Broken Spatula: I Can Handle That!

Last Sunday the beech handle of my go-to spatula (or “pancake flipper” to some of you) fell off in the middle of making pancakes for the family.  The handle had just been stuck on a makeshift tang, and the mortise in the original handle was all soft and enlarged from ten years of regular use.  So I determined to make a new handle for it.

Spatula Handle Replacement 12-2013 - - 1

I had several wood options, but I chose a piece of black walnut, mostly for the sake of appearance and workability.  I also find that my walnut cutting boards hold up very well to repeated washings, so I have high hopes for the longevity of this handle.

The first step, though, was to re-grind the tang to a square tapering to a point.  This will allow the tenon to penetrate the bottom of the mortise and stick into it firmly, while also resisting rotation.  I got the idea from old tang chisels, which have metal tangs designed the same way.

Spatula Handle Replacement 12-2013 - - 2

The next step was to square up my stock, mark the location of the ferrule, and bore the mortise.  I used three different size drill bits to drill a stepped hole to roughly match the tang’s taper.

Spatula Handle Replacement 12-2013 - - 4

Then I used a block plane to turn the square profile of the handle into an octagon.  I also tried to make the handle slightly tapered from top to bottom, which I find is a very comfortable handle profile.

Spatula Handle Replacement 12-2013 - - 5

The most exacting part of the whole process was shaping the end of the handle to fit the ferrule.  I used a paring chisel to slice into the grain around the handle, and then I used the chisel to remove the chip.

There was no good reason for the profile to be perfectly round, as it would be hidden under the ferrule.  I got it pretty close to octagonal and then friction-fit it onto the handle.

I am fairly confident the handle would stay on all by itself, but just to be sure it will hold up to heavy use in the kitchen, I put some J-B Weld epoxy  on both the tang and the mortise.  Then I clamped the spatula in a vise and gently tapped the handle home.

Spatula Handle Replacement 12-2013 - - 9

Just in case the handle went on crooked, I left the handle a little bit over-sized so I could adjust it by shaving it down.  As it happened, the handle wasn’t on quite straight, so once the epoxy had cured, I used a spokeshave to re-shape the facets on the handle just a smidge.  I also rounded over the end so as to be comfortable in the hand. Then I sanded the handle and applied a coat of Danish oil.

The whole project took perhaps 45 minutes.  The spatula is now back in its kitchen drawer, waiting to flip pancakes again on Sunday morning.

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This entry was posted in Tool Repair, Woodenware and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Broken Spatula: I Can Handle That!

  1. Looks like you’ll get another 10 years out of it.

  2. meeteyorites says:

    And much better than the original, looks like.

  3. Steve,

    Beautiful handle! This reminds me of one of my favourite little gift ideas. I buy silicone spatulas with removable handles and make my own wooden handles. Simple, quick, handmade and inexpensive.

    Chris

  4. Bob Jones says:

    Where did you get the ferrule?

  5. Nhan Le says:

    Can you repair my spatula?

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