Turning

Hollow Mortise Chisel Handle

October 15, 2017

Earlier this year, I rescued a hollow mortise chisel bit from a garage sale that we held at my parents’ house.  This tool had been hidden away in a tool box for a number of years.  It cleaned up quickly with some steel wool.  A file put a nice edge onto it.  The only thing left to do was to add a handle to it so that I can be put back in service.

I have a few pieces of firewood left over from a camping trip earlier this year.  I am not sure of the species, though I suspect it may be cherry based upon how the heartwood had darkened while it was sitting in the workshop.  I started by splitting the piece and attempting to square it up with an ax.  One end was fairly close to square, however the other end remained more like a pentagon.  Figuring that was close enough to be put to the lathe, I chose the smaller/squarer end as the side that would receive the ferrule and mounted it to the lathe.

The wood was roughed down to generally round.  Then I used calipers to take an inside diameter measurement of the piece of copper pipe I used as the ferrule.  After locking that down, I was able to take a parting tool and the calipers to bring the end down to the proper width.

I removed the wood from the lathe and fit the ferrule to the wood.  Unfortunately, I had slightly undersized the tenon.  That was easily fixed with some adhesive. I applied adhesive to the tenon and fit the ferrule on.  I then tool an equal diameter piece of pipe and placed it on top of the ferrule with a scrap on top as a caul.  This was then clamped up to let the adhesive set.

After adhesive set, I remounted the spindle and began shaping the tool with a spindle gouge.  As the ferrule and chisel are rather large, the handle looks a bit oversized, almost like a microphone.

Of note, remounting the blank to the lathe resulted in a slightly different balance.  You can see it in that there is a slight lip on one side of the ferrule on the finished piece. I read a fantastic tip in Fine Woodworking not that long ago and decided to follow it today so that I won’t have this issue in the future. The tip is to notch one spur on the drive center with a file.  This will allow you see how the spurs were aligned with the work when you need to remount the piece.  I only wish I had remembered that before starting this project today.

Sanded to 320 with shellac and wax added to the outside.  The chisel was fitted in and holds nicely.  Now I just have to put it to work cutting some mortises.

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