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UPDATED with haft - Scored a "Perfect" double bit. Please help me haft it

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Dunner, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. Dunner

    Dunner Registered User

    Jul 24, 2004
    Ok, so I got doubly lucky. I headed down to Texas to help an old buddy of mine grow his business and get to learn some finish carpentry from him while I am here for a couple months. While I was streamlining his shop I found a True Temper "Perfect" Kelly Works double bit head. He told me it was all mine and now I am looking to make a haft in a 3,500 sq ft carpentry shop (my excuses for poor results are going to be running thin). I will still be doing all of the finish work on the haft with hand tools but I should be able to find a nice piece of wood and get it cut down to size in a hurry.

    I want to keep this axe as compact as possible but I know there are big balance and effectiveness trade offs to making the haft shorter. How short can I make this haft before the balance starts feeling like a sledge hammer? I want to get a Council Tool Velvicut Hudson Bay axe because of its size but I don't think I can go 20" on this(?).

    I am also hoping some of you may have one of these and I would love to see pics. Here is what I am working with...

    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  2. Frank-New Zealand

    Frank-New Zealand

    Jan 16, 2012
    The best advice I can give you is....Talk to M3mphis aka 'The Hang-Man'

    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  3. rwn2000

    rwn2000 KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2003
    M3mphis or Square Peg should be along shortly, they know their axes.

  4. G-pig


    Jul 5, 2011
  5. M3mphis


    Jan 13, 2011
    Thanks for the flattery, Gents. However, I'm still learning and experimenting as I go.

    I would only reiterate what G-Pig said. If that is a full size, as it appears, I would also say 30" would be a minimum reasonable length.

    Have a scale you can throw it on and let us know the weight?
  6. M3mphis


    Jan 13, 2011
    As far as pics go, there's been some great threads with KP doubles.

    CooperHill: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/980508-True-Temper-Kelly-Perfect-Western-Double-3-5-r-(pic-heavy)?highlight=kelly+perfect

    Operator's Kelly manufacturer thread: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/978300-Kelly-Axe-Manufacturing-Thread?highlight=kelly+perfect

    Double Ott's KP thread: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/963727-Kelly-Prefects?highlight=kelly+perfect

    There's tons of others with pics of KP doubles. The Perfects are well loved for sure.
  7. Double Ott

    Double Ott Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 3, 2011
    ++1 for the 30" as a minimum.
  8. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    Second this. I might even say to go 32" or longer. I'd put a 36" on it.

    G-pig is probably making more of his own handles than anyone else on the forums and his opinion carries a lot of weight with me. Also Cooperhill has been the most active at hanging axes of late. His input would be highly valued.

    Short handles are for lighter work. They generate less energy at impact. And swinging full force with a short handled axe is slightly more dangerous than using a full length handle. A glancing blow with a 36" axe is more likely to strike the dirt than your shin. That's a good thing. [​IMG]
  9. G-pig


    Jul 5, 2011
    Thanks for the compliment pegs.

    Im going to pull out a quote from the foreword of the axe book by Dudley Cook

    “If you know one thing well and set out to explain it clearly and completely, you may find yourself explaining many things. You may find the pamphlet you sat down to write has become an encyclopedia. Hence the old story of the simple cobbler who proposed to write on fixing shoes. Once fairly started, he found he couldn't write about fixing shoes without writing about hammers, benches, pegs, and awls; he had to touch on leather, as well, on tanning, on cattle, and on the anatomy of the human foot and leg. In the end, he had written about everything. The cobbler had become a philosopher.”

    When I read the book a couple years ago this was interesting but nowhere near as interesting as it became later. In general, I dont think absolutism or an especially scientific view of axes and wood chopping is well suiting. There are just so many damn variables. I have thought of wood chopping in one light, only to have it all unravel when I change me perspective.

