Shiny Handles Suck

Many wooden-handled tools that you can buy come covered in a tough, shiny finish.  These tools look so perfect and pretty and would look right at home in a glass display case under a spotlight in the Museum of Modern Art.  While the shiny handles are pretty and easy to wipe clean, they are slippery and not very comfortable to hold.

One day, I got fed up with the lacquered handles on my chisel handles.  I took a piece of coarse sandpaper (80-grit, I think) and removed the shiny finish.  I palmed the handle and knew immediately that I had done the right thing.  I was able to grip the chisel with more control than ever before, and with less effort.

Lacquered and Stripped Handles

Later, when I decided to strip the finish off the remaining chisel handles, I decided to try something different.  Instead of using sandpaper, I used a spokeshave.  The result was a faceted handle that felt better in my hand.

Working on a Chisel Handle

Although I could have left the naturally-oily rosewood handles bare, I chose to add a coat of oil finish.

Refinished, Faceted Handles

I also removed the finish from the handles of my spokeshave and finished them in a similar fashion.

Refinished Spokeshave Handle

With the slick, glossy finishes removed, the tools were much more comfortable to use and looked even better, in my opinion.

4 thoughts on “Shiny Handles Suck

    1. Hi Michael,

      Good question. The handles of the Veritas spokeshave screw on with 1/4″-20 threads so they can be removed, then worked on using the body of the spokeshave.

      However, this is a tricky procedure without some sort of jig to hold the handles (I was able to hold the chisels by their blades) and I didn’t feel the benefits of a faceted handle were there for spokeshave handles so I just sanded the finish off.


  1. I Agree Chris.Shiny handles suck out load. I use a sheetrock knife blade instead of a spokeshave to scrape the the finish off my handles. Then some BLO and a coat of shellac and I’m a happy woodworker.

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