Weekend Projects - Make a quick-change handle archive

Friday 9 October 2015

Ken Haines show you how to turn your own interchangeable tool handle which serves to accommodate a plethora of unhandled tools


As with many tools, this was originally intended for another purpose. It was going to be a chuck fitted to a short handle and do nothing more than accept a drill bit being used to drill a starter hole and establish reference depth in the centre of bowl blanks.

Now, by fitting the chuck to a longer handle, it serves to accommodate a wide variety of unhandled tools. This is the beautiful feature of this handle - it's like having 30 or more tools within easy reach - without the clutter.

Many different sizes of chucks are available with a variety of prices: some open to 10mm, others open to 12mm. The brand I prefer is manufactured by LFA. These have a very precise, positive action and will close down to under 1mm, which allows the use of very small drill bits. One style is carried by Craft Supplies USA and sells for around £24. Chucks can also be purchased at tool or hardware stores as replacement chucks for power drills and there are many options as to type available, depending on where you live in the world.

The handle lengths that I generally turn are 250-255mm for a regular handle and 355-380mm for a long handle. The blank thicknesses are approximately 50 x 50mm. Again, you can pick a length and thickness to suit your individual needs and requirements.

The handle being turned here is from 'plyboo', a bamboo plywood which has an interesting pattern when turned, but you can laminate your own or work from a single piece of wood of your choosing.

Tools used:

12mm spindle gouge

20mm skew chisel

32mm spindle roughing gouge


Start by placing the blank between centres and roughing it down to a cylinder


Once the blank is round, mount one end into a scroll chuck with a drill chuck fitted with a Forstner or sawtooth bit to suit the thickness of the threaded rod used to fix the chuck to, and also accommodate the jamb/locking nuts used. Allow 1.5mm more diameter on the bit than the rod used to accommodate the glue. Once the chuck and bit are securely locked into the tailstock, drill recesses to the required width and depth


After drilling for the threaded rod and recess for jamb nuts...


... remove the handle from the scroll chuck, place back between centres and finish the handle design. The shape of the handle is entirely up to you. Here I am using a swept-back spindle gouge to create a chamfer at the chuck end of the handle


Use the spindle roughing gouge to create the necessary long sweeping curves


Once the large body curve is created a spindle gouge is used to create the ball at the end of the handle...


... the cutting edge allows you to cut deeply to create a clearly defined stop to the main body flow. Work the gouge on either side until you have created the ball end, as required


Sand and apply a finish of your choice to the handle


Once dry cut back and buff, or polish, as required


Cut approximately 90mm of all-thread rod that corresponds to the thread size of the chuck...


... and apply thread-sealing compound to the section that is to be fitted into the chuck...


... and secure the pre-cut rod into the chuck bod


Bring up two jamb nuts and lock securely in position to prevent any movement or loosening


Now mix two-part epoxy which will be applied to the handle recess...


... and then apply this to the handle. Make sure that you use enough to encase the rod and the jamb nuts


Once the glue is applied fix the chuck and rod into the handle


Then immediately place the handle back on the lathe between centres to cure and bond securely. Quickly wipe off any excess glue that squeezes out


When cured, remove and add any personal touches. I add the brass tack and an 'O' ring


Here is the finished handle. The handle will accept and accommodate a wide variety of tools

Woodworkers Institute

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Weekend Projects , Ken Haines

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Contact Details

Email: kenhaines@cox.net

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Handy Hints

1. I use the 2MT 12mm drill chucks as dedicated chucks for drill bit sizes most often used
2. If a choice is available use a 'temporary bonding' thread-locking compound. It will take some effort but the handle could be separated from the chuck should this become necessary in the future
3. When cutting the threaded rod have a jamb nut on each side of the cut area. This way you can back off the nut and restore any damage to the rod threads
4. I find that a rubber or plastic kitchen drawer organiser works very well for holding the smaller gouges and tools and keeps them close to hand
5. When selecting a chuck body don't be influenced by price alone. Some chucks have soft grips, some are metal, and some weigh more than others