Friday, January 23, 2015

Dillinger's Got it Handled


If you don’t read Zach Dillinger’s blog (shame on you) then I recommend heading over to check out his recent post on fitting tanged chisels with 18th century octagonal handles. This is my favorite way of handling the chisels I periodically pick up second hand. At the moment, I have a small pile of them waiting. I don’t have much to add to what Zach has written except maybe these two things: 


1. I size the hole so that with hand pressure the bolster is about ¼” away from being fully set into the handle. Then I drive the tang in by burying the chisel’s edge into a scrap of hardwood and gently hammering the handle down onto it. I make sure I have extra length on the stock to account for hammer damage. 

A wedge helps

2. Once you have two tapers, work holding becomes a little hairy. For the last two tapers, I simply add a wedge in the vise to make up for the lost material. No problems that way.

I prefer patina to fresh wood

I applied dyes, shellac, and pigments to give this handle some character. If you are interested in this kind of finishing, you may want to watch out for my looking glass article this summer. In it I go over how to achieve this patination simply and quickly. More details on that later.



  1. Outstanding additions. Work holding can be tricky, you are absolutely right. And I really like the look of your handles. Well done!

    1. Thanks, Zach. I can't help but muddy new looking wood. I see so much dark, old surface that bright shiny new surfaces are hard for my eyes to adjust to.

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