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Making and Using Tools - Tool Handles


London Pattern Chisel Handle by James D. Thompson

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A London pattern handle

has an octagonal shape

on part of it.


I recently wanted to make a London Pattern chisel handle, but I didn’t know how to do it, and have it come out right. Reading on the subject revealed that most such handles are not concentric, and I wanted mine to be concentric.

“Pretty” is important to me. If I am going to put in the time required to make something, I want it to look nice when I am finished. I reasoned that I would have to make a jig which would use the lathe centers as registration. Then the octagon would be concentric.

Making a Jig

After making a prototype jig, and adjusting it to work, I used the dimensions to make the jig shown below. I have photographed each step in making the jig. It is pretty simple, but there are small things that can and do go wrong.

Start out by cutting pieces of plywood that you can glue up into 1-1/2 inch thicknesses. You will need one piece that measures 5” by 12”, and 2 pieces that measure 2” by 5”. My base piece is 1” thick because the jig will flex when you screw in the handle if it is thin.

The small pieces will need to be drilled and tapped. Lay out the holes as shown in the next picture. Then drill the holes to 7/16” diameter and tap with a 1/2” tap. I used 1/2” all thread rod for my jig, because it was what I had on hand.

Tap the holes and oil the threads in the plywood so the bolts will go in without much resistance.

Next I screwed my all thread rod through both pieces. This is to be sure that the holes are in line after glue up.

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