Introduction: Custom Ergonomic Handles

Create custom fit ergonomic handles for small implements or tools.  Use of soldering irons or even forks may seem simple but what if you had trouble holding them?  Make modifications to improve the grip or the way you can hold it.

I was in the dollar store recently and saw a bunch of coat hooks.  It instantly reminded me of the coat hook that gmjhowe found recently to use in his project which reminded him of bertus52x11's left handed dSLR holder.  This got me thinking to the application of the coat hook idea where people have a difficult time in using either hand. 

I am entering this into the Health by Design contest, but because it is so similar to gmjhowe's modification of bertus52x11's idea based on bertus52x11's original idea, the main reason I am entering it is so that if this instructable wins anything the prize will go to bertus52x11, giving him an extra extra chance of winning! Be sure to check out his other projects, a lot of them are simple ideas, but the kind it takes a genius to think up.

Step 1: Hang on to Your Stuff

You will need a few things to create a custom ergonomic handle but not limited to what I suggest below.

Coat hooks - they can be the simple curved hook or the double elongated coat and hat hook.

nylon tie-wraps

cutters to clip excess length off tie wraps

Extras to pad and shape the handle if desired:

electrical tape

padded handlebar tape / spare mousepad / unused pair of insole liners to cut up

small diameter foam pipe insulation

epoxy plumber's putty - yeah, same stuff as the As Seen on TV magic putty but not at the sale price.
I don't think baked scupley or air dry polymer clay can take wear and tear.

Step 2: If the Handle Fits...

I had dabbled in the sport of fencing(epee) so the same principle of being able to control the point of your implement applies here.  I will be using a soldering iron to illustrate our modifications. In fencing foils or epees, the grips or handles are sometimes modified to give you greater control and improve the strength of your grip.

Ergonomics is getting the handle to fit the way it works for the individual.  Everyone is different and different configurations may or may not be suitable for all.

I will show you a few setups but you can adjust and modify so that it works for you.

The first is the simple one hook modification.

For those that cannot grip tightly or lack the movement to close their fingers completely, the coat hanger hook will provide an additional surface to bear on.

Position the coat hanger hook so that it sits comfortably in the nook of your thumb and forefinger or in a way that it can be used as a finger guard / thumb rest.

Secure a coat hanger hook to the top of the soldering iron.  Pass a tie-wrap through the screw holes in the coat hanger hook and wrap around the body of the soldering iron.  Use a second tie-wrap to secure it and to keep it from twisting about.

Turn it upside down to give you a pistol grip.  You may need to attach it further back to give you a comfortable grip.

Step 3: Italian Grip

This is the traditional Italian style grip which is a crossbar placed perpendicular to the main shaft or handle.  Fingers hook on to the crosspiece .

Just add a coat hanger hook to the bottom, opposite the coat hanger hook that is already attached.

Step 4: Belgian Pistol Grip

If you offset the coat hanger hooks on the top and the bottom, the bottom hook becomes a pistol handle and the top is a finger pull or grip.

You can play with the various positions of you coat hanger hook to find what is comfortable.

Also, there are many ways to place the fingers for the grip.

Step 5: Simple Tasks Simplified

So what else can you make easier to grip?

Everyday utensils like spoons, forks, knives, pencils, pens, ruler, etc.  can be modified.

I read that it sometimes helps those with "shakey hands" to actually weigh down the piece so that it can be held steadier.  Get a higher quality hook than I have which has some more substantial metal to it.   Use metal weights like washers to add to your implement.

Yeah, steampunk it if you desire...brass hooks...go all the steampunked ergonomic soldering iron in existence yet...

Once you have the correct placement of the coat hanger hooks, you can pad with electrical tape or anything else to make the grip smoother.  You can take some epoxy putty to build the joints up for a seamless piece.  Use cloth friction tape to make it non-slip and easier to grab.

This instructable is really just touching on the surface of designing ergonomic handles but it shows how easy it is to try solve a problem.   I hope this inspires a lot of people to look, listen, learn, and do something.  (I may do ergonomic Garden tools but I invite everyone to do their take on it :-) )

Humana Health by Design Contest

Participated in the
Humana Health by Design Contest