L

View Thomas Mitchell's profile

Thomas Mitchell

17 posts in 3008 days

#12 posted 11-07-2010 04:46 PM

Thank you to all for the great comments!

Swirt, When I was thinking of what material to use for a ferrel I rated all materials I had just lying around. My choices were Steel, Brass, Copper, and Aluminum Bronze. Steel would also have been a good choice but I did not want it to blend in with the chisel. Brass and Copper were too soft for my liking as they would ding to easy and I did not want the brassy or redish color of either. Aluminum Bronze or Ampco (actually nickel-aluminium bronze) used for the ferrel is a much harder material than brass or copper. It is very resistant to abrasive wear, friction, deformation, and chemical erosion. It is commonly used for striking tools like punches, chisels, and hammers that are used in environments where a spark could ignite whatever is being worked on. I am sure it is way over kill for use as a chisel ferrel but the fact that it does not ding as easy as the copper or brass and the color was just what I was looking for, I thought it would be a good choice. I am going to make some out of 316 stainless once my material gets here for some file handles.

-- "if you can't set a good example, at least serve as a horrible warning"

View Thomas Mitchell's profile

Thomas Mitchell

17 posts in 3008 days

#13 posted 01-14-2011 03:26 AM

The chisel ferrules are finished! I have listed them in the Trade/Swap forum section.

-- "if you can't set a good example, at least serve as a horrible warning"

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