Friday, April 1, 2016

Made from Scratch; Epic Axe Handle Project

It was inevitable. I have always known eventually no handle would really be good enough for me unless I had control over every step of the process. And, I haven't actually reached that point. I am not harvesting the wood myself just yet. Where I live, Hickory does not, or at least not in any abundance, and additionally, I still don't have a good supply for Hickory blanks. It's somewhat cost prohibitive to order them through the mail and for this reason I've come to a cross roads of sorts. I feel that ordering handles through the mail - in any configuration - is no longer a viable solution for my needs (read; wants) anymore. And at the same time I don't have a wood source. Does this mean my axe addiction has come to an end? It might. But not necessarily. I have a couple ideas for the future, and a possible source for wood, but the question remains; will it be a reliable source? Reliability is the word for consistency in the case of Hickory. Will I be able to get the grain orientation I want each time? Will I be able to get the thickness I want each time? These are the issues that have plagued this axe project from day one. I have never had a reliable source for handles or handle material - not as reliable as it should be. And as with any project, if you can't achieve efficiency as it progresses with time, then ultimately you can't continue. Unless of course, you enjoy frustration.

Interestingly, this project brought me to the cross roads I am talking about even though it brought a lot of satisfaction. I finally decided to make my own handles from scratch and the results were very good. However, you will see in the pictures a varying number of blanks and finished handles and in the end I had 5 blanks which resulted in 3 handles. You waste material any time you try something new, and I did here as well. What's more, moving forward there would be less and less waste. So it's not an entirely unfeasible prospect. But, one of the blanks was checked too badly for me to complete and seeing that put the final black mark on the gamble of ordering wood through the mail. Only time will tell the future of axes and O'Dell Studios.

Let's get to the good stuff. I made stop cuts, chiseled off the waste, used the draw knife to reduce the thickness and finished the handles on the belt sander as usual. Nothing fancy here. The hangs all came together nicely and all of these axes went off to their rightful owner, leaving only these pics in my possession. Let's do the pics - I've got lots.

made from scratch, how to make an axe handle

hickory handle stop cuts, hand saw, handmade

how to make an axe handle


This head is from Hoffman Blacksmithing.




custom axe, handemade, craftsman, imadethis


A True Temper 3-1/2lb Michigan pattern.


vintage axes, axe is back, project, wood chopping


A True Temper Red Warrior, marked Kelly Works Connecticut pattern.





hickory handles, bushcraft, axes, vintage, handmade, custom

refurbished axes, custom axe handles