Archive | July, 2014

Cygnet handle

Another tutorial on making and fitting a Cygnet handle, on my smallest bowl gouge, the Cygnet. This does not come with a ferule as the shorter length and handle means that extra reinforcement is not needed, it also means there is less chance of the tool bruising the wood you are working on.

My starting point was a gouge I forged as a demo at Bodgers Ball; not quite the same as my production ones ( on reflection this sounds rather grandiose to me, I still forge them all by hand and eye) however the principles are the same. I chose an oversized piece of dry cherry for the handle. I would recommend taping up the blade for safety and to protect the edge, but haven’t in this sequence for clarity.

Cygnet 1

I then  measured the length of the tang and diagonally across the corners. I  Drilled a hole in two stages ( diameters) that was fractionally longer than the tang and matched the taper on the tang; The tang dropped in this far:

Cygnet 2

Next the brutal bit; I held the gouge in the vice and hammered the tang flush to the shoulders. Padded vice jaws would have been preferable.

Cygnet 3


Then I marked the centre line of the gouge to be certain that the handle would line up with the gouge when it was finally fitted together.

Cygnet 4

The Cygnet handle was tapped off and roughed to size with an axe, using the cross as a reference for the butt of the handle.  When driving the tang in for the first time I leave a lot of excess wood around the hole to reduce the likelihood of spitting, but once the shoulders of the tang have been set in it is safe to take it down quite fine.

Cygnet 5


I tend to rough to octagonal with the axe but finish to 12 sides with a knife, this seems like a nice balance between facets that are crisp but not too sharp. The butt should be left pretty smooth though to reduce the onset of blisters, I then oil the handle trying not to get any inside the hole.

Cygnet 6

Here you can see how the mismatched shoulders have been driven into the wood, this was not a very good forging, current gouges have much more even shoulders, however when it is all glued up it won’t show. Note the tang has been roughened with coarse paper.

Cygnet 7


Epoxy is run into the tang hole, allowed to settle at the bottom then the tang is inserted. A small amount of glue should be driven out of the hole, the amount shown is about right when the tang is pushed home fully- this is quite easy as the glue lubricates everything , if it looks like to much is going to come out, take out the tang, wipe the glue of it and reinsert. Wipe of the excess glue from the handle and when the glue is set apply another coat of oil. Pre oiling the handle ensures that the epoxy won’t stain the wood.

Cygnet 8



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