Bedan for a buddy

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 01-16-2022 10:18 PM 1851 views 0 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

John McClure is building a lathe from scraps and I wanted to make sure he has something to work with when he gets it working, so I made a bedan for him.

The handle is a sandwich of cherry and sycamore. I had enough of this sandwich for four handles for lathe tools. The ferrule is a piece of .50 BMG cartridge I had laying around. And the tool itself is a 10mm square HSS rod I got from China.

The first picture is just the one bedan, but four views of it, so you can see all four sides at once. Let me know if this is better (or worse) than having four separate pictures.

Steps to build this:
  1. Set up the blank between centers and turn a tenon as large as possible on one end.
  2. Put that tenon in a chuck and turn the opposite end to fit the ferrule.
  3. Back off the tailstock and put the ferrule on.
  4. Put a drill chuck in the tail-stock and drill a 1/8 inch pilot hole, making sure the chuck is holding the handle straight.
  5. Drill a half-inch hole about 3/4 the depth of the ferrule.
  6. Drill a 3/8 inch hole to a total depth of two inches.
  7. Put a live center into the hole and finish turning the handle.
  8. Trim the ferrule and wood with a hacksaw, remembering to back off the live center so you don’t saw the point of it off.
  9. Bring the live center back in, and finish the handle (I used a BLO and shellac friction finish), then part it off from the tenon.
  10. Grind about 1.5 inches of the piece of HSS to a round 3/8 inch in diameter.
  11. Grind the corners down on the piece of HSS for another half to 3/4 inch (picture 4).
  12. Put the piece of HSS into the handle, first by hand, and then pounding it in until it’s home.
  13. Mix up some epoxy (about 7.5ml, or 1/4 oz) and pour that in around the HSS, getting it slightly domed in the ferrule. You’ll probably need to pour a little, then wait for it to run in, then pour a little more.
  14. Clean up any spilled epoxy.
  15. Let the epoxy cure overnight.
  16. Finish up the handle with some paste wax.
  17. Grind the end of the bedan to 45 degrees and sharpen it up (pictures 2 & 3)

That’s it. Took me about three days elapsed time, but only a few hours of work. I was working on other projects at the same time.

Edited to add: Picture 5 is another bedan set to a different friend. It has a 1” ferrule, which is much better suited to the 3/8 square shaft. I think I’ll keep the smaller ferrules for quarter-inch tools.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

29 comments so far

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4549 days

#1 posted 01-16-2022 10:26 PM

Lucky guy, to have a friend like you.
Fine bedan, classic.
Best thoughts.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27706 posts in 4565 days

#2 posted 01-16-2022 10:47 PM

Good looking bedans, Dave. Great gift!!!!!!!..........Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10290 posts in 2041 days

#3 posted 01-16-2022 10:52 PM

Thanks, Mads! Fairly easy to make, too.

Thanks, Jim! Just one today, but I remember the feeling of having my new lathe set up, and not having any turning tools.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View oldrivers's profile


3111 posts in 3026 days

#4 posted 01-16-2022 11:17 PM

Good job and a real friend to boot.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Oldtool's profile


3511 posts in 3650 days

#5 posted 01-16-2022 11:18 PM

Nice tool build, and the instructions are very comprehensive. Nice post.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10290 posts in 2041 days

#6 posted 01-16-2022 11:27 PM

Thanks, Oldrivers! John cut some brass for me for dovetail marking gauges a few years back, so this was partly payback. Plus I like making bedans.

Thanks, Tom! I seemed to have gotten everything right this time, so I made notes before I forgot. Plus, another buddy made new inserts for my live center (which I sawed off with the hacksaw in step 8), so now I need to figure what he needs…

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View JohnMcClure's profile (online now)


1498 posts in 2100 days

#7 posted 01-17-2022 12:05 AM

Thanks, Dave!
I can’t express my appreciation for this enough. It’ll be my very first turning tool! And sycamore is my favorite wood, how did you know?
If there’s a LJ of the year award, I’ll nominate you and I think you’d win!

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

View Eric's profile


5086 posts in 1332 days

#8 posted 01-17-2022 12:17 AM

Very nicely done Dave, the handle looks like it will be comfortable in the hand. And with your write up seems like a simple tool to make. Great job. Sorry to hear about that live center tip. Good point to make on the write up

You receive the LJ Award of the Year from me too.

-- Eric, building the dream

View pottz's profile


25822 posts in 2444 days

#9 posted 01-17-2022 12:18 AM

nice bedans buddy,i used mine today on my turning swap project.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


9621 posts in 2172 days

#10 posted 01-17-2022 12:39 AM

John is 1 lucky guy to get such a very nice tool from you i love the handles GREAT JOB :<)))))))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

View BB1's profile


3199 posts in 2307 days

#11 posted 01-17-2022 01:52 AM

I know nothing of turning but can see the quality and thought that went into this gift. Nice job!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10290 posts in 2041 days

#12 posted 01-17-2022 02:20 AM

You’re welcome, John! I didn’t know sycamore was your favorite, but it made a pretty handle. And thanks!

Thanks, Eric! Felt okay in my hand, but maybe a little small. But since I have huge paws, that’s usually about right for everyone else.

Thanks, Pottz! I think it’s a pretty dang useful tool.

Thanks, Tony! Pretty simple, especially if you build up the handle blanks ahead of time. I’ve got another set ready to be cut into individual handles on the bandsaw.

Thanks, Barb! I think this was my fifth bedan, so I’ve kinda worked out the procedure.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleDD's profile


11290 posts in 3502 days

#13 posted 01-17-2022 03:40 AM

Neat looking bedan Dave. John is a lucky guy. I wish him well on his lathe build. I have a few handles that look like that too I believe. Very nice work all around.
Hey Dave, what do you use for your parting tool.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10290 posts in 2041 days

#14 posted 01-17-2022 04:08 AM

Thanks, Dave! I sometimes use a bedan for parting, but I also have the first, third and last parting tools in this picture (from ToolsForWorkingWood ). The first is for when I’m trying to do thin cuts, such as for lidded bowls. The middle is my go-to, especially for marking depths on a spindle (though I do that with a peeling cut on a bedan, too), and the last fluted one is on backorder, but I’ll actually have it in my hands one of these days. I’m hoping it’ll give me less cleanup when I part things off.

But I will also part using a skew doing a v-groove cut. That’s how I did most of the parting on this, taking it down to about a quarter inch, then sawing through the last bit. It all depends on what’s already in my hand and what’s sharp, which means skews and bedans a lot of the time now.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleDD's profile


11290 posts in 3502 days

#15 posted 01-17-2022 04:21 AM

Looks like a good arsenal for parting. I think you have all corners covered.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

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