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Straight vs contour handle

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Raif Harik, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. Raif Harik

    Raif Harik

    Jan 14, 2020
    Location (City & State):
    Austin, TX
    Hi, I think I'm finally going to get a handle that can take different gouges. I think I'll go with the robust collet system. I'm also thinking of getting handle with it vs turning my own.
    Most of the handles out there are basically just straight tubes. Some like the Carter and sons are contoured. I've never used just a straight tube for a handle before. I get that it's easy to manufacture but from a UX perspective I don't know.
    I'm wondering what people's experience with handles has been like.
  2. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

    May 25, 2019
    Location (City & State):
    Eads, TN
    Home Page:
    I try to make wood handles for things when I can. I have a metal DWay handle for my large gouges (and coring tool of course) so I can swap out as needed and for the strength but, my preference is wood. Not because it's "better", in fact it's likely not for large scrapers and tools that take a lot of torque and abuse but, I just like it and can make it so why not. That said, I started out giving them some contour but stopped. I think the reason for the contour is to allow for thicker wood up where the tool steel is inserted that would be too big for a handle so they taper it down to the right size and then maybe add a bit of style on the end. My carbide tools that came with wood handles are like that. I'm sure to provide strength up near the business end and then comfort for the middle and end. I find straight round shaft handles are just as comfortable and easy to use and the ones that are contoured.
  3. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

    Apr 26, 2004
    Location (City & State):
    Cookeville TN USA
    Makes no difference in actual usage. Some of my wooden handles.are.shaped similar to the carter which actually mimics the shapes of a lot of early English tools. I switch back and forth between those and my Thompson straight gouges. I also have some straight round bar styles. Makes no difference in actual usage because I tend to hold the fat end. Now I do prefer small handles for my ornament hollowing tools.
  4. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

    Apr 27, 2004
    Location (City & State):
    Lakeland, Florida
    Home Page:
    I prefer wood. Just feels better and lighter than most metal handles.
    The Bosch handles are light and comfortable

    Below are handles on my two Jamieson bowl gouges( made by Thompson)
    Both are sapeli free cutoffs from a club member. 20 minutes to make - no finish.
    Ferrals probably cost under a dollar for both.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
  5. JeffSmith


    Aug 6, 2009
    Location (City & State):
    Lummi Island, WA
    Almost all my tools are in separate handles - there’s a flock of scrapers and some old gouges that are in dedicated handles, but I learned long ago that sharpening is much easier with the tool out of the handle. They’re split between purchased and home mace versions, in general, I like the home brew versions best. I use the Hoseluk adapters when I make handles to keep them easily detached for sharpening. The one notable exception is the Robust wood handle I bought a few years ago - nicely contoured with just a gently rounded three-sided shape that feels good in the hands. The collet system works well, too.

    That said, I’ve got more D-Way handles than anything else that I’ve purchased. They are nicely balanced and have a good, comfortable, relatively warm grip surface over the aluminum. Relatively straight.

    As for the profile, I like a relatively straight handle with some detail - just a slight rise, change in diameter or bead - where I want my hands to stop. When I make handles, I put one at the butt so I know when I’m approaching the end and something at the top if the ferrule doesn’t give me the clue. Sorby handles or those Carter sells don’t feel good in my hands.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2020
  6. robo hippy

    robo hippy

    Aug 14, 2007
    Location (City & State):
    Eugene, OR
    I prefer a straight wood cylinder. I made a few with speed bumps on them, both near the ferule, and on the handle end, and just like the straight cylinder best. I like wood because it isn't too heavy and it isn't too light, but then again, I haven't made any out of cocobolo or lignum. If I was going to try another profile, I would probably opt for an oval shape, achieved by turning a cylinder first and then two off sets to either side of the center, so what I end up with is more like a hammer handle. I haven't met a 'fabricated' handle that I really like yet. I don't like straight metal like the Glaser or the ones like Carter makes, just don't like the feel of the metal. I have some Oneway and D Way handles, and they are okay, but they weigh more than what 'feels' right to me. A foam covered handle might be nice, but don't know since I haven't tried one yet...

    robo hippy
  7. Dennis Weiner

    Dennis Weiner

    Jan 3, 2012
    Location (City & State):
    New City, NY
    After many years and generations of handle ownership I have developed my preferences.
    1, the most important feature I require is that the tool be detachable from the handle for sharpening. I do not Like trying to control extra weight from the handle. I wish to focus on sharpening without impingements. I also don’t like went a gouge nears its end of life and you can’t sharpen it because the permanent handle gets in the way(if you platform grind).
    2. When I am turning and decide it’s time to sharpen I don’t want to have to grab another tool like a hex key to release the tool from the handle. I want to release the tool from the handle, sharpen and pop it back in returning back to turning immediately. This narrows it down to an ER32 collet system or a cam lock type of system.
    3. I like to economize on handles, owning as few as possible.

    My final handle system is a cam lock system that accepts 3/4” boring bar. I use 3/4” sleeves that I drilled for each tool that I use. The tool is inserted and attached to the sleeve via set screws. I have make 3/4” sleeves for both round tools or tanged tools. I drill my own sleeves out of inexpensive 1018 rod stock costing under a dollar per tool.

    The actual handles that I use are tubular with a foam like covering. They are comfortable.
    See old thread: https://www.aawforum.org/community/index.php?threads/quick-release-adapter.14758/#post-146114
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2020
  8. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

    Feb 6, 2010
    Location (City & State):
    Brandon, MS
    For the tools I use in demo I like the Thompson handle. Past that most of my handles have tool epoxied in but I have made two removable. I used copper ferrules and tap for a set screws making the tool removable.

    The advantage I have seen in the Thompson and Hosaluk handle is that the tool can be reversed for storage or travel.

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