Custom Tool Handles

Meta Description: Link to Carl's "Custom Tool Handles" AAW magazine article PDF. How to make your own Custom Tool Handles from PVC Pipe and Heat Shrinkable Fabric or Elastic Mesh Sleeve.

Photo: Custom Tool Handles 1

Make your own Custom Tool Handles from PVC Pipe and Heat Shrinkable Fabric.

I have found most commercially available tool handles uncomfortable to use for a variety of reasons.

So I found a way to make adjustable handles that are just the right diameter for my grip, the right level of softness, and the right weight and length for my tastes.

You can make customized tool handles at a fraction of the cost out of PVC pipe, craft foam, heat-shrinkable cloth, and a few other easily attainable supplies.

Read More: See my “Custom Tool Handles” magazine article on page 41 of “American Woodturner, The Journal of the American Association of Woodturners, April 2015, Vol. 30, No. 2”. Or click here for the PDF.

Mesh Handle

Photo: Custom Tool Handles 2Updated: 9/5/2020: I no longer use the “Heat-Shrinkable Woven Fabric Tubing” in the above article. I now use “Elastic Mesh Sleeve for OD 1-1/2″ to 2”. www.McMaster.com item #5969K24. It is a lot cheaper and it works better. i.e. it creates a better feeling, non slip handle.

Photo: Custom Tool Handles 3Slipping the mesh over the 1/8″ craft foam can be very challenging. The mesh gets stuck on the foam and does not want to slide over foam.

It is a lot easier if you temporarily cover the foam with 5″ stretch wrap plastic from local office supply or big box store. Cover the entire handle with stretch wrap. Then slip the mesh on. Peal back half of the mesh by folding it back on itself. Remove half of the stretch wrap. Then slide the mesh back over the foam. Then repeat the process to remove the other half of the stretch wrap.

Cohesive Wrap Handle

Updated: 7/14/2021: One of my students made a Custom Tool Handle covered with “3M Cohesive Utility Wrap”. It is an easy solution. However the wrap gets dirty over time. I like the above mesh better.

If you search on Amazon for “3M Cohesive Utility Wrap” you will find a lot of options and colors. I think the stuff they use for bandages, etc is the same stuff.


Updated: 9/4/2021. Carl has been published numerous times. Click here to see a list of Carl’s other magazine articles.