Although I've also listed it as one, not so much a review this really, but a follow up to a throw away comment I made. Round handled spokeshaves and I don’t really get along, so an opportunity to try out this Handle Kit to create some custom handles for a Veritas shave was too good a chance to turn down. The kit itself is pretty basic; a couple of hanger bolts (or wood/metal dowels as they get called over here), a pair of brass washers, and a mandrel and bolt to install the hanger bolts with - and hold it on the lathe.

And right there is the challenge. Really this kit is a doddle to make as a simple turned handle, but making asymmetrical handles requires slightly more thought. The instructions, which can be seen here, helpfully suggest “Lathe work may be combined with other woodworking techniques, such as strip laminating and carving to create the desired shape, texture and appearance”, but the detail is left to the imagination of the handle maker… Heigh ho. About three feet of sycamore blank seemed to provide enough raw material for a practice or three, so I started to play. First up, the basics common to any handle made with this kit.
First task was to cut a couple of blanks and mark their centres in the usual way; that is diagonal lines from corner to corner to find the centre.
Regardless of the finished shape you want, you need to start with a square blank as there’s no means of knowing what orientation it’ll end up at when you’ve screwed it onto the shave body. Don’t tell me; funny looking sycamore. It’s the camera… By some quirk these ended up at almost exactly 90° to each other, as you can easily see, but it can vary considerably.
Next I taped the necessary 3/16” diameter drill bit for 5/8” hole depth, which I find easier than fiddling with the depth stop on the drill press.
I squared off both ends to make drilling for the bolt a simple matter of standing the blank on end under the drill press, but the instructions suggest a couple of methods for holding it square (and more safely, if I’m honest)
Before insertion in the blank, the bolts need cleaning to remove any grease and grime.
The hex bolt is tightened right down in the mandrel and the machine screw end of the hanger bolt is screwed in just finger tight, snug up against the base of the hex bolt. Two spanners are needed to tighten the hex bolt fully; I only have one 7/16” but found a 11mm did fine for the other.
Then it’s “just” a case of screwing in the hanger bolt into the blank. Practicing this bit turned out to be vital, especially if you intend to follow the advice and epoxy the bolts in. Luckily I didn’t, and I’m not really sure it’s needed, for what it‘s worth. Probably depends on the wood you’re using though. I managed to waste two blanks because I screwed the bolts in too deeply, and had no means of removing them without destroying the blank.
It’s a little tricky because the instructions suggest there should be 7/16” to ½” of machine screw thread protruding, but I found if I did that the thread brass washer doesn’t rest flush on the end of the blank. So of course you screw it further in, and before you know it you’ve gone too far. You can just see the shadow where the washer won’t go quite flush with the wood.

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