Brush making, using what you got.

Discussion in 'Brush Making and Restorations' started by .223rem, Feb 11, 2019.

    Hello all,
    I've been thinking about trying my hand at brush handle making.
    I'm a pretty handy guy, and a machinist by trade. That being said, I don't have a wood lathe but I do have a manual steel lathe and a CNC lathe I have pretty much full access to.

    My plan is to CNC the basic profile, everything except the handle bottom. I'll then fit the piece on a mandrel in order to do all the sanding, finishing, sealing with CA glue ect either on a manual lathe or my drill press.

    My main questions are in regards to the mandrel. The plan is to have a shaft that will fit into the knot hole, with a screw sticking out of the end. So that the wooden handle can be screwed on to the mandrel which can then be held in a 3 jaw chuck.

    Heres to pictures to help explain, nothing is to scale just a quick mock up so you know what I'm talking about lol. The screw (or bolt) would of course be through the centre of the mandrel. The mandrel itself will be aluminum and sized to the knot hole.



    The rotational force will all be clockwise, so it'll tighten as it spins and the force will be super low because all it'll be doing is sanding, filing ect.

    When I turn out the knot hole, I'll drill and tap a hole in the middle to accommodate the screw. I hope this is clear, not being a carpenter I'm not sure what would be a better way to hold my work piece. A wood screw sticking out of the mandrel with a pilot hole in the handle, or a bolt with a drilled and taped hole in the handle. I'm going to be taking the work piece on and off at least twice so it can't get to loose.

    Any of you pros have any input? I hope I'm being clear. Thanks for any help.

    If I get this hair brained plan off the ground I'll be sure to post pictures showing the whole process so others can learn from my mistakes.
  1. I'm learning alot about making brush handles so I won't try to advise on wether this method would be good or not, but here is a thread about setting the depth of the knot I have found very informative. Brush Knot Depth?
  2. Start with longer stock and chuck the OD of the stock. Drill the knot hole, or at least a pilot hole then insert the live center tailstock to hold the work steady. Shape the handle. Final sand the handle and finish with CA if that is the finishing material you want. Finish the hole. Part it off where you want the base of the handle to be. Turn the handle around and chuck the other end leaving the unfinished base exposed. Wrap the handle with a rag if needed to keep it from getting marred. Finish the base like you did with the rest of the handle.
  3. That's mostly what I plan on doing, I'm not sure however that chucking lightly on a non cylindrical diameter is going to work out.

    I should clarify, the main thing I'm not sure of is holding the work on the mandrel. Would a wood screw, or a machined thread hold better in wood. My expertise is metal working.

    Thanks to you two guys for the advice.
  4. A threaded mandrel is the best way IMO. I use a 3/8 16TPI mandrel, with a 1” disc at the start of the threads for the bottom of the handle to butt up against, which is very important. The strength of the hold comes mostly from the friction of the wood seated against the disc, much like a scroll chuck where the jaws grip the tenon but the real holding strength comes from the flat surface of the wood seated against the jaws. There’s a lot of friction there, and that’s good for holding the blank in place when it’s spinning. I prefer to drill the cup for the knot then the hole for the mandrel then shape just the top of the brush before screwing onto the “screw chuck” or threaded mandrel. This allows me to turn the handle with no fear of it being slightly off center when I reverse it, will ALWAYS happens, although usually it’s no more than a few hundreths of an inch. One could turn the entire handle and part off the bottom, then reverse and slightly concave the bottom as well. The tiny amount it will be off is usually unnoticeable. IMO that screw jig you have won’t work, you want a thicker machine screw at the very least, and it needs to be perfectly centered and parallel to the turning axis of the lathe. Otherwise your idea should work very nicely. And here’s my big secret folks. Buy a 3/8” 16 TPI self threading bottlestopper mandrel from Woodcraft. Slide it into a collet and you’ll be turning handles like a pro! When it comes time to sand, slide the madrel out a little bit so you can get to the top of the cup, sand then finish.
  5. I've turned bottle stoppers on a mandrel and my first two brushes where on a mandrel. Using the tail stock as much as possible. The mandrel I have dosn't fit deep enough for the handles I make now because of the depth of the knot hole. The first few I made I didn't drill the knot holes deep enough. There are others hear with allot more experience than me, but I think it would work well if you have a mandrel that fit. The mandrel for the bottle stoppers had a bolt type thread as apossed to a wood screw thread. Like this.


