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advice on loose head

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by rxavage, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. rxavage


    Aug 16, 2014
    i got the wetterlings bushman axe last year, never used it just oiled the head and handle. today, while maintenancing the axe i notice the head is wiggly so i grab a rubber hammer to see if i can tap it down. after a few tap and closer inspection i notice the wedge is cracked and has popped up. what do i do the fix this? new handle and wedge?
  2. rjdankert

    rjdankert Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    Screws or nails are a common fix.:rolleyes:

  3. cityofthesouth


    Jan 29, 2014
    Does it have a metal wedge? I'd probably just pull the handle so I could really get a good look at what was going on, and then rehang it with a new wedge. Alternatively, you may be able to just seat the head further by striking the handle as if you were hanging it, and then drive the wedge in further.
  4. Agent_H

    Agent_H Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Bob, exactly what came to mind lol

    Second this. Fish around in your junk drawer, pick up a key that doesn't seem to open anything and drive it in there. If your key doesn't go all the way in, don't cut it off! You can run coat hanger through there and loosely twist off a loop and you have an axe hanger.

    Broken door hinge plates, tips of broken knives/screw drivers/saw blades, and or automotive glass will do the job if you don't want to lose nails and screws - waste not, want not.

    This will also require a good soaking in a bucket of tepid water or used motor oil to make sure it stays on.

    Rxavage, maybe pull the wooden wedge carefully and replace it with another one. Start with one thicker and longer than you think it will need.

    Can you post a picture here of the tongue or end, is there something going on with it that makes you think the handle is damaged or compromised?

    There is also nothing wrong with rehanging an axe that doesn't need it direly - at least you can be sure of what you have and how to fix it (since you personally put it together).
  5. Agent_H

    Agent_H Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    This is better advice.
  6. Woodcraft

    Woodcraft Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    Wow, just wow. My wetterlings has adhesive on the wedge no secondary. You can try to re seat the head and drive the wedge deeper, I have not had good luck with that in the past. They just work back out. Instead of cramming a bunch of metal nonsense into the handle and potentially damaging it, as well as making it a pain in the butt later down the road, just re hang it. As it may have adhesive you may have to carefully drill part of the wedge out. Then clean it up and re hang it. Do it properly now and save yourself the headache down the road. If you were in the middle of a job I would say cram a metal secondary wedge in and finish. Aside from that re hang it.
  7. DarthTaco123


    Mar 28, 2013
    I'd re-wedge it personally.
  8. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Buncha jokers! Truth be told the common cure for loose heads seems to be pounded-in junk and/or metal wedges. If you say the existing wedge has begun to pop out that's good news and you should be able to finish the job (excise the wedge, check the head fit and clean out the kerf) so as to be able to install another wedge. Use the search function to see how various folks expertly, and politely, do this without messing up the haft.
  9. rxavage


    Aug 16, 2014
    it has the axe version of slight blade play. i may have to re wedge or rehang it but i'm slightly pissed since i haven't even used it yet and it didn't arrive this way. atleast my velvicut held up over the winter.
  10. Woodcraft

    Woodcraft Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    The winter was exactly the issue. As far as I know wetterlings application is BLO nothing else. You have to continue to care for your axe. They actually put a tag on the axe that tells you this. That means oiling the head and application of blo to the handle occasionally. Your axe handle quite simply dried out. Wood shrinks. Any axe that is not coated in some kind of crappy coating will do the same. I use WD 40 on the head (rust prevention) and Boiled linseed oil on the handle. I try to do both after use, or once a week if I am using that particular axe a lot.
  11. rxavage


    Aug 16, 2014
    i hit it with some blo, twice, but nothing since last summer. maybe another soaking or 2 will help.
  12. Woodcraft

    Woodcraft Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 7, 2016
    Perhaps, but you said the wedge was cracked and loose. Perhaps from the handle shrinking and the wedge being glued in. I would re hang if that is the case. Cracked not a big deal but loose is a no go.
  13. rxavage


    Aug 16, 2014
    yes[​IMG] [​IMG]
  14. Agent_H

    Agent_H Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    I really was joking about the improvised wedge thing - Bob's comment made me laugh and that is all stuff I've actually pulled from axe heads.

    If the rubber mallet did that then it is possible that you just knocked that portion of the wedge and kerf enough to crack it just to the top of the eye. I've actually had that happen over zealously hanging a new handle using a wooden hammer - Lignum vitae is harder that any of my handle or wedge material. Anyway, a couple of those axes are my favorites to use and haven't come loose yet.

    Now, if it is bothering you aesthetically, or you are a little irritated about it, I can understand that. Those are spendy little axes. Pull the wedge, pull the head, look at the cracks. If the cracks are just superficial you could just glue them up real nice, let it sit, then use a small scraper/knife to get any glue off that may have been squeezed out just to not have it as visible. Then you can rehang it.

    Also, are the eyes on those Bushmans a little different shape than a standard over the counter one? If that is the case then you might end up having to order one or make one.

    I would say taking the head off and looking at the splits is really the only way to know what is going on. If there is play in the blade now then it isn't going to get tighter with use - enough of a reason to disassemble and see what can be done - especially if it will be in the back of your mind enough to pass over using it when you go to grab an axe. That is a pretty specifically designed tool to not use it as you had hoped.
  15. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    It's common for wood to shrink up in the winter when we keep our doors closed from the humidity and the drying heat on all the time. Wood floors are famous for this.

    Strike the swell end of the haft several hard blows withh your rubber mallet. This will drraw the head up tight on the haft. Then reset the wedge by driving it deeper with a hardwood or steel punch shaped like the wedge. Then coat the top of the eye and wedge with Swell-lock or DPG.
  16. DeadboxHero

    DeadboxHero Knife Reviewer, Collaborator, Sharpener Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 22, 2014
    if that doesn't work then drill out the old wedge, remove the head, check the to see where the eye is making contact on the wood and make adjustment if needed and BLO everything. reseat the head and rewedge it with a new wood wedge, your wedge geometry is crucial, needs to fill out the eye, can't be too short, too thin or too thick. Use wood glue on the kerf before seating the wedge and BLO the wedge and let dry before use.
  17. Moonw


    Nov 19, 2014
    I had a one-piece tomahawk with scales that shrunk because of the heating during winter. Moved it in a room I don't heat, few days later the scales are almost 100% back. The wood in wenge.

    Had the same issue with a (pinned) military shovel. Left it in the garrage, at lower temp, after pouring a few times antifreeze generously where the haft met the eyel. The rattle is gone. With some BLO, it will get some resistance. The wood is, I think, European beech.
  18. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    I don't know how anything stays tight from Europe to my dry climate. You should see how much some antiques have shrunk that I own that came from Germany.

    But there seems to be more going on with that handle. Whats that dark staining about? Looks like it has taken on some moisture at one time. If so its going to shrink when it dries out. And it is a damaged handle. Probably doesn't help that the grain in that wedge is contrary to what I believe it should be also.

    I have been able to take a chisel and open up a kerf to the side of wedges and just sister up another wedge to the side of an existing one. I also like wax on the end grain and around the heads to seal against moisture.
  19. rxavage


    Aug 16, 2014
    what kind of glue should i use? i'm at the hardware store now.

    also, yes i believe the top of the handle took some moisture from the radiator and got a moldy? before i relocated it, after boo treatment though, but like you stated there seems to be more going on with the whole thing.
  20. Derzelas


    Nov 23, 2015
    Why would you use glue? I would not use glue on a wedge, or if I would do it, would be something for wood and impact resistant - Gorilla Super Glue

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