Making an axe handle

Discussion in 'D.I.Y.' started by barney, May 4, 2017.

  1. barney

    barney 12 pointer

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    I was looking through my hickory axe handle staves for no particular reason the other day and came across one that just inspired me. I generally keep some good air-dried hickory on hand for handles because perfect axe handles can't be bought these days. Besides that, they're made from kiln dried wood which destroys the inherent properties of hickory.

    Anyways.. the stave inspired me mainly because it was ugly, and I wanted to use it to get rid of it. It had some wavey grain, a slight bow, and a little strip of brash wood near the heartwood side of the stave. So, I decided to hew the bow off of it to see if I thought I could get a double bit handle out of it before I cut it in half for shorter hatchet handle blanks. Here's a few pictures, and a short video of how the project went.

    A 3 1/2 lb. Collins era, Sager Double Bit axe head(1950-1955)I picked up a few years ago at a pawn shop for $5. After getting down to the brass tacks, I can see that the stave is BARELY wide enough to even think about hanging this head.
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    I'm thinking maybe I can pull it off at this point.
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    It's gonna work, but the shoulder is going to be a little narrower than I like on a double bit axe.
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    It's shaping up after a few minutes of hewing with the hatchet.
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    Making the tongue, and fitting it to the eye. Also starting to cut some facets with the rasp to ensure I keep the handle straight, and inline with the tongue and shoulder.
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    Working on the shelf, and facets.
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    This picture is a little confusing. I'm holding the tongue in my hand while sighting down the haft for straightness.
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    Final facet tweaking with the rasp for geometric uniformity along the full length of the haft. This technique works for curvey single bit axe handles as well.
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    Finally, the tongue is through the eye and ready to be hung.
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    Kerf was cut, and the head was hung with a sassafras wedge. It doesn't show in the picture, but I cod locked the wedge by driving it deeper after trimming the tongue.
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    The thickness of the haft is 13/16ths along the length.
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    The swell.
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    A little file work on the bits. Once through the hard oxidation layer, an old Ward's Master Quality file made pretty quick work of this part! After the bits were profiled, I hit them with a carborundum stone and then 180 paper.
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    I took her to the woods this afternoon to work on a maple windfall. The axe feels good and smooth to me and seems really accurate. I grew up swinging homemade axe handles, and use the flex to my advantage. Just can't get that in a brought on box store handle anymore.
     
  2. Gooch

    Gooch 8 pointer

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    looking great
     
  3. barney

    barney 12 pointer

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    Thanks!
     
  4. bondhu

    bondhu 8 pointer

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    Great Job barney. Just another craft that's about forgotten.
     
  5. Feedman

    Feedman Cyber-Hunter

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    Thanks for posting that. I remember my dad doing that an using a piece of broken glass to make the handle smooth
     
  6. Dark Cloud

    Dark Cloud 8 pointer

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    Lawrence Co.
    Nice job ,enjoyed the pics.,I see two dying traditions here,making your own tools,and using an ax.My dad use to make his own tool and plow handles ,helped him make a complete single shovel plow when I was young.He would make corn and fodder sleds,use to enjoy helping him.I don't think he owned a chain saw until he had to quit work in the mines.
     
  7. barney

    barney 12 pointer

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    Thanks. And you would be correct.

    I enjoy watching big tough guys talk axes on YouTube like they were born with one in their hand, then proceed to chop like a 14 year old girl!:)
    My grandpa would make handles all winter long sitting by the fireplace in the family room. I would sit and watch him for hours. He used a piece of glass to scrape the handle smooth too. I use a Red Devil paint scraper instead of glass.
    Thanks. I've helped make sleds and half sole the runners to keep them from wearing. I've enjoyed the old ways since I was a young boy. I made my first axe handle when I was 18.

    I also noticed that the good old tools started to disappear a few years ago. When I come across something good at flea markets or sales I pick them up. That good virgin steel will never be back again.. It's how I invest in precious metals.
     
  8. inchr48

    inchr48 10 pointer

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    Thanks for sharing barney. Cooler than a penguin's butt ...........
     
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  9. mudhole crossing

    mudhole crossing 10 pointer

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    Barney, u must be in good shape to continually chop thst long!!! I'd be gasping in 45 secs
     
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  10. barney

    barney 12 pointer

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    How do you figure that? The axe was doing all the work!:)
     
  11. mudhole crossing

    mudhole crossing 10 pointer

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    All I can say is idk how old u r(I'm 43) but no way I could swing an ax that long, lol. But, my dad is 70 and he is a beast!!!!! Out work me anyday of the week. But my job requires no physical labor. Hunting, shrooming, and weed eating is about only excercise I get
     
  12. barney

    barney 12 pointer

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    Swinging an axe is good exercise. I just turned 52.
     
  13. mudhole crossing

    mudhole crossing 10 pointer

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  14. Farrier85

    Farrier85 10 pointer

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    nice work
     
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  15. Carl

    Carl 10 pointer

    Great job, Barney. I could only last one round. Looks like you could last for all twelve.
     
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