Friday, February 20, 2015

File Handles

Files and rasps are essential tools of the saw maker. No handmade saw could be made without them. But a file or rasp is nearly useless without a serviceable handle. I have a lot of handles, and they come in many shapes and sizes. Two of my favorite and most interesting handles are in the center of the picture below. They are interesting because they represent extremes -- extremes of age, of design, and of intent.

The one on the left was my grandfather's. He simply made it out of a piece of a hickory sapling. It is a handle of expediency. He needed a handle at that moment, and the sapling was the closest thing at hand. I'm sure he never expected it to still be in use many decades later. The end is worn smooth as silk from the many years of contact with his hand, and now mine. It works very well, and it is a testament that even the simplest of tools can be effective in the right hands.

The handle on the right was given to me recently by my friend John. It's a new handle, hand turned by John on his lathe. It also has a silky smooth finish, showing the care that was put into this gift for a friend. The design is more typical of what you'd expect to see in a file handle, but the wood is unique. It is lilac wood. The white and brown contrasting grain is beautiful, and the wood is very hard. I expect this handle to be around for many decades too.

One old handle, plain and made  out of necessity; one new handle, fancy and made as a gift. Both functional and beautiful in their own way, and both prized by their owner. Each time I use them, I think of their makers.


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