As The Lathe Turns #70: Making Tools - Part 2

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Blog entry by William posted 01-29-2014 02:56 AM 4069 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 69: Making Tools - Part 1 Part 70 of As The Lathe Turns series Part 71: Suggestions »

Today is a continuation of making the Oland tools. If you read yesterday’s blog, I was ready to drill and tap holes for set screws today.
My first order of business though was going to be to run to town to pick up some set screws. I usually keep quarter inch set screws in the shop. It is an often used size and you never know when you’ll need a spare. They strip out. They fall out and get lost. I find myself needing them often. I had somehow though allowed myself to get down to one, and I need three for this project.

The thing is, I try not to drive in snow unless it’s an emergency. I just didn’t feel that set screws was enough of an emergency to require me to get out on the roads today. I could do everything else and pick up the set screws when the weather is better.

So, to the drill press. The size drill bit and tap will depend on the size set screw you plan to use. If in doubt, talk to someone at a good hardware store if you have one in town and they can usually set you up with a hand full of set screws, a drill bit, and a tap, for less than ten bucks.
Before drilling your hole, take the time to make absolutely sure that you put a center punch dimple exactly center of your hole that the bit will go into. Try to get it centered between where the hole exits both sides of the shaft as well. If you’re a tad off on that though, it will still pinch the bit in the hole and hold it fast. Centering it over the hole though is important so the tap will go through without binding against one side of the hole or the other.

Here is my only set screw, until I can get to town, the tap to make the threads for the set screw, and an adjustable wrench to turn the tap with.
The reason I show this photo is to tell you that there is a tool made specifically for holding and turning taps. I had that tool once upon a time. It is somehow lost in my shop though like so many other things. If you are careful though, you can do the same job with an adjustable wrench.

I find the most important things about tapping threads in a hole are to make sure the tap goes in straight, keep the threads of the tap lubricated, and be sure to back out often to clean the metal off the threads.
The straight tool is good for general hollowing of bowls and other vessels. I have also used it a few times, just to see how well it worked for it, on spindle turnings.

The ninety degree tool is good at getting at the sidewalls of bowls and hollow vessels.

Now here I need to talk about the forty five degree tool. I made a change on this set of tools from the set that I have. I have two forty five degree tools. I have one like the one you see above, and one like you’ll see in the next photo. I had an idea though.
I drilled and tapped the hole for the set screw all the way through on both sides of the bit hole. This allows you to use the tools as you see it above, with the bit at a forward forty five degree angle. This works great at sidewalls of bowls that are too small to use the ninety degree tool in without hitting the rim of the bowl or vessel. Also, it is ideal to cut into a sharp corner in bowls or turned boxes.

Or you can flip the tool over, put the bit in the other way and put the set screw in this side to give you a raked back forty five degree tool.
This tool is ideal for cutting upwards in a bowl or hollow vessel, especially if you’re trying to put a lip on it with an undercut.

Next thing to do was to soften edges. If you notice in the photos before this one, there are sharp corners on the ends of the shafts. You can use a file, grinder, or many other options, but the edges around the business end of the tool need to be rounded off to a softer profile. If you leave the edges sharp, there is a chance of it touching wood while turning and creating a cutting action of it’s own. With the softer edges, it will only rub the wood if it contacts it. It may create a burnishing effect, but that can be easily sanded out.

The next thing to do is to make bits. You can use any variety of materials to make bits. I’ve seen bits made from old cheap steel drill bits, nails, old files, bought cobalt and carbide shafts, and many other things. My bits of choice are made from high speed steel drill bits.
I like these Mibro brand aircraft quality drill bits. They are good steel that holds an edge a long time, and I can buy them locally for a reasonable price.

You can make bits longer or shorter. Myself, there is eight inches of round shank on these long drill bits I mentioned before. So for around six bucks I get four two inch long bits.
I just clamp the drill bit in a vise, measure, and use a hack saw to cut off the bits.

