View Full Version : Tips about offset axe handle wood and shapes?
Hello I'm thinking about making an offset axe handle for a hewing axe head. I think it gonna be quite hard to find wood with the right natural curve in it with grain that follow the whole length of the handle. How did they do these kind of handles before? A century ago there where tons of these axes in use every day so there had to be a huge number of those imho hard to find wood materials for them or did they steam bend the shape? Or is it not that important with grain to follow the whole length of the handle, lesser strength requirements on a hewing axe handle then on a felling axe handle?
I would love to see or read about your experiences and knowledge about this! Also tips on pages on the webb about this would be appreciated.
Have you thought about steaming a suitable bit of wood and then bending it to the required shape?
Interesting question, and I'm not sure about the answer!
1) Does the axe head have an offset eye for the handle? Gransfors make their 1900 pattern hewing axe with the eye (and therefore handle) straight, or bent to the right, or bent to the left. The same shape of handle, with straight grain alignment, is used for all three variants.
2) I had a Stubai side axe for a while. It had a straight grained ash handle, but the handle was curved. The continuous grain ran from the top left of the handle (at the top of the eye) to the right side of the handle at the bend to the bottom left of the handle. The handle was very very thick....
3) Could steam bending be an option?
4) Could training a young sapling/branch into the desired shape have been an option? Traditional Japanese adzes are handled with wood which is grown specifically in the curve needed for the tool. If Robin Wood sees this, he may be able to post a picture of a Japanese adze to demonstrate.
You only need an offset handle if you are hewing broad flat things like beams and you have a single bevel side axe. If your axe has a double bevel then your knuckles are clear anyway. Single bevel broad axes were common in certain areas at certain times, they were very commonly used for hewing railroad sleepers or ties in the US and they were put on a long cranked handle.
I find the bit at the base of an ash tree is perfect but you have to fell it yourself so you get low down and get the buttresses. If you buy from a forester they will cut the buttresses off to make felling and transporting easier. The buttress or flare at the base of the tree gives you just the kink you want. You can get the same thing higher up at the first branch but the base is better as the grain is very twisted and tough there.
Thanks everyone! The low base on trees I haven't thought much about, probably an often overlooked resource. I will try do keep an open mind when I'm out in the woods and perhaps photograph some of em and post here.
Here is a photo of an old hewing axe handle I would like to reproduce. I think it is a beautiful handle! It is curved in two dimensions.