Making chisel handles with no lathe

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Forum topic by ColonelTravis posted 07-10-2014 01:08 AM 4051 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1756 posts in 1860 days

07-10-2014 01:08 AM

Topic tags/keywords: chisel handle no lathe

No lathe now, and I see a latheless future. But I need a few chisel handles. First time I’ve tried this and the result for Test #1 wasn’t too bad – kinda boring design, plenty of flaws and room for improvement. Principle struggle was getting the tapering even all around, which almost happened but didn’t – any tips for that?

What I’m working with:

11 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1788 posts in 2283 days

#1 posted 07-10-2014 01:20 AM

I like the tapered octagon. Start with square stock then plane the corners but taper from the back, down to the ferrule. They look a little like Two Cherries but have a stronger taper.

-- See my work at and

View Pendragon1998's profile


74 posts in 1542 days

#2 posted 07-10-2014 04:36 AM

For a few pieces, perhaps this would work:

Building a Hand Drill Lathe (How To)

Building a Horizontal Power Drill Mount

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8165 posts in 2543 days

#3 posted 07-10-2014 04:42 AM

Mr. Rojo has a cool blog on making handles without

a lathe.


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1756 posts in 1860 days

#4 posted 07-10-2014 06:07 AM

Totally ignorant of Red’s tutorial, thanks. Forgot to mention – no drill press. I do have a drill and could go the makeshift route, which is funny because all I’ve been doing lately is making things so I can make things that make things. What’s one more level!

Don’t anticipate much turning in my life, maybe it’s time for some 20% Harbor Freight action. But a drill press will be more versatile and probably a smarter buy.

But I thank everyone for the input.

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3783 posts in 1927 days

#5 posted 07-10-2014 05:40 PM

Here's an article by Don McConnell about making traditional octagonal handles.

Here’s another with some discussion and some more links:

It’s a no lathe, no drill press option.

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1756 posts in 1860 days

#6 posted 07-10-2014 05:55 PM

Tim – excellent, thanks. The octagon part is easy, the tapering had me stumped.

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8165 posts in 2543 days

#7 posted 07-10-2014 07:53 PM

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1756 posts in 1860 days

#8 posted 07-10-2014 08:32 PM

I really enjoy the wkfinetools site. Lots of great information over there written by normal people like the guy who did that jig, which I had totally missed even though I had skimmed (key word) through his page of links:

Whathahellyawantapictureofmyfacefor? I got handles to make!

View Jerry Dye's profile

Jerry Dye

9 posts in 3027 days

#9 posted 07-11-2014 12:24 PM

I picked up a Harbor Freight 8 X 12 inch bench top lathe a few weeks ago for about $100.00 new from the store just for turning handles. This is a good lathe tho a bit under-powered. I had sold my big lathe some time ago because I used it too little and because it took up space I could use better.

-- jerryd

View bigblockyeti's profile


5094 posts in 1687 days

#10 posted 07-11-2014 01:08 PM

Is there any way you could chuck up the handle in a drill? Maybe with a bolt or screw in the end opposite where you’re trying to create the taper? If you could, you can use a disc or belt sander to form the taper.

View helluvawreck's profile


30765 posts in 2833 days

#11 posted 07-11-2014 06:51 PM

It would not be difficult to build a small lathe that would be adequate to turn projects such as tool handles and furniture knobs, box feet and so forth. However, you can probably find a used small lathe on the market for under a hundred bucks that originally cost as much as 3 times that. A lot of people buy lathes and only use them a few times before they loose interest and then they just sit there and gather dust. If you want to do a little turning I would keep my eyes open and one will show up before you know it.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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