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While purchasing a throwing axe can save you lots of time and convenience it can also have an artificial feeling. Being able to use a tool that you made with your own hands can have its own benefits and give you a sense of pride. It’s a good feeling knowing you made something out of patience and dedication, even something like a throwng axe handle.
Before we get our basic instructions on how to create our axe handle we will need to ask ourselves some questions so that we can get the right tools and materials. First I will make a few assumptions about you. You are the kind of person that wants to build a handle and might not have the most money or state of the art equipment nearby for self use.
Because of this we will also go with a wooden handle. A wooden handle for our throwing axe ensures that we can make mistakes, get more material at a lower cost and experiment with how we want to grip our axe. In a way it adds a level of customization that metals or stone would not be able to do at the same cost.
The next question we can begin to ask ourselves is what kind of wood do we want to use? We cannot go to a scrapyard or a random home improvement shop and just buy a 2×4. We might have to go to a mill or find another location that has a specific type of wood that will fill our needs. The traits that we want to have in our choice of wood are:
When our wood is worked it is going to be throw several times, over and over again. Before it even gets tossed it is going to be pushed around, forced against metal and cut several times. Because of this we want wood that is strong but able to be flexible. It makes it durable and able to withstand much more than it should. Not to mention if this is your first time you definitely want something that can handle lots of punishment.
Smooth Wood Grain
Another train that you want to look into when you purchase your wood is how smooth it is. Imagine you grab the handle of your throwing axe. You should be able to grip it and slow your hand against it without even one splinter. Because of this when we find the material we wish to purchase then we need to make sure that it has a vertical grain. This decreases the strain we cause it when we begin to shave and cut it to a much more suitable size.
Another important trait to look at when you grab your wood is how tight the rings are against each other. This tightness is important since it explains to us how ‘compact’ the wood is. We want compact wood so that we can determine that it is sturdy and durable. It also shows us that the wood has not been affected by the elements as much. When moisture begins to hit the wood it swells, causing it to grow and the wooden rings inside of the wood to become wider and looser, a tight ring proves that it has not been swollen.
While you can go to a hardware store to purchase wood I would advise not to since the choices and the material are second best, in my honest opinion it is much better to find a local lumber mill (Or a smaller mom and pop hardware store that is more personal with lumber mills).
A lumber mill will let you talk to someone who is an expert on what he is selling, he can explain the pro’s and con’s of all the material, how they look, what type of finish you want and might be able to even give you proper techniques when it comes to carving your own throwing axe.
While we can discuss the many traits of each kind of wood I would highly suggest over all of them to get Hickory. It is often used in wooden tools and is a top candidate when it comes to all the traits we are looking for in our wood. If you cannot find hickory than Ash and Elm are good substitutes as well.
The perfect wood for your handle depends slightly on the purpose of your axe. Check out all these Types of Axes and get an idea of exactly what you want to use it for (if your purpose is to great a great throwing axe – follow the rest of these instructions exactly)
How long do we want our handle?
As we begin to use throwing axes we need to determine how long we want our handle. The next specific questions are going to be what purpose are we using our throwing axe for? For the most part unless we need a specific length for an odd reason, we should strive for 12 inches (30.5cm).
This will make our handle short enough to throw and carry around without too much difficult as well as let us pick a variety of axe heads to use. While we can go longer for our handle we need to question if we can handle throwing large axes, as they tend to be heavier and more unbalanced. Check out How to balance a throwing axe to fix this problem.
Once we have a clear idea of what we want our axe to look like we can begin to purchase the wood and tools needed for our handle, let us get our shopping list:
- Our wood (Log or purchased cut) at least 24-36 inches long, 6 inches in diameter.
- Another axe or a hatchet
- Carving Knife
- Axe Head
- Safety Glasses
- Hand Saw
If you purchased a log or went the masculine direction and cut down a tree yourself then you are going to need wedges and a maul to cut down your log into smaller, more manageable pieces. This is typically seen as more difficult and advanced as you are now cutting the wood, splitting it and finding the perfect pieces to fit your axe.
If you are doing such an act then it is advised that you use much more caution as you are dealing with heavier and more dangerous materials. However if we go to a store or a lumber mill to find pieces that suit us we will be well on our way to creating our own handle and throwing in Axe Throwing Competitions.
Please use proper safety equipment before handling any of the materials, although you may feel confident in your woodworking it is always advised to be safe. I also ask that you read all the instructions beforehand instead of doing so step by step, this is to ensure that the process and smooth and you know what tools you will need next!
