Earlier this year on my birthday, a close friend gifted me an axe head for me to restore. But this isn’t just “any” old axe head…it’s a 3.5 pound (1.6 kg) True Temper Flint Edge Kelly Works Michigan pattern :D.
I had started fixing it up awhile back – I re-profiled the edge, gave it a keen sharpening, and made a leather sheath – but I never got around to finishing things up and hanging the axe. It was high-time to get this project sorted. 🙂
It is very rare that one finds an axe handle in a hardware store with perfect grain orientation. Most handles you’ll find are either cross-grained or adequate at best. Yet I was fortunate enough to strike gold at the first hardware store I checked.
It’s a 36 inch (proportioned to the 3.5 lb head) straight helve from Link Handles. There was a shellac finish to take off, but for $15 and such excellent grain orientation, I’ll take it :D.
Shaping the helve can be a lengthy process with hand tools. Just be patient and persistent, and you’ll get the results you’re after. For a better grip, I carved the handle into a half octagonal shape from the throat to the knob.
The wooden wedge for the handle seemed a bit short, so I swapped it for one I purchased online from V&B (Vaughn and Bushnell).
As you can see, it’s a bit larger in both width and length – and it also came with two metal step wedges. The helve did not come with a metal wedge.
I left about half a centimeter (1/5 inch) of wood protruding from eye. Final overall length is 35 inches (89 cm).
There is some debate as to whether or not you should use metal step wedges when hanging an axe or maul. My own opinion is that there’s no real reason not to – metal wedges provides extra security, and for an axe this size, that’s added insurance. When in use, there’s a lot of inertia produced due to the weight of the head.
All finished with a coat a raw linseed oil, ready for chopping :).