Well, its Friday! So let's talk about what your favorite tool handle style is and why that style works for you. Are there tools in your kit that have great cutting edges but you just don't use because they are uncomfortable to hold? If you have arthritis are there certain handles that allow you more control in your strokes then others? Or are you a carver that just does not notice or care about the handle style as much as you care about the quality of steel?
Let's talk about what tools you might suggest for anyone who wants to begin carving!
Carving tools come with a variety of tool handle styles, let's take this time to look at the most common and their specific uses.
Palm handles have a short length from the shaft of the cutting blade and end with a wide, bulbous shape that fits in the center of the palm. The weight of your entire arm from the elbow through the hand is directed by the palm handle into the push cuts of the tool. Palm tools are perfect for long, straight, deep cuts that need a little extra pressure.
Straight handled or long handled tools are griped with the handle reaching across the diagonal of the cutting hand palm. The handle is often 3/4" or wider in diameter to insecure a solid grip. This handle grip places the cutting stroke in the hand and wrist and gives you total control over small, short, and delicate cuts.
Pencil handled styled carving tools have a wooden or plastic handle approximately 1/2" in diameter or less, much like a large kindergarten style pencil. These narrow long handles are great for very fine detail work because they are very responsive to small changes in your hand position against the wood.
Thick, long, straight handles are used on carving tools to be worked with a leather or rubber mallet. The extra width prevents the handle from cracking after repeated mallet hits. Often a mallet handle tool will have one or more metal bands at the top of the handle to add more strength.
Ergonomic tool handles are becoming more readily available for the hobby carver. This style is formed to fit within the spaces of your fingers to give a stronger grip during use. Ergonomic handles are not for everyone, they are not a one size fits all shape. If you have an average or large sized hand they work nicely, but often those with small hands will find the finger shapes along the bottom edge of the handle are too widely spaced for comfort.
Most wood carvers will have a variety of tool handles in their carving kit, ready for use for each of the different types of carving needed to complete a project. There are several excellent beginner/intermediate tool sets on the market that can get you started.
No matter which handle style you chose you can increase your gripping power by adding one or two wraps of flexible self-adhesive bandage around your tool handle. It is easy to apply, easy to remove, and if you have arthritis it can make carving much more comfortable for your fingers and joints.
The photo "handle styles 1" shows, from left to right, a palm handle micro round, two long handle round gouges, a palm handle wide sweep, a wide long handle wide sweep, and an ergonomic handled wide sweep.
The photo "handle styles 2" shows three styles of ergonomic handles.
The photo "handle styles 3" is to provide an idea on how to store your tools to protect your sharpened edges.