Tag Archives: wedges

How to Fix Loose Ax or Hammer Handles

Metal wedge

Loose ax or hammer handles can be a very irritating and dangerous problem.  So what do you do to solve this issue?  Years ago, I used to soak the ax or hammer in a bucket of water, the handle would swell and the problem was solved.  Of cause a few days later, the problem would be back and worst than the first time.  I have since learned not to soak an ax or hammer in water.  This just makes the wood cells swell, and then when they shrink again, the cells are even smaller than before, so your handle becomes looser because of the soaking.

Another quick fix was to drive a nail in the top of the handle to spread it wider and tighten the handle.  This works, but isn’t always the best long term fix.  The best fix I have found is to use good steel wedges and drive them into the top of the handle.  This spreads the wood evenly and firmly fixes the handle in place.  The wedges are cheap and can be found in almost any hardware store.  I recommend that you purchase and store some now if you intent to use these tools.

I know many of you use fiberglass handles, but they will fail eventually.  Get an extra handle or two for your tools now or learn how to make them.

This has always been a problem as you can see from the following article.  It shows an old fashion fix for loose handles from the early 1900 s.  I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like it will work.

The pioneers considered an ax to be one of their most important tools and in the future, this may very well be true for us.  Take care of your tools.


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Splitting mauls and wedges.

Splitting maul

If you are planning to burn wood in a crisis situation, one thing that you need to stock is a good splitting maul and wedges.

A typical maul for wood splitting will have a head weighing about 8 pounds.  Normally, mauls have a wedge-shaped head, although there are a few different modern designs that I have seen but not tried.  The original maul resembles an axe with a broader head.  For wood splitting, this tool is much better than a normal axe.  It works better because of the weight and because of its width; it is less likely to become stuck in the wood.  The wedge section of a maul head must be slightly convex to avoid jamming.  Unlike an axe, maul handles are normally straight and closer to round, more like those of a sledgehammer.  The handles are often made from hickory, though synthetic fiberglass handles have become common.  I have been told that fiberglass handles are harder to break and the heads are less likely to work free.  Mine still have the hickory handles and I have had no problems with them.  If you have the fiberglass handles, I have been told that they will last longer if protected from the sun when not in use.

Separate wedges

You also want several wedges.  Several wedges used together, permit you to split larger logs.  Get good steel wedges and not cheap foreign made ones.  Do not substitute axe heads for wedges.  A friend of mine did this and due to the type of temper used on an axe, a sliver flew through the air and imbedded itself in his arm.  He ended up with limited use of the arm.

To use the maul put smaller pieces on end, on a chopping block if possible.  If not, put it on the ground.  Most cut sections can be split with a single downward chop of the maul.  Split the wood apart along its grain.  Mauls are effective long after the edge dulls, as the primary mechanism is that of a wedge pushed along the wood grain, and not a cross-grain chop of an axe.

Just be careful and learn how to use one before you need to.  Remember one is none and two is one, get extras.


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