Shop Blog: Hand Plane Cap Screw Screwdriver

Posted: June 9, 2015 in Shop Blog, Woodworking
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I like old tools.  My favorite old tools to collect and rehabilitate are probably hand planes.  With hand planes, having a Cap Screw Screwdriver comes in handy for a properly fitted driver to adjust the plane iron cap screw.

Online retailers sell their version of these little tools for upwards of $20.  I decided to make mine from some of the things I had laying around the shop.

Here are the two versions of the Cap Screw Screwdriver I made.  One is hooded; the ferrule extends the length of and surrounds the blade.  The other has an exposed blade.  Both have turned hard maple doorknob style handles that fit nicely in the palm of the hand.  {I apologize now that this blog post is picture heavy.}


In this blog, I will walk through the process of making the hooded version of the cap screw screwdriver.  The exposed blade version follows a similar process.  I will include notes with some of the differences when making the two versions.

I selected a 11/16” spade drill bit to make the blades for both drivers.  I marked a line across using a permanent ink marker to indicate where I will cut the bit to make the two blades.  The point section will be used to make the blade for the hooded version and the shaft section will be used for the exposed blade version.  Note: I also marked a line on the shaft where I will cut it for the exposed blade driver.


A Dremel tool with a diamond wheel makes nice work of cutting the spade bit.  After cutting, we have the blanks for both driver blades.


The spade bit is slightly thicker than the width of the cap screw slot.  A few seconds at the belt sander works nicely to thin the blade to the necessary thickness.  Be careful not to let the blade get too hot while sanding.  We do not want to lose the temper in the steel.


Check to confirm a nice snug, but not too tight fit.


Selected and trimmed hard maple blank for both drivers.  This blanks is just over 2” square and approximately 7 ½” long.  We will make both handles from this blank.


Check each blade with my drill index to find the appropriate sized hold for each.  The hooded driver (point blade) will need a ¼” hole.  The exposed blade (shaft end) will need a 9/32” hole.


Mark the center and drill ¼” hole, approximately 1” deep for the hooded blade.  We will use this center drilled hole to index out live center on the lathe.


Using a four jaw chuck to secure the blanks and a 60 degree live center, indexed in the hole we just drilled.  Rough turn the blank round.


Mark a pencil line approximately middle of the blank.  Use a thin parting tool, to mark the divide between the two handle blanks.  We will turn from the live center back to this dividing line for our first driver.


Mark the length for to turn our tenon.  We will turn the tenon to ¾” diameter to the length indicated.


Instead of a caliper, I used an open end ¾” to help size the tenon.


Next, we will remover the blank and clamp in the bench vice so we can cut a slot through center of the tenon for the blade to fit into.  I used one of the pencil marks from when we found the center of the blank as a guide for cutting the slot.

Before removing the blank from the chuck, I marked one side with the jaw number, so I can make sure to return it to the same orientation after cutting the slot.


Test fit the blade, using a soft mallet to seat it firmly in place.  Remove the blade and return the blank to the lathe.  I marked two lines to indicate the length to extend the tenon and turn a shoulder to transition to the handle.


We will be using a piece of ¾” copper pipe for our ferrule.  After turning the tennon to the desired length, mark the pipe for the desired ferrule length.  This ferrule will extend the full length of the blade.  For the exposed blade screwdriver, mark the ferrule the same length as the tenon.


Let’s go ahead and turn down the shoulder to remove some of the material out of our way so we can polish the copper ferrule, we just cut.


The ferrule should fit snug on the tenon.  Using 1500 grit sand paper, remove any scratches and markings from the copper pipe.  After sanding, I polished with jeweler’s rouge polish.  Then removed the ferrule and set aside to finish turning the handle.  (Be careful.  Ferrule may be hot after polishing.)


Now we will begin turning the handle to our desired shape.  We are only roughing in the design here.  We will part this handle before finish turning.


Found a hidden crack in the middle of our handle blank.  It should not interfere with the function of our driver, so I will fill it with a little thin CA glue and wood shavings, then finish turning.


Decided the original marked length was a little much for our handle.  Turn down the hand to its rough form, then part off the material for our first handle.


Looks like our little fissure runs through our blank.  This driver is not intended to endure much force, so this fissure should not present a problem with our finished driver.  We will fill it with some thin CA and turning dust, then return to the lathe.


Switched over to a collet chuck with a ¾” collet.  Our tenon fits nicely in the ¾” collet and is tightly secured in the chuck for final turning and sanding.  Sanded from 100 grit through 220 grit, then using a wire burned a line for added decoration.  After burning our line, I we return to sanding from 22 grit through 400 grit sand paper.


Finished by applying friction polish, using a soft cloth.  Use the lathe to turn our handle creating the speed needed to create friction and build the desired level of polish.


I like marking my shop built tools by inlaying a penny for the current year.  This gives me a historical reminder of the year the tool is made.  Rough up the underside of the penny with some 80 grit sand paper.  A drop of medium CA glue will secure the penny in our inlay.  By the way, a United States penny is ¾” in diameter, so a ¾” forstner bit is perfect for this inlay.


Now, it is back to the work bench to insert the blade in the handle.  A few drops of medium CA glue in the center hole will help secure the blade.  A soft mallet provides enough persuasion to seat the blade completely.


A little five minute epoxy on the tenon will secure the ferrule in place.  The epoxy gives us enough time to work the ferrule around and make sure we have complete coverage with the epoxy.  Clean off any excess epoxy then allow the epoxy to cure.  Be sure to clean any epoxy off the tip of the blade.


This beautiful tool is ready to go to work.


The process to make the exposed blade version of this tool is similar, so I won’t waste your time with the step-by-step.


I hope you find this blog useful.  Please feel free to add any comments or suggestions for improvement.

  1. Randall says:

    That looks great. Makes me want to buy a lathe.

    Liked by 1 person

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