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.