Tools with Octagonal Handles

Here are a few tools that I made with octagonal handles. I detailed how to make them in my post on making octagonal handles.

Tools With Octagonal Handles

from top to bottom, Scratch Awl with Aluminum Bronze and Leather Ferrule, Chip Carving Knife, Bird Cage Awl, Burnisher for Scrapers and a Simple Scratch Awl.

All of these tools are made from High Speed Steel. The Aluminum Bronze Ferrule is really pretty, but not really needed.

The Chip Carving Knife is very useful, I’m glad I made it, It scores, marks, and makes straight light cuts like no other knife, but for actual chip carving, your hand needs to be right up on the blade, so this is not the ideal handle for this task.

The Bird Cage Awl is perfect. The back is not large enough for it to be comfortable to push down from the palm, but that is intended. Palm pressure tools are one of the causes of hand injury in repetitive tasks. So I am training myself to use better grips.

The Burnisher is also superb.

The Simple Scratch Awl is nice, but the low shoulder near the blade can get in the way of marking sometimes. For making a quick dimple for guiding a drill, the Bird Cage Awl is superior to a scratch awl, so while I use this tool and find it useful, It and the Scratch Awl with Aluminum Bronze and Leather Ferrule are not ideal tools for this handle shape.


Here are my favorite screwdrivers. The two plastic ones ratchet, the stubby newer one doesn’t click as it ratchets. Both are magnetic and work very nicely. But for most work, I will still choose the wooden ones that I made myself. They are slightly less bulky, so both fit in the pocket better.

Ergonomically both of the wooden ones are lighter and turn in you hand with ease. Sometimes a ratchet makes life better, so I am still looking for a good small ratchet screwdriver to cannibalize and put a wooden handle on. While I love the the short mesquite screwdriver enough to have made several of them, the long one made with spalted pecan and a leather ferrule is superior and still fits in a pocket comfortably. The short one tempts me to use a palm grip, and that is a place where work place injury is common. So the longer one is ergonomically safer as it does not tempt you to use a palm grip. The short one has a flat on it so it won’t roll far, but the long one stays right where I put it.

The quick release mechanism on the longer one is frankly the best made. I cannot take any credit for that, it is the TaperLock Bit Holder by FastCap. Don’t consider this a stealth ad, consider this a scathing review, all other bit holders are lame in comparison.   Seriously, I have used the thin, blue, HF quick release as the best I have found, despite it’s cheapness, until I found this one. The TaperLock Rules! Most quick release bit holders will throw the bit across the room when you release it, charming but not good for keeping bits handy. Some rather expensive ones will release as the mechanism touches anything in the work area or lock on your tool so you need pliers to get them to release bits.  A lot of them are so large they can hardly be used without a long bit.  All of them wobble.  The TaperLock is tighter and has less wobble than any. Yes, I have tried the Wera Rapidapter along with a lot of other relatively expensive and bragged about bit holders.  The Rapidapter has wobble between the shaft and the grip. The TaperLock does not. The TaperLock will also grab a smooth bit and hold it firmer than any other quick release will hold a quick release bit.   Snugged down on a smooth shanked bit, there may not be any wobble at all.

So apart from the lack of a ratchet, this hexagonal screwdriver will grab any 1/4″ hex bit, hold it tight and release it when I want it to. As a result, I believe that I have in my tool box one of the best and most useful, if not the best, screwdrivers in the world. Mwwa Haa Haa Haa!

The stubby hammer has an octagonal grip, and I love it.   This started out as a really shiny and pretty hammer.  I use it way too much and way too hard.  A bronze hammer should not see such abuse.  Because it is made from aluminum bronze, very little will stick to it and it is nice and heavy.  So I end up abusing this little pocket hammer all the time.

So far, my experience is that chisels, hammers, screwdrivers, files, gouges, some knives, bird cage awls and burnishers gain quite a bit with this handle shape.  As I have shown here, there are a few examples where this handle shape is not the ideal.


2 comments to Tools with Octagonal Handles

  • Paul


    I like the octagonal handles very much, have made a few prototypes. As for the chip knife, how about fitting blade at other end, also maybe slight angle?

  • Bob Strawn

    That is sort of along the lines of what I came up with as a solution. I will put up a post on my solution in a few days. I did not think of reversing it, but then I am pretty happy with the result I came up with.


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