I don’t know about all of you, but I really hate to waste wood. I have a lot of small blanks around the shop, so I could have easily made myself a handle for a somewhat new file in my shop. During some re-organizing I have been doing, I came across a file handle that I think came on a used file I got years ago. It had a small split towards the end where the file’s tang was driven (no surprise, right?), and had some copper wire wrapped around the same end of the handle, trying to keep the split from opening and releasing the file.
The opening in this old handle was too large for the new file, and this handle was fairly long (between 6″ – 7″), so it felt like I could re-purpose the handle. I used a narrow triangular file as my depth gauge, and with this I was able to confirm the original hole did not go too deep into the handle.
With the “depth gauge”, I made a mark showing the full depth of the hole, and then a second mark effectively off-setting from the bottom. I used my Lie-Nielsen crosscut saw to quickly remove the excess portion of the handle, and then could compare the size of the hole at depth vs. the size of hole at the original opening. As I expected, the inner portion of the hole was smaller in diameter and was perfect for the widest portion of the new file’s hole.
At this point, the hole in the new handle is only about 1/4″ deep. Rather than taking three or four different drill bits, of different sizes, so it would create an almost perfect slope for the file’s tang, I just chose one that was close to the same diameter as the tang, about 1/3 of the way down from the file, or in other words, about 2/3 up from the tip of the tang. I centered this bit in the existing hole, and while holding the handle in the face vise on my bench, drilled until the bit was just slightly deeper than was necessary to reach the portion of the tang I measured.
To seat the file in the handle, I placed the tang as deep as it would go with finger pressure, and then dropped the file/handle unit onto my bench, so the handle hit squarely on the very bottom and the file was vertical. If you listen to the sound it makes, when the handle contacts the wooden bench, you’ll know if it is well seated or not. The first light drop had a sort of dull/deadened sound, but the subsequent drops had more of a ringing type of tone. I find this usually holds the file sufficiently, but I can still get the handle off, if I decide to change to another.
After knowing the file and handle fit well together, I went back and slightly modified the handle so my fingers and thumb on the driving hand, have an indention that feels better in use, to me. I used a couple of my Auriou rasps to generate some of this indention, and to speed it up a bit, I used a somewhat shallow carving gouge to excavate some wood. When the shape felt pretty good, I used rasps and then sandpaper to remove any portion that was too coarse, but I do like to leave some texture for feel.
At this time this is all I will do to this handle, as it feels good and looks right compared to the length of the file. I may decide to apply an oil varnish finish to the handle in the future, but I guess only time will tell.
I hope everyone has enjoyed this article and might find a way to re-purpose something similar in your shop. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.