Making your own parting tool

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Blog entry by David Craig posted 05-18-2010 02:14 PM 8316 reads 2 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Been awhile since I have had any quality time in the shop, so I decided to invest some vacation time and I will be taking a week off next week, with the emphasis being on shop time. So I have been getting my ducks in a row so I can have a somewhat productive week. Last week involved a little wood gathering (that deserves a whole ‘nother post…), I have my sharpening system and chisels arriving today, and I have been scouring books and mags to try to come up with some projects. Since I have a small collection of exotic pieces, I thought I might do some small turnings. I was looking through the list of recommended tools and I came up short when it came to a thin kerf parting tool. I checked prices online and found my budget already over stretched to pick up yet another tool.

Then I came across this link to a youtube on making your own thin kerf parting tool._

Perfect timing and so I spent an evening making my own.

Concept is really simple (my execution was not…) and it is a nice beginner project to get one’s feet wet in making your own turning tools. Raw materials consist of an edger blade, a couple t-nuts and bolts, and something to use for a handle. I don’t have an edger so I bought a blade and the bolts at the Depot and invested about 6 bucks in the project. I had a piece of Brazilian Cherry that was left over from another project. Here are the raw materials -

Raw Materials for Parting Tool

First step is to take the black paint off the edger blade. I used a 50 grit sanding pat on my orbital sander. Captain Eddy, as the video host refers himself, uses an angle grinder with a sanding pad. His method is much quicker but the sander did the trick.

Edging blade with paint removed

I cut the Brazilian Cherry to size and used CA glue to attach to the handle. With the drilling that comes later, it is much easier to work with the tool with the parts attached temporarily with the glue.

CA Glue-up of handle and blade

Next step is drilling, and this is where the hour projected time took a nose dive for me. I am guessing that Captain Eddy has a nice assortment of metal working tools. Items like a metal cutting bandsaw, a drill press geared for high torque applications, angle grinder, etc. I don’t have any of those things :) My drill press is a Harbor Freight benchtop which is adequate for wood. Not so good for tool steel. I do have some cobalt metal cutting drill bits, just couldn’t get the torque from the press nor the cordless drill. It took a few hours for me to remember that I had a corded Dewalt drill which finally did the trick for me.

Steps that one should take is to first drill a 1/8 hole where you want the nuts and bolts to be in the handle. You drill all the way through to the other side. The hole is used to help guide a forstner bit for the purpose of countersinking holes for the bolt heads. I used 5/16th bolts so I drilled a 5/16th hole through the countersinks for the bolt threads.

No pictures for the steps I actually performed as they were ummm, not so pretty.

Next step is to cut a 45 degree angle on the end of the blade. Eddy, I am sure, was able to use a cut off wheel or run a metal cutting blade through it in under a minute. I spent a good hour hacksawing a nice cut line for my dremel cutoff wheel. I find that if you have a good leading kerf in a cut, those fragile cutoff wheels do a decent job without breaking. Here is the knife with the angle cut -

45 degree cut on blade

After that, I took the knife to the grinder (the one metal tool I do have) and finished shaping it and smoothing out the edges. I laid it on its side and put a 45 degree bevel on each side. It is not honed yet, but I do have it done. I tried it out some, in its unsharpened state, and the tool does work pretty well even in its rough state. After sharpening and honing, it should work just as well as any parting tool available on the market.

Finished Product

My thanks to Captain Eddy for the video. The concept is simple and the task not so arduous if you have the proper tools. If you don’t, this is still a project that can be completed but over a much longer time than the Captain’s estimate of one hours. With the lessons learned, I could probably make one in 2-3. I do not plan on making a collection of tools. My shop is more geared to wood than metal and woodworking provides enough hurdles for me. I did enjoy the little taste of metal working and I at least have a useful tool to show for the experience.