A grinder is the tool of choice to shape and sharpen these bits. Just like any high speed steel, the trick is to not let the bits get too hot to ruin the temper. The thing is, when shaping these small bits, they get hot fast. I hold them with a pair of locking pliers and keep a can of water right there. Touch the stone, dip, touch the stone, dip. Dip often and keep the bit cool.
You can follow other people’s styles and see if you like them, or get some cheap bits and play around with different profiles to see what works for you. I grind all my bits on a forty five degree angle in different profiles.

This is what I’ll be shipping with the tools to my friend.
I took the privilege of grinding the four bits from the drill bit to some of my favorite profiles. If my friend doesn’t like these, or has other ideas, he can easily change them. With two inch long bits, there is plenty of usable steel to regrind on. When that is used up, just buy and cut up some more drill bits, or as I was talking about earlier, use your imagination.
From left to right is:
1. Simple forty five degree grind. You do nothing but just stick the round bit to the stone and go at it till you take away enough material for an edge. This one I find good for hollowing.
2. Flat straight bit. This one is sharpened similar to the first one, except you flatten the top first. This one is good at hollowing as well, but really shines at flattening the bottom of a bowl or vessel.
3. Similar to the second one, except it has a grind at an attack angle from both sides close to forty five degrees. This one is more of a general purpose bit, but I find it works great in that transition area between the bottom and the side wall of bowls or vessels.
4. This one is a swept back forty five. When placed in the ninety or the forty five tool, it easily brings a flat edge that can comfortable be drawn straight up the side of a bowl or vessel. With practice, you can use this tool to gently trim a bowl side until it is thinner than I’m comfortable doing with a regular bowl gouge.
5. This is the allen head wrench that fits the set screws that will be in the tools.

All that’s left is handles. After doing some measuring, I decided on sizes I thought my friend would find acceptable. I’m making handles eleven inches long. I need the hole for the shafts to be at or close to seven inches deep. Since the only five eighths bit I have in the whole shop that will get anywhere near that is a spade bit, that is what I’m using.
I like to clamp the bottom of the handle stock in a wooden vise to drill. This gives me something to hold to should the bit catch inside of the deep hole.

Several problems present themselves drilling this deep of a hole.
My spade bit is only five inches long. With some of that length inside the chuck, this only allows about four inches of usable length. So I have to use an extension after I go as deep as the spade bit allows.
The next problem is the three and a half to four inch of quill travel on my drill press.

To solve the quill travel problem, I have to get creative. I drill as deep as the quill allows. Then I back the bit out, raised the table until the bit is inside the hole a certain depth, then turn the motor on and go at it some more.
You can see in this photo that, by the time I get to my last pass with the drill press, the spade bit is already almost completely inside the hole before I even turn the drill press on.
The trick here is to take it slow. Also, lower the table, remove the handle blank, and dump the shavings out often. This helps prevent them from staying in the blind hole and causing the bit to eventually bind. That could cause a dangerous situation.
I know someone may already be looking at this and thinking there has to be a safer way. There probably is. I am working with what I have available though.

After the hole is drilled, all you do is put it on the lathe and turn your handle of choice.
I decided to not take a huge about of time on handles. This decision is mainly because I don’t know if my friend is even going to like these handles enough to keep them. I know that I commonly put new handles on tools when I get them to make them more to my liking.
So for the handles, I done them quickly. I just turned them, made a few burn lines (something I do on all handles I turn) and put a coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax on them.
The handle you see is a handle style I like. I do not use ferrules. I know that some say they are necessary, and there must be a reason for them, since most manufactured tools have them. However, I’ve never had a problem yet with my handles with no ferrules.

After making the handle, the shaft has to be inserted into it.
This is the way I attach the handle. The shaft has to be driven in with a rubber mallet. I purposely make the holes a tight fit. Most of the tools I have myself don’t even have glue or epoxy in them. Either way, the shaft has to be driven in. Keep this in mind if you do it like this and use a fast setting glue.
To drive the shaft in, I put the butt of the handle on the floor, stand the shaft up in the hole, and drive it with a rubber mallet until I hear that solid lick, telling me that the shaft has bottomed out in the hole.
These handles do not have glue of any kind in them. I wanted to leave them so that if my friend does wish to make his own handles, he can easily use a chisel to break the break the handles off of the shafts and use his own handles.
If he does like them, he is also welcome to keep them on. I’ve only had one handle without glue ever to come loose. However, if these do come loose at any time in the future, it is easy to put some glue or epoxy in and drive the shafts back in.

