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Home Workshop > Projects Area > General > UPT tommy bar handles

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UPT tommy bar handles

UPT tommy bar handles


I'm building the Universal Pillar Tool, and would like to make tommy bar handles instead of the originally specified ball handles.
This is partly because I don't currently have a ball turning arrangement...
I know some have done this already, so does anyone have a pointer or suggestions for proportions/dimensions for these that look OK on the UPT?
I'm looking for handle length and major/minor diameter in particular.



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Re: UPT tommy bar handles

Harold Mason used sliding tommy bars rather than ball handles in his article on building the UPT published in Home Shop Machinist around 1990 - 1991, later reprinted in the Projects 5 book.  Despite making a great fuss about how much better the tommy bars are than ball handles as well as including drawings of both a cross drilling jig for the screw heads and the riveting process to fix the collars on the ends of the tommy bars there is no mention that I can see of any sizes beyond calling out 5/8" diameter and length for the screw (bolt?) head.  Putting a ruler on the pictures and drawings in Projects 5 I reckon Harolds tommy bars were 1/4" Ø by maybe 2 1/4" long with 3/16" Ø by 3/16" long collars at each end.  Tommy bar holes appear to have been drilled a touch over 3/16" from the outer end of the screw head.  Again no proper mention that I can see on dimensions in the text but there is a description of putting a shallow dome on the head for appearances sake.  Looks to me that putting the lower edge of the dome is about 1/16" away from the edge of the hole drilled for the tommy bar will match the pictures.

Personally were I to build one and deviate from the GHT words and music I just buy some Bristol handles and be done with it.


Clive Foster
Charge Hand
49 Posts
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Re: UPT tommy bar handles


Much appreciated - thanks for taking the time to come up with those numbers :-)
I'll look at the possibility of the small clickable handles too - although I think something in mild steel would look better.

Thanks again,


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Re: UPT tommy bar handles

Tommy bar handles have the same problem as the ball handles, you can guarantee that at some point the handle will be in the way. 'Bristol' adjustable handles overcome this as they can be moved out of the way whenever it happens. If you're going for an exhibition piece then it's ball handles all the way but for practical purposes the adjustable are better. Or do both and then you can swap them as necessary.

Mick Floyd

Mick Floyd
Mick Floyd
3 Posts
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