Sunday, April 25, 2010

Getting a Handle On It Part 2

There are many different shapes of handles on drawknives and personal preference and comfort will dictate the shape for you. In remaking this tool, I decided to use the previous handles as a guide. If I'd chosen to make a different shape, there are only a few dimensions that I'd need to keep, the diameters at both ends and the length.

Above is the pattern I used. I wasn't fetishistic about getting it perfect, close works fine for me. One tricky part of the turning is the cap end. Below, you can see how the original was turned. Not only does the round cap "flow" with the rest of the handle, but it sits flush to the wood on a small shoulder.

I cut the blank to final length before starting, which allows me to check that the ferrule and cap fit correctly. Most important is that the ferrule is tight, otherwise as I drive the handle into position, it can split and send me back to the lathe!

If I didn't have a small drive center, I'd flip the piece in the lathe so that I could work the cap end safely.

Here's the finished handle. I oiled it on the lathe. My choice of the curly maple was based in it sitting next to the lathe, any hardwood will most likely do.

Drilling out the core might prove to be the greatest challenge, not because it's so tough to achieve (the lathe makes it easy and accurate) but because of you have to transform the shanks size and taper into a stepped hole. This part sent me back to the lathe a few times before I got it right. I suppose that having the hole too small is preferred. For one, it will be super tight and two, if it splits during assembly at least it's easy to remove to start over!

I use a Jacobs Chuck to drill the core. I found it easiest to start with the large end.

Once the large end is drilled, I flip the handle in the lathe and replace my normal cup center on the tail stock with this handle hollow center that Nick Cook made for me (perhaps another post coming soon). It can still be done with the regular center, but the large hole makes it a tad bit awkward.

Next I'll show how I knock the handle on the drawknife.


JeremiahRenne332 said...


Greg Pennington said...

I picked up two more draw knifes today at the Nashville flea market. The one with loose handles was only $12. I was looking forward to this post to see how you handled this. No pun intended. I have 3 knives to restore. This is cool Pete. Once I have the handles off I can bend the metal to change to a bevel up knife. Yea, you converted me after 8 years of making chairs. Don't tell Curtis.

jaupnort said...

Another great post.
This opens up a whole new vista for me.
What about the handles that knife makers fabricate. Antler horn, exotic woods, etc.
Maybe with, maybe w/o ferrules and or end caps; but some real creative beautiful handles to give that old draw knive tossed in the corner and forgotten new life and sex appeal.
Thanks again Peter. This kind of post shows why your blog is the first on my favorites list.
John A.

Peter Galbert said...

12 bucks! Now that's what a good drawknife should cost! Do you plan to heat the tangs to bend them? I've done it both ways. I'll get the final post in the series up tonight so you can finish your new beauties,

I think that the sky is the limit on handle materials as long as they are comfortable and won't split. I managed to screw up about 4 handles before getting the hang of it, so practice before using that precious stuff! I've got a few knives with some more elaborate turnings, lovely stuff even in plain old maple,

jaupnort said...

I have a trailer load of apple I brought from the family farm in NE last week and should have lots of wood to practice on handles with.
Want to make a perch with some of it as I have several logs that will make into seats quite well. Hope the wood is for the legs.Should be I would think.
John A