Fiberglass Handles vs. Wood Handles:

Advantages and Disadvantages

Both have advantages and disadvantages.

FIRST, there are good fiberglass handles and BAD. The good ones have the same flex and shock reduction as a wood handle. The bad ones are about like a welded on steel pipe handle. They are worthless AND can cause various joint problems. My experiance is that there are more bad ones than good ESPECIALY in cheaper lines. I have had both in carpenter's hammers bought from the same supplier at roughly the same price.

SECOND, the advantages of the fiberglass handle are that they are generally more durable than wood, they do not shrink and get loose, they do not crack. They can be left out in the weather and will not rot or get soaked then loosen. They are great tools for tossing in the back of an open bed truck and not worring about. .

THIRD, the disadvantages of the fiberglass handle are that many are poorly designed as noted (too heavy), they cannot be modified to your personal grip, they are hard to replace and generaly not available as replacements.

Many smiths go to great lengths to carve their handles to their personal grip. This does two things. It makes the handles springier and reduces shock as well as giving the smith a familar grip. This is impossible with a fiberglass handle. Many smiths also cut handles to a shorter length than standard. This too is impractical with a fiberglass hammer as it exposes the fibers in the end of the handle and may cause the rubber grip to fail.

BOTH are subject to knicking of the handle shank on nails or overhangs. Both can be repaired if the knick is not severe but fiberglass handles are less likely to fail due to a knicked shank. I have only knicked a couple hammers in my life but almost ALL my hammers are taped up from others knicking them. . . People will grab ANY hammer and try to drive a nail, often knicking the handle when they miss.

To repair shallow knicks use glue (wood glue on wood, epoxy on fibreglass) to bind the splinters then sand to remove loose rough bits. I then wrap the damaged area with electrical tape to reinforce and cover the rough spot as well as protect from further knicking.

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Copyright © 2004 Jock Dempsey,

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