Can you use a shorter handle on a heavier head

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by freyguyproductions, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. freyguyproductions

    freyguyproductions

    6
    Mar 18, 2013
    Hi All,

    I just purchased two vintage heads on ebay in hopes of restoring the edge and making a little camp axe for myself. The heads weigh between 2 and 3.5 pounds. Is there any reason why I shouldn't use a 14 inch handle meant for a 1.5 pound axe head on either of these?

    For backpacking purposes, a shorter handle would be much more convenient than the 36 inch handles I've seen which are recommended for axe heads between 3 and 5 pounds. A good place to order handles from would also be very appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
     
  2. foxx

    foxx

    Sep 5, 2010
    Are you wanting a one handed axe? I suspect that short of a handle (14") will be akward with two hands, and too heavy for a single hand. Sure, you could use one hand, but for how long? Also, for the weight of 3.5lbs I could bring a smaller hatchet, a folding saw, a machete, and a fixed blade. There's no way I'd ever bring a 3.5lb axe head backpacking, never have, never will.

    For backpacking I'd prefer a longer handle with a lighter head, ala tomahawk. Easier to swing, and the speed helps with the chopping. For splitting I'd use wooden wedges when necessary.

    House Handles, Tennessee Hickory Products both have quality products.
     
  3. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Long handle and light head is the way to go when you want to cut weight. And a heavy head on a short handle is clumsy and more potentially hazardous to use. Just my opinion.
     
  4. freyguyproductions

    freyguyproductions

    6
    Mar 18, 2013
    Thank you for the input guys. I didn't consider the awkwardness of a heavy head on a short handle. Maybe the best thing would be to search for a lighter head and use these ase they were intended.
     
  5. killa_concept

    killa_concept

    May 19, 2009
    If you're looking for a short, concise answer: balance and practicality.

    I have a 3.5 lb Bluegrass Jersey on a 30" curved octagonal handle, a 3 lb Keen Kutter Jersey on a 28" straight octagonal and my most extreme weight:handle ratio is probably my 3.5 lb Keen Kutter Michigan on a 28" straight. The 3.5#:28" is slightly head-heavy but still feels and works great. However, that's about as short a handle as I'd go for that weight of head. Anything shorter would not only feel clumsy, but would completely defeat the purpose of having a full-sized axe head - with a shorter handle, you wouldn't be able to implement a proper two handed swing (illustrated below) and would have a tough time efficiently and safely felling/limbing trees (only reason to pack that weight a head over a boy's axe).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    IMO, a 28" handle is a perfectly fine length to strap to a pack... even then, if you're not used to working with axes or haven't built up the proper muscles, a 3.5 on a 28" might feel very awkward and heavy.

    As for the 2lb head, that's going to be a boy's axe. Ideally a 24-28" handle should be used, but if you're really wanting to keep the length down, you might be able to get away with a 19".. but really, you won't have the handle length to fully make use of the head weight (again: talking about full and proper two-handed swings)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  6. G-pig

    G-pig

    Jul 5, 2011
    I use a shorter handle for a heavy axe, but a longer handle for a lighter axe. 27"-31" is the sweet spot. 24" would be as short as I'd go save for a hatchet.
     
  7. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Ditto this.

    Put the 2-pound on a 24"-28" handle and love it.

    I have a 2-pound house axe on a 19" handle and it's great for splitting kindling but it's a little clunky for chopping.
     
  8. Coloradoman24

    Coloradoman24

    106
    Nov 3, 2012
    If you got two axes put one on a short handle and one on a long one. I pack a 4 pound Michigan on a 36 handle all day but that's only because if I am going to bring a chopping tool I bring one that can chop. I have not put the big as an axe on that short of a handle, but I have put a 16 pound selge on a 12" handle and it served its job but like what every one else said hard to use one handed and difficult to use for very long unless you are like Popeye on a couple pots of coffee. But I say go for it and house handles has the best stuff or you local hardware shooght have something
     
  9. Square_peg

    Square_peg Basic Member Basic Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Best is a relative term. House has well-shaped handles. But I think Tennessee Hickory has better wood. OK, I guess better is relative, too. TH wood is straighter and more purely made of white hickory with growth rings per inch in the favorable 5 to 20 range.
     
  10. Coloradoman24

    Coloradoman24

    106
    Nov 3, 2012
    Good point I get a really good choice of house handles here at the local hardware for db and boys axe and really Pulaski handles but for single bits tn has better handles over all, with lass heart wood but I have yet to see heart wood fail and I rehandle about 100 tools a season ( I know the youth are hard on them)
     
  11. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    There's been lots of discussion on whether or not heartwood affects handle quality. The scientifically based answer has continued to be that it doesn't make a big difference. If anything there's a drumstick company (I forget which one) that actually PREFERS to use heartwood on their premier line. :)
     
  12. freyguyproductions

    freyguyproductions

    6
    Mar 18, 2013
    Thank you, this is just the kind of information I was looking for. I have been using hand/ edge tools for many years, but had never really put great thought into the relationship between the head weight and the handle length.
     
  13. Coloradoman24

    Coloradoman24

    106
    Nov 3, 2012
    That's what I was thinking sorry for being off topic
     
  14. killa_concept

    killa_concept

    May 19, 2009
    And just to be be a fact/citation nazi...

    Source: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fpltn/fpltn-189-1936.pdf

    Source: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/usda/amwood/241hicko.pdf

    But if I'm already paying a premium for good grained handles though, might as well get it single-color for the aesthetics... and that color is generally going to be sapwood since that tends to be the larger section of the tree :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013

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