It takes about half an hour to reshape a chisel handle of the type I have been using for the past years. The ones I am using and changing here I have only been using for about a year but they are identical to my twelve-year-old Aldi chisels you seem unable to buy any more; these are the ones that cost a mere £2 apiece for a few successive years. MHG chisels are German made and nice to have but they are not £2 apiece even though they did make the Aldi versions for a number of years. Fine Tools carries a set of six chisels for around €62. That’s the set I have, plus a few individuals that are handy too, 2mm, 4mm and 16mm.
I am never too sure why makers add some idiot things to chisels. The hoop at the top is just such a cheesy and unnecessary thing and especially is this so on hornbeam, which, in my view, is better than boxwood and ash ten times over as a chisel handle. This wood is about unsplittable as it gets and using the method the maker uses on the tangs of their chisels, the solid bolster plus is perfecting beyond measure and will never twist in the handle no matter what you do to it.
Though the handles on my chisels are adequate, the hoops on the ends look ugly and serve no real purpose. Also, they do come loose if the handle shrinks inside the hoop and the rattle is annoying and really not fixable without adding a gap-filling glue which inevitably turns loose again. here are my steps to reshaping. It takes about 20 minutes to do and transforms the chisel to suit your hand. Funny thing too, they make chisels as more premium versions with bulbous ash handles instead of hornbeam and ash is coarser-grained and develops a rougher texture over time. Hornbeam on the other hand has a very tight grain with even texture throughout and so finishes to a wonderfully smooth finish with very little effort.
To remove the hoop I changed tactics because it is hard to tap off the hoop with just a hammer and screwdriver. By angling the chisel in the vise and then angling the hacksaw at a slope of around 50-60-degrees you can saw through the hoop almost all the way through. Try not to saw into the handle as this will necessitate taking off more wood than you want to. With care, you can just kiss the surface of the wood with the saw teeth.
You can’t saw all the way but enough to really weaken the hoop. Use a screwdriver tip to ease up the point of the hoop. Pry open as much as possible. . .
. . . take a pair of pliers and peel back the hoop until the remaining uncut edge snaps away.
With the hoop removed you can now use a rasp to remove the bulk of the waste. I reduced the length of my chisel slightly first and made them all the same length whereas before they were different lengths.
I used a saw rasp by Shinto and that removes the wood rapidly and controllably too. Present the rasp at a low angle and work to an even amount by rotating the handle in the vise. I took my handle down to the indent in the wood caused by the hoop.
After coarse shaping, I followed with a thin scraper (veritas makes them) so that I could flex the edge. This minimises the number of flats you get in the surface and blends them to smooth, even contour.
Use a flat file on the end and the corner around the circumference to make everything even and slightly radiused.
Sand the overall with 250-grit abrasive.
I used the flat file to flatten the side scallops true. I planned to add my name stamp here.
I added three coats of shellac. it will keep the wood stain-free and feels good in the hand during long periods of working with them.
Clamping a sash clamp across the vise jaw with a small gap allows you to insert the chisel until dry when each one is coated.
Buffing out with steel wool and some soft furniture polish gives it the same feel as a vintage chisel right off.
A plywood chisel tray matched my workbench where all parts to it are made from baltic birch. This tray fits into my tool well below the main bench surface.
It also tucks neatly away into my rear tray holder when not in use and I can lift it to wherever I am working.