The Handle is essential for easy maneuvering of a weapon.  There are three elements to a good handle.  You can leave one or more out, but expect the weapon to be inferior.

A counterweight.

This moves the weapon’s center of balance closer to the hands, and thus increases maneuverability.  A center of balance further from the hands will cause the weapon to hit harder.  Many historical swords had balance points 2-6″ from the handle, depending on their purpose.  Impact weapons had centers of balance much further from the hands, often near the head of the weapon.  If you’re aiming for any authenticity, Foamsmithing recommends skipping counterweighting for axes, maces, and hammers.

A shaped handle.

This allows for a more natural grip on the weapon.  “Oblonging” is important for edged weapons, since the shape can keep you from flatting with your swings.  “Waisting” is useful for all weapons.  Counterweighting can help with shaping, but there is often additional work that needs to be accomplished.

A handle grip.

The texture of your handle is often a personal preference.  It can be difficult to create a durable grip, since sweat and friction does a number on the handles.  The most simple technique is to wrap a handle with athletic tape, but more authentic and attractive techniques are available.

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