1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

How to fit maul to new wooden handle?

Post in 'The Gear' started by wahoowad, Dec 10, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,405
    Loc:
    Virginia
    I have an extra maul head in good condition, but no handle. I want to get a wooden handle and do a good job firmly seating it. I looked at replacement handles today and they all seem to come with a long wooden wedge and a short metal wedge. No epoxy, no instructions. Do I want epoxy? Do I use both the wooden and the metal wedge? How much of the wooden wedge should I expect to hammer down into the groove?

    Currently I can't find the right sized handle, but am checking elsewhere tonight. The oval hole in my maul head is bigger than all the other handles I saw at one place (and they had a lot). It would have been way too lose if I had cut the handle down to get it to fit. Also, one side of the hole in the maul is bigger (flared) than the other side. Not a lot, but enough. I'm thinking I want the flared side on top where the wedge goes in?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Once you find a handle that fits (sounds like a standard sledge hammer handle), you want to mix up some epoxy and put it on the part of the handle that's going into the head. Seat it in really good by dropping the other end of the handle on the floor or other hard surface. But be careful not to split it by hitting it too hard--just tap it in there really good. Next, take a hacksaw and cut off the excess wood sticking out of the top. There will probably be 2 or 3 inches. Next, fit the wooden wedge into the slot in the remaining part of the top of the handle and drive it in as far as you can. It might split, but that's OK. Drive in the individual pieces until they won't go any more. Then trim everything off with the hacksaw. Use of the steel wedge is optional. If you use it, drive it in perpendicular to the wooden one, or as close to perpendicular as you can get. Then slather a bunch more expoy on the exposed wood/wedge surface and put a little more around the base of the head for good measure. Use the longer-setting, tougher epoxy if possible. It can take the shock load better.

    You've just secured your head firmly in place and sealed out any moisture that might want to get in through the end grain.

    And yes, the wider side of the hole goes up, for obvious reasons. There's no way that head is going anywhere, and will last until you hit the shaft of the handle on a chunk of wood and shatter it. That's when you pull out more glue and some duct tape.
  3. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    Eric and I politely disagree on this one. I've set countless handles without epoxy, and never had on get loose. Here's the right technique, as opposed to the above post ;-)

    Make sure the handle is dry. Store for a few days in a really dry place if possible.

    1) Determine which side of the head has the smaller hole. That will be the handle side. You can tell by pushing the handle in both sides and seeing how far it goes.

    2) Drive the handle into the head, but not too hard. Remove it and note where it's binding. Remove the high spots and try again. Repeat until it fits snugly all the way around.

    3) Draw a line around the end of the handle flush with the far side of the head. Remove the handle and cut it at this line.

    3) Smear a little woodworker's glue into the slot in the handle. Drive it into the head, but not too far - you don't want to close up the slot all the way.

    4) Drive the wooden wedge in just a bit.

    5) Hold the maul by the handle with the head hanging down. Take a hammer and strike the end of the handle firmly several times. This will seat the head by driving the handle into it. The head should not be touching anything - you're using its inertia.

    6) Drive the wooden wedge in all the way, until it breaks. Saw off the protruding portion of the handle with a hacksaw.

    7) Drive the metal wedge in perpendicular to the wooden wedge so that they make a cross.

    8) Brush some oil on the end grain of the handle where you've cut it and near the head where you've removed material to get a good fit.

    9) You're done. Don't store the maul in a really dry or really damp location.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Nofossil's approach sounds like the way it's supposed to be done.

    Mine is an explanation of how I do it.

    I don't have the patience for all that mesuring and shaving. Cuts into my woodcutting time.

    But I bet when it's all said and done, mine stays on the handle at least as long as his.

    That's the beauty of hearth.com.
  5. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,405
    Loc:
    Virginia
    I checked everywhere in town and can't find a replacement handle, wooden or otherwise. The opening is a roundish oval and I'm thinking this maul head might have originally been on a fiberglass handle. I don't know - my buddy found it at the junkyard.

