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.
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.
Although I could have left the naturally-oily rosewood handles bare, I chose to add a coat of oil finish.
I also removed the finish from the handles of my spokeshave and finished them in a similar fashion.
With the slick, glossy finishes removed, the tools were much more comfortable to use and looked even better, in my opinion.