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Shaping handles:Tool recommendations

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Line cooked

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I would like to start doing some western rehandle work for some of my stuff. Any tool recommendations(Hand files, belt sander, etc) would be appreciated. Trying not to break the bank but don't want junk either.
 

Dave Martell

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If you're only going to do a few here and there you could probably do well with a cheap-o Harbor Freight drill press & 1x30 belt sander (with 6" disk - important for flattening the scales), a 4" buffing wheel with arbor (to go in the drill press), some white rouge, sandpaper (coarse & fine), and some drill bits (carbide needed if drilling the tangs) . That'd be the basics unless you want to go tribal and use files and sandpaper only.
 

jmforge

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One thing that is great for roughing out wood handles is a Nicholson cabinetmakers rasp. Karl Anderson, who had a long career in furniture making and high end piano restoration before getting into knives turned me onto them. They are made in Brazil by hand these day, bloody expensive, but they work like a charm. It is the same type of rasp that the bespoke shoemakers in London use to make lasts, which are the individual "molds" of the customers foot. They cut fairly aggressively, but, for some reason, the finish that they leave seems to be easier to smooth out with sandpaper than the finish left by say a 36-40 grit belt.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Dave listed a simple powertool setup. Here is a manual tool setup.

Granite plate (9x12 Woodcraft $42 with shipping) for flattening scales and handle after it is assembled and cured. Spray with adhesives and line it with a abrasives sheet (I prefer cloth backed)

Vise - number of choices, from a pipe vise that is most suitable for shaping handles, to a typical bench vise. I would buy an old Wilton from Ebay (bullet vise is the best) over any imports. Not even a nanosecond of hesitation.

Coping saw will be adequate for profiling handle scales before you assemble the handle and shape it. You would need to pick blades that are suitable to cut material you will be using.

You can drill holes in the scales with a hand drill, but you need to have a steady hand. Drill press (American-made vintage) would be my preference. Also, if you install corby-style bolts, you have to use a countersink drill bit, so a drill press will give you much better control. Besides, a drill press is a power tool EVERYBODY ought to own, especially if you live in a house.

Hacksaw for cutting off excess pin stock and bolts.

Round and half-round files will do most shaping. I would get course and medium. I have both #49 and #50 Nicholson rasps and while they work OK, for a fast stock removal, nothing beats coarse or a Bastard (between coarse and Second cut) files.

Strips of sanding belt (cloth backed strips from larger belts will work best and you can have in longer strips). Buy 6x48 good quality belt in different grits (60, 100, 180) and it will last you a long time. Final sanding with sandpaper. I prefer 3M Emperial to any other brands.

As you imagine, this will put you in the center of all action, but you should be able to complete a handle with this setup.

Marko
 

Line cooked

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As always,vthe inforamtion found here is plentiful and fantastic:biggrin:
Thank you all
 

AnxiousCowboy

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I have a belt sander that I've been shaping my handles on, and I live near you.
 

Line cooked

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I have a belt sander that I've been shaping my handles on, and I live near you.
Thanks for the offer....maybe I should pick up a drill press....then we are both half way there.....the only thing I would néed after that is time
 

Lefty

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Marko, do you mean a drill press like this? :p
 

jmforge

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Nice. There is an old Rockwell that looks like that sitting in my late uncle's garage in Ohio, I have to figure out how to get it, a micro-mill, lathe and anvil down to Florida in a 3 series BMW. No substitute for those old bulletproof American machines.
Marko, do you mean a drill press like this? :p
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Marko, do you mean a drill press like this? :p
that's a lowly old Walker Turner or Delta. It's missing cover (not essential, as long as you don't try to change belt as the press is running) and could use some lubrication and some scrubbing with Scotch-Brite pads and WD40 but ultimately, it is a fine press. Looks like you can get easily a few more decades of service out of it.

I traded my landlord a Walker Turner for some improvement work, but have not time to work on it.
M
 

Lefty

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You're bang on, Marko! It's an old Walker-Turner. Har any of you guys had any trouble finding replacement parts for old presses like this one? I'm likely going to "upgrade" to it very shortly, assuming it drills true.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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You're bang on, Marko! It's an old Walker-Turner. Har any of you guys had any trouble finding replacement parts for old presses like this one? I'm likely going to "upgrade" to it very shortly, assuming it drills true.
I think Dave rebuilt his, so he can chime on it, but I wouldn't be surprised if all you need is just cleaning, scrubbing and lubrication.

M
 

Lefty

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It's really a beauty, and it just feels right!
Thanks for the input.
 

apicius9

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Dave Martell

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You're bang on, Marko! It's an old Walker-Turner. Har any of you guys had any trouble finding replacement parts for old presses like this one? I'm likely going to "upgrade" to it very shortly, assuming it drills true.

I have the predecessor to this model, it uses a motor mounted on the base with a long ass drive belt and only two pulley speeds to chose from. I did rebuild it, well somewhat, cleaned it up more than anything. The biggest problem I had was finding a replacement key for the chuck since the model Jacobs chuck used hasn't been in production for 60 years. I got lucky and found a reference on an old tools forum to a Jacobs key part# that would work that MSC carries and there ya go. :)

Most of the parts that go bad in this smaller presses of this era are bronze bushings which can be replaced but I've read that some of them are oddball sizes requiring machining. My press has brass grease caps for lubrication that have to be filled every week at least or bushings run dry so maintenance with the old presses is important.
 

SpikeC

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Here's mine. My dad got it back in the 40's.

 

SpikeC

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If you are a jeweler it's not a mini!
 

SpikeC

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Thanks, Dave. It still has the original motor and switch!
 

Line cooked

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You sure make it tough on a guy.....now I am on the hunt for a serious drill press
 

Dave Martell

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You should check Craigslist, I see a lot of ones work checking out on our local listing almost all of the time.

Make sure you check for runout (play) in the spindle by extending it down and wiggling it about. You'll know when it's bad.
 

Line cooked

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You should check Craigslist, I see a lot of ones work checking out on our local listing almost all of the time.

Make sure you check for runout (play) in the spindle by extending it down and wiggling it about. You'll know when it's bad.
Thanks for the advice...I actually so one listed pretty close to me for a good price....I am going to see if I can check it out this week
 

Marko Tsourkan

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Dave Martell

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What I'd miss on that 4x36 sander is not having a slack section for rounding edges but the disc sander part is nice for squaring stuff up. The little 1x30 has a slack section and disc.....this is the better option of the two if you ask me.
 
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