Hollowing chisel - DIY

I recently made a little pencil holder vase as a Christmas present, but I had so many problems hollering it. I bent 3 of my cheap harbor freight chisels. I decided to look for a more sturdy hollowing chisel but when I looked online I found the pricing to be wah wah wee wah! For good ones at least. So I started researching how to make one and I found some good information. I consulted my brother – an expert metalworker who has forgotten more about metal working than I ever knew about woodworking. He told me how to harden and temper tool steel (quench in USED motor oil, which has more carbon content than new) but it’s a lot of work with stuff I have difficulty with, like tempering, which requires a toaster oven due to the stink.

Anyway, I came up with the idea of using a big arse screwdriver. It’s tool steel and relatively cheap. So I went to harbor freight to see what they have. Well, they have a 2 piece set of 20″ × 3/8" screwdrivers for $10. Nice… I grabbed it and went home.

Next day I knocked the plastic handle off and shaped the cutting end by first cutting an angle with my grinder and then final shaping with my bench grinder. I can’t believe how sharp it is. Maybe it’s not so sharp but the weight of it really holds things in shape. I tested it with a piece of scrap and it cuts like butter.

Then I set to making a handle. I have a small cedar trunk from a tree that came down in a storm a few years ago. It was the right size and something I like so I strapped it in to my lathe and went to town on it with the chisel I just made.

Then I put a copper slip coupling on the end for a collet and shaped the handle and sanded. Then I rounded the handle end of the screwdriver and drilled the hole to fit the thing into the handle. Then, of course, I broke it when pounding the the thing into the handle. Uggggg!!! Then I cut a couple inches off and put it back on the lathe. New copper collet, new sanding, lost only about 2". :-)

Anyway, I’m happy with the final result. It’s awesome and it fits like a glove under my arm. Now I need some new lumber to make bowls and vases. Maybe I can get some on my parents farm at Christmas.

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5 Comments

MJCD ...

Talk about skills that I do not have… props for being creative, and executing the idea. Also, one ‘benefit’ of having my small shop is that I can’t house the lathes, wide belt sanders, a glass furnace (I would enjoy this…), and many other pieces of equipment that tempt me.

Keep the wood chips flying… my understanding is that it is a very satisfying and challenging craft.
MJCD

Brian ...

To be clear, I did NOT harden/temper it. It works so well right off the bench grinder that I decided to leave it like it is. If it gives me problems down the road, I will buy some carbide tips and fashion the other screwdriver to hold the tip instead of trying to harden/temper it.

Brian ...

MJCD, I have a tiny shop too. As you can see in one of the photos, this tool is about as large as my small lathe. :-)

I would like a much larger lathe, but I have no room to store it. I have it set up for use on the side table of my table saw, but when not in use it goes on the floor. I don’t have room for a free standing one even if it were on casters that I could roll around.

That actually gives me an idea. I have one more shop furniture project that is way way back on the back burner and that is a new work bench. I wonder if a flip top work bench with a large lathe bolted to one side makes any sense. I’ll have to think about that. :-) I’d have to give up a lot of storage space for that to work. Probably would not be worth it. :-(

a1jim ...

Brian ...

OH NOES! :-(

A little too pithy, I guess. Back to tried and true rock maple. Too bad. The colors were beautiful.

More Creations Brian

Hollowing chisel - DIY