It’s no secret that multi-handles and tools have grown in popularity in recent years, notably because there are more options of handles and better availability of tools. That said, without heading here and holding each of the handles, it can be a daunting prospect trying to feel ‘informed’ about each of the handles and their respective characteristics…
With that in mind, we have tried to compile something of a ‘top trumps’ for multi-handles, leaving the final decision to you, but arming you with the information to do so.
It is worth noting at this point that you should always be aware of the ‘true’ diameter of your gouge and whether its stated size is European or American. Confused? Have a read of our previous post first…
Please bear in mind that as always, we only comment on tools we have used and which we sell – as turners ourselves, we believe this is key to being objective – ultimately subjective thoughts serve no-one. So here goes:
The design for these was originally the brainchild of Mike Hosaluk (whom recently demonstrated at the 2018 AWGB Symposium and was a real pleasure to watch), but has since been adopted and manufactured under the watchful eye of the engineering geniuses of OneWay in Canada. The OneWay handles are amongst the heaviest of the options and available in two sizes, each having dual diameter capabilities with each end of the handle being drilled accordingly. The rubber outer gives a solid comfort, dampening vibration without reducing control or a need for “gripping” the handle to overcome any sponginess.
Handle Length Options: 12” / 30cm 17.5” / 44.5cm
Weights: 12" - approx. weight: 1 ¾ lbs / 800g 17½" - approx. weight: 2½ lbs / 1.2kg
Stated Gouge Diameters: Each handle has a ½" hole at one end, and a ⅝" hole at the opposite end.
Handle Finish: Heavy duty steel handles wrapped in thick, fibre reinforced rubberised plastic
Pros: Substantial in weight and construction. Great dampening. Versatility for all form factors of tool shaft.
Cons: Heavy. Not the most vibration dampening of handles.
(I know I said we’re being objective, but I’m a big fan of these OneWay handles)
Whilst relatively unknown (or from our experience considered) amongst the options, the Serious Toolworks handle is superb piece of kit and the only handle here which sports a cam lock mechanism which really ‘works’. Solid holding power and slotted collet inserts allow more tolerance than most handles when the ‘stock’ bar is a few milli different. In the hand, this is the most dampening of the tools, thanks to it’s high density rubberised foam outer, giving comfort and warmth to the tool from the outset. Combined with the Serious Toolworks double ended gouges (available as 1/2” and 5/8”), this is a strong contender amongst the selection here.
Handle Length Options: 17.5 inches long / 44.5cm
Weights: 1.5 lbs / 680g
Stated Gouge Diameters: Native .75” bore. Collects for 3/8”, 1/2” & 5/8”
Handle Finish: 303 stainless steel wrapped in high density foam
Pros: Soft to handle. Lightweight. 1/8 turn locking mechanism. Quick change capability thanks to the cam-lock. Index markings for locking and unlock positions.
Cons: Won’t work with non-uniform outer diameter or square section tools.
Carter & Son Toolworks
Totally unique in its production, the team at Carter and Son have machined these handles from aircraft grade aluminium. Sculpted to more closely represent a traditional tool handle, these are truly beautiful pieces of engineering. Whilst you might be concerned that an aluminium handle would be cold to use, it only takes a matter of a minute or so for it to be totally comfortable in the hand and a true pleasure to use. The flowing lines are comfortable and familiar, and the balance in the hand is unsurpassed, making this an easy handle to pick up and get to grips with quickly.
Handle Length Options: 12” / 30cm 16” / 40cm
Weights: 12” – 640g 16” – 940g
Stated Gouge Diameters: Native 3/4” bore. Collets available separately for 5/8”, 1/2”, 3/8”
Handle Finish: Aircraft grade aluminium
Pros: Familiar Feel. High quality finish. Works seamlessly with all Carter Tools. Multiple collects available. Lightweight.
Cons: Initially cold to touch. Single bore (i.e. not double ended). Smooth finish may feel too ‘slick’ in some hands.
