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Thread: Fitting a tool tang

  1. #1

    Fitting a tool tang

    I know this isn't much of a turning project in terms of complexity, but I'm trying to get a longer handle on one of my roughing gouges. The tang on the tool is flat and tapered. What's the best way to make a seat for the tool? Judy recommends drilling it out using 2 or 3 different size bits (stepped), which I've done with some success, but it's still a flat peg in a round hole. Must admit it's pretty snug, but it flies in the face of my childhood training (put the square thing in the square hole, son). Somewhere I saw an elegant solution involving a lamination, with the middle piece of the lamination being the same thickness as the tang and having a pre-shaped cutout for it. Looks like something I'd like to try. Years ago when my barn was being built I had a minor complaint and the builder said's a BARN. I guess I can paraphrase now and say's a TOOL HANDLE. So before I go off on some long quest for tang-fitting perfection I thought maybe I could get some guidance here. Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Villa Park, CA
    I drill out the handle, in several steps, to the width of the tang (the shortest distance across). Then I take a chisel and widen the part that needs to be wider to fit the tang. This produces a rectangular hole, tapered because of the different drill sizes used at different depths.

    You can use a caliper to check drill depth against the tang. Almost all calipers have a depth rod that sticks out when you open the caliper. This way, you can fit the drill size to the tang at the right depth.

    Tap the handle to drive it onto the tang. The first time it won't fit but shake the chisel and you'll get an idea where it's hitting. Use your chisels to widen that part. Keep doing a trial fit until you can drive the handle on without breaking it.

    If you have trouble removing the handle after driving it on, hold the chisel by the blade and tap the handle against your bench. Tap one side then the other. The handle will come off.

    Hope that's clear enough. It seems hard to explain.

    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3

    Thanks for taking the time to explain your method. Sounds good. I'll give it a try.

    In the 70's I lived in Fountain Valley. I'm guessing I wouldn't recognize the place now.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Drums, PA
    Let me see it I can explain how I do it.

    With a drill bit mounted in the head stock and nothing mounted on the tailstock, I place the back end of the tool handle on the tail stock post/spindle and align the bit off-center on the other end of the handle and drill my first hole. I then remove the bit and drill a second hole on the opposite side of off-center as the last hole I drilled. Then I clean up what wood is left between the two holes by rocking the handle back and forth

    Depending how wide the tang is, I may need to do a few passes.

    Ok, some may say this is dangerous, and if you feel that way, please do not attempt drilling this way.
    Last edited by Ron Sardo; 03-06-2008 at 02:26 PM.

  5. #5
    Thanks Ron...

    This handle is about 18" long, so I'm not sure I can keep everything lined up while feeding it into the bit. I'll give it a try with a practice piece. I'll be 70 this year and I still have all 10 (couple are a little bent), so I have a pretty good sixth sense about when I might lose one...does happen before you can blink though. Anyway, nothing ventured, nothing gained...just stay alert.

    I really like your pens, expecially the ones that don't show the metal parts. How did you do that purple heart celtic one (if it's not a trade secret)? Very cool.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Drums, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Gerhard View Post
    I really like your pens, expecially the ones that don't show the metal parts. How did you do that purple heart celtic one (if it's not a trade secret)? Very cool.

    Thanks Ed,

    I have a two part article on how to make that pen in the Summer and Fall issues of Woodturning Design. I think they are still available on the publisher's website.

  7. #7
    Cutting to fit is the long way around, I think if you do some research you will find that the tried and proven old time way is to heat the tang and burn it into a close fitting hole. I believe the pilot hole should be the thickness of the tang. (not the tapered width but the mean thickness. )

    Fine Woodworking says: " Drill a pilot hole for the tang of the tool. Heat the tang red hot and force the handle down on the tang, which will burn into the handle ..." I know there are those who will scoff and say that that will distroy the temper of the tool, On the contrary, The shank end of the tool should be annealed and softer so that in the event of a major catch it will bend and not snap off. This prevents further damage to the tool and the operator.

  8. #8
    Thanks Bill...

    I saw that method somewhere but diss'd it for the reasons you mention. I decided awhile ago to acquire ASP 2060 turning tools...not because I'm a master turner but because even though I'm pretty good at sharpening it doesn't make happy faces in my brain. The downside is it's expensive steel, and it would ruin my day if heating a 2060 tang had an adverse affect on it. Know anything about that? I'll see what I can learn.


    Just ordered the back issues. Thanks for pointing me there.

    Last edited by Ed Gerhard; 03-06-2008 at 10:57 PM. Reason: add info

  9. #9
    Ed, the business end of the tool is some 10" or more away from the tang, so heating the tang with a torch would not effect the HSS sharp end. You would concentrate the heat to the tang, and as I said the tang should be annealed to soften the steel (more than likely if it is a good product, the tang is already softened.) You should have no problem heating although I see where you are coming from and as the cost of those tools are dear and the thought of burning one up would seriously wound the wallet, rest easy in knowing that other than color change at the hilt, the tool will remain intact.

    You could drill the appropriate sized hole and Woller out the shape to match the tang, then epoxy or super gel glue the tang into the hole and follow with a tight Furrell
    Last edited by Bill Simpson; 03-07-2008 at 03:58 AM.

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