• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Chisel handle sizes

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

deema

Established Member
Joined
14 Oct 2011
Messages
2,311
Reaction score
108
Location
chester
Im puzzled, and I cant find an answer to why different sizes of chisel have different diameters of handle? The trend for both vintage made and new is for narrower blades chisels to have a smaller diameter handle.
For me, there is a size of handle that fits my hand and feels right, any larger and is too big, and any smaller is difficult to hold properly. So, I have a good collection of chisels, most from my father, grandfather or great grandfather who were all either cabinet makers or master joiners. They used to make their own tools as required, specialist planes etc but also followed the convention of chisel handle sizes. Luckily my father is still available to ask, and he doesnt know why the handles are different sizes. On the odd occasion he needed to rehandle a chisel he made one that felt right in his hand irrespective of the blade width.
I have a couple of chisel handles to make, I love London pattern, which I will make for them. The handles were damaged in my childhood when I played wood work and used a metal hammer on them. Those where the days where we kiddies learned to respect stuff because otherwise it hurt, cut you or killed you.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,633
Reaction score
641
Location
Derbyshire
.......
Im puzzled, and I cant find an answer to why different sizes of chisel have different diameters of handle? ....
Because nobody can think of a reason for making them all the same diameter?
In fact they do if you have a set - I've got blue Marples with matching handles and Black Stanleys with different matching handles, etc etc
 

Cheshirechappie

Established Member
Joined
30 Jan 2012
Messages
4,867
Reaction score
144
Location
Cheshire
In a word - balance.

Among my collection of chisels, I have two 1/8" bevel-edged chisel. The first is a (fairly) modern Marples (late 1990's modern). It has a long, thin blade - not paring chisel long, but long enough. It also has a handle the same size as the 1" Marples I bought at the same time.

It is an utter abomination. Trying to use it for cleaning out small dovetails and other fine work - the sort of work you'd expect an 1/8" chisel to do - is like using a needle stuck in the end of a tree trunk.

The other 1/8" b/e chisel is a vintage Butcher bought from Bristol Design in frustration at trying to use the Marples delicately. The Butcher's handle is about half the diameter and a good inch shorter than the Marples, and it is a delight - light, balanced, and eminently suitable for the sort of fine work such a small chisel is useful for.

Big chisels, big handles; tiny chisels, small handles. Sure, it's possible to take things too far and specify a different size for every width of chisel, but try rehandling a really small chisel with a big handle (or vice versa) and see how long it'll last - not long, I'll wager.
 

deema

Established Member
Joined
14 Oct 2011
Messages
2,311
Reaction score
108
Location
chester
Thanks Chaps,
I’ve decided to re-handle one of the smaller ones with a handle I think is the right size for my hands. It’s a larger diameter than the traditional size for the chisel, so taking on board your comments I will try it for a while and see how I get on. I will be using plum which I’ve not used before for handles so it will also be a test to see how well it stands up. The rest I will rehandle once I’ve given it a few outings.
A Friend on this forum gave me a set of really nice plastic handles chisels, all the same handle size. I find the handle size about right and haven’t found any issues when using the larger and smaller chisels. However, these I use as site tools. Hence what triggered the question.
 

Jacob

Pint of bass, porkpie, and packet of crisps please
Joined
7 Jul 2010
Messages
17,633
Reaction score
641
Location
Derbyshire
If you do a lot of bench work with chisels (DTs, mortices etc) then weight becomes a factor - wood is generally lighter than plastic and much more pleasant to use.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
5,982
Reaction score
601
Location
PA, US
Proportion and balance is why. If you're not an industrial engineer trying to simplify parts supply, you're not really stuck duplicating a single size to save three cents.

A chisel that isn't overweight on each side of the bolster is a whole lot easier to place or drag into a line without using more than one hand that never comes off of the handle.
 

