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New Axe handle project by someone who has never made one before

Discussion in 'Knives, Axes, Hatchets and Machetes' started by Jmm14534, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. Jmm14534

    Jmm14534 .270 WIN Supporter

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    Looking for some guidance. I’ve had this axe head for a while now. It’s basically a paper weight for the reloading bench. I thought I would try and make an axe handle from scratch so that I can use it as god intended.

    I know some of you could whip one up in a couple of hours but It’s going to be a little harder for me since this it’s a totally new skill. I’m pretty handy with most things but “creative essential wood crafting” is not something I do at all.

    Step 1 I think is getting a nice piece of hard wood for the handle. What should I be looking at? Type of wood, diameter, length, etc.

    I’ll get to step 2 once I solve step 1. Your direction fellow Mossberg owners is appreciated.

    This is not a full size axe head. It’s more in the hatchet family. The shotgun shells are there to give scale to the axe head.

    D0DD2CCA-2496-4311-9B9F-28E443E2B3D3.jpeg 4F075033-8474-40BB-9619-2312B5AB3D82.jpeg
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  2. Ernst

    Ernst .270 WIN Supporter "Philanthropist"

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    Recommendation

    If you have a local farm or hardware store go there with your ax blade and find a handle that fits and has a grip angle that suits your needs. Take some measurements and photos of the dimensions. Your picture looks like what's called a boy ax?

    Or you might want to purchase one and use it for a guide, then return it when you finished making your on. Easy to use some calipers to measure the dimensions.

    There are several types of wood used for handles including American hickory (recommended) but IMO the most important issue is finding a straight grain piece of wood.

    The last one I replaced one I probably went through 8 or 10 handles before I found one with straight grain. If you decide to buy, Bowman Handles are decent.

    Regards
    meanstreak likes this.
  3. John A.

    John A. I'm "THAT" guy Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator

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    Yeah, try to go to a tractor supply. They usually have a bunch of different handles that would often only take a few modifications to be fit to most any ax.
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  4. Ernst

    Ernst .270 WIN Supporter "Philanthropist"

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    Have a little more time this morning so let be amplify my response regarding grain structure of the handle or if you're selecting s piece of wood to make a handle.

    Ax handles come in two "shapes" - a straight handle and a curved handle. Double bit axes always use straight handles while single bit axes, like yours, can be fitted with either straight or curved handles. Depends mostly on you're personal preference but somewhat on the intended use.

    Now for grain structure - as you hold the handle take a look down the back spine, then look at the butt end that's facing you. This will show you the how the grain structure runs. On a curved handle you want the grain structure running "north/south" as you hold the handle while looking down the back spine. Then what you're looking for in the best handles is that this grain structure runs parallel the entire length of the handle.

    On a straight handle it's a little different. Again, looking at the butt end, look for the grain structure to be either running north/south or east/west as you look down the spine. Now I'm sure you're asking old Ernst what's the difference?

    A straight handle with a north/south grain structure will be stiffer whereas one with a east/west grain structure will have more give and thus less impact on your hands and arms if you're using it a lot. Again this is a personal choice and only applies only to straight handles.

    Which ever type you choose just try to find a handle or a piece of wood that has to the correct grain structure which runs parallel from end to end. Most handles will not be perfect but reject any handle that the grain structure is far off from what you want. Like I said earlier the last time I selected a handle at the farm store I probably looked at 8 or 10 handles before finding a good one.

    Later the big issue will be axe head fit but that's a different discussion. Hope this explanation is somewhat clear and helps in your final selection.

    As I said earlier your axe appears to be what's called a boy axe. If so, they will typically use a shorter handle. If you have a scale weigh it. I'm guessing if its a boy axe it will weigh between two and three pounds and have smaller over all dimensions from a full axe.

    Hope this helps but if you need clarification please ask.

    Regards
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  5. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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  6. Jmm14534

    Jmm14534 .270 WIN Supporter

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    Thanks all for the info. I weighed the axe head on the bathroom scale and it was approx. 2.8 lbs. No doubt a boys axe as stated above.
    My goal is to make a handle out of an appropriate piece of wood. I remember seeing a post here before from a member who made his own axe handle. I thought it was pretty cool so I’m going to give it a go. I just need to find a straight piece of upstate NY hard wood (maple, chestnut, oak) to start. Actually I should try and get 2 pieces so I have a spare.

    Any comments on the type of wood is appreciated.
    meanstreak likes this.
  7. Ernst

    Ernst .270 WIN Supporter "Philanthropist"

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    Best wood for a working axe is American Hickory. My second choice would be ash followed by white oak. I've see folks use almost anything but you really want a wood that will hold up over time without a lot of maintenance. Some woods tend to dry out quickly if not constantly oiled and split.

    Guess one other consideration is the intended use. Would you use it for actual work or more for a wall hanging or display piece? If only for display you might find cherry appealing because it finishes very nicely. A cherry handled handle with a satin black finished bit makes a nice display piece. Second consideration if only for display would be a grain structure that really enhances the look of the piece vice it's actual use.

    Lots of considerations. Keep us informed on your progress and good luck.

    Regards
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  8. Centuriator

    Centuriator .270 WIN

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    Nothing like a nice piece of hickory.

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  9. nitesite

    nitesite Sheepdog Moderator "Philanthropist"

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    A hardware store axe is cut from a pattern on flat lumber, so there is no real swell at the base.

    A good handle has a swell, and that means a LOT of wood was wasted with the spokeshave just to give you that round end.
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