Tool Mod #4: Making new chisel handles

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Blog entry by swirt posted 12-10-2010 10:01 PM 5228 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: New Chisel Handles Part 4 of Tool Mod series Part 5: CHEAP spokeshave tune-up »

A week or so back I posted the end results of my venture into making new chisel handles for my old socket chisels here. With the promise that I would show the method I used. So here is the method I used in making new socket chisel handles with octagonal flats.

I made a template to mark out the lengths I needed. I found it easier to get repeatability with a flat template than by holding the model handle up to the blank on the lathe.

I then use calipers and a pencil to determine the diameters and depth of the socket needs a matching tenon.

Use the pencil eraser end, not the pointy end to determine the depth.

I used a card scarper to cut four flats which, on a circle, comes real close to approximating an octagon … more comfortable than an octagon too.

Once the flats were cut, I put it back on the lathe to sand, burnish and finish with shellac.

After cutting off the nubs on each end (is there a turning word for the end pieces that go to scrap on the end of a spindle?) with a flush cut saw, I use a file to fine tune the fit of the tenon into the socket.

Wipe sweat from brow, repeat until all handles are done.

More details and tips can be found in the source: Making chisel handles

-- Galootish log blog,

6 comments so far

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3053 days

#1 posted 12-10-2010 10:07 PM


I used almost that same exact method in making a screwdriver handle a while back.


It is an effective way to make a handle that 1) will not roll of of the workbench and 2) is easy to get a grip on. The main difference in my method is that I use a powered lathe.

One question, have you considered adding a ferrule to the end of the handles to prevent mushrooming and or splitting from hitting them with a mallet? It is prett easy to do.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View swirt's profile


2731 posts in 2966 days

#2 posted 12-10-2010 10:21 PM

I have considered the ferule. I am leaving them off for now because more often than not (at least for many of my chisels) I am using them by hand and I don’t like the way the ferules always seem to be there digging into my hand. I think if any of them need it, it is my big 1-1/2” firmer chisel which is a bit of a crossover between a firmer and a timberframing chisel. I do use it to pare with but there are times when it might need to take more of a beating. I plan to make another handle for it with a ferule. That’s kind of the beauty of the socket handle, it is super easy to exchange handles.

I’d love to find a source of metal caps that could smoothly cover the end of the handle and still feel good in your hand. Similar in style to the Stanley Everlasting chisel.

I have not found anything suitable for it. I’ve looked at nail on furniture feet but none of them are the right size or heft.

-- Galootish log blog,

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3083 days

#3 posted 12-10-2010 11:44 PM

Thank you for sharing.
I love that lathe of yours, and to see how you are getting perfect results is a pleasure.
Best thoughts,

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#4 posted 12-11-2010 02:38 AM

you realy seems to have cought the idea behind a lathe…LOL
and coming well after it , thank´s for sharing Steve

take care

View swirt's profile


2731 posts in 2966 days

#5 posted 12-11-2010 08:01 AM

Thank you both for your kind words. I do enjoy using my simple lathe. It is a bit of fun. Still a long way from getting perfect results, but the results are functional and please me. The funny part is, I can tell when I have been using it too much…my leg starts to hurt. BUT it is not the leg that runs the lathe that hurts, it is the leg that holds me up while the other leg is running the lathe. Apparently holding me up is a lot of work. ;)

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3109 days

#6 posted 12-11-2010 08:26 AM

well handtool work isn´t a execise and hard work I think it was Cosmo
that said its a lifestile change….LOL


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