Letter from T.T. On Axe and Maul Handles

“There’s nothing like a nice piece of Hickory.” – Clint Eastwood, in Pale Rider

I grew up with burning wood for heat. My grandfather had a big old “octopus” looking wood burner in the basement. The heat was nice and even. After growing up and moving away with my family, I have always had a wood stove of some type and I do not feel prepared for winter unless I have a good wood supply.

My issue is with the axes. We will be using to trim and split the wood we are putting up. Now is the time to buy plenty of handles for your axes, splitting mauls, and gardening tools. You will find many axe heads after the crash but handles will be scarce. I extend the life of my axes and mauls by wrapping fiberglass tape just behind the head for about 6 inches. This is the area of the ax handle that gets the most abuse and will save you from replacing the handle prematurely. I have tried 18 gauge copper wire soldered, and duct tape. The copper held up the best but was difficult to put on. The duct tape was not strong enough and still let the handle break with a bad strike. The best compromise I have found is the fiberglass tape at least 4 layers deep. The tape is cheap. I do not like the feel of the fiberglass handles available and it is tedious to remove the epoxy and fiberglass from the head. You can break a fiberglass handle! Have extra wooden wedges and rasps to set a new handle. The metal wedges can be reused. After an extended period of storage, the wood dries out and the head is loose. Just soak the head in a bucket of water for at least several hours to overnight. The wood will swell and grip the axe head. I do not recommend applying any epoxy between the handle and head. This will make it difficult to replace the handle..- T.T. in Northern Idaho