David bonner

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
0
Location
Bedfordshire
I’m not worried about chisel Handel’s as long as they are of a reasonable size and comfortable to use also it doesn’t matter if they are longer in length and even you can use lathe chisels providing not to wack the ends too hard ok.😢
 

pidgeonpost

Established Member
Joined
16 Feb 2006
Messages
133
Reaction score
44
Location
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
I find I do 90%of my chisel work with 4 chisels - three are old Marples jobs (1", ½", and ¼") plus an even older ¾" Marples bought at a flea-market 40-odd years ago. The handles are a mixture of 4" and 4½", and all are perfectly comfortable to use.

IMG_20210404_140803.jpg


I bought a set of Ashley Iles chisels some years ago, and the only one I use regularly is a ⅛“ chisel to clean out dovetail details. The Iles ones hold a good edge, but the 6" handles I'm not so keen on. Maybe if I used them exclusively I'd get used to them.
I've also got a couple of old paring chisels with wooden handles, again only 4", and very comfortable to use, so I'm not sure of the logic behind the 6" handles. Probably not a problem if you've got gurt big hands.
 

David bonner

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
0
Location
Bedfordshire
I’m not worried about chisel Handel’s as long as they are of a reasonable size and comfortable to use also it doesn’t matter if they are longer in length and even you can use lathe chisels providing not to wack the ends too hard ok.😢
thanks for the wording as of the reason for your chisels ok I’ve got loads of them some with handles and some without. But my only suggestion is that my father left me some chisels behind ok I’ve not tried them yet but they are a set but are old and are cast steel type and they are bigger than a normal size chisel and I think they are for either lathe turning or for another reason but perhaps if you experiment with either set and try and adjust to using on an alternate run going from a 4”for one bit and jumping to a 6” yeah so you’re changing from one to another then you’ll get use to both of them if you need to use them then come a day you can automatically pick up any one of the chisels that you have and use it it gets easier as you go along even so going from a chisel to a gouge the same rule applys ok . There could be another factor why the handles are different because of the maker who’s designed them put it this way not all tools come Bogg standard like one size fits all if you get what I mean another thing it’s a distinction of two type names of chisels basically you have two types of handles to each one of a makers chisel ok.😇
 

David bonner

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
0
Location
Bedfordshire
thanks for the wording as of the reason for your chisels ok I’ve got loads of them some with handles and some without. But my only suggestion is that my father left me some chisels behind ok I’ve not tried them yet but they are a set but are old and are cast steel type and they are bigger than a normal size chisel and I think they are for either lathe turning or for another reason but perhaps if you experiment with either set and try and adjust to using on an alternate run going from a 4”for one bit and jumping to a 6” yeah so you’re changing from one to another then you’ll get use to both of them if you need to use them then come a day you can automatically pick up any one of the chisels that you have and use it it gets easier as you go along even so going from a chisel to a gouge the same rule applys ok . There could be another factor why the handles are different because of the maker who’s designed them put it this way not all tools come Bogg standard like one size fits all if you get what I mean another thing it’s a distinction of two type names of chisels basically you have two types of handles to each one of a makers chisel ok.😇 PS carving chisels are different all together ok.😇
 

IWW

Established Member
Joined
15 Oct 2017
Messages
187
Reaction score
93
Location
Brisbane
What makes a tool handle of any description "just right" is a matter partly of personal taste & very much what you've become accustomed to. While there are definite trends in chisel handle sizes & shapes within manufacturers' ranges and within countries/regions, you can easily find exceptions to any rule. And for every logical reason you can come up with to have a particular style of handle on a particular style of chisel, someone else will come up with an equally logical reason to have it a different way. For example, there are different schools of thought about how a chisel should be held in use, and handle size & weight certainly makes a difference to how easy it is to hold a chisel in a particular way.

