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new handle for maul

Post in 'The Gear' started by carpniels, Nov 4, 2007.

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  1. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Rome, NY, USA
    Hi guys,

    Yep, it happened to me too, I broke the fiberglass handle on my maul. In the middle of splitting a huge pile of poplar and pine. Not the best wood, but good enough for the shoulder seasons.

    Anyway, I did not know what to do, so I called Eric. He advised me to get a hickory handle. Cheaper and lasts just as long. I am glad I did, because removing the old part of the handle from the head caused a lot of fiberglass dust and that stuff is definitely not good to breathe. So I will not have to deal with the again.

    Now the question: The handle I bought (made in USA) is quite a bit smaller than the hole in the maul.

    - How do I attach it? Eric suggested glueing it on with epoxy for a better hold. OK, good.
    - But the handle came with 2 wedges. One larger wooden one (almost looks like a small shim) and a small metal one. Which one do I use?
    - Then how deep do I attach the handle? Do I glue it on so that none of the handle sticks out of the top of the maul (and fill up all the gaps with epoxy), or do I jam it on as deep as it will go and fill up the open hole from the top with epoxy? And do I cut of the top of the handle that sticks out?

    Thanks for all the help.

    Carpniels

    PS. I also broke my Fiskars axe with the so called unbreakable handle. I got the 1-800 number, so I am going to give them a call. Off course, the receipt is long gone but we will see what they have to say.

    In the mean time, I bought myself a sledgehammer and a splitting wedge. That gives me yet another option to split.

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  2. WarmGuy

    WarmGuy Feeling the Heat

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    It's not too far off to say that your life could depend on the head not flying off the handle at the top of your swing. I do not think any kind of glue will do the trick reliably.

    You want a handle that fills the hole, or needs to be whittled down to fit, hammered on, and wedged.

    When you get things reattached, you might want to get one of those rubber handle savers (goes on near the head, and absorbs energy of overstrikes). Mine has saved my handle many times.
  3. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    I've never used epoxy and never had a head come loose - been doing this for more years than I care to count. Broken handles are another story.

    My approach:

    Leave the handle in a warm dry palce for a few days. You want the wood to shrink as much as possible.

    First, drive the handle in reasonably hard to see how well it fits the hole on the handle side of the head. File or shave away any spots that hit until it's a good fit all around.

    Put a little woodworker's glue in the slot. You're going to drive in the wooden wedge in a minute, but the slot will be closed because the handle will be driven into the head.

    Drive the handle into the head like you mean it - it's going to stay this time.

    Then, saw off the extra on the side away from the handle, leaving about 1/4" of wood sticking out past the head. This will allow you to drive in the wooden wedge in the next step.

    Cut (or split) the wooden wedge so that it's just a bit shorter than the hole on the head. Drive it into the slot in the handle as far as it will go.

    Saw off the protruding handle and wooden wedge flush with the head. Use a hacksaw.

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

    Store the tool in a cool and not too dry place - you want the wood to not be bone dry for use. A little moisture will give it better shock absorption and make it less brittle.
  4. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Rome, NY, USA
    HI Guys,

    Thanks for the replies. I wondered about the fact that the handle was much smaller than the hole in the maul. I guess I will have to do some shaving to get the lower part of the handle down to where the maul fits tight on the handle.

    Thanks for the tip on the 2 wedges. It now makes sense that you use both forming a cross.

    However, I am still not sure about the woodworkers glue. That is regular wood glue, right? I have not had good luck with that. Plus, I am worried about that holding the maul on the handle. The epoxy I have, specifically states that it is for bonding metal and wood. That seems good. Also, all the mauls you buy in the store have the fiberglass or wood handle epoxied on to the maul. If the pros do that, why not me?

    Any additional input is very welcome.

    Thanks

    Niels
  5. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Just to be clear on the shaving part - the hole in the head is tapered. The handle side is the smaller end of the taper. When you stick a new handle in, it will often touch at the sides, but not front and back (or vice versa). I always shave the handle so that it's firmly seated all around the small diameter/handle end of the tapered hole.

    Woodworker's glue is probably not necessary - it just ensures that the wooden wedge will not ever work loose. The handle is attached to the head because the wedges expand the handle and lock it into the tapered hole in the head.

    I expect that production operations use epoxy because it's quicker, cheaper, and does not depend on accurate holes or handles. But I could be wrong. I just hate it because it's almost impossible to clean out. I've been splitting wood by hand since about 1966, and never yet had a head come loose. With the help of a few teenagers, I broke four splitting maul handles last season, though.
  6. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    Hi Nofossil,

    Thanks for that explanation. It seems that I need to inspect my maul better. I could swear the hole in my maul is NOT tapered, but I am sure I am wrong. You have done this since 1966, while I started in 2003. I should probably inspect the head better and I will probably find that there is a minute difference in the hole diameter and width.

    I like the tip on the wood glue. I will use that for the wooden wedge. Then later, the epoxy.

    You said that epoxy was impossible to clean out. Actually, I experienced the opposite. After I drilled through the remnants of the fiberglass handle, those parts broke up easily and left a perfectly clean maul head. Not a speck of epoxy left.

    carpniels

    PS. I love your avatar. Especially for our current legal system, it is good to spell out the obvious.
  7. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Easiest way to see it is to stick the new handle in. It will go farther on one side than the other. Note - I've heard that they're now making some with a double taper, perhaps to avoid the problem of people putting it on backwards and having it fly off. Double taper wouldn't be as good as a single taper done the right way, but MUCH better than a single taper done the wrong way. See avatar for my attitude on that sort of issue.

    Perhaps not all epoxies are created equal.

    Thanks. It keeps me going when I have to sift through eight pages of safety precautions to find the half page of instructions for a TOASTER OVEN, for crying out loud! I used it first when putting together some training material for a bunch of flatlanders who were coming up to visit, help with firewood, and have an authentic rural Vermont experience.
  8. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    I went the opposite direction.

    The Hickory handles were vibrating a bit on impact, causing my elbows to get sore.

    I made the switch to plastic and the pain is all gone! When the plastic finally gives up, I'll replace it with another plastic handle, and they include a bag of epoxy to glue the handle back on. Never use 5 minute epoxy on these handles, it tends to crack.
  9. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Use EPOXY not WOOD GLUE and lather that thing up thick.
    Third year splitting about 85% Oak with my 8lber on the Hickory handle that I glued up with WATERPROOF epoxy.
    Eric has suggested this in the past but when you break one BURN the old handle out in the stove.

    I have the same issue with a 6lb maul that had a fiberglass handle, I still havent found one that will fit, ARGH!
  10. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    As nofossil said, the top of the handle should have a wider hole than the bottom so that when you drive the wedge in, the handle end spreads out and the head is locked into position. You can put the metal wedge in after the wooden one, but it's not necessary if you use the epoxy glue.

    The glue serves a couple of important purposes. First, it holds the handle to the head, no matter what. Usually what always happened to me is that the head would eventually start to move around, and that's a sure-fire way to kill a handle. The glue virtually guarantees that it's never going anywhere. The reason for sealing in the top with the glue is that it's waterproof. If you can keep moisture out of the wood, the handle will last longer. The expansion and contraction caused my moisture coming and going will weaken the handle, as will bacterial that can get in and initiate rot, if water is allowed to pass into the wood.

    No doubt it's possible to accomplish all of the above without the benefit of epoxy, but using it basically guarantees lonterm satisfaction under a wide variety of circumstances.
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