Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Frying Pan Handle


This is a companion piece to an addendum to "Somewhere, a Saucepan Needs a Handle". It picks up where the addendum leaves off.

This did not go as smoothly as I'd thought it would. I got caught out by some wood behaviour that I didn't foresee. I tell about that following the subtitle, "Whoops!", much further down.

Ultimately, this method of constructing a frying pan handle proved to be a failure. However, the matter of mating a piece of hardwood to a metal fitting by way of an interference fit remains of interest to me, and may prove useful some day in some application.

I salvaged the wooden part of the failed handle, and reconstructed it in much the same manner as I made the saucepan handle. We'll see how it holds up.

* * *

I don't like to leave loose ends unattended to, so I'll make the frying pan a new handle, and return the saucepan's handle to the saucepan. The hose fitting pictured below has given me an idea for a handle construction method quite different from that used to make the saucepan handle.

As with just about everything, there are endless variations of hose fitting construction. This one's nipple/ferrule is entirely made of light gauge pressed metal, inserted into a cast/machined threaded fitting and swaged in place.

I'll chuck it in the lathe and cut away the lip at the end. Then I should be able to extract the nipple/ferrule. What I have in mind is to make a handle with just that cast metal piece press-fitted onto the handle's end. It'll be a one-piece handle-reinforcement ferrule and threaded fitting.

- - -

That separation exercise worked out remarkably well; I've got my threaded fitting. It's bore is roughly eight thou greater than 3/4".

That bore dimension and how I arrived at it raises an issue of measurement methodology deserving of its own post. Here it is. I also explain there how I obtain the press-fit dimension for this handle.

The Wooden Handle

I have more of the same broomstick material that I used for the saucepan handle. I'll use it for this handle, but I'll make this one just a plain cylinder with no contour to it, so as to lose as little diameter as possible. I want this handle to be a bit more substantial.

Here's the new handle with its fitting:

I've turned that land at the end of the handle to a diameter that will be a press-fit in the hose-fitting's bore. The length of the land is just less than the length of the bore, so that I can be certain of getting the handle pressed in all the way to the shoulder of the land.

Note the three grooves on the handle's land, and in the bore of the fitting. The grooves are positioned so they'll align with one another when the two pieces are joined together. Just prior to assembly, I'll smear the land and the bore with J-B Weld epoxy. Once cured, the epoxy-filled grooves will effectively act as embedded lock-rings, securing the assembly from ever working apart.

Here's the assembly in the press, having just been pressed together.

(Something about that wooden cylinder gives my camera fits. I cannot get it to photograph well.)

While I was setting this up, I attached a disc of glossy cardstock to the end of the press' ram with carpet tape, so the ram wouldn't mar the end of the handle. Now I just have to clean up the squeeze-out, and I can leave it for the J-B Weld to cure overnight.

- - -

Here's the outcome. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

All that's left is to bore a shallow hole in the fitting end of the handle, to clear the screw head inside the cap that's attached to the pan. Then I'll give the handle a coat of tung oil and let that harden.

I'll post a photograph of the whole thing installed on the frying pan when it's all done.

- - -

And here's the pan with its new handle back home on the range. (Sorry! Couldn't resist.)

In closing, here are a couple of lessons learned along the way:

a) When I had the saucepan's handle on this large diameter pan, the pan wouldn't sit flat in the sink for scrubbing because of the handle's length. This new handle is short enough for the pan to fit properly in the sink; a consideration that's easily overlooked when fabricating a handle.

b) The idea of having an easily removed handle as an aid to washing up didn't pan out, so to speak. Unless the handle is removed every time the pan gets wet, water will seep into the fitting and stay there. Also, an easily loosened handle could be a safety hazard at times.

I installed this handle with the threads smeared with Permatex Ultra Grey silicone gasket maker. It remains to be seen how that material stands up to the heat. I'll update this post if I find that heat resistance is an issue for either the Ultra Grey or the red threadlocker.

- - -



My press fit loosened up after this morning's use of the pan. The J-B Weld 'lock-rings' are keeping it from coming apart, but it's loose in the threaded fitting.

I unscrewed the handle from the pan and examined it. The heat shrank the hardwood handle considerably. I wasn't expecting that from such well-seasoned wood. Evidently, I was asking too much of my press fitted assembly for the temperatures it's subjected to in use, and the approach I took with the saucepan handle is the superior one.

But I'm not defeated yet. I'll apply CA adhesive so it can wick in and fill the shrinkage void, and pin the thing through with a 3/32" x 1" roll pin.

- - -

Here it is with the roll pin installed:

This time I'll wrap the threads with teflon tape before screwing the handle back in. I'd rather not have to deal with the silicone gasket maker should I have to take this apart again.

- - -



The pan's been in use for two weeks now, and the handle still appears to be sound. Needless to say, I'll stick with the saucepan handle's construction method should I ever need to make another pan handle.

The heat-induced failure aside, I'm still quite pleased with how that press-fitting turned out. That could still prove to be a useful technique somewhere that's not subjected to high temperatures.

- - -



The handle attachment point of a frying pan is a hotter place than I expected it to be. After two full months of regular use, the end of my press-fitted wooden handle is showing signs of charring.

It's loosened somewhat again. The roll pin may be all that's really holding it in place by now. I'll reapply CA adhesive and reinstall it. It will be interesting to see if this effect ever stabilizes, or if I'll ultimately have to make another handle by my other method.

MONDAY, JULY 11, 2011


The handle was forever loosening and being retightened. Red loctite is not up to withstanding the temperature that a frying pan routinely gets up to. Ultimately, the welded-on boss on the side of the pan gave way and came off. The hose fitting cap that receives the handle is now bolted directly to the side of the pan. It looks a bit odd, to say the least, but it actually functions remarkably well this way. It's pictured below. (Also in the shot is what's left of the boss that came off.)

The burner grates on our gas stove are fairly high, so the pan sits up high enough that the downward-sloping handle is not at all a bother.

Further to the charring that I was getting, the charring effect kept on keeping on and loosening the handle end in its threaded collar. (And I've since learned that CA adhesive is not terribly heat resistant.) I drove out the pin and removed the collar, cleaned everything up and smeared JB Weld on the interface before reassembling and repinning it. That seems to be holding up.

The inner wall of the pan now has a screw head in it, like so.

That's really not at all a bother, either. Attaching the hose fitting cap this way, with a screw and a nut, makes it possible to really tighten the cap in place -- it hasn't been coming loose since I attached it this way.

So, I may finally have a durable handle here.

If nothing else, this exercise points up something to consider when shopping for cooking pans; i.e. handles attached by a single screw are prone to become troublesome with age -- they're pretty much doomed to fail eventually. Handles attached with rivets will no doubt far outlast handles attached with a single screw. Here's an upside down photo of a good example.

Now that's a handle attachment that will no doubt last forever.

- - -


Whoops II!

A few weeks ago, the handle snapped off right at the ferrule. Here's a view of the ruin.

I've replaced it with the saucepan handle for now.

It lasted for over a year, which is a bit shy of forever, which is how long I like things to last. A rethink is in order, evidently. I'd still like to find a way to make this handle construction last, but I may have to make another handle patterned after the saucepan handle.

# # #


# # #