Shop-made Chatter Tools

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Project by Glen Peterson posted 01-18-2014 12:56 AM 2451 views 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Chatter tools are a type of turning that can put a decorative “chatter” pattern on the end grain of turned objects. In November and December I made many turned boxes. While doing research on box turning I saw lots of boxes with chatter. I’m not sure if I like the look or not, but I wanted to check it out and like anything else learning to get good looking chatter takes some practice. Since I like making tools I researched chatter tools on the web and found several sites with instructions. I followed one by Gary Webster. I’m not much of a machinist, but drilling and tapping 3/8” galvanized pipe wasn’t very difficult. The blades are made from 1/2” band saw blades. One is concave and one is convex the tip. I’m going to experiment with other bits of steel for blades such as jig saw blades. It seems that lathe speed and the density of the wood affect the chatter pattern too. The 3rd photo is one of the early tests showing chatter on walnut. The handles are white oak about 10” long and about 1.25” in diameter at the thickest part. Finished with a simple home made beeswax & maple oil concoction.

-- Glen

5 comments so far

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2920 days

#1 posted 01-18-2014 01:12 AM

I like the look of the chatter tool when used on dark and very hard woods. It looks like yours work very well. I hope you’ll do a build blog for those of us who might be thinking of “borrowing” the idea.

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View Woodknack's profile


13503 posts in 3262 days

#2 posted 01-18-2014 06:37 AM

Actually that is one of the better looking chatter patterns I’ve seen, most look like someone messed up. I’ve had making a chatter tool in the back of my mind, might follow your example.

-- Rick M,

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 3938 days

#3 posted 01-18-2014 11:49 AM

I agree with you, about most chatter looking messed up.

I did a google search for shop made chatter tool. Found several sites with directions as well as some you tube vids. The working end is just a piece of pipe. Turn a dowel that’s a tight fit inside the pipe. Cut it in half, glue half into the pipit. This provides a base for the blade. Drill and tap holes opposite the dowel for thumb screws or set screws to hold the blade securely to the dowel. Some chatter tools are just a length of pipe. There’s really no need to insert it into a turned wooden handle. There’s plenty of info out there. I really followed Gary Websters plan closely.

-- Glen

View bch's profile


301 posts in 3571 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 05:05 PM

I have never heard of chatter before, but I like the look! Thanks for sharing.

-- --bch

View mafe's profile


12609 posts in 3971 days

#5 posted 03-25-2014 08:49 PM

Super cool, nothing like self made tools.
Lovely work as always.
Best thoughts,

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

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