How To Change An Axe Handle: A Proper Guideline

How To Change An Axe Handle

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Changing an axe handle is a familiar concept for you, as you are a lumberjack. In this case, someone is a seasonal axe user and does not know how to change an axe handle. Then a proper guide needs to be followed.

The necessity of changing an axe handle can sometimes be raised because of the rough and long time of usage. But nothing is surprising in this case. The axe handle becomes damaged because a wooden handle will never last forever.

So, this axe handle changing guide will show you how to replace the old wooden handle with a good new one and secure it properly.

Changing an Axe Handle: A Few Things to Remember

Getting a new handle for an axe is the easiest way, but when someone has no idea about the procedure of changing the handle, they might face a problem. Before changing an axe handle, a few aspects should be kept in mind.

such as a quality haft with straight grain. However, do use ash and hickory wood. However, oak wood can also be your priority in the case of making a Japanese axe. To get a better outcome, use dry and preferably seasoned wood because it helps draw quickly with a knife.

As a person, perhaps you have no knowledge of wood. It can be a big mess. So, in the case of axe handle replacement, make your axe handle on your own with a block of hickory wood instead of replacing it with a readymade one.

1. The Procedure for Changing the Axe Handle

Replacing an axe handle is nothing complicated. By applying a few precautions and techniques, anyone can change the handle of an axe.

2. Choose an Appropriate Handle

Axe handles are typically systemized in a way that no one will face any trouble fitting an axe’s blade. Anyone can buy an axe handle from a home hardware shop easily.

As a result, a buyer can grab the best handle as long as he has a connection with good woodworkers. But as someone is in a hurry, he can only replace their axe handle with a random new one

Or, as a DIY lover, you can craft your axe handle on your own, but before constructing, keep in mind that careful measurements and craftsmanship will be needed to get a flawless, appropriate axe handle. 

3. Detach the Old Handle

Planning to detach the old handle means that the handle has no more potential. But before detaching the old handle, a few safety measures need to be taken. Because the blade of the axe can be a critical aspect while handle removing.

First of all, drill a hole in the handle through the axe’s hole. Once a large hole has been created, insert the metal wedge and pound it out with a hammer. In these cases, using a chisel can help to remove the handle altogether. Don’t be scared to give it a good thrashing. Then, drag the handle by sawing it off and pulling it out of the blade.

4. Polish the Eye of the Axe

The “eye” is the hole in the axe blade where the handle is inserted. As it takes a long time to remove the old handle from the blade, there is a possibility that there is debris in it. In this case, a chisel can remove extra pieces and smooth down the internal surface. 

Utilizing sandpaper on the inside of the axe can also help the old handle be removed completely. Polishing the eye of an axe is part of rehandling an axe. So, to get a better result, a user needs to know how to rehandle an axe.

5. Trace the Kerf for Hafting

The saw spike at the top of the handle is known as the “kerf.” A pre-made kerf is included, along with several store-bought handles. Kerf makes wood acceptable for the handle to fit inside the axe’s eye. To get perfect results, trace a pencil line around the handle, starting at the place where the kerf terminates. It could provide users with a visual guideline for how deep they should go with the handle.

After tracing the kerf, there are several ways to modify the haft to fit the eye. Using a rasp is the best and simplest method. It is even better for the user to utilize a drawknife or a spokeshave. At the beginning of the process, hold the end of the haft at the bottom of the eye, centered, and draw the outlines of the hole onto the end of the haft with a sharp pencil from the other side.

Then remove enough wood to allow the head to be put on the shaft by hand. The pencil marks barely assist a little in giving direction. So, getting a better haft kerf is the most important thing.

6. Test the Handle to Fit

After making the handle, give it a few tries to get the handle to fit properly. Firstly, push the light with a blunt piece of wood. Then do check the bottom of the kerf to know how far it gets into it. But too much pressure is not required. Cut the handle to the length suggested by the test fittings whenever it becomes set. If an inch of kerf handle protrudes, then the user should need to shave away an equal amount of handle to compensate.

But after that, if the handle does not fit, then there must be an issue with the tip of the haft. In this case, a metal wedge will be hammered into the haft’s end grain to accomplish the handle. This is usually done in two steps with larger axes. A wooden wedge should first be inserted, then the shaft must be slotted with a hand saw before being forced into the head, allowing the wooden wedge to be inserted.

And lastly, wooden proof glue can be an alternative. 

