How I finally got a handle on tanged tools.


When I first got into sharpening my own saws, I crafted file handles out of wood scraps. The unshaped, rectangle wood pieces dug into my hand and didn’t allow for much filing finesse.

P4-Handle-Square Block

Next I tried making handles out of thick lengths of oak dowel rods.

P5-Handle-Dowel

Better, but it didn’t feel comfy in my hand. So next, I applied my drawknife, spokeshave, rasps, files and sandpaper to a large circular piece of wood (a former curtain rod), down to a handle-looking thingy.

P6-Handle-Shaped from Curtain Rod

That worked ok, but files didn’t stay put in the hole I drilled to accommodate them. Nor were the handles perfectly round either. Then I tried the Skrooz-on-type handles.

P7-Handle-Skrewz-on

They have metal threads to accept the file tang and retain it. But I’ve had mixed results with files staying put. The handles are very comfortable and come in varying sizes. And no doubt, I’m not versed on which sized tang fits into which sized handle. (Order a #2 handle for 4” files, #3 for 5” files and so on.) But, as you’ll see, why should I be? Why is that something I should trouble myself to know?

Fast forward to a sunny, autumn Saturday in Denver. I opened the front door to find a box of vintage tools on the porch. A friend (God bless you Kay!) had picked them up at a garage sale and left them there to delight me. Among the various mini-saws and files was this.

P1-Craftsman File and Tool Handle Patent No 2,479,661

A Craftsman File & Tool Handle, Pat. No. 2,479,661. It has a wood handle with metal pieces for the vise jaws, ferrule and screw cap.

Specs:

  • 4 3/4″ overall length, 1 1/8″ diameter.
  • Holds tanged tools.
  • Steel, parallel clamping jaws to grip the entire length of the inserted tang.
  • A knurled knob to adjust clamping pressure.

Here are some closups of the handle.

P2-Craftsman File and Tool Handle-Detail Shots

To use it, simply place the file tang in the jaws, aligning the “v” portions of the tang into the mating notches in the jaws. Then simply rotate the end cap to tighten the jaws. This approach easily handles various tang sizes from regular taper to double extra-slim taper.

Note that I don’t have to know the tang “size” of the file. Nor do I need to know what “size” the threaded inserts on my Skrooz-on handles are. All I have to know is how to operate the end cap to tighten and loosen the jaws. Very nice.

P9-Accomodates different tang sizes

And the vise works quite well. You can cinch it down tightly so that the file stays put. No moving around, nor falling out. And when I apply pressure to the handle in use (sharpening a saw, for example) it moves with the file as a single, secure unit. Moreover, the round handle allows me to make nuanced adjustments for rake.

P12-Filing Disston D-8 Thumbhole Saw

The only beef I have with the handle is that it isn’t as ergonomic in my hand as the Skrooz-on handles.

I like the thumbhold near the end of the handle with an upward flare.

P8-Skrewz-on closeup with thumbhold

Still, the Craftsman is comfy enough to get the job done.

Overall, you only need one or a few of these puppies to supply all your file handle needs. At the least, it’s perfect for your saw filing as you’ll be trading out many different sized files to sharpen backsaws, handsaws and panel saws of various points per inch.

And while my Ebay searches haven’t turned up a lot of vintage samples, you’re lucky enough to enjoy its 21-century granddaughter. She’s available from Midway USA by a new manufacturer, General.

P13-General Tool Handle at Midway USA

Note the very same patent number as the one that appears on my Craftsman handle? On this model, however, the handle looks to be made of rubber or hard plastic. On the plus side, the jaws are still made of steel. And at $5.59 + shipping, it’s worth trying at least one.

Pros:
–Convenience (one handle fits most all your dang tanged tools).

–Ease-of-use (just fit the tang into the handle and adjust the tightening cap).

–Secure fit (thanks to the handle vise jaws).

Cons:
–Handle not as ergonomic as Skrooz-on-type alternatives.

–Modern iteration sports a rubber/plastic handle (from what I can tell).

All told, the pros combine to make this nifty tool handle a welcome addition to my shop.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
This entry was posted in Sharpening, vintage tools and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How I finally got a handle on tanged tools.

  1. Phil Lang says:

    Woodcraft appears to sell something that looks similar (but a little swoopier) with a wooden handle at: http://www.woodcraft.com/product/2000280/730/universal-file-handle.aspx
    I have no personal experience with it.

  2. Excellent Phil. Thank you for sharing. That is certainly worth checking out. Though at around $15.00, I’d want to physically handle it before making a purchase decision.

  3. Michael says:

    These handles are available on amazon. Just search ‘General Tools 890 Adjustable File/Tool Handle’.

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