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Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Tapered Octagonal and Hexagonal Handles

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I have made a few London Pattern octagonal handles, and I have given most of them away because I really don't like them as well as my turned handles.

But I wondered if I might like them better if they were tapered.

So, I made another jig to hold the piece in while I cut it.

The jig is a 5 1/2 wide board. I added ends and glue blocks to stiffen the jig against deflection when the screw is tightened. Everything is glued and screwed together.

At one end I used a wood screw for a center because the cut has to be made close to center. On the other end I used a simple 1/4-20 screw. This screw goes into a shallow 1/4 hole in the large end of the handle.

The pressure from the 1/4 screw forces the other end against the stop providing necessary friction so the handle will not move while it is being cut.

As with the previous article about making London Pattern Handles, it is necessary to register every fresh cut against the 45o side of a square head for correct alignment before making the next cut.

When the jig was done except for the sled angle, I measured a taper on the side that goes against the fence. I then cut and planed that angle (marked with arrow). I decided that the first piece I did had too much taper, so I cut it again. If I decide I want different tapers, I can cut long wedges and fit them to the fence side. It is easy to increase the taper, but not so easy to reduce it.

The pencil lines were made before the sides were cut, and were made for the purpose of finding approximate center. The lines do not delineate the flats.

Here is the small end.

Because the octagon cuts were made while the handle was mounted in the jig on centers, the piece will now spin true in the lathe.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.
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