Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 1, Issue 5
July 2007
Custom-Made Saw Handles

The handle pattern outline.
Creating the template.

After you select a template, trace the pattern onto your chosen timber. I used rosewood for this example, but for your first handle, it's probably best to start with something that's a little easier to work with and a bit less costly, should you make a mistake. For maximum comfort, don't use wood less than 1" thick. However, you can go thicker if you like a chunky grip.

Follow the same steps as you did while making the template—bore the holes for the inside curves and then cut out the remainder. Be sure to cut out only the front of the handle where the kerf will go, that way, if the kerf goes wrong, you won't have wasted all that work. Take the blade for which you are making the handle and lay it on the blank. Mark the back edge of the blade to indicate how deep to saw the kerf. Also mark the location of the securing bolts.

The handle shape and the bolt locations marked on the blank.

The kerf for the blade needs to be a snug fit. To accomplish this, use the saw you're making the handle for, but with no set on the teeth. Or better yet, since ripping down the kerf without any set is harder work, use a saw with a thinner blade, but with set to make the correct width. Next, mark up the centerline using a marking gauge. Now comes the clever bit—instead of relying on a steady hand, a good eye and luck, lay both the kerf-cutting blade and the handle blank on a level surface and shim up the blade so that it's level with your gauge line. Clamp it down, double check that the height is still correct, and then simply push the handle blank back and forth, flat on the level surface alongside the blade to cut a perfectly straight and parallel kerf. Go as deep as you can, then finish off freehand using the jigged kerf to guide your saw straight and true. (Bet that was the bit that was worrying you too, wasn't it?)


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