Put a new handle on a small cruiser sized double bit axe that I got free late last fall. Picked it up at the local dump/transfer site actually!
No idea what the head brand is, I haven’t taken the time to wire wheel it up clean yet… I was more interested in function than looks with this one. 🙂
I didn;t think to start taking pics till after removing the old handle, but it was split, twisted, weathered and missing some chunks. One edge on the head was chipped back to about 1/16” thick and verry rough. The other edge was servicable, and I actually used the sucker to cut out some tree roots earlier this summer.
But it realllyyyy needed a new handle, and when I came across one that I’d forgotten I had in the shop, I went and got it and the other small cruiser I handled a few years ago, that needs a new handle.
The other one I had cut down a full size double bit handle for, since I couldn’t find a smaller handle then. It works OK, but isn’t great.
Turns out this “new” one is a bit bigger than the other I had, probably a 5lbs head while the others is probably a 3lb or 3.5 (no scale, so I’m guessing here from common head weights).
Unfortunetally the new handle fit neither of them! It was too big for the little one, and too narrow for the bigger one… But close enough for the bigger one that I thought I could make it work if I got it VERY tightly wedged.
I could have easily cut it down for the littler head, and still been 100% better than the handle that I have on it, but that head still needs a LOT of profile grinding and thinning to chop well(it hand 1/4” edges on it when I got it, I had to do a lot of work then, and didn’t get it quite right, its still too thick on the main cheek taper, great as a splitting maul only, but doesn’t bite real well..)
The bigger head needed one side ground back and re-profiled down, but not nearly as much…
I opted for the least amount of work. 😉 I also figured that if I couldn’t get it tight enough in the big one, I wouldn’t have removed any material from the handle, and it could still be fit to the smaller head.
Fitting the new handle was easy… Getting the old one out was a real BEAR though! as bad as that handle was, and as loose as I thought it was, it wasn’t gonna come apart in use any time soon, I can garantee that!!!
I took the bad edge back to about 1/8” thick just past the knicks, and then re-thinned it. Its still a touch thicker than the other stock side, but it gives a little more leverage to one edge for splitting, ala a nessmuck hatchet
Anyway, its together, and works great. I’ve been testing it on dry and semi dry birch, splitting with it. Works great!
The new handle is 28”, makes a nice compact size to carry, and swing, but not too short to have good reach. I think this head is just a touch heavy for this length, but I like the feel, it has a wicked fast swing to it, and good balance. 🙂
Gaps left on the ends of the eye;
If I get worried about it I’ll mix some sawdust and epoxy and fill the suckers with it so its semi epoxy bedded. But from what its taken so far in testing, I don’t think that head is gonna budge… Its got a fair amount of curve and surface wedged tight in both directions.
I drove the wood wedge 3/4” deeper than I normally would have, really forcing it in. And getting the second metal wedge in flush was entertaining, but it went. They’re not as straight as I’d have liked in hindsight, but it is what it is. 🙂
This piece of wood was one of my big tests;
Its pretty dry wood, and checks a lot, but it was still Solid. I wailed on it for a while, full over the head double handed swings started with the back of the axe head touching the middle of my back… Sinking the axe into iN 2” to 3″ or more each time…
I’d like to say I split it with the axe, but it wouldn’t go..
In fact, it took me a while to get that sucker apart with the maul;
That was one TOUGH chunk of birch!
But thats what I wanted… a good test for that handle mount. As much work as that took with the maul to bust, I know I was overly abusing the axe on it, and the axe took it in stride, never budged that handle, its still rock solid! Tells me it will take any normal use I can throw at it, and even take some abuse too.
I’ll work the axe for a while at the woodpile, take it on a few outings maybe, and see how I like the varnished feel, see whether I want to sand it and oil it or not. All the rest of my handles oare bare wood, or the stock varnish and I’m not sure how I’d like it oiled like so many people seem to do to new handles…