A picture is not (always) worth 1000 words.

One of my pet peeves with internet auction sites is when a seller writes something like the following in the description:

“I don’t really know anything about _______ so I can’t be responsible for describing it incorrectly. See the pictures. They’re part of the description.”

Such a disclaimer is generally accompanied by pictures so fuzzy they may alternately be interpreted as a combination square, a caterpillar or the moon landing. Maybe this is asking too much of humanity, but I really wish people would (A) take the 30 seconds to Google something before listing it for sale and (B) stop binge drinking before taking the photos. Oh, and (C) at least make a good faith effort to describe the thing and answer questions honestly. We’ve all been burned and I understand a certain amount of risk is inherent at auction, but a little honesty goes a long way. It’s disappointing to get that “straight” handsaw that looks like snake tracks across the desert sand. It’s also fair to say that to some extent, the onus is on the buyer to ask intelligent questions about things the seller probably didn’t know to look for. I know I’ve been guilty of clicking “Buy it now” and then noticing something that makes me worry.

Fingers crossed. The box arrives and…

… your awesome deal on a Witherby draw knife came with the added bonus of a wobbly handle. Lesson learned. Always ask about wobbly handles from now on.

Luckily, something like that (as annoying as it may be) can be fixed. Here’s how.

  1. Try to use it.
  2. Get annoyed and hang it on the wall for three or four months
  3. Get it down, remember why it annoyed you and put it back up there for 2 more months
  4. Get it down, think “I should really put a new handle on this, but I don’t have the time.” Put it back on the wall for a minimum of 2 weeks
  5. Finally get around to working on it.

The above steps are completely optional. That was my process and it may not work for you. If you want to get right to it, here’s what I did.

  1. Go to Peter Galbert’s website and read this.
  2. Work up the courage to drive a chisel into your handle
  3. get to it.

The first thing you have to do is remove the old handle. You’re not keeping it, but you do need it to make a pattern so try to get at least one clean split.

At this point, it’s easy to move the end cap up the tang and straighten out the tang to remove the cap and ferrule.

I made a pattern from the split handle and measurements derived from the other handle.

I took that pattern to the lathe and made a replacement.

 It’s not an exact facsimile, but it was close enough that I can’t tell the difference when I’m holding it in my hand. I burnished it with shavings.

After shaping the handle, I chucked it up and drilled out the holes. 

The hole was actually stepped inside, so this required a smaller bit to come in from the bottom and a larger one from the top. I just matched the bits to the extant holes on the old handle and went from there.

After drilling the holes I did some final fitting to the ferrules by making a little jam chuck thingy.

I was concentrating so hard on putting it back on that I didn’t take any pictures, but basically it’s the reverse of taking it off. Ferrule > handle > cap > peen the tang.

It’s not perfect, but it’s also no longer wobbly and it works great. The only problem now is that I feel compelled to make one to match. The hardest part is just finding time to get around to it.



6 Comments Add yours

  1. Love the five step process you mentioned early in the post. Sounds a lot like what I do at times. Good chuckle about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Joe says:

    Thanks. I have one that has a wobbly handle and wasn’t sure how to fix it. Out of curiosity, did you clean off the rust on the tang and put some wax on it before putting the handle back on? I know that no one will ever see it. Just curious.


    1. Joe, I left the oxidation. It provides grip when inserted into the new handle. For the same reason I wouldn’t use wax or anything like that. (Moderate) Rust is actually your friend here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. momist says:

    Oh for a lathe, somewhere to put it, and the skill to use it . . . However, I love that round tuit! I want some (many!).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Symmetry is overrated.


  5. alsatiannd says:

    I love my Witherby drawknife. Best thing I bought on eBay in years. I want them all now.


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