Re-handling a tanged
chisel is a little more complicated than re-handling
a socket chisel.
But it is not above the capabilities of the average woodworker.
If you can turn wood then you can accomplish this task.
The chisel and the new handle blank laid out
Select a blank big enough to make the handle you
want and an inch or so longer than you need. The wood can be
just about any hardwood that you like. I find ash, hickory, and
hornbeam to be good choices, but certainly not the only woods
that would be suitable.
The blank needs to be milled straight and square
with ends perfectly square to the sides. If this is not
possible, as in my case where I am repurposing an old hickory
maul handle, you must round the blank between centers and then
cut the ends square to the blank. This is necessary to ensure
that your handle blank is parallel to the drillpress spindle
which will produce a chisel handle that is straight to the
The tangs on chisels are most often of
rectangular cross section and taper from the bolster to
Three different sized holes are usually
sufficient for a good fit. However if the tang is
unusually long you may need four or more different sized
This chisel has a 2-5/8″ long tang and
three holes are fine for that length. Using dial
calipers, a micrometer, or some other accurate means of
measurement, measure the narrow width of the tang about
1/4″ from the point. Select a drill bit this size. Then
measure the narrow width at about the midpoint of the
tang and again about 1/4″ from the bolster and select
the appropriate drill sizes to fit these measurements.
Next layout, and mark on your handle
blank, the depths of the three drills. The depth of the
smallest drill should be about 1/8″ to 1/4″ deeper than
the tang is long, approximately half the length of the
tang for the midsize drill and about 1/4″ from the end.
Now it is on to the drillpress.
Ready to drill the holes for the tang
in my hickory handle blank.
Start with a center drill big enough to drill a
center whose diameter is just slightly bigger than the
measurement across the widest points on your tang at the
The object here is to leave enough of a center
to engage your tailstock live center after final fitting of the
tang into your handle blank. Now drill the holes starting with
the larger drill, then the midsize drill and finally the smaller
Heating the chisel tang in preparation to
burning it into the new handle blank.
Now it is time to get out your propane torch.
Put the chisel in a bench vise and hold it near the bolster. The
mass of the vise will wick off much of the heat minimizing the
possibility of taking the hardness out of the chisel. Put the
point of the inner blue cone of the torch flame to the base of
the tang. Work the flame all around the tang and up and down its
length. You want to concentrate the heat on the base of the tang
because this is where most of the metal is.
You do not need to get the tang cherry red. In
fact you donít want this as this may take some of the hardness
out of the chisel. You only need to get beyond the flash point
of the wood which is about 570ļF. When you move the flame up to
the point of the tang and you begin to see the metal turn
slightly red it is time for the first burn in.