Step #1: get rid of the bark.
Once we have our wood sized up in a manageable piece we can then begin to remove the bark from our wood. Because of its thin skin and fragility compared to the inside of our wood it should be peeled off as soon as possible, this is to ensure that the wood we use is the highest quality. If the bark is thin simply use your carving knife and gently slide it down along the length in a straight line, this should help you get your thumb between the bark and week and slowly begin to peel it.
We want the bark entirely removed from our material so that it can not be used. If the bark is slightly thicker or more difficult to peel off then we will simply create a square cut on the bark and force a small bit off, allowing us more area to begin peeling off our wood.
If this is still difficult or not helping then it is suggested to use our carving knife and shave the bark off bit by bit. This is a last restore and takes a bit more time but it will ensure that we can get the cleanest wood possible.
Step #2: Shape our wood to be handle-esque.
While some people think this is the time to shape our handle into the perfect shape, we are far from it. Typically the log we get will be much thicker than what we truly want it to be. Once you cut it down to the length you desire plus two inches you will want to begin a much slower process. From here we need to cut our wood down to be close to the same diameter as the hole in our axe head. To get a rough idea it is suggested to hold your head near the top of the wood and draw and outline with it with your pencil.
Remember this does not have to be perfect as we just want a good estimate. Once we do so we can begin to shave one end down slowly until it almost fits the handle. Once it can fit in, chances are unless you are a perfect woodworking that there are gaps between the axe head and the handle.
What we need to do here is shake and wiggle our axe head so that it can leave a mark on our handle. Typically the axe head will leave a few black marks and that is where we need to cut it. While we might have used our axe to create large cuts to make this simpler we will need to begin being more delicate and deliberate with each slide of our knife across the wood.
Step #3: Measure, cut, repeat.
Once we cut down the black marks we will want to grab the axe head and push it against the wood again. Then when it gets stuck we will wiggle and shake it again to leave more marks. We will continue to do this for the majority of the length, pushing it deeper until it goes the entire length minus a few inches.
How long exactly should you make your axe handle?
Once it gets to the end it should be a very clean clean with the axe head practically grasped by the wood itself now. Near the end it should not be able to shake or wiggle as much and at the end it should no shake or wiggle at all! This means that we have gotten the basic handle created without the need for precise measuring tools.
Step #4: Off with it’s head (And legs).
Once the handle is fitted in it is time to begin to cut it down to the appropriate length. From here we will want to grab our saw and cut down the top part of our axe handle so that it does not jut out so much from the axe head. While many want it to be perfectly clean so that the axe head is the only piece on top it is suggested to leave at least one to two inches. This way it will greatly decrease the chances of the axe head falling off of the axe handle, especially if you are a beginner. Do not forget to cut the bottom of the handle as well, remember, with a throwing axe we want to have a short length axe.
Step #5: Sand.
With the initial part of the process complete it is time to fine tune our throwing axe handle. From here we will want to grab our sandpaper and beginning the process of making it smooth and balanced. This takes quite a bit of time as it is a more delicate operation then cutting but once you begin to touch the sanded part of the handle compared to the unsanded, you will notice the difference and not want to stop! We will also want to sand where the axe head is located (Shake and wiggle just a little this time) to ensure that the axe head is perfectly fitted in.
Step #6: Coat and Handle(Optional).
While your axe may look good if it gets wet or throw several times the wood can become damaged. From here it is suggested that you look into purchasing specific wood paint oil that is specifically made to prevent water from coming in. This will further increase the longevity of your throwing axe as well as give it a nice and clean aesthetic.
It is also possible to look into a paracord or leather handle wrapping to give it a more unique look that comes with a unique feel as well. These tasks are optional and will not hurt the immediate results of the handle, they are simply additional features you can add if you want to add a little more dedication to your axe handle.
Step #7: Constant maintenance.
After we have finished making our throwing axe handle it can be used again and again, however please make sure that you are constantly checking on it making sure that the handle is in proper form, taking care of your homemade handle will save you time and money and improve the amount of times you can use it before you have to make another handle.
Axe Sheathes will help you out a lot in the long run. Blades get damaged mostly when you are lugging the axe around. Make sure to keep it covered up – Check out this article about Axe Sheathes and pick the right one for your axe.
Once you finish your first axe handle, making your second and third is even easier, patience is another type of muscle that gets trained and the feeling of using what you created is immense. You will happily call yourself a master of woodworking once you finish such a project, how many of your friends say they make their own tools?