Modifying a Gouge Handle

Most carving gouges I’ve used have had reasonably comfortable handles–all but one.

Can you pick out the really uncomfortable handles in the above picture?  No, it’s not the blue Irwins.  Even compared to the “Everlast” chisel handle (second from the right), the most awkward handle in the lineup is the second from the left.  The handle is over an inch longer than any of the others, but the biggest flaw is that it’s much too wide to fit the hand.  Any time I used it, I felt like I was trying to grip an eggplant instead of a gouge handle.

I don’t know why I put up with this frustration for so long.  It’s a wooden handle, and I’m a woodworker.  I chucked it into a vise and set to work with my spokeshave

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I shaved the handle down to a comfortable diameter, sawed about an inch off the end, and rounded off the top with the spokeshave.  I left a little bulge down at the ferule to give the thumb a place to rest.

The ash handle had some curly figure to it, so it took a good bit of scraping and sanding to get the whole handle smooth.  Afterward, I applied a coat of paste wax and buffed it to a low luster.

That’s more like it.

Now the gouge is back home with its siblings, ready to go to work.

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5 Responses to Modifying a Gouge Handle

  1. Steve,

    Wax on a tool handle? That sounds really strange to me. Do you find that you still have the same level of control with it as with your other tools?

    Chris

    • I’m not necessarily recommending wax. It was the only finish I had at hand.

      But the handle really isn’t slippery in the hand. It is certainly less slippery than a film finish (which I would never use on a handle) and not much different from an oil finish in the way it feels.

  2. projectbuddy says:

    I have to say that this is just brilliant. I would have never thought to alter the handle of a tool like this, but it makes so much sense. Thanks for sharing this!

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