    Now to justify putting you folks through one of my philosophical rambles. We all can agree that a heavy axe on a long handle will generate more power than a lighter axe on a shorter handle. Thats a simple enough thought. To generate that power, you have to lift the axe and swing it into the log. The lighter axe on a shorter handle takes less energy from you to complete each swing, this being only part of the process of wood chopping. Sometimes light, short axes work as well or better than a heavy long one. Less fatigue is another variable, if you cant hit where you are aiming you will never reach full potential, and a lighter more manageable axe is conducive to this. This is of course a wonderful excuse to own 50 axes in quarter pound increments and on different length and design handles. I could write about my own preference, but they are probably already well known and I would rather avoid the aforementioned absolutism and conclusion jumping that would be necessary.

    Sorry to the OP for this philsophical crap. You never know when this will start around here these days =)

    Also, pegs, that was not meant as a jab at you. You are totally correct in saying that a bigger heavier axe will impart more force on impact. I am just trying to open up some other variables here.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  10. cooperhill


    Nov 14, 2011
    I second the longer handle. Your axe does seem like it has some wear on the bits but probably around 3 lbs. I put mine on a 36" double bit handle from O.P. Link and got the overall size down to around 34".


  11. bearhunter


    Sep 12, 2009
    I'd go with a 32" if it were me.
    If its full size that is...
    What's sad is that i have had a full size KP DB for months now and I still don't have it hung. I even bought a 36" haft for it (its all they had), since I already have that haft, I'll probably go ahead and use it.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  12. Operator1975


    Sep 24, 2010
    I have always been big on 36 inch hafts. Guess because that is what I knew growing up, was shown, and that was to be expected. I find this tremendously interesting, because in the today "use" world of axes, 36 inch is almost out of favor. Multiple reasons exist, but I am more interested in how 36 came to be the "norm". I think a lot of it has to do with the chainsaw, if that makes sense. Multiple reasons will exist, and I will explore, and explain later. I find this almost an axe revolution so to speak, yet I am not so sure the axe itself had anything to do with it. Or did it?

    That being said, and totally sidetracked (apologies), I would go with what "feels" right. No chart, webpage, etc can tell you what is right for you. You must decide. That is one of the parts that is awesome about this.

    Let us know what you choose. Dont feel the need to explain why. Its up to you.
  13. G-pig


    Jul 5, 2011
    Im not sure the 36 ever became the norm amongst the old axemen, at least out east here. Dudley Cook says in his book that there was a time where some companies simply stopped turning handles longer than 30 inches because thats what everyone was using. I buy a lot of tools from a 97 year old tool collectors/wheeler and dealer, most the of handles he has and sells are vintage, and I very seldom see a full length one kicking around there. Most are 30 or 32 inches. I think as the serious application of axes dwindled, the companies not only scaled back the production of axe heads (to 3.5, 2.5 and hatchets) but probably produced fewer sizes and types of handles. Snow & Nealley for example made axes in quarter pound increments for a long time, but by the 70s or so (depending on sources) they had reduced the number of available weights and patterns drastically. Why the 36 came into the role of full size over 30 or 32 is beyond me. I generally do not care for them though. Even on mauls. My maul is a 7 pound Oregon on a 31 inch handle.
  14. Operator1975


    Sep 24, 2010
    I will agree with you overall. I agree that the 1900 vintage handles you describe you will find in 30, 31, 32 inch lengths, I would confirm this. I think once you hit the hard core chainsaw age, and axe production plummets, you find the need to centralize, or commonize axes all together. Heads and handles. For whatever reason the 36 inch handle was made the norm - I suspect this was to counter the notion that a real man uses a chainsaw(which at the time remember where freakin huge) therefore your single bit axe should be 4lb head on 36 handle. Also, men were bigger now at this time then in the early 1900s, plain and simple. I think the war effort also played a role, as simple mass production probably lent a hand to this 36 inch norm, to some degree, or the idea of mass production means less options which means pick one and go with it. Hard to say. I will dive into this, as I stated, I find it fascinating. Sort of similar to cars I guess, old school models huge, now we get into 2 lbs heads on 24 inch handles.

    Keep on choppin

  15. G-pig


    Jul 5, 2011
    I should say that even though I prefer a shorter handle for a so called full size axe, my lighter axes (1 3/4-2.5) are generally hung on longer handles. I dont have any handles that I like under 26 inches, save for hatchets. I hug closer to 30 inch in both directions.
  16. bearhunter


    Sep 12, 2009
    Good points Double Ott!
    I know that I prefer a 28-32" handle on a full size axe. However...
    I just hung a 4lb Legitimus DB 'peeler' on a vintage 36 " handle (it came with the head, unhung, untouched with original sticker and all).
    I haven't used it yet, but the balance feels pretty good.
    So, I really don't know...
    An interesting subject for sure.