    I'm thinking now I might get a 1" steel pipe and weld it to the maul head. Has anybody done this and can report on your success? I see that Super Splitter maul has a pipe handle. Will a pipe handle vibrate on me? I'm also wonderingif 1" pipe will bend under normal duty?
  6. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    I'm thinking about the future here. I can see you years from now in an assisted living facility, talking about the good old days when you split your own firewood. One thing leads to another, and you mention the epoxy technique. Everyone looks at you in horror. One guy falls off his rocking chair. "Where did you learn that?" someone exclaims. Shaken, you tell about Eric and hearth.com. They say - "Oh - the guy with 43 cords of wood under his clothesline. That explains it."

    But ever afterward, they sit just a little farther away from you. I'm trying to save you the pain.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    The roundish oval sounds like a standard sledge hammer head to me. Mine originally had fiberglass, but I replaced it with wood when the cheap plastic handle broke.

    I wouldn't do the steel pipe thing. Not good for your body, IMO. Mauls are cheap--get a new one before going through any heroics with mystery head.
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Nofo obviously learned his technique from some Vermont Old Timers, probably up in Enosburg Falls or somewhere else in the Northeast Kingdom. The difference between the Old Timers and me, of course, is that I have access to epoxy glue. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I also have a Husqvarna 346XP, while they had, at best, a crosscut saw. I think you see where I'm going here.
  9. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,405
    Loc:
    Virginia
    Thanks for the warning, nofossil. Unfortunately I'm already the Eric of the neighborhood. This maul is only for stuff I can't split with my Ryobi, which after several cords so far hasn't been much, so I don't think I'll be prematurely wearing out my body with it. It has become more entertainment I guess to make it servicable in some fashion, as well as an excuse to go to Lowes and Tractor Supply and stumble upon other goodies I "need." I have several wedges so won't be using it like that. I think I'll get a 1" pipe and fire up the welder. Some things you gotta learn for yourself.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Very good Eric. That should well be worth at least 3 or 4 attaboys!
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    I don't want to gross nofossil out any more than I already have, but my technique for getting the remnants of a busted handle out of the head involves dropping it into the wood stove or fireplace for about 5 minutes. Then pull it out with a poker and drop it in a bucket of water. Nice and clean for "the treatment" described above.

    While we're on the subject, don't ever bang on a maul head or axe head trying to use it for a wedge, unless you never want to put a handle on it. That abuse will eventually distort the hole, making it pretty tough or impossible to get a good fit with your next handle.
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,648
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Wahoo - I think you will find that the factory built splitters that have a pipe for a handle are the very heavy head types. They can (kinda) get away with that because of the heavy head, somethings gonna give. With any type of lighter head, I think your pipe handle is gonna get you results similar to the bugs bunny comics. The vibration is gonna be bad.

    BOINNGGggg!!
  13. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    OK, I'm going to hurl in a moment. If you get it hot enough to burn out the epoxy that you should never have used in the first place if you had listened to the sage advice of those who know what they're talking about, then you run the risk of destroying the temper of the head, especially the cutting edge. Depending on the specifics of the abuse, it may become soft or brittle. Either way, you richly deserve the scorn of the wood splitting community.

    I'd like to point out that all of this epoxy nonsense adds considerably to the time and effort required at both ends of the handle's life. Done properly, epoxy is not just a crime against nature, it's completely unnecessary.

    But who am I to judge? I've only mounted handles the right way since before some moderators were even born. I forgive them their youthly blunders and hope to set them on the path to true wisdom.
  14. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    One is forced to wonder, nofossil, if you're such a maul handle hotshot, why have you done it "countless" times? Seems to me yours ought to last for years, like mine do. And I hate to even bring this up, but I do process a bit more wood than you do on an annual basis. As to destroying the temper of the maul head, it pays to remember that we're attacking wood here, not steel. I've never had a problem with the maul head bending, or with it shattering or chipping.

    So there you have it folks: theory vs. practice. Take your pick.
  15. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    Forgive the lad his outburst, and think no less of him. He means well.

