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How to turn a matching pair of handles

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SillyOldDuffer01/03/2017 17:26:37
8719 forum posts
1972 photos

When I was a wee-wee tot one of my little friends lost the handles and axle of great-granny's rolling pin. We were using it in a sword fight across a building site.

As a result of this juvenile delinquency my poor mum has had to flatten pastry with just the wooden roller for nearly 70 years.

As it's her birthday next month I thought I'd surprise her by turning a pair of new handles and an axle in Aluminium, thus returning a Victorian family heirloom to full operating condition.

The shape of the handle isn't critical: it might look like this FreeCad mock up:


I think I could approximate that shape once, but not twice. As it's important for the look of the rolling pin for the two handles to match, what's the best way of making two curved handles exactly the same?

I have a manual lathe, a milling machine and junior turning skills.



Ian P01/03/2017 17:44:02
2590 forum posts
114 photos

I'd wager that the original Victorian handles did not look anything like your CAD drawing!

Not sure I would use aluminium for the axle or the handles as it might make your Mum's hands black in use.

I am sure you can make a pair of handles that are identical just using standard eyesight, maybe withe the aid of a ruler and simple calipers.

Ian P

not done it yet01/03/2017 18:08:06
6819 forum posts
20 photos

When knitting socks on a Victorian knitting machine I often need to make three socks to get a good matching pair. My wife does not have that problem!

Practice makes perfect? Make several as similar as possible and select the best pair. Make them on a single piece of wood and cut them later, not turning them singly, unless you have some form of template.

Chris Evans 601/03/2017 18:28:50
2057 forum posts

Do a bit of simple trig. Calculate some steps/angles to simulate the required radius and blend out with a file. I used to make fancy shape cores for injection moulds and pressure dies this way. CNC now saves the younger ones the bother.

Neil Wyatt01/03/2017 18:42:52
19041 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

If I were your mum, I would be very grateful and then belt you round the back of the head with it! "Don't take 70 years next time, my lad!"

Rough it out by angling the top slide and cutting to pre-determined marks. Blend one by hand, then cut a template to fit and do the next. Then duck...

(This could make one of the legendary MEW Kitchen Appliance articles).


Nick_G01/03/2017 18:47:37
1808 forum posts
744 photos


Be a good boy and don't short change you mum and make them out of brass. smiley

These are not super critically sized matching items are they. I would step process them. i.e.


2 lengths of brass turned to dia.
Taper turn one angle with the top slide. Swop stock and do the other the same. ( few thou diff runout ain't going to matter a jot )
Change top slide angle.
Repeat and change stock. 
Change top slide angle
Repeat and change stock over. etc, etc.
Chuck a few grooves in for bonus. etc, ect.
Blend edges in with a file so nice and 'Victorian' .
Polish with gradually finer abrasive.
Part off. - But consider how they are going to attach to rolling pin.

Send me the next pie she bakes. wink


Edited By Nick_G on 01/03/2017 18:52:36

JasonB01/03/2017 18:52:44
22782 forum posts
2660 photos
1 articles

As Nick says keep changing the stock over and do the same process to both pieces making note of teh handwheel positions for the first then just turn to the same settings on the second part.

Just have a way to make sure both parts go into the chuck in the same position

Robbo01/03/2017 18:59:44
1504 forum posts
142 photos

Buy a pair of file handles made of beech and drill a hole down them for the axle.

Beech is a traditional wood for kitchen utensils.

My Mother's rolling pin just had handles turned on the ends as part of the roller.

Nick_G01/03/2017 19:04:34
1808 forum posts
744 photos
Posted by Robbo on 01/03/2017 18:59:44:

My Mother's rolling pin just had handles turned on the ends as part of the roller.


Ahhhhh. Very practical. - That design was meant for bashing miscreants over the head with and not for fencing like the OP's mums was. laughwink


Frances IoM01/03/2017 19:45:40
1272 forum posts
28 photos
when I did my cookery course + later in my own kitchen the rolling pins were just plain cylinders - easier to apply a light uniform pressure to pastry - your hands are covered with flour anyway.

Edited By Frances IoM on 01/03/2017 19:46:04

Neil Wyatt01/03/2017 20:04:06
19041 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

A vintage British Rollin Pin with constant-feed lard-lubricated bronze-bushed bearings will always create better pastry than a cheap Far-Eastern knock-off with sealed-for-life taper rollers and DRO.


john swift 101/03/2017 20:18:10
318 forum posts
183 photos

as metal handles will be cold to the touch I would look at using two  wooden file handles and a length of dowel

file handle.jpg

with the correct diameter of handle you could cut off the metal ferrule to look like this -

old rolling pin.jpg





Edited By john swift 1 on 01/03/2017 20:28:21

Weary01/03/2017 22:12:05
378 forum posts
1 photos

John Swifts solution immediately above looks like a good one, but you may want to know that Thorpe rolling-pin handles are available as a spare part. Seemingly only in the US tho'. A bit of searching and shopping around may find a UK based supplier or a US based shipper who can keep the total cost below US$25 to avoid customs charges etc.