So here are the three Oland tools that I plan on shipping out to my friend early next month.

I noticed as I was moving the tools after the last photo that something was definitely wrong with one of them. The shaft just did not seem to look right. Upon closer inspection, I found this.
Did I turn it too thin? Did I get my hole drilled crooked somehow?
Since the handle was trash anyway, there was only one way to find out.

Somehow the hole was not drilled straight. This created a scenario where it became turned too thin on one side of the handle. This in turn made the handle crack when I drove the shaft in.
So, I will have to turn another handle before I can ship them.
I won’t bore you all with me turning one more handle. I think this two part blog showed the process of making these tools pretty well. I will be happy to answer any other questions anyone may have though.


15 comments so far

View sras's profile


6245 posts in 4286 days

#1 posted 01-29-2014 03:12 AM

These last two posts have been very interesting. I hope I need some tools like this someday (and remember to make my own…)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3999 days

#2 posted 01-29-2014 03:43 AM

Thanks Steve.
There have been many, many before me who’ve made similar tools. If I remember correctly, the man who thought of the design, Knud Oland, introduced them some time in the 70s. They aren’t hard at all to make.


View JL7's profile


8786 posts in 4122 days

#3 posted 01-29-2014 05:43 AM

Good stuff William….never know, maybe someday I’ll get the tuning bug…....

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3832 days

#4 posted 01-29-2014 05:47 AM

Just what I expected….
A well written, detailed tutorial in the making of tools!

You make it look like a relatively easy build. I can see me doing this.

Thanks for taking the time to photograph and write up the process!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Doe's profile


1437 posts in 3987 days

#5 posted 01-29-2014 10:17 AM

Wow! they look great! I’m really enjoying seeing how you’re making them.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3999 days

#6 posted 01-29-2014 11:04 AM

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 4175 days

#7 posted 01-29-2014 05:38 PM

The main reason for the ferrules is this, it holds the ends of the wood together around the shaft to keep it from splitting! It also adds decoration to it. You can cut a short piece of copper tubing of appropriate diameter and use it for “cheap” ferrules!

Good instructions there, William!

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4460 days

#8 posted 01-29-2014 05:52 PM

really good job here william, many will benifit from this..we ended up getting about 2 1/2 inches of snow here, our county roads have been closed since yesterday…and as you might have seen , birmingham was and is still a big mess, we will be in the high 60’s come saturday and maybe some rain…lol…feast to famine…of coarse we just stayed put…enjoying watching it snow…, i hope your warm and dry, and stay put until its safe….

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3961 days

#9 posted 01-29-2014 06:44 PM

Nice tool builds William. It’s always nice when you can make your own tools.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3999 days

#10 posted 01-29-2014 06:45 PM

Thanks for the info Erwin.

Grizz, it didn’t get as bad as they predicted here, but this is the south. Snow is snow. So I have been staying out and hugging to the wood heater at the shop as much as possible. The kids have been out of school. With Lisa working nights, it’s easier for me to keep them from waking her by staying at the shop.
Wasn’t sure about lights staying on, so I made a huge pot of chili Monday night a that’s what we’ve eaten the last two nights. I think if I add these beans I have on top of the heater right now, we can have chili tonight too.


View William's profile


9950 posts in 3999 days

#11 posted 01-29-2014 06:46 PM

View Dave's profile


11435 posts in 3997 days

#12 posted 01-30-2014 12:49 AM

William now I am going to have to come over and see these in action.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3999 days

#13 posted 01-30-2014 10:56 AM

Thanks Dave.
I’ve had my oland tools for a while and will be glad to demonstrate them next time you’re here.
These exact ones in this blog however, you’d have to go a long ways to see in action.
I made the other handle yesterday and packaged them up to go a looooooong ways north.
They will be leaving Mississippi probably Monday.


View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4309 days

#14 posted 02-11-2014 08:01 PM

wow thats really cool. Great metal working skills you have there.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3999 days

#15 posted 02-12-2014 06:01 AM

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