Hillbilly Tansu Handle Rail

Some, not all, but some, of my intended chest designs will require handles for lifting.  I could go the standard route and purchase handles.  Where’s the fun in that?  So I’ll be creating my own, much along the same lines as my knotted pulls.  There are several options when tying handles.  Just about any braid or plait will work.  Also just about any twine or cord will work as well.  The important points to address will be strength and comfort.  I’ll be using #72 tarred nylon twine which has a load limit of approximately 625lbs.  More than enough considering that the strength will be multiplied once the lines are braided.  As to comfort.  Comfort will be dependent upon the weight of the loaded chest and the diameter of the finished handle.  The diameter will be a function of the number of strands and type of braid used.  I could also build up thickness by mousing (wrapping with additional twine and shaping) and then sew on leather or add a braided cover.  There will be a good number of prototypes made so that I can obtain a better idea of what works best.  In the photo I used a simple four strand round braid with Mathew Walker knots at each end.  Then I threaded the loose ends through 1/4″ holes and secured them with wall knots and CA glue.

This simple version is actually pretty comfortable and will work well for smaller chests.  Larger, heavier chests will need to be thicker to increase the comfort level.

The rail itself is simple joinery.  A tenon on each end with panel grooves top and bottom.  I used my largest countersink on the holes on the inside of the rails.  This countersink helps to reduce the height of the interior knot and actually helps in tightening it.  A couple of design notes to keep in mind.  I plan to locate the handle rail 1/3 the overall height of the tansu down from the top.  The handle rail should also fall in the section of the chest with the sliding doors.  This will prevent any interference with the drawers.

Greg Merritt

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3 Responses to Hillbilly Tansu Handle Rail

  1. António, from Portugal says:

    Last Saturday I delivered one “rustic chest” to a customer with “sisal” rope handles.
    My knots were a different kind, and unfortunately I don’t know the “American names” to share with you. (around here Knots names are very different from those you use).

    Very nice work!

    • gman3555 says:

      Thank you Antonio. Knots tend to have different names all over the world and each country and/or culture tends to have some knots of their own. Do you have any photos of your work posted anywhere? I would love to have a look at what you do.


  2. Pingback: HB Tansu Progress-1 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS

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