The worst mistake you can ever do if you have a broken, cracked or split axe handle, or shaft is to wrap it with tape or fix it with epoxy as some people erroneously do. The best and safest way is to replace such faulty handle with a new one. Some little experience or skill in woodworking may be good but not necessary for you to succeed in replacing an axe handle.
The process is quite straightforward. All you need is the right information to offer you guidance and the right woodworking tools to help you execute the job. This does not mean you will find the process easy. You need to create time for hard work loose do a good job. Here are helpful tips and steps on how to replace an axe handle.
What You Will Need
- Broken axe
- Replacement axe handle
- Wood rasp
- Wood finish
- 1/2-inch and 1/4-inch diameter mild steel rods
- 2 wood handle wedges and 4 steel handle wedges
- Bucket and water
- Hammer and Saw
- Cold chisel
- Bench vise
- Mineral oil
- Hand cloth
Replacement of the Axe Handle
This first part includes removing the old axe-handle, cleaning the axe socket, hole or eye and test fitting a new handle. Follow the following instructional steps.
Step 1: Purchase a replacement handle
Axe handles are standardized meaning you should find it easy to find the handle that will fit your blade. Since such handles are made from different wood types, your concern should be that you get a new handle made from strong and durable wood. A good practice would be to bring with you the old axe handle for comparison. Seize this opportunity to buy as many wood and steel handle wedges as you can afford. You can find these materials in your local hardware store.
Step 2: Detach the old handle
Removing the old handle is not a difficult undertaking. Since the old handle is useless, you can use any variety of methods to remove it. You can clamp the axe blade into a vise and then hammer the handle outright by the use of a wood chisel or drill into the handle via a hole, insert a metal wedge and force by hitting it with a hammer. Another alternative is to saw off the handle at the neck of the axe blade and hammer out the remaining bit.
To ease the process of removing the old handle, you can soak the head with a bit of handle in a bucket of water all through the night. This will swell the wood but when the wood dries up, it will be smaller than before soaking making it extremely easy to remove.
Step 3: Remove Dirt and Debris from the Eye of the Axe
For those who do not know, the eye’ refers to the hole existing in the axe blade that the handle fits into. You can be meticulous in the process of removing the old handle to believe that you have cleaned everything off the eye’ of the axe but this is not always the case. Ensure you remove all the dirt and debris that might be remaining in the eyes by using sandpaper.
Step 4: Pencil Mark the Kerf on the Replacement handle
If you buy a new handle from a hardware store, chances are that it will come with a pre-made kerf. The term kerf denotes the saw wedge at the top of the handle. The Kerf helps the helps the handle to fit into the eye of the axe. Locate the place where the kerf ends and mark a pencil line around the circumference of the handle. The aim of pencil marking offers you a visual reference on the right depth the handle should go.
Step 5: Try Fitting the New Handle
While some people may get it right on the first try, the majority report that they have to test the fitting the new handle a couple of times before the fits perfectly. Push the axe blade in manually first. If the handle gets in easily then it could be a wrong one for your axe. If it fits with some difficulty then try tapping it lightly with a piece of wood.
As you push the head into the handle, try to see how far it gets considering the position of the Kerf. Once the head reaches the level of the kerf then you should remove any part of the kerf still sticking out on top. If that is the case then you need to shave down that part of the handle. In trying to force the handle into the head, avoid hitting it with a metal hammer as this may risk damaging the handle made from wood.
Securing the New Handle
This second and last part involves shortening the handle if necessary, filling the kerf with wedges (metal and wood), cutting off the protruding wedge, tightening any loose handle and applying a protective coat on the handle. Here is how to go about it:
Step 1: Shorten the Handle as Necessary
The test fitting you did earlier should have given you an idea of the length of the axe’s top handle that needs shortening. If the handle refuses to fit then you can narrow it down as appropriate to see that it fits the axe eye perfectly.
Step 2: Use Wedges to Fill In the Kerf
Filling on the other side of the axe socket will prevent it from moving around when being used. You can fill the axe socket in by lightly tapping a slender wood wedge into the kerf and securing it with layers of carpenter’s glue. You may also hammer metal wedges into the eye to provide the axe head with further support and stability. Hammering the wedges diagonally will provide better results.
Step 3: Cut Off Any Protruding Wedge
Once you have successfully secured the handle from the protruding part, you should saw down any protruding wedges. This process will optimize the force of your swing as you use the axe. You can leave a few millimeters from the end of the handle to make the axe look neat.
Step 4: Tighten Loose Handle Further With Glue
This step is necessary only if you have followed through with all the support and stability measures yet the handle still refuse to hold firmly. Fill any cracks or crevices remaining with glue. A good option when it comes to glue is Chair Doctor due to its thin viscosity allowing it to slip into thin gaps.
Step 5: Add Mineral Protection to the New Handle
When you are sure all is well, then you should protect your new handle with a coat of mineral oil. Drop a handful of mineral oil on to the handle and apply it consistently with a soft hand cloth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes while the mineral oil soaks into the wood. The oil is necessary if you will store the axe in an environment heavy with moisture.
As you have learned, replacing an axe handle is not a difficult thing if you have the right tools and information. It will take you several minutes but this what to expect if you want to have your axe for wood splitting serve you months or even years to come. How long the axe will serve you after replacement also depends on how well you take care of your ask. Employ the right technique when using the axe and you will not need to replace the handle frequently.
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