Happy woodworking all,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

12 comments so far

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 4029 days

#1 posted 05-18-2010 03:09 PM

Very good idea. I have just started getting into tool making and it is a lot of fun. There is just something about using a tool that you made yourself to accomplish some task that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do effectively. I have been wanting one of these tools, and after watching this video, I have a piece of tool steel and some scraps of rosewood just screaming to be made into one of these. The only thing I think that I might change is, instead of the commond tee nuts, I believe you could dress it up and make a nice looking tool using some nuts and screws like are used with saw handles. That and I think I will try to temper the blade so it will hold an edge a little better.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4079 days

#2 posted 05-18-2010 03:31 PM

Yes, I agree there is much room for making the end result a little more dressy. Next time I am in the “big city,” I will probably pick up nicer looking hardware for a nicer version. What piqued my interest in the project was the simplicity and the convenient way in which tool steel could be purchased at a local hardware store. Good use for that old edger blade too, if one needs to replace it. Glad the video interested you.

Thanks for commenting,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5217 days

#3 posted 05-18-2010 03:41 PM

Why didn’t you ask, I’ve got 4 extra parting tools, you could of had one? You could have spent your time turning. LOL. Super job, love that feeling of making your own tools though, huh? Nice work. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View JimF's profile


147 posts in 4264 days

#4 posted 05-18-2010 03:42 PM

I have read about using old saw blades for making scrapers. Does anyone know if a piece of an an old saw blade would work for this. Too soft? Too hard?

-- Insert clever tag line here

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4079 days

#5 posted 05-18-2010 03:54 PM

Mike, I would have asked, but I figured by the time we found them, I could have made half a dozen of these and set a few turners up for Christmas :)

And yes, pretty cool to work with something you put together yourself. I had my anvil of the gods moment :)

Jim, I think an old saw blade would work fine for something like this. A parting tool doesn’t require the heft a turning chisel does. I also think that if a tail was put on the end of either the edger blade or the saw blade to allow for a longer handle, both would make pretty decent beading tools.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

546 posts in 4487 days

#6 posted 05-18-2010 05:05 PM

A fellow member of our local turning club makes and sellls these. I bought some other things from him and asked him what he made his “thin-kerf” parting tools out of…he said butcher knives from garage sales. He stated that he rarely pays more than a dollar for them. Other than that, they looked a lot like the one from the video. From memory (last Thursday’s meeting) he used a piece of brazing rod to hold the handles together. I have also seen them made from hack saw blades from a power hack saw.

-- jstegall

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4135 days

#7 posted 05-18-2010 05:24 PM

Not quite dumpster diving…........but close enough…..................(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4086 days

#8 posted 05-18-2010 05:43 PM

isn´t it a great feeling to use something you made yourself
homemade tools are very funny to make , even thow it
can take a lot of time

thank´s for sharing both your new tool and the tip


View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 4079 days

#9 posted 05-18-2010 07:07 PM

Thanks for the comment John. Nice that your fellow turner knows how to make treasure from trash. Which leads me to Jim. Dumpster diving will probably step up a notch for me. Now I will be adding lawn tool blades to the list. I am only one step away from the shopping cart full of cans :) I agree with you Dennis, neat feeling to make something useful. Of course I do have visions of that stuff ending up in the quarter box in one of my son’s future garage sales :)


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4086 days

#10 posted 05-18-2010 08:27 PM

David next time you know to take the exstra ½ hour when you make tools
so they are pretty too….....LOL

just learn him to work with them and tell him you made them
and learn him to make tools too then I ´m sure he will pressiate
what you make

View RICH GRABLE's profile


35 posts in 4474 days

#11 posted 05-24-2010 07:44 PM

Friend John Stegall, I just read about a guy having a parting tool, or tools for sale. I am iinterested in a thin one John. I am expecting an e-bay item tomorrow, a Delta-Rockwell duplicating tool. I have gotten into buying old ditchen utinsels and breaking the handle off and making a new one out of mesquite. I have disigned them to stand up on the but end, or lay them down and there is a flat spot so they can’t roll on the counter.


View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

546 posts in 4487 days

#12 posted 05-25-2010 02:20 AM

Hi Rich…you already know him, Uel Clanton. I bought one of his scrapers but am too busy winding down the school year to use it. He told me when I asked that he used butcher knives…sure was simple. I keep thinking about calling you up but…see the second sentence. Next week we leave for California for a much needed rest.

-- jstegall

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