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Making an Axe Handle

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by siguy, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    The last couple of days I have been going nuts with axe handles.

    Some of you might remember a few months ago I posted up a handle I made from Maple. A few days ago I considered it dry enough, so I finished it out a little, and mounted a nice 3 pound Collins head on it. Then I made a hatchet handle from some nice dead standing Hickory. After that, I have handled an old Norlund head with a Hickory handle, and now an older Craftsman lathing hatchet with Hickory as well.


    Today I video recorded the making and fitting of the Craftsman head.

    Axe Handle Making Video

    Alot of my technique and design inspiration comes from this Isien Tyot video (the whole series is great, but I really enjoy watching this guy work!):
    Classic Axe Handle Making

    Thought some of you guys might find it interesting/helpful ;)

  2. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    1) Don't you know that you can't baton an axe. The pivot point makes it weak! ;)

    2) That can't be real - you are chopping too fast to be human! How much caffeine did you have????

    3) It is funny to hear the chopping sound too - it is SO fast!

    4) This answers the age old question - what came first - the Axe or the Axe handle.

    5) I think you can hear the cat meow at 3:25! ;)

    6) Why do I keep seeing you take the handle off and shape more - it looks like it fits fine?

    7) Why not use a metal wedge?

    8) Regular old Elmers Glue?
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  3. markv


    Sep 8, 2004
    making axe handles is one of my likes.

    handling a small hatchet is the best.

    a lot of work on the shaving horse for the full size jobs.

    i use Mulberry, Ash, Black Walnut (because i have lots of billets),
    Honey Locust :eek:(hard,tough straight grain), don't have very much dry yet.

    i ran out of Hickory awhile back, substituted Pecan for a few handles
    and whatever else is handy.

    glad you started this thread.
    all good
    i don't have a cmera,argh
  4. Katdaddy


    Aug 6, 2007
    For us mere mortals, moving at normal speed, how long would that take??
  5. gunknifenut


    Jun 9, 2006
    Simon, that was great! I think thats the best video around here in a long time...JMO. I really enjoyed it.
    It feels good to make things with your own 2 hands, right?!
    Good show, young man.
    You need to come over for a visit, or vice versa....since I have a jeep, and I dont know if you do have wheels yet. I was sitting here looking at my Hytest and thinking that it needs a new handle, and whalla! You post this, very cool.
    Is that the Norlund that I gave you? It looks good with its new handle! It needed alot a love, and it looks like you fixed it right up!
    Great job Simon.
  6. gunknifenut


    Jun 9, 2006
    About 1 hour?
  7. Skimo


    Mar 28, 2009
    most excellent work!

    looked like Elmers to me.
  8. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    TF, I start off with the eye section of the handle oversize, and trim it a little at a time, slowly working it so that the head sits where I want it. This way I make sure to get a snug fit and don't take off too much.

    I don't use a metal wedge mostly because I don't have any ;). One one of my axes, I tried using a cedar wedge, which was a mistake because it was too soft, so it just compressed when I started chopping. I couldn't pry the wedge back out to replace it with a harder wood, so I used some brass sheet stock as metal wedges. Usually, I simply don't need them.

    Yep, regular old school glue. I do this just to give the wedge a little bit of extra grab, to keep it from working it's way back out when I'm chopping. A metal wedge applied at 90 degrees to the wood wedge (like Gransfors Bruks does) will help hold the wood wedge in place too.

    Mark, I do enjoy making them, as well as using them once they're done! In my backyard, it's almost exclusively Maple, so that's normally my wood for various projects. There is some Hickory scattered around though, so I take advantage of that when I can. Sadly, I don't have a shaving horse (and my early attempts at creating one failed :eek: ), so I pretty much stick to the axe and knife. I do have a nice drawknife, so maybe I should give a shaving horse another try.

    Katdaddy, My first handle took a few hours. The one in the video was ready to hang in about 35 minutes. They get easier, faster to make, and better with each one. Just a matter of practice. ;):thumbup:

    You also have to choose your wood carefully. If you get a piece with alot of knots or a really twisted grain, it will be much harder to work (not to mention it will create a weaker handle).
  9. North


    Feb 19, 2001
    Good video, siguy! Fun to watch and a nice job on the handle as well.

  10. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    Gene, that is indeed the Norlund! The handle it was on had a little too much room front-to-back in the eye, so the head worked loose. I've had it sitting around waiting for a new handle, and yesterday it finally got one! I like the head alot, and I thinned out the cutting edge a bunch (about two hours of grinding, if I remember correctly...). It's a great axe.

    I'm still on two man-powered wheels, but I agree we should get together and do some chopping and bumming! Maybe another winter (or fall) gathering is in order...
  11. gunknifenut


    Jun 9, 2006
    Sounds good to me. I might even bring a sleeping bag this time;)
  12. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    Thanks for the video Simon - and the link to the old time video. It was cool to watch him. And his knife is a GREAT Scandi!

  13. Brian Andrews

    Brian Andrews

    Dec 11, 2006
    In the very beginning part of the video I was going to claim it was not you, because you actually had boots on :) I thought now way you weren't bare foot :) Then, your face showed up.

    The video is great. While it isn't meant to be humorous I could not stop laughing at the speed! :)

    Seriously though, great stuff there.

    I am drooling over that Collins. I love that pattern.

  14. Loosearrow


    Apr 14, 2008
    Good job. Enjoyed that alot.
  15. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    I've been thinking about making a spare handle for my GB mini. Maybe I'll give it a try. Where do you get good billets from?
  16. siguy


    Aug 26, 2006
    Brian, I was supposed to go to work on a roofing job this morning, but the guy never showed up :confused:, so I was wearing my work boots when I headed out back.

    My brother and I were cracking up because of the speed as well :D

    I really like the old, almost square patterns. The head is so tall, there is alot of wood inside that eye! ;)

    Shotgun-I got the wood out of standing dead trees in my back yard, but you could probably find good boards at a lumber yard. Try to find one that isn't quarter sawn, so that the grain will run parallel to the short sides of the board.
  17. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    LOL...just got done watching the vid. That is awesome. My favorite part is when you're testing the hatchet out and are swinging for the fences on that limb. Good stuff.
  18. BarberFobic1992

    BarberFobic1992 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 21, 2008
    Simon, I think you would enjoy this video as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boQAls1QJB8&feature=channel. This guy is fun to watch.

    Great job on the handles, projects that require alot of wood-shaping with an axe are generally pretty fun for me, so I might give this one a go. Good use of the puukko as well, our carving techniques are pretty similar.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  19. pimpnugget

    pimpnugget Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 10, 2008
    great vid simion i love your vids
  20. absolutindian


    Feb 25, 2008
    awesome work dude... very nice!

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