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Advice on chisel handles

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Forum topic by Kenny posted 854 days ago 1707 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kenny

260 posts in 1044 days


854 days ago

I recently picked up a couple old socket chisels. They are just a mismatched set of 3, being 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2” in size. They’ve been cleaned, reground and honed to perfection and now look great and work just as well.

Only problem, the handles don’t match and aren’t in the best of shape. So, I picked out a nice big, long chunk of maple to turn myself a new set.

However, I do have some questions.

First, I’ve seen several different handle designs. For instance, Lie-Nielsen and Blue Spruce use a rounded top on their handles.

Others like ECE and Narex use a flat top with a steel band.

Which is the better way to go for a set of bench chisels that will do basically everything from general chopping and paring to cutting and cleaning mortises? (pre-drilled mortises) I’d like for them to stand up to some mallet blows and such (not severe pounding, but general use), so I wonder if the steel ring may be of benefit?
On the same note, if the rings won’t be as comfortable and aren’t really necessary, I may opt to avoid them.

I’m also considering making some longer handles for paring and such. What would be a good length for this?

I do plan to pick up a set of 3 Narex Mortise chisels so as not to beat my bench chisels to death unnecessarily.

Thanks for any suggestions given.

-- Kenny


10 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

9571 posts in 1214 days


#1 posted 854 days ago

Top two pictured are socket chisels, with the second of them set for use in paring operations. The third is a tang chisel, and rings are often found on those but not on sockets…

You picked up sockets, and for the uses you mention, the LN style makes sense. It’ll hold up to pretty heavy mallet blows depending on quality of material used in the handle. Best of all, if it shatters it’s easy to make a new handle. That’s the beauty of of the socket style.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2130 posts in 1705 days


#2 posted 854 days ago

Kenny, a good resource on handle making is Swirt. In one of his chisel making blogs, he referenced an online article on making socket chisel handles

David.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1044 days


#3 posted 854 days ago

David, thanks. Some good ideas there.

Smitty, the strike-end rings are actually found on many socket chisels. If you’ve ever seen Japanese chisels, you’ll note that many are socket design and nearly all have the steel bands on the back end.

I agree that when it comes to common US, English, German and other similar chisels, the steel bands are more common to the tang design. Where as sockets usually were equipped with leather washers or some other form of padding a the top, or left with a rounded wooden end as is shown in the L-N design.

But, since I am making these, and I don’t really care about being “type correct”, I would use the steel bands if there was enough benefit. And I guess that is what I am looking to find out; if there really is enough benefit to the metal band to warrant the trouble of including them on my new handles.

Thanks again

-- Kenny

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

9571 posts in 1214 days


#4 posted 854 days ago

That makes you more knowledgeable than I am, Kenny! Hope you find the answers you’re looking for! :-)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View hhhopks's profile

hhhopks

558 posts in 973 days


#5 posted 854 days ago

If you have to hit them and hold them, may be handles with leather washers is the way to go. Since you are making them anyway, you can put an extra layer of washer. I have made couple of those, and they seem to be pretty good.

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1044 days


#6 posted 854 days ago

hhhopks, I appreciate the suggestion. Only problem, I haven’t a clue how they attached the washers. I know it wasn’t anything that can’t be replicated, but I’m not familiar with how it was done.

If someone knows, I’m all ears!

Thanks!

-- Kenny

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2130 posts in 1705 days


#7 posted 854 days ago

Kenny, this might help – web tutorial on creating leather washers for chisel handles.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1594 days


#8 posted 854 days ago

The washers go on a tenon and are punched out of full grain leather. Then they are stacked on and glued. Final sanding to shape. Same finish as the wood.

I personally prefer metal hoops on mine or just plain wood. Plain wood for paring chisels and metal for any that are going to get whacked on a regular basis. They just hold up a lot better. For steel ones, the easy way is to plan for them by cutting a tenon sized to fit rings cut from tubing. EMT works ok. My favorite ones were when I had picked up piece of brass pipe at the scrap yard and turned them down after mounting them on the handle.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View Loren's profile

Loren

7223 posts in 2244 days


#9 posted 854 days ago

Most of my wood-handled chisels are hooped. Only the various
specialized paring chisels are not. I simply don’t see the appeal
of a chisel with a blade forged for pounding and a handle
which cannot take it.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View hhhopks's profile

hhhopks

558 posts in 973 days


#10 posted 853 days ago

Handle with leather washers:

If it has been done, I’ll do a blog on it. It isn’t hard. I am sure someone had already done it.
The basic blank shold be turned with a 1/2” dowel stem at one end (about 1” or so long).
You should attache (glue) the washer on first before you start doing turning of your handle.

The leather washers may be puch out or hand cut.
I actually have grind down a spade bit do that it has a double cutting blade (one for the inner and one for the outter circuit fitted on a drill press. Use thick leather (1/8” or more) from the hobby store (scrapes).

When you turn your handle, your can turn the leather as well. It will cut differently. I always have more layers then what I actually need because the washers have a tendency to “mushroom” on you. I cut the mushroom portion out. I have tried to avoid finish on the washers, but have given up as I always manage to get in on them anyway. Upon examining old handles with washers, I think they too have finish on them too.

This link should gives you all the details that you need on making a handle with leather washers.
http://www.wkfinetools.com/contrib/jThompson/restore/ChiselHandles/leatherWHandle1.asp

-- I'll be a woodworker when I grow up. HHHOPKS

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