7. Punch the Handle

Even though the kerf provides a particular area within the blade eye, force will be required to fit the handle into the blade. Strike the other end of the blade with a jagged block of plywood. Make a wedge out of the handle and force it into the hole.

Avoid undue force when pressing on the handle. Force can include slamming it on the ground or hammering it with a steel hammer. Instead of choosing a sharp object, choose something that can provide enough force. So, punch your axe handle properly to make it fit.

For Axe Handle Repair: Important Tools

A few tools are essential to use to fix the axes’ handles. When we try to make an axe handle, usually the outcome does not come out as desired because we don’t have access to the unique presses used by axe manufacturers.

So, to get a better DIY axe handle, an instrument must be used, which is a mallet. A mallet can be used to push the shaft into hatchets and small axes. Bench dogs and vices can also be used. 

But there are a few more tools that anyone can use professionally when rehandling an axe. 

  • Wedge kit
  • Hammer
  • Punch
  • Saw

The Procedure of Securing the Handle

There are a few standard procedures for securing the axe handle, such as: 

1. Shorten the Handle if Needed

To avoid any type of unpleasant occurrence and keep the axe secure, cut the handle to an acceptable size. The handle must become able to fit completely into the eye of the axe blade. If it doesn’t fit, reduce it to a size that will fit inside and fill the blade’s hollow spaces.

A rasp is a sharpened tool that is used to neatly rip down timber. A length of wood can also be filed down with files and rifflers.

At the bottom of the kerf and main handle, leave at least half an inch of space so that the user can cut it down later.

2. Fill the Kerf with a Wedge

As the axe shakes continuously after fixing the handle, the kerf of the axe needs to be filled with a wedge. It will reduce the shaking. This technique will be done by carefully hammering a thin piece of wood into the kerf and fixing it with coats of carpenter’s glue. You may accomplish this.

3. Add a Metal Wedge to The Eye

After wedging the kerf, smash metal wedges into place to tighten it even more. This will provide your axe with an extra layer of security and guarantee that the kerf’s wedge does not slip out of position. The wedges can be added horizontally to assist with rigidity.

4. Remove the Extra Wedge with a Saw

In the case of securing an axe handle, saw off the extra part. Cutting down the additional part will secure the handle and minimize the force. For a good measurement, keep a few millimeters gaps. 

Related: How To Use A Wood Splitting Wedge – 7 Steps Guide

5. Use Extra Glue

Applying all the steps and measurements, if you are still not sure about the stability of the axe handle, then using glue is a good idea. 

But before using glue, a few things should be kept in mind. Maybe you are a rough user. Using glue can be worth it. Because of the rough use of an axe, the glue may not help you. And glue cannot fix the bigger hole or gap. So instead of using glue, fixing the handle is essential. 

6. Mineral Oil Can Help you Save Your Handle

Mineral oil bottles are inexpensive and can bring a drab handle back to life. Fill a handcloth with mineral oil and apply it to the axe handle regularly. After that, leave it alone for a few minutes to allow the oils to absorb.

Also read: Why Are Black Raven Axes So Expensive? [5 Reasons]

Because oil helps to keep humidity out, it’s especially crucial to use mineral oil on your axe’s handle. Maybe you’re going to use it or store it in a wet environment.

7. Use Your Axe

After fixing all the issues, try to determine whether the axe is working properly or not. Mostly, a well-replaced axe handle gives good service for at least one year. But the overall condition will depend on how the user uses the axe. To use an axe for a longer period, sharpen the axe blade regularly. Use a proper chopping board to reduce the possibility of injury. 

Safety Purpose

While changing the axe handle, a few precautions need to be taken. such as

  • Balance the Force

Never crash the back of the axe head with a hammer, and don’t use the axe as a hammer. The wrong force will deform the hole and perhaps loosen the head.

  • Use Proper Tools

Use a scrap heap that is large enough and well-anchored to tackle the job at hand. Other people should be kept away from the actual work area.

  • Focus On the Wood

And lastly, hickory wood, which is commonly used for axe hafts, can be contaminated by a fungus that destroys the wood’s cell structure. Unfortunately, this condition is impossible to notice from the wood’s surface. So, choose wood wisely. 


Final Verdict

By drilling into the handle using an axe hole, using a chisel, and sawing off the handle, someone can get the answer to how to change an axe handle. Changing an axe handle is not anything critical. Even after adding a new handle, just using the proper wood and steps can make an axe last longer.

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