Not all ornaments need to be hollowed. In fact, all of the ornaments I’ve made to date have not been hollow. I’ve not been too worried about the weight of them since they’re always less than an ounce and I’ve never had one of my ornaments fall off of a limb because it was too heavy. Nonetheless, I wanted to hollow my ornaments moving forward and thought that this would be the perfect time to do so.
You can successfully make a small hollowing tool out of many different handy materials such as old screw drivers, allen wrenches, files, or nails. I chose to make my tools from 1/4 O1 drill rod I had left over from making my tool rest. I’ll also take you through the heat treating process since the stock I bought is not hardened.
I started off by cutting two pieces 4.5″ long with a cut off wheel in my angle grinder. I then placed the rods in a vise, heated them with a propane torch, and bent one to 45° and the other to 90°. Here’s a quick tip: Scour the area of the tang with the jaws from a bench vise or vise grips. This will create more surface area for the epoxy to adhere to and make the tool more secure in the handle. Don’t bet on doing this after you harden it though!
Now I need to harden the tool. To do this, I start off by wishing I still had access to a forge. Instead, I soldier on with a propane torch and wait. I heat the piece until it loses magnetism and quickly dunk it in a bath of old motor oil. The piece is very brittle at this point, so don’t drop it.
If you want to make sure that you’ve successfully hardened the steel, try to cut it with a file. If the file just skates over the steel, then you’re ready to temper the steel. I’m diligent to sand off the scale after quenching so that I stay married and don’t have to deal with the lovely smell of burnt motor oil in my house while I temper the pieces in the oven. I wrapped them in tin foil and put them in the oven which was preheated to 375° and let it bake for an hour. I put the pieces in tin foil to capture some of the odor in case I didn’t remove all of the scale from quenching.
After this, the tool should be around 62C. Let the piece cool before you touch it, dumb dumb! Now you’re good to go to the grinder and sharpen your tool. Or, you can be like me and sharpen the tool after it’s in the handle…
Get a handle on it!
I found some nice walnut for the handles and turned them between centers. I used twine for the ferrule because I’m cheap like that. Also, the twine will be plenty strong for these small tools.
I then drilled the hole to 1/4″ for the tang with the handle being driven at one end by the spur drive, and supported on the other end with the drill point. Set the lathe to a low speed, about 400 rpm is slow enough. Stand out of the firing line as you turn the lathe on and be ready to quickly turn it off if the handle is wobbling violently. I always get a little nervous with this procedure, but I’ve never had a handle run away from me… yet. Honestly, it just doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does. Now that I’ve scared you…Loosely hold the handle in your left hand and begin to advance the drill. Don’t forget that the piece isn’t in a chuck, so backing the drill out too quickly will pull the piece off of the spur drive if you aren’t paying attention.
If you have a chuck and the above process scares you, then by all means use the chuck!
I don’t worry about dolling up my handles too much. I like to leave them rough which gives me a better grip on the tool. The last step is to put the handle back between centers and shape the end a bit and then part it off.
Mawage is the weason we are gathured hear todayyy
- Score the tang with coarse sand paper to make a better surface for the epoxy to adhere to. No need to do this if you dinged up the tang earlier with vise grips.
- I like to mark the length of the tang with a sharpie so that I know when the tool is fully seated.
Gather your tools, handles, mallet and epoxy/super glue. Take note of the grain orientation in your handle and figure out how the tool should be positioned. You always want the grain to run vertically when the tool is in use. For a tool with a bent shaft, I like to place it in a vise and push the handle on instead of hammering on the bent tool shaft. Mix up some epoxy, slop it into the hole, and push the handle onto the tang. Use a mallet if needed.
Alright, so how to you wrap cord around a handle so that it stays in place? Well, just follow the picture instructions! Ok, I’ll walk you though it too.
First make a loop as shown. Leave enough of a tag end for you to pull on after you wrap the handle. About 2 inches is enough. Wrap the string tightly around the handle starting at the tool end and working your way back. Once you reach the shoulder, cut off your string with about 2 inches left to work with. Thread the end you just cut through the loop you made in the first step.
Pull the tag end at the tool side of the handle while keeping moderate tension on the other tag end. Pull until the loop is tucked under the other wraps. Place some CA glue on the ends if you want some extra insurance that the string will stay put.
Get your trusty pocket knife, trim the tag ends, and you’re done!