    Bottle stoppers handles and brush handles are very similar.
  6. Thanks a lot Cigarsmoka and Gaw9576, thats exactly the sort of info I was looking for. I never intended to work off of the mock up posted earlier, it was just to clarify what I was talking about. I spun up a mandrel today. I'll size the large diameter to fit snug in the knot hole, once I have knots in hand and know how big the handle will be.

  7. That should work perfectly. With the longer shaft you should have no problem with the hole being too deep. That’s a big reason why I prefer a collet chuck over a collet/drawbar setup. You can pull the mandrel out of the chuck a bit if you need to, with a regular collet you don’t have that option.
  8. That looks really nice. Being able to custom turn that to size is going to be very helpful. And you could make several different sizes. Or make a 2 piece and switch out the collar.
    BTW if you want to tag someone in a post to be sure they see it put an @ in front of there username like this @.223rem
  9. Just watched this video and thought it might be of interest to you @.223rem
    I know I would love to have these in several sizes.
  10. @GAW957 Thanks for that :a14: I thought of making something the expanding internal collet but I didn't want to start a whole new project figuring out how to make it work. I really like the O ring one, that's super simple to make, and it could be done with a single body, and different sized bushings and O rings for different diameters.

    If I have time I might try spinning one up and report back here on how it works.
  11. Glad you like the link. I was kind of thinking a slightly smaller center shaft with multiple sets of bushings and O rings would be a good way to go. If you do make multiple size bushings, soft rubber washers with the center hole the size of the center shaft and outer diameter the the same as the bushings may work better than o-rings.. The big o-rings would be to big for the small center shaft. If that makes sense.
  12. FWIW I used to use internal expanding collets and didn’t care for them for a few reasons, the biggest one being that the piece never exactly centered when it was flipped around. Sometimes it wasn’t bad, many times it was awful. I rarely use them anymore unless there’s no other way for holding whatever I’m turning. You may have better luck but they just didn’t make the grade for me. I find a threaded mandrel to be far more accurate.
  13. Thank you for the experienced input @CigarSmoka I haven't used them but they sure looked appealing. I have commonly had trouble centering work well when flipping it to work on the other side.
  14. You’re quite welcome. Another problem with IX collets is the hole you drill for them needs to be very precise. It’s not uncommon at all for the runout on a lathe - especially a wood lathe - to exceed the tolerance of the collet. In simple terms, if you drill on your lathe like I do, sometimes the hole ends up being bigger than the collet will expand.
  15. Graydog

    Graydog Contributor

    When I First started I would use a screw chuck and then recommended by someone
    I started using the Beall collet , I mostly still use this.
    It seems to work out ok for Me , I sometime use the chuck and other time I use the MT mount .

    Attached Files:

  16. It was probably me. I used mini jaws for a very short time then a Beall IX collet exclusively for quite some time, always having to find a work around when it didn’t center. After moving on to a threaded mandrel I’ll never use anything else. Combined with a collet chuck I can turn the entire handle after it’s mounted, although I normally turn just the top of the cup before flipping just because it’s easier when it’s facing the tailstock since there’s more room to work.
  17. Thanks for showing what you use @Graydog, you seem like a pro for sure.

    Anyways, I scored some free oak scrap the other day so I thought I'd start playing around. My boss is interested in this project and he thought it'd be neat to see if I could use a steel lathe as a wood lathe. I thought it'd be nice to do it the old fashioned way; instead of CNC, so I gave it a try.

    It was pretty easy, I found a big piece of tool steel to put in the tool post to use as a rest. Then I honed up an old wood chisel (not a turning one, the kind you'd use with a hammer). I must say, it worked pretty good. I wasn't trying to really make anything, just seeing how the wood acts, how to polish smooth ect.
    I'm going to buy a few basic but proper tools and keep fooling around while I wait for my knots.


  18. Graydog

    Graydog Contributor

    Very nice make sure to post photo's when you're done
  19. I like that shape. Oak can be a pain to get smooth but if you are just practicing it dosn't mater. Look forward to seeing a finished brush from you.

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