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Woods for making tool handles

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Ray Ewing, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. Ray Ewing

    Ray Ewing

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2014
    Messages:
    10
    Location (City & State):
    Port Orchard, Washington
    What are the best woods to use for making your own handles? I'm looking at rough usage for bowl gouges especially. I apologize in advance. I'm sure this has been asked a million times but I cannot find it. Thank you,
    Ray
     
  2. Arkriver

    Arkriver

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2006
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    94
    Location (City & State):
    Pueblo West, CO
    I have made them from cherry, walnut, maple, oak. I think just about any hard wood will work.
     
    hockenbery likes this.
  3. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    Jan 20, 2006
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    Location (City & State):
    virginia
    Dry dogwood
     
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location (City & State):
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    Free wood or Cheap scrap barrel wood.
    My recent tool handles are Sapele. One of the club member get s lots of scraps.
    Purple Heart I used to get cheap in Md a lot was used in boat building
    Also Have used cherry, maple, white oak, walnut.

    my Robust bowl gouge and two Jamieson bowl gouges all have Sapele handles.

    my bowl gouges remove a lot of wood but I don’t put much stress on the handles.
    I let the tools do the work

    i don’t put any finish in my handles so I avoid open grain woods.
     
    Charles Cadenhead likes this.
  5. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Aug 14, 2009
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    Location (City & State):
    Peoria, Illinois
    Any hardwood except for basswood will work. I've never even considered I could abuse any handle badly enough that I would consider the chance of breakage. We must have very different turning methods!
     
  6. Timothy Allen

    Timothy Allen

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2019
    Messages:
    112
    Location (City & State):
    NH and ME
    American Hophornbeam, aka Ironwood....
     
  7. Dean Center

    Dean Center

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,056
    Location (City & State):
    Bozeman, MT
    I generally use ash because it's the most common hardwood in our town. I once heard of someone who years ago made handles for all his turning tools out of ebony. Hard, heavy, solid, beautiful--what more could you want!
     
  8. Tim Connell

    Tim Connell

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2018
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    161
    Location (City & State):
    Cameron, Illinois
    If you really want something to stand up to heavy abuse, rive your blank from your chosen wood, then turn it.
     
  9. Timothy White

    Timothy White

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
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    128
    Location (City & State):
    McKinney,Texas
    Bois d’arc, Osage orange is my favorite.
     
    Charles Cadenhead likes this.
  10. Emiliano Achaval

    Emiliano Achaval Administrator Staff Member

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    Location (City & State):
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    Well. while we are at it, I have a lot of handles made with Koa. Lychee also works well. Got a lot of Citridora Eucalyptus, super curly, used that for a few. Just about anything works.
     
  11. Dave Hulett

    Dave Hulett

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2015
    Messages:
    119
    Location (City & State):
    Hot Springs, AR
    made them out of walnut, maple, ash, but my favorite is mesquite.
     
  12. Ric Williams

    Ric Williams

    Joined:
    May 31, 2019
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    56
    Location (City & State):
    Highland, MI
    For my roughing spindle gouge I used a stout piece of hickory, but otherwise I've used ash, maple, walnut, PVC pipe, galvnized steel pipe, and aluminum tubing. Didn't turn those last 3 though. Made a couple of small handles with apple and cherry. The majority of mine are ash because it was available and I like the texture with minimal finish on it.
     
  13. Ron Vasser

    Ron Vasser

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    Jan 29, 2019
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    113
    Location (City & State):
    Rome, GA
    $9 ash or hickory shovel handle from Lowes makes two large long handles or many short handles.
     
  14. Ric Williams

    Ric Williams

    Joined:
    May 31, 2019
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    Location (City & State):
    Highland, MI
    That's a good idea! I thought about using a wooden handle from a wheel barrow, but I'm sure my wife would notice when she tried to use it. For some reason I'm the first one she'd suspect.
     
    Russ Braun and Charles Cadenhead like this.
  15. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I think just about any wood will work. Primary thing for me is straight grained. If there is any cross grain in it, they can split there. Had that happen once.... I even made a couple out of cabinet grade plywood. Works fine. You can do all sorts of glue ups too.... Hickory is especially good for taking shock loads, which is why it is used for hammer handles and idiot stick handles: stick has 2 ends, broom/hoe/shovel on one end....

    robo hippy
     
  16. Mike Adams

    Mike Adams

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    Jan 8, 2020
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    Location (City & State):
    Bloomfield, New Jersey
    I usually go to a big box and pick out a replacement shovel handle in ash or hickory and cut them into suitable handle lengths. After that, it's drilled and either a Oneway collet (for removable steel) or a shop-made copper collet for an epoxied-in tool is added. When I got started I didn't have a long enough bed to make a decent handle so I went with what I could manage.
     
  17. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Jul 26, 2016
    Messages:
    1,886
    Location (City & State):
    Nebraska
    If you use a metal band around the shank of the tool on the handle any species of wood will provide the needed strength for a tool handle. A piece of copper or brass tubing will provide more strength then some of the cheap brass bands that are used on many of the average tool handles out there.
     
  18. Dennis Weiner

    Dennis Weiner

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Messages:
    190
    Location (City & State):
    New City, NY
    I do not make handles anymore. My last handle was made from an aluminum tube with a 3/4 cam mechanism inserted. All my new tools up to 5/8“ fit into a 3/4” adapter sleeve which fits into the cam handle. One handle, many tools. Great for storage, portability and ease of sharpening. To change a tool, just twist and pop it out. No tools no set screws. If I made another handle with this mechanism I may choose An exotic.
     

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