Up to woodworking, carpentry, log home building, or home remodeling? If any of the options ticks for you, you have no way than keeping a nice, sharp and strong axe for you.
But what if the axe handle gets worn out or broken? Would you throw the ensure to handle and the head away and go for a new one, or try some DIY actions to make a new handle for you?
If you’re with the second choice, this post is solely written for you. We’ve discussed three of the most important points- how to make an axe handle, tips to choose the best wood for axe handle and how to protect it from damage.
What Tools Do You Need?
Of course, carving an axe handle from raw wood is something that requires utter expertise and a handful of tools. At this stage of the discussion, let’s have a firm look at what tools would we need-
- Wood for the handle.
- Wedge made of wood.
- A jigsaw.
- A handsaw.
- A belt sander.
- An angle grinder.
- Wood burning kit.
- Measuring tools(square, pencil, etc.).
- Carbide burr.
- Marking tools(pencil etc.).
- Finishing kits(sealer, stainer, oil).
- Safety gears.
Steps on How to Make an Axe Handle at Home
We’re about to start the 8-step guide on how to make axe handle at home without any professional setup. Let’s start-
Step 1: Collect the proper wood
The process starts with seeking for wooden lumber that suits the dimension requirements. For this process, we’ve taken a 2×8 maple wood lumber. This would suit the dimension requirements of a small size axe or a hatchet.
If you have a larger axe that you want to replace the handle, chose a bigger wood piece.
Here is our recommended best wood for axe handle-
Step 2: Mark the axe footprint and cut
Now, take the trace of the profile of your older handle to, and make sure that they are a perfect match. In order to make a new handle entirely, you can go for any profile.
Once you’ve marked it out, take a jigsaw and cut that portion out of the wooden piece. This is the initial workpiece that we’ll work further to convert it into an axe handle.
Our recommended jigsaw-
Step 3: Decide and mark the thickness
At this stage, we’ve to measure the thickness of the axe and take that out of the raw workpiece. The nature of the handle is to narrow in the middle of the axe, and get thicker at the butt section.
Take the measurements at this form-
- Top thickness- 1″
- Top middle thickness- 3/4″
- Bottom middle thickness- 1″
- Butt end thickness- 1 1/4″
Step 4: Taper the handle
To make sure that the thickness of the handle stays as you are expecting it to be, you’ve to round and taper the handle at this point. But for a beginner, it can be quite a tricky job.
Use a die grinder at this point, as it would remove the wood from the workpiece pretty quickly. While working with the die grinder, don’t cut too much at one turn, as it will ruin the smoothness of the wood.
Once you’ve got the right thickness, start rounding and smoothening the surfaces up. Over the course of the entire handle, there should not be any sharp edge.
Step 5: Fit it with the head properly
We’re done with the basic structuring of the axe handle. Now, it’s time to make it a match with the axe head we’ve in hand.
Start with tracing the place where the head will be mounted. Usually, the top of the handle is a square-shaped portion. After tracing, make a slice cut outside the line. While doing this, make sure you are keeping the whole handle axis straight.
Repeat the process until you get the perfect head to match the head-mount fits perfectly.
Step 6: Sand the piece
In this point, we need to have sandpapers which will smoothen up the whole wooden piece and leave no unfinished edge.
There are tons of grits and sizes when it’s about sandpaper choice. But make sure that it fits the type of wood you are dealing with. For the wood we’re working with sandpaper of 80 grit would do a fine job.
Once the initial smoothening up is done, you would like to do a final sanding, as it hones up the look of the whole handle.
Our recommended 80 grit sandpaper-
Step 7: Make the wedge
The wedge is an important part of the axe handle that we can not forget about. Therefore, draw lines along with your centers of the top of the handle, and that will make sure that your saw will not go off track. It’s better to do it on a lathe machine at any mechanical workshop.
As an example, if your hatchet eye is ⅜ inches, the total cut length will be 1-⅞ inches. Don’t make too longer cuts than what is required. Take help from a woodworker, if you are new to this job.
Step 8: Apply the finishing coat
We’re almost at the bottom of the process. At this step, you’ve to apply the finishing coat on to the axe handle that you’ve made. To seal with wood properly, and make it protective from environmental odds, you’ve to coat at least four times with a good product.
Dry it up and mount the head with the handle.
Our recommended best oil for finishing wood –
How to Choose the Best Wood for an Axe Handle
When you’re about to make your own axe handle from raw wooden lumber, it’s quite an important choice. In the previous section of the article, we took a 2×8 maple wood lumber to bring out the axe from. But there are quite some other options.
Therefore, in this section on the DIY axe handle guide, we’ll talk about the choice of wood.
These are the most convenient options when it comes to woods for axe handle making-
1 of 4: Oak
Oak is stronger and harder than any other convenient wood, and that’s because of the high density( 0.75 g/cm3) they have. Therefore, it is quite professionally used in America and Europe to prepare wooden axe handles.
Axes made out of oak wood are also protective against insect and fungal attack. But you’ve to oil them regularly to keep it in order.
2 of 4: Hickory
Hickory wood is an American domestic wood which is quite commonly used to make both professional and semi-professional axe handle. It had been there to make axes from since ancient times, and the sole reasons behind this had been its strength and shock resistance.
3 of 4: Maple or Sugar Maple
If you are seeking for quite some hardness in the axe that you’re about to make, hard maple or sugar maple can be a great choice. It’s a native North American wood, which is infamous for its hardness.
Apart from its hardness, you’ve to deal with its drawback of being not-so shock resistant. We’d prefer it a good choice for axes used in light splitting and felling chores.
4 of 4: Ash
Ashwood might not be so much popular in American, but it’s pretty much widely used in European countries. The best part of this kind of wood is the long fiber that is used to provide better impact absorbency.
It’s quite strong and flexible, but it had seen several issues with lasting in outdoor situations. Therefore, if you own an axe handle made out of ash wood,
you’ve to make sure it’s maintained properly.
How to Protect the Axe Handle and Head
So, you’re done with making the right choice of axe handle wood and prepared the shiny new handle for your axe. The next step is, making sure that it’s being protected in the right manner. An unprotected axe can be the source of damage to you, and the axe itself as well.
Which parts of the axe are needed to be protected?
There are about three or five parts in terms of structure. So, which parts should be taken under care? Here is a list-
- The axe head.
- The axe handle.
What sort of protection is needed to give to each of these? We’ll tell you below-
Protecting the axe head
Keep the axe head sharp, all the time. Even if you are not supposed to work with the head for quite a while, you are required to keep it sharpened every once in a while.
Also, use protective tools to prevent moisture buildup on the metal head. There are many kinds of oils, grease, lubricator, etc available to do this job for you. Before storing it up, this step is important to do.
Here is the recommended best lubricant for axe head-
Protecting the axe handle
Just like the head, the head is also required to have a protective finish. And another similarity of this and the axe had is, water and moisture are the common enemies of them.
Therefore, apply protective coats of multiple layers to keep the quality of the handle up. Also, use carriers for the axe instead of carrying them off with bare hands.
Tips: You can easily make any kinds of wood handle for your tools such as sledgehammer handle, Mallets handle, Maul handle and so many more.
So, that’s the complete guide on how to make an axe handle, ways to choose the best wood for axe handle, and how to protect axe handle and head. Hopefully, the guide means some help to you.
Bill Gellatly says
Since the wood needs to bend when inserting the wedge, is it helpful to soak the “business end” of the handle in a water solution? My references here are to “bentwood furniture” which is done with steam to assure penetration and flexibility while forming.