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Twisted Handles

Twisted handles are a speciality of mine. I originally came up with the idea by taking a thin offcut of wood and twisting it in my hands. I liked the shape which I saw and was looking for an original idea for handles for a cabinet I was making, so I spent some time working out ways to make them.

I tried laminating and steam bending, but neither gave me the effect that I wanted. So I went for shaping the handle out of a solid piece of wood.

My current project will have twisted handles on it, so I took some photos to illustrate their production.

First of all I selected some pieces of quarter sawn oak and cut five pieces (three are shown here) to the same size. The width, length and height of the pieces are the width, length and height of the final handles. I was careful to make the rings of the oak go vertically up the handle so that I will get the rays visible on them.

I now cut out the main bulk of the wood from the handles. I used a handsaw to do this, but you could cut more using a fine blade on a bandsaw or a fret saw.

Now to shape the handle. For this I use my Triton Bobbin sander with a Festool extractor attached. The extraction from this tool is excellent and virtually all the dust ends up in the bag and none in my lungs.

I am making a second handle here, so I am constantly comparing it to ensure it matches. The two handles must have the same degree of twist and twist in the same place otherwise it will not look correct.

Slowly I sand the shape into the handle. I turn the handle across the sander to get the shape. Being very careful of the edges and the curves. It's very easy to cut off too much and then the only option is to start again. This is why I cut five pieces of wood originally. Hopefully I won't need them all.

I constantly stop and feel the thickness of the twist using my fingers and try to keep it roughly consistent. So that the end effect does look like it has actually been twisted or bend.

Once happy with the shape, I take to hand sanding it to clean up the edges and ensure that the thickness of especially the edges is constant throughout the twist.

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