Nick_G01/03/2017 22:26:00
1808 forum posts
744 photos


Guy's you are missing the point. ( I think )

The OP wants to make and do something for his mum. smiley Yes there may be simpler and cheaper options. - Bit like a hand made birthday card will always mean much more than a fantasmagorical shop bought one.


john swift 101/03/2017 22:55:57
318 forum posts
183 photos

Hi Nick

If its more important to Dave to make the handles rather than just restore the rolling pin to its original condition

Then if I was Dave , I would make the handles more like the original shape in wood or nylon ( not that my choice matters )

hopefully by now Dave will enough options to choose from


john swift 102/03/2017 00:22:57
318 forum posts
183 photos

Hi Robbo

I'm not sure how I missed your reply – two minds one thought I see !

Hi Dave

have you decided on what material your going to use ?

If you wanted to make a large quantity of handles I would of suggested using a form tool

(having watched a 3” wide form tool turning hex brass bar down to two diameters with a sphere on the end – a small hexagon being left to use a spanner to tighten the finished banjo coupling )

just making two handles

one option could be to make them one at a time if you

turn the handles down to the finished diameter at 3 key location then turning the rest free hand into curves blending them to fixed diameters


Ian S C02/03/2017 08:51:58
7468 forum posts
230 photos

Make the handles from wood. Before you start make a template from card or sheet metal.

Ian S C

SillyOldDuffer02/03/2017 11:06:13
8719 forum posts
1972 photos

Thanks again chaps; really good suggestions. Lots to think about.

I would like to make the handles in metal mainly because I can. Actually, wood or nylon would be more user-friendly. On the other hand brass handles would be downright impressive.

I think I need to experiment. It may be possible to turn these by eye, though I'm not naturally talented that way. I like the idea of roughing out to known dimensions and then smoothing down to a finish against a template. I shall try that first.

I'm reconsidering the style of the handle too. A file handle would much more like the original than my freecad design, so I shall try and copy one. Now why didn't I think of that!

Any bets on how many tries it will take me to produce a satisfactory pair of handles? Less than 5 I hope but don't bet the farm on it.



Nigel Bennett02/03/2017 12:22:39
457 forum posts
20 photos

We'll keep an eye out in the Classifieds for "Assorted file handles for sale", then... Hope it goes well. +1 for wood handles; you may find sourcing Victorian nylon difficult, though.

richardandtracy02/03/2017 15:32:23
943 forum posts
10 photos

I assume actually you are asking for the step by step procedure on how to do it as this is in the 'Beginners' section. If not - don't bother reading this post

How long is the travel on your compound slide? If it's long enough to cover each of the tapers this is what I'd suggest you do:

Cut two rods about an inch over size. Put one rod in the chuck. Set the compound to the correct taper angle on the right of your model (it will be parallel to the desired cut, with the tool at the headstock end and handles at the tailstock end, the left end of the compound will be further from the lathe axis tan the right side. Furthermore, wind it towards the headstock as far as it'll go to zero the travel).

Turn to diameter and face the end of the rod off. Now move the saddle towards the chuck the distance of the length of the main taper (horizontal distance in your diagram above). Engage the saddle lock and now only work using the compound slide and saddle cross feed. NO axial feed.

Wind the compound slide out so the tool is on the tailstock side of the end of the work, and feed the saddle in until the tool just nips off the corner of the rod when using the compound feed. Now feed in a bit more using the saddle cross feed, and cut the work using the compound feed. Continue this until the tool just touches the work when the compound feed is at the extreme end of its travel towards the headstock.

Unlock the saddle and repeat above 2 paras with the second handle.

Unlock the saddle. Now wind the compound slide in towards the headstock as far as it'll go, and change the compound angle to the angle of the taper on the left of your model. This time the left end of the compound will be nearest the centreline. Rotate the toolpost on top of the compound slide so it's parallel to the lathe axis, and zero the tool at the tailstock end of the work using the lathe axial feed. Now move the saddle towards the headstock the amount of distance between the end of the work and the END of the second taper. Lock the saddle here against axial movement. Turn the lathe on and start cutting by feeding in on the saddle, and getting the compound to do the actual cutting work. Once the taper is long enough, stop and repeat the process with the second handle without altering the compound angle.

Now, finish with a file/emery or whatever.

Finally, set the compound angle to zero & part off each handle.

Hope that explains how to do what you have shown, bearing in mind I've assuming you are a total beginner and possibly barely/if ever tried taper turning with a compound slide.




Edited By richardandtracy on 02/03/2017 15:36:45

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