In Tricks of the Trade

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Whether you are into new socket chisels or old, sooner or later you’re going to have to replace a handle that is worn out or gets lost. Here’s a little trick I came up with to help you get the taper on the handle just right.

When turning a new handle, use aluminum foil to make a model of the socket. Pack the socket with foil and be sure to leave some hanging out to act as a handle to remove the plug. The handle also lets you safely hold it next to the lathe to compare to your turning.

Use one piece of foil. Multiple pieces could result in your template coming apart. Don’t start with too much foil or you’ll have trouble getting to the bottom of the socket. Feed in a little foil and jam it home, then feed a little more.

The tighter you get the foil in the socket the more refined the form, but because you are just establishing the angles, you don’t need to go to the gym before attempting this project. If the foil does get stuck, a long, coarse screw will extract it.

The turning does not have to match the model exactly. Use the model to get the taper angle. Make the taper a bit short of the actual depth of the socket. You don’t want the taper to bottom out in the socket.

Use calipers and a parting tool to establish the large and small diameters, then turn the taper to join the two. I like to use a 1″-square scraper to finish the taper while getting a nice straight edge. –Richard Dooling

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