How I finally got a handle on tanged tools.

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Review by Brad posted 02-10-2013 03:54 AM 9364 views 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
How I finally got a handle on tanged tools. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

• 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.

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.

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.

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.

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”: via a new manufacturer, General.

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.


—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).

—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.


2013-02-10 Edit to my original post.
A reader brought my attention to the fact that Woodcraft sells a similar handle design but uses a more ergonomic handle. I haven’t tried it, but will check it out next time I’m there.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Brad's profile


1140 posts in 3194 days

13 comments so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2461 days

#1 posted 02-10-2013 11:38 AM

I have 2 of these in my toolbox from when I was an auto mechanic. Have had them for prolly 25 years or so. They have held up well and do exactly as you say. Good review

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Brit's profile


7753 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 02-10-2013 12:07 PM

What a great review Brad. I’ve never seen those before, but they look to be just the ticket. As you say, it is a shame that they did make the handle a more comfortable shape, but maybe the internal mechanism restricts the shaping they can do externally.

Can you unscrew the jaws completely and disassemble it? Don’t worry if you can’t, but it would be nice to see the mechanism.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brit's profile


7753 posts in 3296 days

#3 posted 02-10-2013 12:08 PM

One more thing Brad. Does it come in a left-handed version? :o)

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Brad's profile


1140 posts in 3194 days

#4 posted 02-10-2013 07:09 PM

Thanks for sharing. It’s good to know that these handles stand the test of time and use.

As far as file handles go, I was quite impressed, not only with the design, but how it performs in use. I had the exact same thought as you that the internal mechanism might account for the non-ergonomic design of the handle. But then again, way back when, workmen probably had beefier hands than my dainty little ones.

I hesitate to unscrew the cap. Since the age of 6, I’ve been a master at disassembling things…not so good at reassembling them. My parents, old radios and other kitchen appliances (now lying at rest in a landfill somewhere) can attest to the latter portion of that statement.

I updated my post to include the universal handle that Woodcraft offers. I think you’ll like the more ergonomic design. It’s more than twice the price of the General one, but real wood + ergonomic design are reason enough in my book to at least handle one to make a purchase decision.

Oh! And yes. You’re in luck Andy. It DOES come in a left-handed version…so long as you’re willing to rotate the adjustment mechanism in the same directions to tighten-loosen as right handers ;)

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Brit's profile


7753 posts in 3296 days

#5 posted 02-10-2013 10:02 PM

Thanks for the update Brad. I don’t blame you for not taking it apart. I was the same when I was young, always experimenting. I remember once, I dragged a big magnet across the front of our first colour TV to watch the picture distort. It wasn’t long before we had our second colour TV. Don’t try this at home folks.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Dave's profile


11432 posts in 3294 days

#6 posted 02-11-2013 10:53 PM

I love this. What a find. Thanks for sharing.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Mauricio's profile


7163 posts in 3605 days

#7 posted 02-13-2013 03:00 PM

Very nice! Thanks for the info.

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View jeffwedekind's profile


144 posts in 3146 days

#8 posted 02-14-2013 03:15 AM

I must havs me some of these!!

Definitely, nothing more frustrating than when the tang pulls out of whatever your handle of the day is, dowel, golf ball, etc.

I’ll be leaning toward the general product for that price.

By the way, this is exactly why I let everyone I know, know that I’m into vintage tools. There are so many great tools out there just waiting to be used by someone like us.


-- Jeff, eastern Wa

View Brad's profile


1140 posts in 3194 days

#9 posted 02-21-2013 11:04 PM

All right. Which one of you picked up this Craftman adjustable tool handle?

Fess up! I can congratulate you. And ask you to post your opinion on how it performs.

-- "People's lives are their own rewards or punishments."

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2929 days

#10 posted 02-21-2013 11:14 PM

You guys are going to hate me, but I have this… and I love it, will never use a file again without something like it or similar… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Thomas Hanson's profile

Thomas Hanson

46 posts in 2406 days

#11 posted 02-25-2013 11:55 PM

I’ve always bought Harbor Freight wood chisels 5 for $5 and drove the handles off to use on my files.
But I might buy one of these beauties (in the picture before my post) for my saw files if I can find one.
It looks like a jewelers tool though.

-- Okie from Council Hill

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2929 days

#12 posted 02-26-2013 12:16 AM

Nahh, it is made by Bridge City Tools and it was designed precisely for holding files and such tanged tools.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View woodworksbyjohn's profile


88 posts in 3146 days

#13 posted 11-04-2013 01:01 AM

I happened to be looking for reviews on a rasp when this showed up. I’m a retired teacher and still do one on one lessons at my shop. I felt compelled to add my 2 cents! The best, cheapest, and most comfortable handle for a file or rasp IMHO is a golf ball! Yep, measure the taper of the tang and drill a hole part way into the ball that is the average of that. Just cram the ball on and it will hold tight. The biggest advantage to this style is that it’s easy to grip and because it’s round the file or rasp can be held at any angle.

Just thought I’d share this with you, whenever students see them in my shop many of them tell me later they’ve converted their files to golf ball handles too.

-- John Visit my Blog:

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