1) As a noun this occurs frequently in the inventories of cloth-dressers and it had a very specific meaning. Briefly, the 'handles' were a wooden frame set with teasles which was used to raise the nap on cloth.
It was a tenchique that required skill, and which changed over the years and from one region to another: the history of ‘handles’ is told in specialist works on the cloth industry. One of the most explicit references is the earliest that I have noted: 1484 every walker shall walk the said cloth and clothez sufficiently … so that thay be as wele walked in oon place as in an othere, and wroght with dede handils as apperteyneth, York. The implement is often linked with shears in textile contexts: 1544 towe pare of walker sheres, one sherborde and my handils, Halifax
1558 vnto Robert Kitson my sonne ... my tenters, my lume, iiij payre of clothe sheares and all my handles, Wortley
1607 two paire of sheares, one shearebord with handles, Slaithwaite. John Pawson of Leeds was a clothier, and his inventory lists the following items In the Shopp and Lomehowse: 1576 one shearborde, iiij paire of walker sheares, viij course of handles, one scraye. I note the following explanation of ‘course’ in The Cloth Industry in the West of England: ‘the number of courses given with the handles varied with the quality of the cloth and was sometimes large
mention of twenty-six and twenty-nine course handles can be found’. The term ‘a brake of handles’ was frequent from the seventeenth century: 1618 half a brack of handls and scraths, Bingley
1687 one brake of handles, Linthwaite
1702 a brake of handles, Holmfirth. W.B. Crump thought that a ‘brake’ was a rack in which the handles were stored, and quoted: 1703 Handle brake, Handles and Raizing Peark, Skircoat.