    Most 4 1/2 lb 'racing' axes are on 28" handles... On one of those, I like a shorter handle too!
    I think a shorter handle (within reason) gives you more control, but what the hell do I know :D
  17. bearhunter


    Sep 12, 2009
    I should add... I also prefer a 28-32" handle on my splitting tools too.

    I'm only 5' 8", so maybe it has something to do with what feels right for ones height.
  18. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012

    Maybe we find more short handles because they were preserved in the shed while the 36" handles were out being used to death??? [​IMG]

    Look at old logging photos. What did they use? Home owners might have used something different. Something to ponder.
  19. Matt River

    Matt River

    Oct 1, 2012
    Much as with swords, there were also equations for sizing axes for different purposes according to body size. Many of the older axes were purchased as just a head, so in a sense pretty much all handles were custom made at the point of sale - the hardware store or the end user hafted the axe. I have run across a sizing equation like that but have no idea where, most likely in one of my older smithing books or one that I checked out from the engineering library at SDSU. (not San Diego). I suspect that many blacksmiths used the local joiner or carpenter to finish their tools simply based on the very large value of their personal time. I would love to get the equation without having to search, anybody have it? Maybe it was a logging book or an ax pamphlet.

    Like a lot of construction guys, I have a number of sledges with shortened handles - starting and driving concrete stakes, moving a girder truss or beam from up on a ladder or while up in the roof, striking inside an enclosed space, many purposes for a shortened handle as well. I have a full-weight Plumb, around 4lb, with a hacked handle, not pretty, but it is the best possible kindling splitter for inside the house, purchased ones are lame. min

    Seems like there is a purpose for many different lengths of handle. A really big guy would need more than 36" for limbing a tree from up on the trunk to avoid crouching over or leaning.

    Random question, do you guys use drawknives and shaves to shape your handles, or a belt sander? Anybody rough out with a hatchet? I have three really small hatchets, one is a nice marples pocket axe no. 6, a smith and wesson bullseye, and a vintage mini with integral steel handle, plastic scales, identical size to the no. 6, no id. I have used them for hanging a couple of picks and on my last two axes, actually felt like I had more control than with the belt sander.

    Makes me happy to think that there are other guys with axe obsession, in a sense it is the tool that built the foundations of the world we know. Pretty much every other operation I can think of involves an axe somewhere along the line to get from raw material to a finished product. Building boats, shelters, fuel, and making other tools from wood makes an axe king of tools in my mind.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  20. G-pig


    Jul 5, 2011
    Sure could be. I would expect to find more of the vintage axes with longer handles though- even if they were broken. There was the generational drop off from one that knew how to use an axe and one who didnt, so I dont think they were biased in either way, pulling off long handles and putting them on shorter ones. Home owner vs. professional logger is also an interesting point, the difference between the two becoming more prevalent as time went on (for a time, more home owners probably were loggers come winter time, at least in rural parts of Maine). Logging had a specific set of tasks, different than firewood cutting and living in general. Fallers undoubtedly used different axes than swampers etc. If these people had to buck lumber with axes, like pre 1900, I think all the axes would change radically.

    Historically, out west the handles were longer. Usually the explanation for that is that the trees are bigger, which seems reasonable. Out here, axes are (and were) lighter and the handles are shorter, there is some literature on it (not much), and a lot of the folks around who still use axes match up with that old cliche of sorts. Don Merchant out in Limerick sells good Maine made axes and carves handles. Most of the time they are shorter than 32 inches or so. Peter Vido prefers a shorter full size handle, he also says that the average up in New Brunswick was 30 inches (if you remember, Ashley Vido was splitting Beech rounds with a 3 pound double bit on a 30 inch handle). So plenty of this is just anecdotal, which is part of the reason I like it so much. Back then, everyone used an axe so much they had their preferences and that was that. No point in getting it all scienced up.

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