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Fattening Tool Handles

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  • Fattening Tool Handles

    Hello All,
    Anyone have any recommendations on easy ways to "fatten" up carving knife and palm tool handles? I got a few knives in from Drake tools (a detail, detail skew, and a skew long reach palm handle) and the blades are excellent. Much better than the Flexcuts I was using before. However, I have sasquatch hands (I'm 6'3) and get fatigued quickly holding them. I think thickening the handle profile a bit will do the trick. I have a couple ideas but before I experiment wanted to see what others have tried/succeeded with in the past.

    Keep it sharp!

  • #2
    Justin: The people at Kestrel Tool (makers of west coast carving tools) describe "handle fit:"
    Palm up, fist grip, the tips of your second and third fingers should just touch the fat ball part of your thumb. Bulk up a fake handle and figure out what you need. Just a 1/4" makes a huge difference.

    For me to make most of my own tool handles and buy only the blades, that's a handle size of 7/8" x 7/8" and work that down to sort of rounded.

    So that's one way = bash off the factory handles and make your own. My preferred method.

    There's an inexpensive product found everywhere called "Vet-Wrap." Sort of elastic sticky bandage stuff that the Veterinarians use. Very good for tool handles.

    Another thing might be to whip finish the existing handles with #18 or thicker tarred nylon seine fishing net twine. Not messy. Ever so slightly sticky so you can relax your grip. West coast stuff, I buy from Pacific Net & Twine in Vancouver BC. In the states, maybe some chandlers in the Sea-Tac area.
    Brian T


    • #3
      Thanks Brian,
      Looks like I will have to experiment a little bit. The fishing net twine idea is interesting, I live in Florida so I should be able to get fishing net material without an issue.
      Keep it sharp!


      • #4
        Florida? The net cord ought to be easy to find. Several threads in here about technique.
        Or, find somebody who is building custom fishing rods. The technique is identical to whipping
        the guides on a rod.

        Here are some examples of how I use the stuff. Black - seine twine. Yellow - #18 surveyor's nylon cord, brown - Dacron. I slathered them up with carpenters glue. The seine twine doesn't need that.

        Kestrel 11.JPG
        Brian T


        • #5

          As a left handed big guy who can catch basketballs one handed I understand making the world fit you. Oddly handle size has not been a problem but carve with my wood being held. If I was I’d find some breathtaking burled or knotted wood and build some custom fitted handles to a size and shape I loved.
          Living in a pile of chips.


          • #6
            I have also used vet wrap. Not only for building up a handle but also for making a smooth finished handle less likely to slip around in my hand and thus less grip pressure required and thus, thus, my carving hand doesn't get cramped or tired.
            HonketyHank toot toot


            • #7
              Well, I have small hands, so the standards fit me fine. However, I agree with Brian: I buy palm gouge blades and make the handles according to a pattern I developed to custom fit my hands (indentation for my thumb, for example). It's eye opening to change from a stock handle to one that fits your own hand to a "T", much less tiring to use (especially with arthritis in the hands) and better control. Easy to do, takes some effort, but worthwhile, in my opinion.


              • #8
                I'm thinking along the same line as Hank, easy to keep adjusting until you get a comfortable fit, then if you were to make some of your own handles you will know what size.
                . . .JoeB


                • #9
                  PIpe insulation.

                  Bob L
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Just Carving View Post
                    PIpe insulation.

                    Bob L
                    How do you secure that pipe insulation to the handle, to keep it from slipping?


                    • #11
                      I just slip it over the handle. It just happens to have a snug fit. I don't know the size of the handles. You can take them to the Home Depot or Lowes. I think they have the insulation in different sizes. I think the pool noodles will do the same thing. I'm not sure if they have a hole down the center. Maybe a couple of layers of the insulation used on the air conditioning copper freon lines?

                      Bob L


                      • #12
                        This is going to sound awful and it looks like an afterthought but when I did quite a bit of competition UIT pistol shooting ( never much good at it managed a few scores around 560 out of 600) Some of the guns had anatomicl grips and we modified them with panelbeaters auto shop fibreglass body filler. We would plaster it on the grip Oil the hand so it wouln't stick to the filler then put the hand in the grip. The result was a perfect fit to the hand and they could be made to look ok with a bit of applied colour.

                        Yeah I know, sounds horrible. But it works. Might be worth a try. you can always grind it off again if you don't like it.

                        Epoxy clay might be another less messy option and you could mould to suit and try it for feel.


                        • #13
                          I shot ISU Rapid Fire with a Unique Vitesse, back in the days of .22 cal shorts.
                          Great challenge to shoot better than 590x600.
                          There were so many 600 shooters that the event went up to .22 cal LR.
                          I liked the anatomical grip but it was for a wholly different posture than for carving.

                          I believe that the first step is to determine the size of the tool handle that you need.
                          Use the Kestrel Constant and some soft wood for easy carving to make a model.

                          Your first handle model should start off too fat. You measure that. Keep carving and measuring.
                          Eventually the handle model will be impossibly skinny = you will feel this.
                          Range of sizes? Begin with 1 1/4" diameter and work your way down past 3/4" diameter.
                          Yeah, you will wreck the thing in the experiment. Hey! You're carving! Move on.
                          Brian T