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DIY tool handle?

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Have some steel bars that I want to turn into Bedan tools. What wood do you use for handles? Thanks.
 
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Thanks. I have a Lowe's store close. Will look to see what they have that might be comparable. Oak is common but, to me, hard to get a good turn and finish. I'll check and see. I'll check my wood inventory (sounds more sophisticated than stash) and see what I have.
 
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Dogwood
 

Roger Wiegand

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Virtually anything will work from a functional point of view, so pick what you like. Most of mine are maple, walnut, and cherry because I like them and because I typically have a piece around when I need a handle.
 
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You can also make durable tool handles from Aluminum, Delrin, Nylon on a wood lathe. A good solid piece of wood is your most cost effective option, I turned plenty of tool handles from select pine and laminated pine. If you want a wall hanger move up to your more expensive woods for grain quality or strength. (Maple, Walnut, Hickory, Mahogany, Oak, Ash, Cherry) Harvesting local available wood and processing the logs into different sizes of billets provides the woodturner with plenty of options down the road. A good selection of spindle billets of various sizes in diameter and length opens your options for projects to turn on a lathe. You can never have too much wood. :)
 

hockenbery

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I use what I get/have. Most any of the harder hardwoods work well. ( I would avoid poplar & other soft hardwoods)
My bowl gouges are cherry & Sapele. I have several other tools with Purple Heart handles.
Purple Heart is a little too heavy for a gouge handle.

One of the club members brings a truckload of cut offs to every other meeting.
Lots of 2x2 Sapele in suitable lengths for handles.
So my new Robust and Jamieson bowl gouges all sport sapeli handles.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 3, 2012
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New City, NY
I’m just about done making wooden handles and all the room they take up and in some cases make sharpening a little difficult.
I am moving most of my turning tools to a 3/4 insert that fits a cam lock handle. This handle also has a detachable extension as well. Currently, I’m working on a 10 inch long cam handle that will complete my handle Arsenal.
 
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I was going to say firewood is the best wood for tool handles. But, if you are going to be used square bar stock for the bedan tool, it's easier to use a router bit and plough a groove in two boards and then laminate them together. Square bar slides and and can be held with epoxy.
 

Bill Boehme

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Bois D Arc’ (French)
Osage orange (Yankee)
Bo-dark (Texan)
Great handle material

Texas A&M says that the preferred name is Osage Orange, but since I am a native Texian, I have always called it (as you correctly state) Bo-dark (my baby brudder called it Boar-Dak). The French spelling is Bois d'arc although the Internet is full of misspellings. It's pretty common along creek beds in south central Texas and I learned pretty early on that you shouldn't try to break a limb by bending it ... even if it has been laying on the ground for a few years. I learned why it was considered great for making bows by the native Americans.
 

hockenbery

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Texas A&M says that the preferred name is Osage Orange, but since I am a native Texian, I have always called it (as you correctly state) Bo-dark

a bit of trivia - Osage Orange was introduced to science as the Osage Apple by Lewis and Clark.
They sent cuttings to Jefferson and Osage orange was subsequently planted all across the northeast often as a living fence. Must have been better than barbed wire as It sports 2” long thorns 2” which make cutting a downed tree interesting.
 
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The Osage is native to north Texas and south Oklahoma. I have a couple of them starting. The younger trees have thorns on them, but the older ones do not seem to have them. Same with Black Locust, but nothing compared to the thorns on the Honey Locust, the wild version, which can be 8 to 12 inches long and can puncture tractor tires. The 'hedge' tree name came about during the depression of 1928 or so. A bunch of it was planted along fence lines to help control dust erosion. A lot of it was planted along wagon train routes as it made excellent wagon wheel spokes. "A black locust fence post will wear out one fence post hole. An osage fence post will wear out two fence post holes." The osage is also used as a dye for fabric and other stuff. Had a young woman at a craft show with hair the same color as the osage tree tell me all about that.. Had a friend who was in Yugoslavia tell me about osage trees over there, down town in a big city that were 24 inch diameter...

