Leather for Chisel Handles

New_LeatherIn the article “English Arts & Crafts Stool” in Issue #5, strips of leather were used as a seat. In “Replacing Chisel Handles,” the newest article release on 360 Woodworking, I demonstrate how I go about turning new handles for some of the beater chisels I pick up off Internet websites, some of which have leather-protected ends to provide a bit of grip for my mallets. Plus, it’s more comfortable when I’m paring. (Go here to get a taste of the article, or if you’re a member and logged in you can read the entire article including the 55 minute video.)

Not everyone knows that there are differences in leather, specifically how the leather is tanned. Much of today’s leather is chrome-tanned, which is done using chemicals and salts. Not what you want to use with, on or near your woodworking tools. You want vegetable-tanned leather, which is tanned using things such as tree bark and roots – I like to use three layers of leather when I add it to my handles. The pieces are glued together, then glued to the handles before being turned and smoothed.

I also turn a handle and fit it with a metal cap ring, and show how to fit a tanged chisel to a new handle. Step up to the lathe and get busy.

If you’re not yet a member of 360 Woodworking, this s the time you should check it out again. The guys just added a mid-level tier (360 Woodworking Enthusiasts). You don’t get all the bells and whistles you would as a 360 Woodworking Fanatic (a full-out woodworking crazy), but the cost of membership is greatly reduced. Check out the membership levels here.

— Ron Herman

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