Wooden Handle – A woodturning project

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My wife is great in the kitchen.  I love to turn projects that she then uses to create culinary delights that I get to eat.  One day she asked if I could make a wooden handle for her tablespoon measure.  The metal spoon had lasted longer than the plastic handle.  I think it suffered contact with a stove top burner at some point.  Anyway a new wooden handle was the order of the day.Wooden Handle - an old spoon with a new handle

As I went to my shop with a spoon in my hand and little else to go by I was thinking how do I go about making a handle.  It needs to fit my wife’s hand (not too large), the spoon has to be securely attached (large enough the wood does not split) and I want it to look and feel good as well.

Design Considerations

When doing any wood turning project I either draw out the plans (bird feeder) or I mark sections off on the turning blank once it is round (weed pot).  With simple projects I want to get a sense for where each part of the turning is on the turning blank.  In this case, since I want the spoon to be well attached, I drew out a simple diagram of the spoon.wooden handle plan of handle scetched out

Drilling out the hole for the spoon required specific measurements from the spoon.  The wide part was 1/2″ wide and the narrow tang was .273” (digital calipers).  I wanted 1 1/2″ for the length of the total depth of the spoon into the handle.  So the larger drill would go in for .67” and the smaller drill would then drill another .83” in for a total of 1 1/2″.  I got confused a couple of times so the diagram was very helpful.

Because there are holes to be drilled I used a 4 jaw chuck to hold the turning blank.  You could use an alternative method of holding the wood if you wanted to.

Turning the Wooden Handle

Mount the wood on your lathe and in your multi-jawed chuck.  This is a small turning blank but you can bring the tailstock up if you want to.wooden handle mount the wood on the lathe

Part some of the wood away from the jaws of the chuck.  This will let you shape the handle of the spoon and then part it off of the lathe.wooden handle with a section parted away near the head stock

To help me drill the right depth of the holes I marked the drilling distances on the turned blank.  The large drill bit is going in to .67” then the smaller drill is going into the wood for .83” more for a total of 1 1/2″.  Use a parting tool to give you a flat surface at the bottom of the handle.wooden handle mark out the depth for the drilling

Drilling the holes for the spoon

To drill the holes into the turning blank first turn off your lathe.  Remove the live center from your tail stock and insert a collet chuck that will hold the drill bits.  Use the 1/2″ drill bit first.  Measure and place a piece of tape so that you know when to stop drilling.  Since the drill bit is stationary, it is the wood that will be spinning, you don’t need a fancy attachment.  Any piece of sticky tape will work.wooden handle the drill is ready to start and the tape is there to show how far in to drill

Retract your quill into your tail stock.  Bring the drill bit up to the wood.  Tighten the tail stock.  Turn on your lathe.  Slowly advance the drill bit into wood.  Retract the drill bit if the wood chips are not coming out and then clean the drill bit.  Keep drilling until you reach the tape mark on your drill bit.wooden handle first drilling completed

Repeat this process with the smaller drill bit.  In this case the drill bit is going 1 1/2″ into the handle.  Part has been removed by the larger drill bit.wooden handle now ready to drill with the smaller bit

It will drill into the wood for .83” and a total of 1 1/2″ from the bottom of the handle.wooden handle 2nd drill bit fully drilled

At this point you can test fit the spoon into the handle and make sure it fits properly.  We will need to turn a couple of wedges to support the spoon in the handle.  Let’s finish the handle first.wooden handle test fitting the spoon into the drilled holes

Shaping the Wooden Handle

Shape the handle to fit the hand of the user (smaller or larger).  I added a knob on the end to help hold the handle in your hand when you are measuring ingredients.wooden handle completely shaped

Once the final shape is achieved, sand and finish the handle on the lathe.  Remember to move progressively through the different grits of sand paper.  Here is how I do most of my sanding.  On this project I had a good surface from the tools and I started with 220 grit sandpaper.  Wipe the wooden handle down with a soft cloth or paper towel between each size of grit.wooden handle sanded to 800 grit

Part the handle off of the lathe.  Now you have to sand and finish the end of the handle just like you did the body.

Making the wedges

To make the wedges to help hold the handle in place I mounted a scrap piece of wood on to my lathe.  Holding the wood in the multi-jawed chuck allowed me to test the fit of the handle over the dowel that I was turning.wooden wedges initial blank

Turn down the wood until it fits into the handle.wooden wedges turned down so it will fit in the handle

Mark the length needed with a pencil and part slightly undersized with your parting tool.  When you have parted the small dowel from the lathe then use a small knife to cut the dowel in half.  Take some 150 grit sand paper and sand the flat part of the dowel.  Then assemble all the pieces needed to make the spoon.wooden handle all the pieces are ready to go

If the wedges don’t fit in do some more sanding.  It won’t take much to allow the wedges and spoon to fit into the wooden handle.  This is a test fit to make sure everything fits together.wooden handles everything fits together so it is ready to be glued

Now you glue the wedges into the handle using wood glue.  This will give you a slot for the spoon to fit in.  Once the glue has dried on the wooden wedges then apply epoxy to the spoon and fit the two together.  This will give you a nice tight bond between spoon and handle.wooden handle - an old spoon with a new handle

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  1. nice site and I appreciate the picture and instructions. Am currently not able to do any thing because of time commitments and having to relocate and buy a home but think I will be able to get started by November of this year.

  2. David Whitaker says:

    I have seen examples on YouTube, where people cut the wooden stock in half lengthwise and used a router table with a stop block and the router bit protruding half the thickness of the metal object. Then regluing the two wooden halves, with care to avoid glue in the slot. Then mounting it on the lathe and turning the handle, with a flat slot for the metal tool.

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