Hamlet Craft Tools
Hamlet Craft Tools make their handles developed for their excellent 'Brother' series hollowing tools available as separate items so that they can be used to hold interchangeable tool blades. The handles are based on a steel tube, giving the tool the essential rigidity and substantial weight, covered with a dense yet compliant rubber sheath creating a comfortable grip but with a secure feel whilst dampening vibration, sometimes lacking with the more sponge-like coverings used by other manufacturers. Handles are available with bore diameters of 3/8", 1/2" and 5/8", the larger bore versions being longer, to better suit use with larger diameter tools. These handles are also ‘slimmer’ than others, making them ideally suited to those with smaller hands or who are simply looking for a lighter weight tool without sacrificing rigidity.
Handle Length Options: 9” / 23cm 13” / 33cm 17” / 43cm 24” / 61cm
Weights: 9” - 680g 13” - 780g 17” - 850g 24” - 1150g
Stated Gouge Diameters: 9” Handle (MH38) – 3/8” 13” Handle (MH12) – 1/2” 17” Handle (MH58) 5/8” 24” Handle (MH58L) 5/8”. Appropriate collects can be used in larger tools to ‘downsize’ but should be checked for compatibility first.
Handle Finish: Rubber wrapped steel core
Pros: Slimline handle format. Great dampening and vibration control. Rigid steel core.
Cons: Possibly too slim for those with bigger hands – though this is personal preference. Single ended.
Developed as part of the Sovereign hollowing system range, the multi handle is a ‘big’ handle, both in diameter and available length, surpassed in the latter only by the Hamlet 24” handle specified above. Unlike the Hamlet handles, the Sorby handles are slightly beefier in their diameter, making them ideal for larger hands or when size really matters. Like the Hamlet handles, these are steel core tools and shrouded in rubber for dampening and tactility. The 16” & 22” handles come with the capability to attach the sovereign side handle for added support with hollowing tools...
Handle Length Options: 12” / 30cm 16” / 41cm 22” / 56cm
Weights: 12” – 610g 16” – 850g 22” – 1200g
Stated Gouge Diameters: Native 5/8” bore with collects for 1/2”, 3/8” & tanged flat tools.
Handle Finish: Rubber wrapped steel core
Pros: Solidly built and enough weight to feel solid. Side arm capability for hollowing (optional extra). Unique collet for flat tanged tools.
Cons: Single ended.
Taking a wholly different approach to the handle finish, the Wiedemann handles follow the format of the OneWay handles, in that they are double ended. However, rather than wrapping the handles as other do (with the exception of Carter Tools) these smart looking units have a textured and blackened surface cut into the aluminium, giving a diamond pattern and delivering unparalleled grip. This overcomes some of the problems of rubber/foam degradation over the years and also means there’s not dust contamination being harboured in the handle either, making them easy to clean and maintain.
Handle Length Options: 300mm / 12” (£47.90) 400mm / 16” (£56.72)
Weights: 300mm – 480g 400mm – 820g
Stated Gouge Diameters: 300mm – 10mm & 13mm 400mm – 13mm & 16mm
Handle Finish: Knurled Aluminium
Pros: A sleek and clean design, cut from a single piece of aluminium makes these long lasting and low maintenance. Double ended options allow for increased versatility.
Cons: The surface texturing can be too aggressive for some users. Lack of dampening can be unforgiving at times.
Of course, not wanting to end the selection there, we thought that given some people like their wooden handles or would rather turn their own bespoke/custom handles, we should cater for them too, so here are two great options if that’s a route you want to explore.
Jimmy Clewes Cam-lock
Offering the same cam-locking approach as the Serious Toolworks handle listed above, these are an extremely quick, convenient and effective way of changing woodturning tool blades whilst retaining the natural feel of a timber handle. These are each made from high-grade aluminium and are anodized in different colours for instant recognition of sizes – 1/4”, 3/8, 1/2”, 5/8”. The only limitation with these is the length of tang which will fit into the cam-lock as they are not ‘bored through’ and do have a base in them.
OneWay Thread-lock ferrules
Designed to screw onto a tapered outer of a turned handle, these adaptors are a no compromise approach for those looking for a traditional feel to a multi-tool system. With their ‘through bore’ the only limitation on tool length is how far you drill into your handle, allowing the use of double ended gouges and variation in gouge protrusion.
So there you have it, a whistle stop tour of the multi-handle world (or our world of them at least). We hope that these written pieces are of use, since they don’t write themselves. Not all of these are listed on our website so if you have any questions or need any additional information please do give us a call.
If there’s an industry topic you would like us to cover, let us know and we shall see what we can do.