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Best Wood For Tool Handles

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Forum topic by CRAIGCLICK posted 05-02-2018 04:56 PM 704 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CRAIGCLICK

117 posts in 582 days


05-02-2018 04:56 PM

Hi All.

I’m in the process of restoring a hand plane and I am going to have to replace the tote, which is broken and the knob, which is missing.

The originals were mahogany per the timetestedtools site, but since I’m a hot rodder at heart, I want to do something a little more distinctive.

Does anyone have any suggestions about the best type of wood to use for tool handles? I’d like something distinctive, but which will hold up to actual use.

Any ideas?

-- Somewhere between raising hell and amazing grace.


10 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

586 posts in 1128 days


#1 posted 05-02-2018 05:07 PM

I replaced a tote about 35 years ago and used some hard maple. The light color is fairly distinctive and has held up well over the years. I think I just slapped on a couple of coats of BLO. This plane has touched almost every project I’ve ever done, so it has seen a fair amount of work for a hobbyist.

-- Sawdust Maker

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bondogaposis

5540 posts in 2859 days


#2 posted 05-02-2018 06:46 PM

Bubinga comes to mind, I think that is what is used on Veritas planes. LN uses cherry. A lot of old Stanleys are rosewood. Any of the Dahlbergia species are hard to get and expensive these days. Really any hardwood is suitable.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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bbasiaga

1243 posts in 2503 days


#3 posted 05-02-2018 06:50 PM

Purple heart? Pretty flashy.

-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

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Andre

2793 posts in 2314 days


#4 posted 05-02-2018 06:56 PM

Tiger Wood for the racing stripes? Or just laminate strips of Walnut and Maple? Do it in tapers to give the visually illusion of motion!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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JayT

6295 posts in 2719 days


#5 posted 05-02-2018 07:23 PM



Really any hardwood is suitable.

- bondogaposis

Yep. I’ve made plane totes from walnut, macacauba, bubinga, jatoba and quarter sawn sycamore. The sycamore is definitely distinctive, but not as tough as some of the other woods. Other LJ’s have made some distinctive pieces, as well. TerryR has wenge furniture for his planes, which looks great, but he said never again because of the splintery nature of the wood. HorizontalMike has done zebra wood and DonW has made some from bloodwood and some great laminated pieces, too. Laminating different species would give some “flash” and also help the strength if you cross laminated the grain.

-- https://www.jtplaneworks.com - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View CRAIGCLICK's profile

CRAIGCLICK

117 posts in 582 days


#6 posted 05-02-2018 07:30 PM

I considered purple heart, but it loses its color after a while. A nice figured maple would be nice and subtle.

I like the tiger wood idea, I’m also considering bocote, leopardwood, canarywood, or olivewood.

-- Somewhere between raising hell and amazing grace.

View RobHannon's profile

RobHannon

317 posts in 1039 days


#7 posted 05-02-2018 07:37 PM

Pistachio wood I think would look very sharp for a handle.

View Andre's profile

Andre

2793 posts in 2314 days


#8 posted 05-02-2018 10:23 PM



I considered purple heart, but it loses its color after a while. A nice figured maple would be nice and subtle.

I like the tiger wood idea, I m also considering bocote, leopardwood, canarywood, or olivewood.

- CRAIGCLICK

I bought a small Opinel knife just because of the Olive wood scales, reminded me that somewhere in the shop there is a chunk of Olive wood hiding!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1452 posts in 3269 days


#9 posted 05-03-2018 03:54 PM

I made all of my tool handles for the 62 carving gouges I made a couple of years ago from”tiger” maple and purple heart. The purple heart works, but it is very hard and somewhat brittle. Not fun to work with. Also, as mentioned above, it looks great when cut and worked, but turns a dark reddish brown as it ages. The tiger maple came out great! Works well and if you stain using yellow dye like Transtint dye before you varnish it, the figure in the wood really “pops” and looks terrific. Tiger maple ain’t cheap, though. But you will only be using small pieces and not using it for flooring. My source is http://curlymaplewood.com/curlymaplewood.html. Links to my carving tools are

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/265290
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/183218
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/183330

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Lazyman's profile (online now)

Lazyman

3955 posts in 1896 days


#10 posted 05-03-2018 04:06 PM

If you want something distinctive, something like this might fit the bill.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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