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Thread: How to Rehandle an Axe

  1. #1
    NaturalBushcraft Founder Ashley Cawley's Avatar
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    Question How to Rehandle an Axe

    Hi Folks,

    Firstly I would like to thank user: WoodTroll (Tom) for his generosity in giving me a Axe to work on as a project to rehandle.

    This is basically a request, if you have ever re-handled an Axe and picked up any invaluable tips along the way or know of any good resources, be; article, video, book etc. about axe re-handling, please let me know them here!

    Thanks for your time,

    Here is the Axe that Tom gave me:









    The handle broke at a knot in the handle.
    Ashley Cawley

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  2. #2
    One with Nature JonnyP's Avatar
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    I have put handles on lots of tools, but not an axe.
    I remembered that I had something about axe handles in my bookmarked sites..
    http://sleekfreak.ath.cx:81/3wdev/CD....HTM#B1246_4_3

  3. #3
    NaturalBushcraft Founder Ashley Cawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyP View Post
    I have put handles on lots of tools, but not an axe.
    I remembered that I had something about axe handles in my bookmarked sites..
    http://sleekfreak.ath.cx:81/3wdev/CD....HTM#B1246_4_3
    Looks great, thanks for sharing Jonny.

  4. #4
    Tramp WoodTroll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ashley Cawley View Post
    Hi Folks,

    Firstly I would like to thank user: WoodTroll (Tom) for his generosity in giving me a Axe to work on as a project to rehandle.

    This is basically a request, if you have ever re-handled an Axe and picked up any invaluable tips along the way or know of any good resources, be; article, video, book etc. about axe re-handling, please let me know them here!

    The handle broke at a knot in the handle.
    Glad to give it to someone who could use it. Look forward to seeing how you get on. Cheers.
    Last edited by Ashley Cawley; 28-11-2010 at 09:45 AM. Reason: Typo & repeating images

  5. #5
    Trapper Jon Mac's Avatar
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    Have a look here...http://spooncarvingfirststeps.blogsp...cut-out-2.html If you need any more info then please give me a pm or E mail...J

  6. #6
    Native dave budd's Avatar
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    since rehandling an axe is part of several course I run, I'll try not to go into too much detail or I'll be here all day! but a few tips:

    Firstly and most importantly, don't get hung up on what the arm chair experts tell you must be the the right way! There are theoretical ideals that rarely have any effect in the real world. Remember,I don't just play with axes once or twice a year

    Ash and hickory are the toughest woods, but to be honest any hardwood will do (just some will last longer than others). I've used oak, cherry, birch, alder, yew etc and haven't had them break due to choosing the wrong species.

    Grain orientation is not as important as making sure that you have as many growth rings running as far along the handle as possible. If the grain runs at 90 degrees to the head, it doesn't normally matter (some instances it does,but not for a general purpose hatchet). As I always cleave my handles from straight grained ash, I get long fibres anyway. I've had some very nice whippy handles made from ash that were 90 degrees to the head and they are great for small carving axes and adze

    The handle can be any shape and size you like, as long as its comfortable and practical for you to use. I'm a fan of straight handles as they are easier to make, more customisable (if its too long, you can cut a bit off) and I find more versatile to use since the shape and relative head position is the same wherever you hold the axe

    Don't burn the old handle out of the head! It can damage the temper (though you could use a blowtorch to heat the eye area up safely enough) Drill out as much wood as you can and then drive a blunt ended bar (or harder bit of wood) through to punch out the remains.

    shave the end of the handle so it fits at the very end, then drive on a way. remove the head and shave the next bit down (where the wood has been discoloured/bruised) and drive the head back on. keep it up until the handle extends a little through the eye. Then if you want a shoulder you can carve it to sit neatly, but I prefer to shave the handle to a gentle taper so that the head is driven even tighter on when I finally fit it (also looks neater IMO)

    Make sure the handle and the wedge are as dry as possible before you fit them together. I leave them in an airing cupboard for a week or so.

    Assemble the handle and use thin superglue to hold the wedge in place.

    Oil but don't polish the handle. (I don't bother oiling my own, but that's laziness!)

    just a few thoughts

  7. #7
    Wanderer OKBushcraft's Avatar
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    Nice info, I have put on a few handles but since I can buy one for less than or about $10 shipped I never went from tree to handle on my own. Again, nice and thanks.

  8. #8
    Moderator Adam Savage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave budd View Post
    Don't burn the old handle out of the head! It can damage the temper (though you could use a blowtorch to heat the eye area up safely enough) Drill out as much wood as you can and then drive a blunt ended bar (or harder bit of wood) through to punch out the remains.
    I have a book by John Wiseman that refers to burning out the shaft. In this book it talks of burying the head in the earth, as the fire burns the shaft, preventing temper being lost. Does this actually work?

    Adam
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  9. #9
    Native dave budd's Avatar
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    yes in theory, but I wouldn't risk it. Also, burying the head, lighting a fire, getting it hot enough to burn the wood out, excavating the head and leaving it to cool down would most likely take longer than just drilling a few holes through the stump and driving a bar of steel (or wood) through to knock it out.
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  10. #10
    One with Nature CanadianMike's Avatar
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    Worked for me last summer when I had to clear out an old axehead that was given to us, buried the edge in damp earth and had the backside in the fire itself. An hour later all remaining wood was burned away and was able to start working on a new handle. Mind you, the fire was contained in a steel tire rim and I dug a hole under the rim to put the axehead in, so the edge remained outside of the fire itself.

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