|House Handles seem to commonly be lop sided like this and I am picky about the shape of the shoulder. Not just visually but also in feel since my hand spends a fair amount of time on this area. As it was, it was much too large for my hands.|
|After a vinegar bath you can clearly see the hardened bit. I'd like to see every axe be like my Snow & Nealley with more than 2 inches of bit, but this is acceptable.|
|The Black King markings.|
|More goofy shape, but I asked for a large swell in order to shape it to my liking.|
|There is a good shot of the thick edge.|
|A shot of the shoulder after it was thinned down.|
|A heart sinking hairline crack that I didn't notice until it was done. I don't believe it will be a real issue, it's just not what you want to see after you spent 3 hours reworking the shape of a handle this much and fitting it to a new axe.|
|While I was at it, these two hammers got new life.|
|I am led to believe that the little guy on the right might be old and original because of the simple (non-step) metal wedges.|
|Bits and pieces and the new handles.|
|Run-out. The grain runs fully across the handle.|
The same Forrest Service research detailed significant strength/break testing on Hickory heart wood and they concluded that it's perfectly suited for axe handle use.
I guess the moral of the story is, don't over think your handle. By the same token, if you want it I say go for that parallel grain if it's available - it looks great and shows some attention to detail. There is no argument against a nice handle, there is just evidence that losing sleep over less than perfect grain isn't warranted. If you find heartwood attractive, get it, and enjoy your axe.