The other day I came across a nice old boys axe. A boy’s axe is a midsized axe that normally comes with a 28-inch handle and 2 ¼ pound head. Since this one had a broken handle, I decided to put in a new one. Now it has been many years, probably over 50 since I have seen this done. So I figured now was a good time to replace an axe handle.
First I tried all the stores in town trying to find an axe handle. I finally found one at True Value. As near, as I could figure out this was the only boys axe handle for sale in town. Tractor Supply had some full size axe handles in stock, but not what I needed. The ones at Tractor supply looked the best they were a nice straight grain with a no finish.
The one I found at True Value was vanished and not as good a grain. But I wanted to see what I could do with what was available. So one of the first things I did was to remove the varnish. A vanished handle will cause you to get blisters much quicker.
Next, I got out my old rasps and fitted the handle by hand the old-fashioned way. I had forgotten how long it takes to reshape a piece of American Hickory by hand. It took several hours. After reshaping the handle so that it was a good fit into the axe head, I drove a wedge into the top to expand the handle so that it would not fly off in use.
After sharpening a good edge on the blade, I now have a good boys axe that I could probably have bought in a garage sale for a few dollars. But I gained some good experience.
- First, always have more than one axe
- Two, always have extra handle
- Three, have good US made files on hand to sharpen the axes.
- Four, if you intent to replace axe handles you need good US made rasps. Now I am talking
about the old style rasp as shown in the attached pictures. Not the new ones made by Stanley that need the cutting edges replace all the time. An old one will last for many years and has other uses for shaping wood and can even be used to reshape the hoof in horse shoeing.
This was a bit of work, but it reminded me of just how much longer it can takes to do things by hand. Enjoy your power tools while you have them. All together, I put this down as a good experience, I learned a lot.