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Forum topic by Johnnyblot posted 04-26-2012 01:44 PM 2813 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 2787 days

04-26-2012 01:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question saws planes

Hi Folks,
There is something that has been troubling me for sometime now so I thought I would put it out there and have some feedback….??

It is about PLASTIC handles on tools, specifically Hand Saws & Planes. First of all before anyone calls the Woodworking Police let me state my preferences here. When it comes to Plane or Saw handles it almost certainly has to be wood, it does not have to be particularly exotic, just well shaped and finished- like this from Karl Holtey for instance-

But then at the same time here is his fabulous 982 Smoother with Polymer handles:-

I hope you agree [begrudgingly or otherwise] that this is a handsome plane, and so are the handles?

Now saw handles- I have recently myself been engrossed in the most wondrous attributes of saws and their handles. I feel I’m amongst the many that appreciate a well formed grip with sexy horns and tongues, [yes I’m that sad]. I’ve even been known to ‘Rage Against the Machine’ and the ‘accountant’ designed handles of the 60’s and 70’s that have spoiled our beloved saw-makers.

But- [you knew there was a but] I grew up in the 60’s and my formative years of the 70’s and in those days you would not dream of buying anything with a wooden handle! It had to be plastic! Come to think of it the first chisel I ever held had a plastic handle. This was the Space Age- The Americans were putting men in space and on the moon every other month [or so it seemed] there was nothing that couldn’t be achieved. And the colours of all those plastics, the brighter the better. The Yellow of Stanley Tools is a good example.

Ok it’s off my chest and is out there for your thoughts. Not so much a rant but a guy babbling on:-)


-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

12 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4729 days

#1 posted 04-26-2012 02:01 PM

IMO, there is nothing wrong with a well-designed plastic handle as far as function is concerned. But, in most cases, plastic handles just aren’t as sexy as wood. (That smoother you posted being an obvious exception.)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3820 days

#2 posted 04-26-2012 02:24 PM

I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and never wanted anything plastic. I guess I am just a true wood lover. Plastic if ok if it is what you personally like but it is not for me.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3362 days

#3 posted 04-26-2012 03:11 PM

If it’s truly a tool we’re talking about—not an object that draws attention to itself—I would think that in general it’s function that trumps whatever material is in question.

If we’re being busy talking about what kind of material is in a handle, we’re not doing much about elevating the tool to its highest and best use: altering wood.

Guilty as charged. My thread about chisel handles recently. Yep, that was me. I’m looking in the mirror, yes I am.

I need to get a lower wattage bulb in this room. Much lower.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Brit's profile


7801 posts in 3354 days

#4 posted 04-26-2012 03:12 PM

Wood for me if I have a choice, but it has to be shaped nicely too. Don’t give me a blocky saw handle…

...and expect me to like it, because I’ll be reaching for the rasp…

Having said that though, I do use Irwin chisels with plastic handles and it doesn’t bother me in use. I’d rather have a set of LN chisels though.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

19339 posts in 3079 days

#5 posted 04-26-2012 03:13 PM

i prefer wood. tools, rifle stocks, and house siding. It needs to be wood on my stuff.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3204 days

#6 posted 04-26-2012 03:13 PM

^I actually don’t like the look of the polymer. Even on a Holtey. Nothing beats a well worn rosewood. Personal preference, like everything.
Edit: and tin roofs, Don:)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View bandit571's profile


23797 posts in 3194 days

#7 posted 04-26-2012 03:22 PM

Some wood handles are just ugly

and when i find one I don’t like, well they be history

Even some handplanes have some ugly stuff

But, we can also fix that problem

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 2787 days

#8 posted 04-26-2012 04:04 PM

I’m with you all the way on that one, you know I am. You’ll probably not believe me when I say it was that blog entry above that I had just been re-reading before I wrote this! (Lovely lambs tongue BTW)
What prompted me was (I think) that plastics were “The” material when we were younger? But it seems to have gone full circle now cos I would prefer wood- like the man said- Nothing beats a well worn rosewood”
You are perfectly correct. I prefer to believe that Form follows Function” after that it is personal choice and aesthetics I suppose.

-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

View karl5005's profile


2 posts in 2056 days

#9 posted 03-04-2014 05:12 PM

When I made my first stainless steel plane the No 98 (in 1998) – there was an outcry “what next, plastic handles!” Now I have stainless steel and plastic (well resin) handles.

View Johnnyblot's profile


319 posts in 2787 days

#10 posted 03-04-2014 09:41 PM

What can I say, there is nothing about any of the materials or design of this plane that could possibly detract from tool itself.
I have admired your work for some time now and applaud how you have pushed the boundaries of how planes should look and perform.

The closest I’ve ever got to one of your planes is the one you made for David Charlesworth. Mind you I didn’t touch it cos I suffer from “rusty fingers”. :-)


-- Gossamer shavings just floating around the back yard….-Bandit

View TerryDowning's profile


1122 posts in 2629 days

#11 posted 03-04-2014 10:41 PM

On some tools plastic is a requirement

Any of the Millers Falls permaloid handled tools including chisels, braces, and the beautiful 209 De-Luxe smooth plane.

Of course the Buck Rogers planes from MF as well.

There are probably others. Beautiful plane Karl.

For the most, I prefer wood handles though.

-- - Terry

View karl5005's profile


2 posts in 2056 days

#12 posted 03-05-2014 09:21 AM

Wood v plastic

this would imply that I dislike wood, which could not be further from the truth. When it comes to tool making etc I can’t see why we should exclude some materials just for the sake of tradition. In the case of where handles are used in non-infill planes then there aren’t any problems with wood here. I just sometimes think that a particular colour or texture would suit an application better.

I have not yet used synthetic material in an infill plane however I cannot see a better place to use resins and polymers because of their stability. Some of the exotic woods are extremely attractive but it is such a shame to compromise a plane’s integrity all just for vanity.

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