Making Chisel Handles

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Forum topic by BubbaIBA posted 02-12-2012 03:59 PM 2977 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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387 posts in 2343 days

02-12-2012 03:59 PM

I spent yesterday doing shop maintenance and making planes and handles for some of my chisels. All you turners don’t get the giggles over my turning….chisel handles are about the end of my turning skills….I’m happy if they fit. A couple are turned from some scrap mahogany I’ve shlepped around for 30 some odd years, the others are from a left over piece of ash.

Most of the chisels were flea market or eBay specials with no handle, BTW if any of you have some “Union” chisels made in Connecticut that you do not want, I’m always looking.

Anyway, finished with BLO and shellac and most were lapped and re-beveled as I made the handles….it was a busy day.

8 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4904 posts in 3926 days

#1 posted 02-12-2012 06:01 PM

Well done old boy!
I made a bunch of my chisel handles from dogwood. If ya haven’t tried it, ya should. That stuff makes some sweet tool handles. Hard, tough, and finishes well with oil/wax.
Oh. Glad to see you using holdfasts. I sometimes marvel at the simplicity of technique from the old guys.


View hairy's profile


2655 posts in 3498 days

#2 posted 02-12-2012 06:57 PM

Real cool! I started into turning to do chisel and tool handles, then it all went downhill from there. My favorite tools have handles I made. Those are all sweet!

-- My reality check bounced...

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3081 days

#3 posted 02-12-2012 07:33 PM

great job giving those cheisels there life back :-)
excuse for saying … donĀ“t get too surpriced if you need to change the handle
on the pigsticker way before the others
since ash is stronger used in hammers etc.

looking forward to see them spiting projects out :-)

take care

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2343 days

#4 posted 02-12-2012 07:52 PM

Thanks guys,

I’ll see if I can find some dogwood….most of the time I just use whatever is close to the right size in my cutoff bucket. Figure if it doesn’t hold up i’ll just make another one, the one exception is making a handle for the pig stickers, too much work and I know what kind of abuse they get, I’ll usually use ash for them.

I like old iron, I think it takes a better edge and it is much easier to hone a good edge on the old stuff….they will not hold the edge as long as the newer irons but the good ones will hold their sharpness long enough and with a quick strop are ready to go again. I run through a lot of chisels, keep the ones with good iron, use the others to open paint cans or get rid of ‘em. That way I have better iron, handles that fit my hand and the job, and even with the throw aways it’s heck of a lot cheaper than buying new, it’s win, win.

View NateX's profile


98 posts in 2962 days

#5 posted 02-13-2012 09:52 PM

That’s a beautiful collection you have. Looks like a picture out of a Christopher Schwarz book.

View waho6o9's profile


8165 posts in 2543 days

#6 posted 02-13-2012 09:54 PM

Nothing like home made tools, well done.

View JimiThing's profile


22 posts in 2551 days

#7 posted 02-21-2012 08:35 AM

I may have 1 or 2 old union chisels… I recently acquired a full/partial set of 8 stanley 720’s so I am feeling generous with getting rid of my other makes, and unions never been a favorite of mine…. why do you like them so much? just wondering?

-- Got Wood?

View BubbaIBA's profile


387 posts in 2343 days

#8 posted 02-21-2012 11:31 AM

I like old iron, Union Hardware is just one of many, in general I think old iron takes a better edge, easier and will hold it long enough. I also like the “thinness” of Union Hardware blades and because Union Hardware chisels are not among the “collector” chisels they have good value.

The first one I bought was in a mixed lot of chisels, it was about an inch wide, pretty nondescript but sharp enough to use for cleaning up glue lines and other shop uses just short of opening paint cans. Over time I noticed I would keep going back to it for lots of different jobs because it felt good and was well balanced and even with the abuse it stayed sharp, that’s when I finally lapped the back, set the bevel and honed it, made a really good chisel but I lost my favorite glue line cleaner :-). It and the other Union Hardwares I’ve added are good solid user chisels, as good as or better than some of the collector chisels.

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