Heirloom Screwdrivers

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While cleaning out some of my shop drawers I came across my screwdriver shanks I purchased from Lee Valley (unfortunately, they have a limited supply and no longer stock the shanks, I believe) along with the brass ferrules and the 5mm brad point bit (I had a 6mm and 8mm already).  I purchased the screwdriver shanks after I saw a great video on youtube by Shawn Graham (wortheffort) called Screw the Skew.  If you want to make your own screwdrivers I suggest you purchase these.  The price is great (around $57 for all 9 shanks, ferrules, three drill bits, and shipping) and you will have them forever.  Shannon Rogers of The Renaissance Woodworker also has a great video on making handles for files and rasps.

Since I don’t use slotted screws often I chose to use the remaining cherry blank I used to make the Awl from a previous post.  I mounted the blank between centers and started making chips fly.  I used a carbide roughing tool by Harrison Specialties LLC to true the blank.  I have their rougher and finisher and I used both to make these handles but I can honestly say I do not like the finisher one bit.  I got more catches than I care to admit.  I prefer to use traditional turning tools but mine are all dull so I had to suck it up and practice.  Hence the slotted screwdrivers and the cherry handles.  I am saving my better turning blanks for the other handles.

Cherry blank, ferrule, and screwdriver shaft.
Cherry blank, ferrule, and screwdriver shaft.
Truing the cherry.
Truing the cherry.

One thing I have not quite figured out yet is the best way to part off and finish handles that do not have finials as the Awl did.  I just left about 1/4″ of material at the end, finished the handle, cut the handle off the blank with a saw, and pared the remaining material away with a sharp chisel.  Then, I sanded by hand from 150 to 600 grit and finished with the Hut Crystal Coat.

Shaping the handle.
Shaping the handle.
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Shaping the cherry blank.
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Ready to sand.

While the handle is on the lathe I sand and finish all but the small portion holding it to the blank.  I then part the handle off, sand by hand, and finish the end on the buffing wheel with carnuba wax.  This seems to work just fine but I will continue to seek out better options.

Finishing the parted end on the buffing wheel.
Finishing the parted end on the buffing wheel.

I am pleased with the feel and shape of this handle.

The finished small slotted Screwdriver.
The finished 3/16″ slot Screwdriver.
The 1/4"  slotted driver.
The finished 1/4″ slot Screwdriver.

Here are the three slotted screwdrivers with cherry handles.

Set of 3 slotted screwdrivers.
Set of 3 slotted screwdrivers.

The process was the same with the Roberts screwdrivers.  I used African Mahogany for these and changed the shape of the handles slightly.  Also, the smallest shaft was 6 mm vs. 5mm on the slotted drivers so keep note of that when making your own if you choose to do so.

African Mahogany handles on Roberts screwdrivers.
African Mahogany handles on Roberts screwdrivers.

For the more commonly used Phillips screwdrivers I used Curly Kamani I purchased from islewoods on Ebay.  They have a great selection of interesting turning stock from pens to bowls.

The Kamani (Calophyllum inophyllum) tree’s sap is poisonous and was used by the Samoans as a toxin on their arrows.  The wood was used to make the keels of their canoes.  While I was working with this wood it has a similar working property as cocobolo and bubinga.  It is slightly oily and polishes very well.

Kamani blank from islewoods.com
Kamani blank from islewoods.com
Kamani waxed and polished.
Kamani waxed and polished.
Handle finished.
Handle finished.

I am not entirely satisfied with the large Phillips screwdriver handle.  I feel it came out too narrow and had a bit of defects in the wood.  I may remake it some day but for now it will do.

3 Kamani Phillips screwdrivers.
3 Kamani Phillips screwdrivers.
Set of 9 drivers.
Set of 9 drivers. Kamani, African Mahogany, and Cherry.

 

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