The ferrule is basically used on tools like chisels and gouges to stop the wood handle from splitting. The brass ferrule we used is actually a brass nut used for plumbing but when turned makes a very substantial and attractive end for a woodturning gouge.
In the past we have always used copper pipe (as you can see here) for our ferrules. However, because of the size of the shaft for the 5/8″ gouge we needed something a bit larger. Brass, like copper and aluminum, is a fairly soft metal and can be easily turned.
Here’s some more photos of how we made the handle:
Here’s another handle that we made at the same time for 1/2″ gouge with a traditional grind that has a copper ferrule (the other gouge, a 5/8″, has a fingernail or Irish grind) :
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