Sources of decent hatchet/ axe handles

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uncleboob

Full Member
Dec 28, 2012
910
50
Coventry and Warwickshire
Morning all

I find I'm in need of a couple of decent handles, one for my small axe and one for a hatchet. I'd like something of the same good quality that carried the axe and hatchet through the last 10 years of my ownership and probably some time before that! Any recommendations for a source of good handles?

Cheers all


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Mesquite

Anyone for sailing?
Mar 5, 2008
25,393
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~Hemel Hempstead~
Do a google search for replacement Gransfor Bruks handles.

They do a wide variety and you should be able to find ones that will fit your axes with some fettling
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,363
4,718
Mid Wales
Most of the axe handles sold in farmers stores are American hickory and they come in a wide range of sizes - once rubbed down and given your treatment of choice they'll last as long as anything and cost a fraction of a 'name'.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
5,363
4,718
Mid Wales
In the UK all sorts of wood were used as tool handles including ash but for a long time we have imported hickory as the preferred choice for axes for some reason. I use ash for most of mine but have used apple, cherry, alder and oak for smaller ones.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Look at the end grain of both ash (Fraxinus) and hickory (Carya). You will see that each growth ring is layered.
The early wood of every year is mostly vessel elements and the late wood is pretty much solid fiber.
The common term for this is "ring porous".
Where you can't see this pattern, eg apple, the woods are described as "diffuse porous."

As a mechanical property of these woods, they can and will function much as a multiple leaf spring.
Trying to split frozen birch at -20C, you can feel the flex in the rebound off the frozen wood.
This protects the handle from brashness, the tendency to burst in damage.

I don't believe that's as important for short-handles axes/hatchets as it is for for full swing chopping and splitting axes.
 

spandit

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 6, 2011
5,558
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East Sussex, UK
Someone on here made a stunning handle for his axe "Goliath" from oak. Must have taken him ages. It snapped on the second hit - far too brittle
 

mr dazzler

Native
Aug 28, 2004
1,717
80
uk
I think in the north they use any variety of wood, just so long as its birch.....
My roselli axe came with a birch handle, but I redid it with ash
Elm would be a good bet if you can find any. Svante darve uses elm for tool handles I think he does. Elm and ash get naturally polished smooth with use. Oak will tend to splinter on you. Chestnut might work, I have had that on a working froe handle for 8 or 10 years and its never broke
Check out the old bloke from finland from the 1920's carving a new axe handle. When you buy ones from shops unless its specifically for a certain axe brand, you have to fanny about fettling it to fit anyway. If you make your own you can choose the best piece of wood, instead of compromise with 2nd rate
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,465
2,211
McBride, BC
Look again at the end grain. The mechanical properties change dramatically, depending on the orientation of the growth ring pattern.
Exactly the same as with a baseball bat. Easy to break on the first swing if you hold it wrong.
Do it right and the bat will last for years.

You can't shove a stick into an axe head just any old way. There's a design.
 
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uncleboob

Full Member
Dec 28, 2012
910
50
Coventry and Warwickshire
Guys, thank you so much for the advice. Once again I've learned something new!

I've made up quick handles before but wouldn't claim they were anything more than rough and functional, maybe its time (now I've got time) to spend it making a nicely finished handle.

Ash is a remarkable wood, seems that there's very little that it can't do! Splitting some elm the other week I was struck by how strong it seemed for its weight...I may make one from each and see how they fair

Cheers all j


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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
3,173
1,263
Berlin
I have seen them in a shop in Switzerland last year.
(Very impressive little shop there, by the way: Only Husquarna, Dolmar, Stihl, Felco, Idealspaten, Wolf, Ochsenkopf, Victorinox and so on.
Exclusively High Quality Garden and Forest tools from traditional Western European, mainly German and Swiss production. Not one thing out of unknown sources...)

I guess the fact that Ochsenkopf runs an English home page means that they deliver international?

;)
 

ANDGRIN

Full Member
Jun 4, 2004
41
8
61
Bristol
A wide range of hickory axe handles can be sourced from Richard Carter Ltd or Timeless Tools. Lots of different sizes are available.
I am a happy past customer of both suppliers.
Cheers Andy
 

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