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JonnyT

Member
Mar 22, 2013
13
2
Farnborough
I was wondering if anyone here knows of someone who is UK based who would make a custom handle for my axe?

In December I imported a vintage True Temper Kelly Works Firefighting Axe from the USA. Don't ask me why. I've just always wanted one. I love the look of them. Probably something to do with watching the movie "Backdraft" as a kid and loving it. Who knows.

The one I bought was in a rough state and I've gone about restoring it. I want to make it into a functional display piece.

I've had the head cleaned up and sharpened, then I took it to a metal polishers and it's looking sweet.

The handle is a hickory fawns foot style with somewhat exaggerated curves and a nice chunky swell at the end. It's got chunks missing form it here and there and I'd like to replace it as it's going to be on display.

I've bought a couple of fawns foot replacement handles online but when they have arrived they've just not been the same shape as the original.

I'm hoping to find someone who I can post the original handle to, for them to reproduce it in hickory.

Any and all suggestions welcome.



I've included some pictures of the axe just for reference below:


This is one of the replacement handles underneath the original and it's just not right:

 

JonnyT

Member
Mar 22, 2013
13
2
Farnborough

I've not used him yet, but his work looks great.
As it happens he was already recommended to me and is one of the chaps I've been chatting to about it.

I'm just seeing what all my options are before I decide who to go with.
 

demographic

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Apr 15, 2005
4,436
446
-------------
Could you just plane a flat onto the bit you want to have a bigger bump on, glue a bit of wood on and shape it afterwards with a rasp?
I've done that on things and the glueline is stronger than the wood anyway, or at least with wood glue it can be.
Match the grain right and you'll struggle to see it.
Its basically laminating it.
 
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JonnyT

Member
Mar 22, 2013
13
2
Farnborough
Could you just plane a flat onto the bit you want to have a bigger bump on, glue a bit of wood on and shape it afterwards with a rasp?
I've done that on things and the glueline is stronger than the wood anyway, or at least with wood glue it can be.
Match the grain right and you'll struggle to see it.
Its basically laminating it.
That would be one solution, the only problem is I'm not at all experienced with woodwork.

If I was just having a go at making a functional axe handle I'd definitely give it a go, and it would probably be passable.

But this is going to be a display piece and I have no faith whatsoever in my abilities to do a good enough job to make it look like a faithful restoration.
 

Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,015
1,182
Berlin
That's totally crazy, but I like it.

Helko Werk makes such axes in Germany for the US market. But they don't have such an elegant handle.
 

C_Claycomb

Mod
Mod
Oct 6, 2003
6,615
1,554
Bedfordshire
Reading your description of what you want and what you have done thus far I get a little alarm ringing in my head. While I can only speak for myself, I think it possible that my concerns will be shared and could be a reason for a slow response.

As you say, fitting a functional handle is one thing, but precise duplication and perfect finishing using difficult to source timber, probably with grain alignment you want to be just so, that is a whole other matter. Lots of chances for anyone taking it on to do something that you won't like. Not a job I would want and I am sorry to say I don't know anyone that I could recommend. :(

For information, hickory lumber isn't that easy to find in the UK. I bought mine from Timberline in Tonbridge, back in 1996 it was £45 for a 5" x 1.25 x 81+" board, only place I have found selling it now is £87.45 for a 3" wide board, plus £20 shipping, and you get the grain orientation that you get, since it is sold for long bow backing strips. Assuming that 1.25 is thick enough for your handle, it would use at a big portion of that and you might need to be ready to pay for all of it.

If someone is making handles in the UK, they are most likely to use UK timber, like ash, which is functionally almost as good as hickory and much cheaper and available, but won't have the look you want.

You might have more luck looking in the US and shipping your handle back there. At the least the craftsmen there can get the material you want much more readily.

Sorry not to be more help. Really wish you luck.

Chris
 

JonnyT

Member
Mar 22, 2013
13
2
Farnborough

I've not used him yet, but his work looks great.
Just for completions sake, I went with this recommendation in the end. I haven’t received the axe handle yet. But the pictures he has sent look awesome.

Hickory isn’t easy to come by in the UK. I spent a long time trying to find the right size slab, but to no avail.

So I sent the original handle to Sam from Axe & Edge Tool make a replica in Ash. The pommel swell at the end was achieved by laminating ash onto the pommel and then shaping.

I think it looks amazing and can’t wait to receive it.

Here’s a couple of pics of the new handle next to the original one:

FpXiz9P.jpg


GXKTHJd.jpg


And here’s the laminated pommel swell:
grLNM6c.jpg


ppMWGp0.jpg


Ah6Owrg.jpg
 

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