robo hippy
 
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Bois d'arc (wood of the bow) Named by French explorers traveling amongst the Osage Indians who lived along the Red River (Oklahoma Texas and Arkansas) named the tree and the mountains (Ozark) Osage orange probably referred to the fruit of this tree it resembles a large green orange. The “orange”is the seed pod and contains lots of seeds. An enterprising man who lived in Fannin County Texas (on the Red River) would collect these seed take them to the mid west and sell them for $25 per pound. Scrape a trench around your field sprinkle in the seeds closely together cover when the saplings appeared start weaving the branches together. In three or four years you would have a hedge that would turn a Hog. Hence the name Hedge Apple.
the invention of Bob War (Barbed Wire) ruined this enterprise.
West wagon works made wagon wheels from Bo Dark. Telegraph companies used it for cross arms on the poles. It also makes great tool handles.
 

Randy Anderson

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Off topic a bit but, there's a couple of pieces of it sitting next to me on my shop floor ready to turn. A tough turn when green but these are well aged and drier so they will wear me out turning them. Working on my motivation....
 

hockenbery

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Off topic a bit but, there's a couple of pieces of it sitting next to me on my shop floor ready to turn. A tough turn when green but these are well aged and drier so they will wear me out turning them. Working on my motivation....
I know you will let the tools do the work.
When the tools are working it takes longer to cut dry wood but no more effort per unit time than wet wood.
need to control the dust a lot more.
 

John Jordan

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I have 28 acres of osage orange, some of it huge, and have turned a lot of it over the years, though not usually from my property. A couple of things-the thorns are about 3/4" to 1" long, and they grow on any age tree, but only on the new growth, they are hell on mower tires. They sprout new growth all over, including roots that are many feet away. Tough stuff to kill. It turns great and makes fine tool handles. I make metalworking mallets with it. Drop by and I'll give you some. I have a giant log laying here the tree guy dropped off. I thought the local club guys would come get some, but only one guy came. It will be here a long time, so bring your saw if you're going through Nashville.
 
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Well, the osage and black locust thorns are nothing compared to the wild honey locust thorns....

I did make a couple of handles from cabinet grade plywood. Work just fine....

robo hippy
 
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Umm, I can't remember... I do have a video or two up on tool handles. Can't remember if I did the plywood one in there or not. 1/2 or 3/4 apple ply or baltic birch will work. I know I did one on handles for square tanged tools, which to me are scrapers, skews, and bedan type tools. I make a sandwich type handle. The middle section is the exact thickness of the shaft of the tool I am putting in. Cut out a slot on the bandsaw for depth and width, then glue it up and turn.

robo hippy
 
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In past years I have purchased baseball bat billets and cutoff drops in various lengths. Depending on the bats they turn shorter models leave longer drops.
 

Randy Anderson

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I wanted to convert one of my metal handles to wooden handle with a collet to change out gouges. No good reason other than I like wooden handles. Robust sells one but it's way to expensive. I bought a collet chuck and collet on Amazon but the collet chuck nut was not machined correctly and sent it back. Anyone built their own with a hand tighten collet chuck setup? I know I could get the sleeve type and make a knob for the set screw as well but wanted to try the collet chuck style if can do for a reasonable price. I don't want lots of handles, just two. One for my 5/8 gouges and one for my 1/2 gouges. Rest of my stuff can live with permanent handles.
 
Joined
Aug 6, 2009
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Lummi Island, WA
I've got one Robust collet handle - the long one - and like it a lot, but for most of my tools I use DIY handles using a Hoseluk set screw style adapter. They work great, I'm used to the set screws since most of the handles I use regularly - both DIY and D-Way - have them, and its easy in and out for sharpening. I use the D-Way quick change knobs on several handles that are used on tools that get sharpened a lot...
 
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Why not use iron wood since most parts of the country/World have a species they call iron Wood. The local iron wood in MN is American hornbeam, which is plain white sap wood with brown heart wood and it is very hard. The tree gets to only about 8" diameter in the MN lakes country. I recently harvested a nice straight one and made it into about 25 turning squares 30" long which I will be able to use in about a years time. Note they make excellent screws for hand screw clamps.
 
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