Replace an Axe Handle

How to Replace an Axe Handle?

If you are a new axe wielder, the idea of replacing it can be new and challenging to you. But in this article, you'll find that the process is straightforward and not that hard.

You'll have a couple of choices-

  1. You can get a professional or a woodworker to do this for you.
  2. You can buy a new axe handle entirely.
  3. You can replace your axe handle yourself.

But, which is better for you? If you are searching for enjoyment from your job and also want to save your money, replacing the handle yourself is the best option for you.

Today I'm explaining you the most recommended and trustworthy process in a few steps on how to replace an axe handle?

Elementary tools for this project:

tools for replace axe handle
  • Vise
  • Hand saw
  • Chisel
  • Hammer
  • Some sort of implement for punching the handle out of the head (wooden block or cutoff axe handle)
  • Axe handle
  • Pencil
  • Sharp knife (a pocket knife is perfect)
  • Coping saw
  • Wooden wedge
  • Metal wedges
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • Hand gloves or handcloth

How to Replace an Axe Handle?

1. Acquire a new handle


You will find a variety of standardized axe handles in your local hardware shop. Different sizes of handles are there, so you need to choose the one which will perfectly fit yours:

  • Even you also can make your handle ownself but keep in mind that, that would require a lot of work to do and a lot of exact measurements.
  • Of course, get hickory or ash.
  • Longer handles are better for cutting tasks as longer handle provides more leverage, so more force creates. And obviously smaller axes need short handles.
  • Choose the one whose grain runs straight through the length of the handle and if you can find a straight-grained handle with rings that are parallel to the bit this is great.
  • Don't buy a handle which is varnished on it already and try to get a handle that is white in colour.

2. Remove the old handle

Remove the old handle

Though you won't use the old handle, don't damage it. The ways you may go and get out the old handle:

  • Block your axe head steadily in a vise.
  • Cut the handle close enough to the blade with a saw.
  • Never burn the old handle. In this process, you will surely remove the handle, but that may weaken the metal blade of your axe.
  • Using a chisel push the handle out of the hole or eye of your axe. Before that, you can drill into the handle through the eye if necessary.
  • With sandpaper clean the eye of your axe.

3. Place the new handle

Place the new handle

Fitting your new handle is the central part of your job. So be careful at the time of fitting.

First part:

  • In many hardware stores, there are axe handles which have a pre-made kerf on it. Where kerf refers - the saw wedge on the top of the handle.
  • Mark the kerf of the handle with a pencil or a pen which will help you to make a visual reference of how deep your handle needs to go.
  • Cut off the new one at the pencil mark. Use a saw to make the wedge kerf deeper. On average, it should be 60% to 65% of the depth of the axe's eye.

Second part:

  • The handle may require few tries before getting the proper fit to the eye of the axe. Make sure that you are using a piece of wood despite using a metal hammer pushing it because a metal hammer could easily damage your handle.
  • Put in the new handle into the bottom of the eye as far as it will go. Of course, keep the handle centred in the eye and perpendicular to the bottom of your axe. Avoid giving excessive force while pushing the handle.
  • While fitting, shave off a part of the handle if it doesn't fit perfectly to the eye. Make sure that your handle fit to the part you marked for the kerf. Use sandpaper for shaving off and be careful at the time of using power tools as always.
  • With a coping saw cut off the top of the handle flush with the axe head. Shorten the handle if necessary.deeper.

4. Insert a wood wedge in the kerf

Insert a wood wedge in the kerf

Inserting a wedge on the top of the axe will prevent any unwanted accident from happening. If your new handle didn't come with a wedge, you'd have to make a wedge ownself from a hardwood.

Now I'm going to explain the most recommended process which will secure the handle and confine:

  • Shave down your wedge if it doesn't fit perfectly to the kerf with a sharp knife. Be careful while shaving, if you shave the wedge much, this will become ineffective.
  • Take the wedge, put premium wood glue on it, desirably around the bottom half that you will fit into the kerf. Fit the wedge with a blunt piece of wood, and you can also use the old handle for this task and don't use a metal hammer as well.
  • Saw off the part of the wedge and handle if necessary, leave only a small portion. With sandpaper make the top smoothen accordingly.

5. Install metal wedges

Install metal wedges

Installing metal wedges is not mandatory. But if you install metal wedges, it will ensure you more security. So this is also highly recommended to install the necessary number of metal wedges on the top of your axe:

  • When your Iaxe is a smaller one, then just use one metal wedge to secure the handle in place. Install it in a certain angle, diagonally if possible to give enough stability.
  • When your axe is a larger one, Install two metal wedges. You have to centre both your metal wedges and hammer them down with proper distance off each other. Don't install a metal wedge near to the metal blade; install it near to the centre of it.
  • You can use extra wood glue to make your handle more stabilize in its place.
  • Saw off protruding wedge if needed. If you can do the job properly, you don't need to do this.

6. Protect your handle with a coat of oil

Protect your handle with a coat of oil

Coating your axe handle with mineral oil make your handle waterproofing and more protected. The oil will help you to block out moisture. It's especially important to coat your handle if you are using or storing the axe in a moisture-heavy environment:

  • Use boiled linseed oil for coating your handle.
  • To get the right grip perfectly to your liking use sandpaper to smoothen the handle.
  • For additional protection use mineral oil to coat your handle. Drip some mineral oil into handcloth and apply to the handle continuously or you can use your hands wearing plastic hand gloves applying oil.
  • Apply oil on the top of the axe handle so that the upper part that wedges can also be protected.
  • Then, let the axe sit for a few minutes afterwards while the oils soak in.

Note that, the main purpose is to protect the handle from moist essentially waterproofing it to make sure it lasts a while as it will help prevent it from splitting easily. And it will add an extra nice brown splendour which will be great.

Now your axe is ready to swing into some wood.

After replacing the handle, it should serve you for months and years. The longevity of your handle will depend on how well you take care of your axe. Never swing it irresponsibly and keep it in a safe place when you're done with it. If you remember to sharpen the blade of the axe regularly, giving excess force in your axe swing can be avoided. Every time use a proper chopping block. If the object you're chopping has a solid foundation will limit the risk of potential injury.

If your handle ruin again, this will be very easy for you to replace your axe handle next time.

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