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Ax head replacement

Post in 'The Gear' started by Black Jaque Janaviac, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    Any tips/tricks to replacing an ax head? removing the old one seems to be the biggest pain. And I never seem to be able to set them as tight as they come from the store.

    I am considering brushing on some polyurethane to see if that will soak into the wood and set up. Then maybe the varnished wood will stay put?

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  2. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Saw off handle close to flush with head using a hacksaw.Use a 3/8" or 1/2" HSS twist drill,bore out a few holes in the handle stub,if done with care you'll miss the metal wedges & they can be re-used.Take a 1/2" steel rod or scrap piece of concrete rebar,drive out the remaining pieces.Re set the new handle - using a wooden mallet or stick of wood to hit against the new handle end,then once its tight,drive that soft poplar wedge into the slot until its tight as it will go.Hacksaw off any that sticks out.Hammer in until flush 2 medium sized steel wedges at right angles to the poplar one,crossing it.
  3. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    Thistle,

    That's pretty much what I do. But I figured I must be missing something since my home-installs never last as long as the first handle. They seem to start slipping off soon and/or the handles break much quicker. At $10/handle it gets a little annoying.
  4. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Oh OK. Could be the quality of the handles produced & sold today.I bought 2 at Lowe's back in December for a couple antique heads grabbed on ebay,and they sure arent like the ones I remember seeing 15 or so yrs back.Even with checking each one,sighting down it to check for grain runout,any bow,twist or warp you wont find one as good as before.Plus the size can vary -/+ up to 1/8" either direction of the eye between different manufacturers & they will shrink ever so slightly with age.If you find one thats 75% all white straight grain sapwood Hickory (the best grade) without any pin knots or other flaws,thats pretty rare.
  5. yooperdave

    yooperdave Minister of Fire

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    hey ouisconsinner--what did you do??? i see in another thread, you were asking for advice on how to use as axe for felling a tree...you didn't bust the axe head off the handle now, did you??!!!!!!

    after you put the metal wedges into the new handle, if its loose yet, try putting a couple "fat" big diameter screws in there, as well. works on hammer heads, may work on axe heads. just keep axing around, and you're bound to get some ideas that wood work.
  6. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    Heya Yooper! How 'bout dem Packers eh?

    Yah, I broke the ax using it for what it was made. Actually the first handle lasted years, then I broke the replacement after the first day out. TSC graciously exchanged it no questions axed.

    I got d' tird handle on it and I'm waitin' for the weekend to go play Paul Bunyan again.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Put some linseed oil on that handle too.

    I had an old handle that didn't want to stay in the axe head and didn't have any wedges handy so just looked around for something to use. Ah ha! A nice sized washer worked great. No more loose head on that axe.
  8. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    don't JUST put some linseed oil on the handle, after you got the head on there, SOAK the head in a bucket/bag of it for a few days.
  9. Georgiadave

    Georgiadave New Member

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    I find better handles at real hardware stores. My experience is that handles are not fully seasoned from the store, particularly high turnover places like HD. I suggest setting the handle in a dry place for 6-12 months to finish seasoning. Usually, I have to take the head area of the handle down some on my belt sander or with a draw knife to get a good fit seated all the way down. Use two steel wedges set perpendicular to the wooden wedge, usually there is only one with the handle.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    That's interesting Danno. All I've even done is soak an old rag in boiled linseed oil and then really give the handles a rub down. I may try your idea.
  11. yooperdave

    yooperdave Minister of Fire

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    "chop with the head...not the handle! the handle doesn't cut anything!!" (memories of childhood) i used to hide the axe, once i splintered the handle!!
  12. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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    I've heard of folks tossing the head in a campfire and letting the handle burn out. Bad idea? Seems like the fire would be too cool to damage the head, but not sure. Cheers!
  13. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    That's a good way to ruin the temper of good steel.Some would bury the ends in sand or dirt,have a small fire in the middle under the eye,but thats still pretty risky.Steel doesnt have to get to cherry-red stage before damage is done.Then you have to find a knowledgable blacksmith (good luck in the 21st century now) who will reheat the axhead to a certain color,then watching it change from that to proper temp as it cools,finally tempering it in oil.Its very complex & takes years to learn.
  14. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    a lot of people on here actually have nice axes, not the rusty kind that someone threw on the barn's dirt floor for 20 years before it was pulled out. I wouldn't be throwing a highly polished axe into any fire.
  15. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    The only thing I haven't tried is a little epoxy.
    I'm not sure it would help with expansion and contraction.
    I'm starting to think old growth wood/ new growth wood is part of the difference.
    I don't really buy it, but maybe there is something to it.

    I've had a fiberglass shovel handle and pitchfork handle and they just don't last. Sure as heck can't be prying rocks out with them like you used to be able to do with old shovels ( and I still have several of those that don't get lent out to anybody).
  16. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

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    In college I took an anthropology class, and one of the most interesting things I learned was that some technologies get worse as cultures advance. The professor had a sample of various spear points and arrowheads and had the class guess at which were the older ones and which were the newer ones.

    I along with most of the class placed the crudest most poorly constructed arrowheads in the "oldest" category and put the finest, most symetrical and elegant points in the "younger" category as it seemed intuitive. But the professor explained that in the older hunter-gatherer cultures, their survival depended on the quality of the arrowheads and spearpoints. In the farming cultures, their livelihood depended on the crops more so than the ability to hit a target. Of course this was just a general rule of thumb since wealthy chieftans of a very advanced farming community might possess high quality spearheads.

    It seems like this same principal may be taking affect with hand tools. Now that chainsaws do all the work, the quality of axes and ax handles as well as hand saws has gone down. I found this to be true with bow-saws. The typical tubing-made Soderholm saws found in most hardware stores are designed to make a guy want to spend $300 on a chainsaw. If you get the chance to buy a military surplus bow-saw take it. Those are made from much stiffer oval-shaped tubing.
  17. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Compare my prized wood chisels,gouges,drawknives,spokeshaves,axes,handsaws & other edge tools mostly made in Sheffield England from 1800 to the early 1940's,the rest by various US companies & a few from France & Germany (late 19th Century) to the crap sold in most mailorder or online retailers & the big box stores today thats why I dont buy anything there but the occasional stick of dimension softwood,sheet of plywood or nails/screws.Plastic handled chisels or coarse tooth throw-them away-when-they're-dull handsaws Made In China? :lol: No thanks. :roll:

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