Sunday, April 26, 2015

The making of a handle...

The making of a handle...  I had a little fun in the workshop this morning – I made a handle for one of the ropes that lifts the hatch in my barn's loft.  The finished handle is shown at right, attached to the hatch-raising rope and secured with a figure-eight knot.

The wood is mahogany, salvaged from a 2 x 4 used to hold the headstock for my lathe, on the pallet it was shipped on.  Awfully nice wood to use for that purpose!  It's finished with Watco, uncolored.  It makes a darned nice handle!

If you're interested in the details of how I made it, with photos, click on the break below...

I started with the salvaged mahogany 2 x 4, which was 18" long.  The first step was to rip it into two identical, almost square pieces.  The dust collector worked extremely well on the saw.  You can see in the photo below that there was almost no dust when I was finished. 

Then I mounted one of the pieces on the lathe, which was a bit of a learning experience for me, as I'd never done any “spindle work” (turning a long, thin piece of wood) before.  The first turning step was to cut off all the corners to turn the rectangular cross-section into a round cross-section.  That took about 15 minutes of very rough cutting.  When I was done, I had a piece of cylindrical mahogany.  The last step of the turning was to round the ends a little, and cut some grooves to guide my hands when I pulled the handle.  Still in the lathe, I sanded (80, 220, 330 grits) to get a nice, smooth surface.

The final sanding I did out of the lathe, using a random orbital sander to sand the ends of the wood.  Onto the drill press to drill a 1/2" hole for the rope, and then a couple coats of Watco (clear).  The finish brought out the beautiful mahogany grain very nicely.  The last step was to thread the rope through the hole, tie a figure-eight knot to secure the rope in the handle, and voila!  The classiest hatch-raising rope handle you ever did see...

Just prior to ripping
Dust collector in action
Unfinished mahogany business
Not perfectly square
Set up on the lathe
Some initial roughing in
Depth cuts
All roughed up
All done turning
All done sanding
Drilling the rope hole

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