It's your tool and you have to use it, so I say put whatever handle on it that appeals most to you for comfort & perceived ergonomics, based on prior experience or perception. If you own or have access to a lathe, making a chisel handle is a pretty trivial exercise, but even without a lathe, it's not that hard to make a decent chisel handle. And if the next owner of the tool doesn't like your choice, then he/she should follow the same advice.....
:)
Cheers,
Ian
 

David bonner

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
0
Location
Bedfordshire
A handle is a handle.😇 but it can be any factor of sizes and depending on the work or job you are doing so long as it’s right for the person and is ideal for the job you’re doing ok.😇 it doesn’t matter what material it’s made of as long as it’s comfortable for the person to use!?.😇
What makes a tool handle of any description "just right" is a matter partly of personal taste & very much what you've become accustomed to. While there are definite trends in chisel handle sizes & shapes within manufacturers' ranges and within countries/regions, you can easily find exceptions to any rule. And for every logical reason you can come up with to have a particular style of handle on a particular style of chisel, someone else will come up with an equally logical reason to have it a different way. For example, there are different schools of thought about how a chisel should be held in use, and handle size & weight certainly makes a difference to how easy it is to hold a chisel in a particular way.

It's your tool and you have to use it, so I say put whatever handle on it that appeals most to you for comfort & perceived ergonomics, based on prior experience or perception. If you own or have access to a lathe, making a chisel handle is a pretty trivial exercise, but even without a lathe, it's not that hard to make a decent chisel handle. And if the next owner of the tool doesn't like your choice, then he/she should follow the same advice.....
:)
Cheers,
Ian
A handle is a handle!.?😇also it doesn’t matter what type of material it’s made of as long as it’s comfortable for the job or work for the person to use.!?😇
 

David bonner

Established Member
Joined
28 Jan 2021
Messages
37
Reaction score
0
Location
Bedfordshire
A handle is a handle.😇 but it can be any factor of sizes and depending on the work or job you are doing so long as it’s right for the person and is ideal for the job you’re doing ok.😇 it doesn’t matter what material it’s made of as long as it’s comfortable for the person to use!?.😇

A handle is a handle!.?😇also it doesn’t matter what type of material it’s made of as long as it’s comfortable for the job or work for the person to use.!?😇
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
5,982
Reaction score
601
Location
PA, US
I find I do 90%of my chisel work with 4 chisels - three are old Marples jobs (1", ½", and ¼") plus an even older ¾" Marples bought at a flea-market 40-odd years ago. The handles are a mixture of 4" and 4½", and all are perfectly comfortable to use.

View attachment 107496

I bought a set of Ashley Iles chisels some years ago, and the only one I use regularly is a ⅛“ chisel to clean out dovetail details. The Iles ones hold a good edge, but the 6" handles I'm not so keen on. Maybe if I used them exclusively I'd get used to them.
I've also got a couple of old paring chisels with wooden handles, again only 4", and very comfortable to use, so I'm not sure of the logic behind the 6" handles. Probably not a problem if you've got gurt big hands.
The point of the tall handles is to be able to hold the chisel by the handle only with one hand, never changing grips (far faster than ever touching the blade), and to be able to do so without ever striking the web of your thumb on the handle hand.
 

TRITON

Established Member
Joined
5 Oct 2014
Messages
523
Reaction score
280
Location
Scotland
Lie Nielsen handles are really small on their socket chisels. I keep meaning to get around to making something larger

And gluing them in, damn i hate it when they fall out 😖
 

pidgeonpost

Established Member
Joined
16 Feb 2006
Messages
133
Reaction score
44
Location
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
The point of the tall handles is to be able to hold the chisel by the handle only with one hand, never changing grips (far faster than ever touching the blade), and to be able to do so without ever striking the web of your thumb on the handle hand.
Thanks, that's not something I'd considered. I've so far managed to avoid such an injury, but it sounds well worth avoiding.
I've got quite small hands for a bloke, so maybe the smaller handles haven't been a problem for me. In fact when I was about 16 my biology master unexpectedly seized me by the wrist and examined my hands, commenting on the size of them he said "You should consider a career in gynaecology".
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
5,982
Reaction score
601
Location
PA, US
That's an excellent line! Less than flattering, but funny. I, too, have what my dad refers to as white collar hands.

And a white collar neck.
 

Latest posts

Top