This site uses cookies, your continued use implies you agree with our cookie policy. Dismiss

Changing Handles

There are many excellent reasons for changing handles and I'll tell you at least 4 in this lesson.

Handles, which you can also buy, are quick to make on a lathe and changing the handle on a carving tool isn't that difficult. And before you look at all those tools with the same handle and despair, you need only do one every now and again - you'll soon work your way through.

You can read a lot more about handles in my book: Woodcarving Tools, Materials & Equipment vol.1.


| 23 August 2023 14:39

Darrin - Yes, pretty much. Depending how much of a scoop you want to make, you can increase the rounding of the outside bevel.
So: for grounding tools (#3 shortbent used for flattening the background) you'd want more of less the same as you are using with your regular straight #3 gouges. With excavating a deep tight area, you benefit from a lot more of the spoon shape going to the bevel.

The thing is, you are working with the bevel.
That's really the whole secret of sharpening any carving tool right there: the bevel(s) are key to how a tool performs; the cutting edge is a product of the bevels and will look after itself...

| 22 August 2023 17:13

Thanks, Chris. I presume the same sharpening approach applies to spoon bents as well?

| 18 August 2023 23:57

Darrin - I'd sharpen the longbent at around 25 degs and add an inside bevel to make the edge more resilient. Also, if the outside bevel is slightly rounded (not flat as in your regular gouges) the tool will ease into the curve of the wood a little better.
Yes, manufacturers do differ in what they make regarding the bend in short or longbents. At the end of the day I guess we just want to end up with tools that work for us, and help us do what we wnt to do.
Don't let the tools get in the way of your carving!

| 17 August 2023 20:30

Thanks for your help, Chris. I hadn't heard of the sand dust method, but it seems the most useful. I'm likely going to return the HT spoon gouge and buy Ashely Isles or Pfeil instead. I don't have any by either maker, but both seem to offer a greater functional difference to their respective long bent gouges. And that raises another question (as do most answers!). Should the bevel on long bents still be at the usual 15-20 degrees? The HT factory bevels are closer to 25, which makes them scoop rather that slice, defeating the purpose of the long bent as you've described it in another video (slicing along, gradual curves). Maybe this is why the HT long bents seem to function too similarly to their spoon bents. Conversely, their spoon bents seem to be less spoon shaped than either Pfeil or AI.

| 17 August 2023 19:29

Darrin - How frustrating. I do wonder about their quality control, which is a pity: I started with HT tools nearly 50 years ago and some are still among my favourites, so they can be among the best.
Sending back faulty tools is the only way to get manufacturers to improve so I always encourage that. (And well done for pursuing that.)

With the loose handle - that might be a different issue to the cracked handles and does happen now and then anyway.
I wouldn't go through the fuss of sending it back. If the wood has just shrunk then it's likely settled into it's final shape and volume. You have several choices:
1. Pack the hole with fine sawdust (ram it it), and then stand the tool, tang-up in a vice, and re-handle in the usual way. This is my preferred method.
2. Plug the hole properly with a tapered wooden dowel, re-bore, then re-handle. This works best if you have a lathe to get the pilot hole true.
3. Glue - 2-part flexible epoxy. The delay in setting gives you time to line up the blade and handle - it's worth marking this up first. The downside is that you can never get the handle off again unless you destroy it. So probably not so good where the tool is up for some sculptural pounding!
On the other hand, I have a few more everyday tools with glued-on handles that have been trouble free.
Hope this helps!

| 17 August 2023 17:09

Hi Chris. I recently ordered 6 brand new Henry Taylor gouges and all but one either arrived with cracked handles or have cracked after only minimal mallet use. The ones that cracked are the octagonal handles on their large alongee tools, which the HT brochure describes as "for heavy use". HT has agreed to replace the handles. But now the handle on another tool (a 20mm spoon gouge) has come completely loose. HT seems to be having a quality control issue with handling their tools. I like the tool, so should I just glue it in place or demand another replacement?

| 27 July 2014 12:36

Charlie, I know this post is 'old', but I'm 'new' here! I cannot speak for the UK, but in the US you can get Pfeil replacement handles quite readily from Woodcraft Supply (, which is a Pfeil dealer. They are a bit expensive (to my mind) at $9.99-12.59 per piece and I'd rather try making my own. I'd suggest you might also just find the closest pfeil dealer and have them order them for you if you still need them.

| 09 July 2013 17:54

Great video and comments. I do have one question though. I have recently damaged my 7/25 Pfeil gouge. Does anyone know where I can pick up a Pfeil handle. The size is good for me and I need to get this gouge up and running ASAP. It seems there are no suppliers in the UK that carry Pfeil handles. I find this odd considering the popularity of Pfeil gouges? Any advice greatly appreciated.

| 20 February 2013 14:42

One might also add that if the carver has a lathe available, one should work at turning their own new handles.
This is a great experience and lots of fun. In addition, the carver can pick and chose their own wood and areas of grain.

| 23 December 2012 14:23

Excellent.... Very nice technique on reaming the pilot (instead of all the fussy stepped drilling). Makes room for better tool alignment, and provides mich greater contact area along the tang... Also love that shape and proportion of handle for smaller tools...
Thanks and very best wishes for the season to all..

Please login to post a comment