How to Make a Parting Tool
From A Sawzall Blade
I really enjoy making my own woodturning tools, if for any reason, just to see if I can do it! So I thought I would make my own parting tool for woodturning.
I’ve made a couple of turning tools with carbide cutters, and some with HSS cutting blanks, all turned out to be very useful. It’s very rewarding for me to make my own tools…. although, there’s nothing like an expensive bowl gouge made with the best metal and sharpened properly.
I had a parting tool with my cheap set of chinese tools. It was about 1/4″ wide and works well, even if I have to sharpen it often. But I needed a thin parting tool for my woodturning projects and something that I could hold in my hand. I was looking for a parting tool with a 1/16″ to 1/8″ blade and found a couple out there costing anywhere between 20 and $30 dollars.
Sorby Parting Tool
Sorby makes a really nice parting tool and I probably would have purchased it if I didn’t get the urge to make my own parting tool. I remember watching a capt’n eddie video about making a parting tool http://www.woodturningbasics.com/make-your-own-parting-tool-diy-parting-tool-plans/ so I thought I would try it mysyelf.
DIY Parting Tool Marterials
I used an old Lennox Sawzall or Reciprocating Blade for the blade of my wood lathe parting tool. I must have throw a couple hundred of those away throughout my lifetime. My wife gives me a hard time about saving stuff, I think I thru a whole box of old blades away thinking I would never sharpen them or use them again….. never fails, as soon as you throw something away you figure out you need it!
I shaped the end of the blade like the Sorby Parting Tool, double angle look. I then cut the end of the blade off to square it off and I cut and ground down the teeth.
Next I took the blade over to the disk sander and ground it down to bare metal. I got it looking nice and shiney, looked pretty good. Since I’m not a metal guy, I was starting to impress myself 🙂
Making Handles For DIY Parting Tool
I cut some 1/2″ handle halves from some Catalpa Tree wood I had laying around that was pretty dry. The stuff is hard as nails. I then traced the location of the blade on each wood handle half. Then I took out a sharp chisel and chiseled out the traced area on both sides so the blade would sit in the chiseled out area and the wood halfs would meet together flush.
You want to chisel out the handle a little deeper than the blade thickness to allow for some epoxy to get between the blade and the wood handle on both sides. I think I used a 30 minute epoxy to glue the handles together. You can get 30 minute epoxy …yep just click on that link or check out your local big box store.
Make sure you clamp up the handles nice and tight, wipe off any excess epoxy that oozes out from the handles being squeezed together. Its easier to clean it up now that after it gets hard.
Attaching Handles to Your
New Woodturning Parting Knife
I followed the steps above and then took the clamps off. It looked good and I probably could have gotten away without having to add rivets to the handles. But, I thought it would look cool with some brass riviets. You can buy special rivets from knife making suppliers, there are 3 different types, check out the video I put on at the bottom of the article on Make Your Own Parting Tool at the end of the page.
I’ll talk a little more on rivets a little latter. First I wanted to talk about drilling the holes for the rivets. I used a 1/4″ brass rod, think I got it from Home Depot or Menards. So after I took off the clamps I laid out  1/4″ holes to drill through the wood handle, through the metal blade and out the other wood handle half.
Like I mentioned before, I’m not a metal guy. Just learning this stuff 🙂
Drilling Holes In Your New Parting Tool
I guess that sawzall blade is hardened steel, so….. drilling through it was a real pain! I couldn’t start with a 1/4″ drill bit…it went through the wood but stopped dead when it hit the steel blade. I ended up starting with a 1/16″ drill bit and had to use cutting oil, had to use cutting oil with each size increase of the drill bit and it kinda trashed the wood handle!
So, if you’re gonna do this and you are really anal about what it looks like, you had better predrill the steel so you don’t mess up the wood handle. I know that’s what I’ll do next time.
Next I cut the brass rod about 3/16″ longer than the thickness of the handle. I put some epoxy on the brass pins and in the holes of the handle. Then I used the smallest hammer I could find to ping the brass rivets on both sides. I really needed a small ball peen hammer …never really knew what those things were used for …got a good idea now 🙂
I did pretty good, but got carried away and cracked the handle on both sides on different riviets!
You really don’t need to smush out the brass rivets that much because you’ll take the handle to a belt sander or a disk sander and sand down the handle and the soft brass rivets. So, that’s what I did. I just used the disc sander to round off the edges and flatten the flat of the handle. Then took it to my 1″ belt sander and further shaped it.
I took some 120 grit sandpaper and then 220 grit to it, got it nice and smoother and put a couple coats of clear shellac on it.
The only thing I had to play around with was the top and bottom angle in the front cutting edge of the parting tool. As I write this, I can’t remember what the angle was….will have to come back and let you know latter. I just keep trying until I found something that cuts well.
That’s about it.
My DIY Parting Tool doesn’t look like it came from a factory but from someone’s shop….my shop!
I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to make the tools. Not sure why. I have designed and built multimillion houses, strip malls, factories and some pretty big and expensive room additions ….I get more satisfaction out of making one of these tools that actually works than any of those big projects.
Here’s a quick video I did …just made of some still pics with my narration, I think its about a minute or so but will give you an idea of what and how I make my own parting tool 🙂
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