... can grasp a tool and exert
force and leverage on a cutting edge. They provide a way to
protect metal as in the example of tanged and socketed chisels.
They increase force through inertia created by swinging an axe
or adze on a long handle. They allow a comfortable and
controlled means to grasp and guide saws and planes.
Handles have been an important part
of our technology since sharp stone tools were first affixed to
wooden handles for exerting extra force. Throughout time
craftsmen learned how to take advantage of the natural strength,
shape, and texture of wood, bone and other materials found in
their natural environment.
This practice continued into our
recent past but very few modern craftsmen take advantage of
using natural materials with minimal modifications to serve as
handles. Perhaps members of this group will find interest in
looking at a few tools with handles made with minimal
modification. I selected some tools from my shop that illustrate
this practice and perhaps it will inspire some of you to make
some simple handles from hickory saplings, corncobs, and animal
horns as was done in the past.
The three tools above have pieces
of hickory saplings as handles. The top specimen is an early
socketed splitting wedge with a handle made with a minimal
number of blows with an axe. The middle specimen is a closed
scorp with a curved piece of hickory with the bark remains on
it. The bottom specimen is a wheel traveler with a handle
fashioned from a straight piece of hickory sapling with the bark
This is a detail of the socketed wedge handle.