Project:File Handles

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Self-Made File Handles

File handles cover.JPG
Status: in progress (also see issue #6)
Release Date: fall 2018
Initiator: Lukas
Materials Used: scrap wood, steel pipe
Tools Used: wood lathe
Approx. Cost: 0,- €

For anyone interested in woodturning, making some file handles is a great entry project! We have a bunch of naked files in the metal workshop, and if a poorly made handle should break while filing there is no real risk, much different to some other tool handles you could try to make once you're more experienced.

Here's a basic guide to help you in the process, feel free to add more content or ask whenever something is not clear :-)


What you want to have in the end are basically three features: the handle should feel nice and not break, and the file should be somewhat balanced.

  1. Feel: This part is rather simple - just turn and remove material until you are happy with the handle's shape! You can also take existing tool handles you like as a guide, of course. In the end you should give it a nice sanding so nobody gets splinters from using your handle, ideally you'll do this while the piece is still on the lathe.
  2. Stability: Harder wood might help a bit, but every handle is in danger of splitting when you drive in the file! To prevent ruining your precious piece, include a ferrule (Zwinge) in the design. You can make one very easily by just cutting and filing a piece of metal pipe, it should have a wide enough diameter for the file shaft and some wood around it. More experimentation is needed, but about 3x the file shaft diameter might be a good measure.
  3. Balance: Make sure the hole you drill into the handle is nice and straight, and the file can be inserted sufficiently. If it does not go in deep enough, widening the hole may be an option. In a first try with fir wood, the mean diameter of the file shaft was a good drill diameter.

Step by Step

Further Thoughts

  • it's important to get a proper fit in the ferrule - although usable, the first attempt resulted in a split handle due to a mistake of less than 1 mm
    • ideas: measure properly next time, heat up pipe before putting it on the wood if it's really tight, make the wood wet before inserting the file(?)
  • smaller files (key files or needle files) may not need a ferrule but should then be epoxied into a large enough hole
  • perfectly straight holes could be drilled on the lathe if we get a compatible chuck
  • different drill diameters could help with the file insertion - make stepped holes? [1]
  • oiling, waxing or otherwise finishing the handle may also be an option if you want to try that out
  • the handles don't have to be "boring" - especially for smaller sizes, various designs may be useful (some inspiration)