My First Socket Chisel Handle (Whee)

Everyone seems to make a handle for a handle-less socket chisel that somehow escaped the wrath of mushrooming by way of hammer. In my case, I had a 1.25″ Stanley 720 sitting around asking for some attention. I thought, hey, well, if I ever have a chance to sit down with a lathe, maybe I’ll make one.

Then Bagathon rolled around, and I asked Tom Conroy about what’s involved in making one, because he actually turns stuff and always has good advice. He said that a lathe is not really necessary, and the socket fit itself always needs a bit of tweaking, so I might just try to make one without turning.

So I decided that is what I would do, and I finally got around to it. I dug out the handy block of yellow birch that I used for my pigsticker handle, cut off a piece, marked lines through the center of each face, and then cut what sort of looks like a square tenon for the cone where the socket fits:

After tracing the approximate angle line onto each face here, I used my saw rasp to take it down to a cone. This sounds trickier than it is; all you do is work the corners first so that you have an octagonal shape, then refine it until you have a cone.

Then to fine-tune the chisel’s fit, I put the chisel on top of the cone and twisted a little:

The grime inside the socket left marks on the high spots that I could then pare off:

After a few iterations, the chisel fit, and it was off to shaping. I didn’t know what pattern to use, but I like the general contour of those yellow-handled Lee Valley chisels, so I traced that to a piece of paper, then traced that pattern onto each face:

Next time, before doing anything, I’ll mill the block down to its final extent so that I don’t have to remove as much. Because the block was much wider than the ultimate handle width, I had to saw two parallel faces off and re-mark the pattern.

But even with this, the shaping went relatively quickly, first getting down to a squarish profile:

Then doing the octagon thing again to get to a refined curve, and finally some files and sandpaper to get it smooth, I had something that looked like a handle. Here’s the more-or-less end result before finishing:

It’s not perfectly round, but it’s fairly close. I’m not sure I want perfectly round. The next handle I make will probably have a sort of oval profile.

Tom was right. This wasn’t hard at all, and it didn’t take much time, either. The only thing that was a little bit of a pain was holding the handle in place when it began to take final shape. I had to improvise some jaws to fit in the vise for that.

Plans and Guides Now Online

Here is a quick note that I have finally gotten around to putting all of the plans and guides I’ve made up on a new plans and guides page. That page includes links to the files and cross-referencing to the relevant post(s) where they may have appeared in the blog.

The page also includes saw handle templates that I’ve traced from old saws and modified for use in the saws I’ve made.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done much work in the shop lately. I have, however, made a change to my workbench–I recessed the bolts in the front so that the entire front can be flush in the future. So I just went from this:

to this, with the help of a #20 auger bit:

One of these days, I might bevel out the slight tearout here, but today is not going to be one of those days.

An Eggbeater and a Plow

So I’m back after a vacation, and I’ve been going like gangbusters on the bench modification, right?

Ha, no. I’ve just been dorking around with this Millers Falls #5A, first taking it apart to degrease:

Then I reassembled it and tested it:

By this point, you’re asking, hey wait, don’t you already have two of those things already? Correct; this drill now goes to a friend. After testing it out, I realized that it actually works better than my two #5s (I guess I’d better pay attention to them sometime). It may not be as pretty, as it is a late model with the plastic side handle (type 17, according to George Langford, but hmm, that chuck is different), but at least it’s got a side handle!

One of the tools that I’ve complained about not having from time to time is a plow plane. Well, I have one now. This story gets weird, though, because I never imagined that I would get one in this form:

Time will tell if I’m completely insane for getting a Stanley #45. This thing is as complicated as everyone says it is, and it is quite heavy, but its adjustments seem to work reasonably as a plow plane. Although I have them, I won’t be using anything but the plow cutters (Stanley, how did you even think that the beading cutters have even a remote chance of actually working?).

I set it up with the 1/4″ cutter and moved the nickers out of the way, and it seems to work pretty well. Given that the only grooves I tend to plow are 1/4″, I might just leave it like this. Thanks again to Roger for making an offer I couldn’t refuse. Even if this thing does drive me crazy, I can just pass it along to someone else for the same.

At least it’s not a #55.