    I'll admit to replacing many a handle, but I've never had one get loose. Word of my legendary prowess has spread throughout the land, and people make pilgrimages with their tired and shattered mauls just for the satisfaction of knowing that for once it has been done as it should be.

    I am also afflicted with teenage boys with the expected testosterone poisoning. Mistaking brute strength as an acceptable substitute for technique, they've brought many a handle to an untimely end. But none ever came loose.

    Youthful enthusiasm has its place, but the path to enlightenment is a lifelong journey.
  16. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    Ah, teenage boys--the bane of tools everywhere.

    My son (now 27) learned an important lesson early in life: If you destroy the means of production, production ceases.

    My 17-year-old daughter seems to attract a large number of strapping young lads to our humble abode. I keep threatening to put them to work, but they disappear rather quickly, only to be replaced by new recruits, so getting any kind of consistent workload out of them has proven elusive.

    Needless to say, I do everything myself these days. I tend to show up on time and work just as hard as the boss.

    When I was about 14, I worked for my dad, cutting firewood in the woods on our tree farm. We would split and stack the wood where it fell, and then he'd sell it to semi-drivers who would haul it down to Milwaukee and sell it. They'd drive their rigs out into our woods and we'd load the trailers by hand from the piles of wood stacked there. Early on he told me, "If you get a chunk you can't split, just leave it....but when I roll those babys over, there better be lots of maul marks on both ends."
  17. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,398
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    I too have a 17 year old daughter. As she gets older, I expect that the boys will be more interested in making a good impression on the parents. I expect to use wood splitting as one of many evaluation criteria, not that my evaluation will mean anything.

    I'm keeping the technique that I used on my brother-in-law in my back pocket in case of need.

    If any of them look promising, I'll give them the opportunity to sit at the feet of the master and learn the art of handle mounting. Then I'll know for sure. Any hint of epoxy and it's all off. A man has to have limits when his daughter is involved.
  18. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,705
    Loc:
    Central NYS
    When we had the girl, my good friend and former boss suggested that I spend a few years "working on your prick demeanor." He had 3 teenage daughters at the time, and claimed that it was the only way to keep the boys in line. For him, the demeanor was a natural state, but he obviously saw the need for me to spend the next 15 years or so working on mine. I ignored the advice, but have found that young men these days seem intimidated by hard, physical work, and by extension, by those who do it. They see my wood pile. They see me holding a maul. They show respect.
  19. Gibbonboy

    Gibbonboy New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    267
    Reminds me of "Bad Boys II" when Will Smith answers the door when the boy comes to take the girl out. That's the way to handle it, I think!

    Actually, my father-in-law demonstrated what happens when you study judo, karate, and kendo for 50 years, needless to say, we don't argue much! I guess Japanese fathers have an advantage! Never seen a person handle a sword like that in real life, sure don't want to mess with HIS little girl!
  20. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Had a co-worker once explained why he preferred teenage sons to teenage daughters - w/ a son you have "one little prick to worry about", w/ a daughter you have to worry about ALL of them... Another dad I knew enrolled his daugher in martial arts classes very early, told her that getting her black belt was a pre-requisite for being allowed to go out on a date...

    As to the strapping young men - A late friend back in my college days said he was of the opinion that everyone ought to know auto-mechanics, so with each of his daughters, when they turned an appropriate age he would go to the local junkyard and get a "repairable" - something that was in reasonably decent shape, but needed more money in shop labor to fix than the car was worth - drag it home and tell the kid that "when it runs it's your's" - he would look at progress and offer advice, but would not touch a wrench himself. (He sold me my first car and used much the same technique, it's not a bad way to learn) had one daughter thought she would beat the system - she invited the local guys over to wrench on "her" car, while she mostly sat around and looked decorative... Walt observed, said nothing until the guys had gotten it fixed to his satisfaction - at which point he said "Nice job fellows, it's all yours..." :)

    Gooserider
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page