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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All!
So, I've made the decision to purchase some tools from Doug Thompson, and I want to turn my own handles. I've downloaded the PDF file by Ron McKinley on the Thompson Tools "Handles" page, so I've got a pretty good grasp on the technique required(practiced on some Bradford pear trash wood), and I understand the ferrule concept that Mr. McKinley illustrated as well. My question(s) is this: What(in your opinion) wood(s) make the best tool handles for lathe work. These handles will be used for bowl gouges(large and small) on which I plan to apply Ellsworth grinds, spindle roughing gouges, parting tools and skews. I'm primarily interested in stability and comfort, but obviously, a nice aesthetic is good, too. I was thinking along the lines of ash, as it's heavy, dense, and fairly tight grained, not to mention that I live in Louisville, Kentucky, so Louisville slugger lathe tools would be fairly appropriate. I'm open to any and all suggestions on this subject, and also any troubleshooting ideas from those who have made their own handles and know more than me. Thanks in advance, guys! I look forward to finishing these up nicely and finally sharing some pictures.
 

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I make mine with different woods to kind of color code them I guess. My small carbide set is Bubinga. My large carbide set will be Hickory. I made my handle for my bowl gouge out of Maple and its way too light. Im either gonna have to try and get it out of there or core the handle and add some lead shot for weight. Id say your fine with most hardwoods provided you insert the tool far enough and fit the ferrule properly. I just prefer a nice heavy tool.:thumbsup:
 
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I have not found a wood that's bad for tool handles. I have all sorts. My favorite is Cherry but it's just because it looks good and is fun to turn. My favorite tip for making tool handles is to drill the hole first. Then use a cone center or step center in the tailstock end to go in the hole. This keeps the hole aligned perfectly center. I've always had trouble drilling the hole perfectly centered after turning.
 

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First off, congratulations -- you've made a great decision and I'm sure you'll love Doug Thompson's tools as much as I (and many others on this board) do.

For handles, I've used walnut and maple -- simply because it's what I had at the time -- and then I got a bunch of hickory blanks (just over 2" square by 24") which I've been using since. It all seems to work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
As ever, you guys are awesome. I started this thread when I went to bed last night, and I've gotten all my questions answered before my 2 yr old wakes up. Nice. Dave, I was actually wondering about the plausibility of laminating, as it makes the handles cheaper and better looking. And John, thank you for the advice on drilling first. You probably saved me a blank or two. Thanks to everyone else for the wood suggestions, etc. I feel much more confident, and hope to have pictures up in a day or two.
 
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