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Thread: How to Make Straight Holes in Handles?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    How to Make Straight Holes in Handles?

    Today I finished up a file handle, and I had to hold it by hand in order to make the hole for the file. Naturally, it's not perfectly straight. This got me wondering...what's the correct way to drill a hole in a file handle using machinery?

    With metal, it would be simple, because you could put the handle in your chuck. With wood, this would mar it up. I was thinking I should get a sheet of rubber so I could wrap handles in it and chuck them in the metal lathe for drilling. I tried to pull this off with a piece of thin aluminum today, but the handle wouldn't run true.
    Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of bench.

  2. #2
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    Seems to me a steady rest could work. I have never seen one on a wood lathe, though.
    Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of bench.

  3. #3
    steady rest or a gunsmith lathe with the large capacity hollow head spindle. Either way, I would drill the hole before finishing the wood. Or make a jig to hold the handle plumb under a drill press. Or even make a jig to hold the handle in a v groove on the lathe bed and use the head stock to turn the drill.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Roseville,Ca
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    I use a method suggested by Cindy Drozda in this U-Tube clip.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=g-SN0llu0Cw&t=86s

  5. #5
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    Steve, I make heaps of them, good mental therapy. I start with a square blank held in the chuck, drill the stepped hole, turn the spiggot, tap on the ferrule, then use a live centre to keep it perfectly straight. Finish to the desired shape and finally use a detail gouge to finish the end as it parts off the stub in the chuck.
    Rgds,
    Richard.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Casey View Post
    Steve, I make heaps of them, good mental therapy. I start with a square blank held in the chuck, drill the stepped hole, turn the spiggot, tap on the ferrule, then use a live centre to keep it perfectly straight. Finish to the desired shape and finally use a detail gouge to finish the end as it parts off the stub in the chuck.
    Rgds,
    Richard.
    I make handles essentially the same way. If the handle is long after mounting the square blanks in the chuck I might first steady the unsupported end with the tailstock and turn the last 6” or so round then use my left hand as a steady rest to get the hole started. I start the hole with a machinist’s center drill then drill with a twist bit.

    When shaping and finishing a long handle for turning tools I support the drilled end again with the tailstock. Some people use a cone center for this which is ok if you go easy on the pressure but I prefer to turn a wooden support that just fits the hole and hold it with the live center. Shape, sand, texture, and part off.

    A short file handle probably wouldn’t need much tailstock support if held firmly in a chuck. I routinely turn pieces 8” or longer without the tailstock.

    An alternative to holding with a scroll chuck is to turn a 1” long tenon on one end of the square blank and hold that with a collet. I use a #2MT collet with a 1/2” hole. (this needs a drawbar)

    JKJ

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
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    Steve Graham, you wrote: "Seems to me a steady rest could work. I have never seen one on a wood lathe, though."

    Actually steady rests for a wood lathe are pretty common. Most people make their own. But there are also some commercial units out there. Rather that using brass-tipped "fingers", most people use wheels so the wood isn't marred. Like skate board or roller-blade wheels.

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