Making Best London Pattern Octagonal Chisel Handles.


Gouge handles too. Files even, if you're feeling really posh... I had no good reason for doing this at all, except I'd seen it done by someone else, went "oooo" and rather fancied getting the same reaction when people looked at my tool cabinet. Once I've built one... It's also a good opportunity to play about with exotics that are a bit pricey in furniture-making sizes. Naturally this isn't the only way to do it, or the best way, or probably not even a good way, but it is "A" way.

Top, we have Ze Master Handle, Best London Octagon Box. Below, a Common Octagon Box, like wot we Londoners look down our noses at wiv scorn. Probably. Little easier to make, mind you.
Now just in case you don't have A Master Handle handy about your person, I've made SketchUp suffer a bit in order to run up a quick, and not wholly accurate, measured drawing. That is the measurements are right, but the shape... I look on it as a rough guide - mainly 'cos I have no hope of getting my turning ability (which is rather like my ability with SU) to actually do exactly what I want. Anyway, it's a start.
The fun bit is selecting the wood. I wanted close grain, as resilient as possible, but also lots of colours. Yeah, yeah, so I could have picked something ideal, pale and cheap and had fun with a kaleidoscope of rainbow pigments courtesy of stains and such, but I didn't. Instead I had fun with, in the main, the Axminster catalogue's turning blanks. Might have to get some purpleheart for the next run...
I made 'em into 1 1/8" squares, 'cos that works out to the size I like, but experiment. At this point it's worth mentioning that traditionally you have handle sizes corresponding to the chisel size, but unfortunately I have only one size of hand... I think one reason is probably to accommodate the different sizes of ferrule elegantly; I struggle a bit with any significant bulge above the ferrule on the largest size, and the smallest can look a little overwhelmed. Up to the individual, when all's said and done. That's rather the point of making your own chisel handles...
Being a lazy devil, and with quite a few to do, I bandsawed off the corners to make the octagonal blanks. You may wish to plane them octagonal, use a tablesaur, whatever.
Et voilą. Just the job for a colourful forum avatar.
But gotta think turning now, so the centres marked in the usual way and then I drilled the pilot hole for the screw chuck. That's about as fancy as my lathe work holding gets, and that's only 'cos I prefer to bore the tang holes on the lathe. If I was any good at all at boring them accurately off the lathe I could do the whole thing between ordinary centres. If I wasn't a skin flint when it comes to lathe tools I'd get a proper chuck and maybe speed things up a bit. So off to the lathe...

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