Needlessly complicated axe handle repair

I was using my axe and I wanted
to use it to rotate a log. So, I whacked it in
the end, like that. And then wanted to twist the
whole thing, like this. But, that turned out
to be a dumb idea, because the axe handle is not
strong in that direction. My first thought was I should
make a new axe handle. But then I thought,
maybe I could use a needlessly complicated
method of fixing the old one, and demonstrate
how smart I am. So, my idea is to
put a finger joint on the axe handle,
right here. Because that part is
actually a lot thicker than the hole
in the handle. And the reason the handle
is so thick right here is a lot of times you
end up over-striking and you whack this part onto
whatever you’re chopping. So, if I finger-joint
this piece onto here, that joint should be
more than strong enough compared to the part that
goes into the handle, here. I’ll start by adding a
flat reference surface to the handle and that
will help me clamp it into the box
joint jig. The hole in the axe
head has actually got a slight
taper on it, for holding
the handle. Normally, with
the axe head, the handle
is inserted like this. And then a wedge is
driven in from the top. And that spreads
the handle, and locks it in,
like a dovetail. Unfortunately, that
means the handle is relatively narrow where
it connects to the head, and that makes for a
slightly weaker spot. So, what I thought
I’d do this time, is I put the head
on backwards and have a tapered
handle, like so. So, it’s
wider here. And hold it in
place with a screw and a washer
from the top. To make a tenon to
match this hole, I thought I’d use
my pantorouter, so I photographed
this head on and then printed
out 2 times size with my Big Print program
using a ruler as a reference, and then I made a
template from that for my pantorouter. Quick alignment check.
With the bit at about halfway
through here. the bearing should be
level with the template. And, if its
on this edge, I’m cutting in
here a bit. And on here, lining up with
the edge of the template. I’m cutting away here as well,
so the tenon is centered reasonably well on
this piece of wood. Now, I still need to
taper this a little bit, which I can’t really
do with this setup. But, I will put a
smaller follower here and carve the tip
of it again, and that will sort
of start my taper. So, now I’ll carve that
taper with a draw-knife. Well, I’m not convinced
that, that was any faster than just making
a new handle. But, at least I don’t
have to varnish it and I didn’t have
to waste any wood. And, as you can see, the
joint is way bigger than the tenon that
goes into the head. So, I’m not at all worried
about this breaking before this breaks.

Bernard Jenkins


  1. nice work, but you put the axe head the wrong way, the side facing down the handle should be up

  2. I'm not a hater, just someone that fixed an axe. I think that structuraly your axe is okey, but now you have displaced the so called "impact point" of your axe, meaning that now your hands are not in the zero-force point of the handle and you may feel more pain from each impact. Have you experienced it?

  3. First of your vids I've watched. Liked your table saw attachment, I'll have to look for how you constructed it. I have 2 broken handles that I have saved for some reason, now I know. Good Job!

  4. Interesting idea and repair. Personally, I'd doubt the safety of that repair, but not because of your execution of it.
    My understanding of woodworking is that there is no type of joint that is as strong as an unbroken piece of wood. That is the reason for my doubt.

    The only way I can see to improve an axe without changing materials or large changes in design is to work on reducing the tendency of the handle to become loose from the head after a while.
    Knowing that steam has been used to bend wood in the past (especially in the making of small boats), I would do the following:
    1. steam-heat and compress the handle where it goes thru the eye of the axe-head.
    2. heat the eye of the axe-head to 175-200 deg C (350-400 deg F).
    3. Using some type of press, force the axe handle into the socket.
    4. Allow all parts to cool.

    The combination of the axe-head contracting due to cooling and the axe-handle expanding due to no longer being compressed should eliminate the need for the typical slot to accommodate the wedge seen in more traditional axe handles.
    I'd be entirely unsurprised if this had been thought of before, there's very few truly new ideas in the realm of "axe with steel head and wooden handle".

  5. people spent years trying to perfect the axe head attatchment technique…..there was even a valuble prize for whoever could make a foolproof design…..that ax you have is it…..but the handlle is part of the design……keep it simple…..a lot of hard work got us to this point.

  6. The old fashioned and in my opinion also better way to hammer down the new axe head is to hold the axe upside down in the air and hit the end of the handle with a wooden hammer for example. Can't explain the physics behind this, especially since I'm Finnish, but I think it has something to do with the head being heavier than the handle. Using a screw was a good idea. I too prefer it over the traditional wooden wedge simply because it works better and makes it a hell lot easier to remove the head if needed.

  7. is there a project you DON'T use the pantarouter? cuz 99% of us watching don't have one. just say'n.

  8. yeah… a new axe handle doesn't cost all that much, so I don't think I'll try this any time soon…

  9. You should get a laser to burn your templates directly on the wood, ditch all that paper and gluing. You could also cut intricate inlays with it, which would be something new to goof around with.

  10. anything that uses the pantorouter is needlessly complicated ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Putting the head upside down is a big mistake. The whole edge curvature is designed to go the other way and you have a huge chance of having the head come loose and flying off.

  12. pienso que el agujero para el tornillo no era necesario, solo con el tornillo daba mas fuerza de habertura, como la espiga conica, ยฟtubiste suerte que no se escapara el hacha?

  13. "So now I'll carve that taper with a draw-knife" …starts pushing with draw-knife

  14. Maybe if he was so smart he wouldn't be the cheapest man alive…

  15. I'm not concerned about the joinery. it's probably stronger than it would have been otherwise. I'm worried about the grain direction.

  16. Could we get a follow up vid on how the axe and joint is doing? would you do it again and take aways from that project a few years down the road?

  17. One really whack and it's over. And splitting and axe-head with a screw is, sorry, a joke.

  18. Actually a well made axe should have a double sided taper in the eye, like an hourglass, so that there is no weak spot where there is one in your axe

  19. I love how you titled this. I don't think it was. I thought you did pretty good. Have you had success with the repair? Follow up video????

  20. I wouldn't use that axe on a dare. Even correctly hung heads to fly off on occasion. That joint and the reverse taper are downright frightening, and that screw isn't anywhere near capable of withstanding the forces it would be subject to.

  21. I don't mean to criticize, but axe handles are fitted the way they are to stop the head from working their way off during use. To mount an axe head, you push it onto the handle by hand then turn it upside down. Holding it in mid air by the handle, strike the bottom of the handle a few times and it'll drive the handle into the head. It sounds backwards, but it really does work. Follow by inserting a suitable wedge with a punch. Axes are fairly safe in their traditional configuration, I wouldn't bother messing with that arrangement if it's a tried and trued method and you're not relying on any skinny screws of wimpy threads to keep the whole lot together.

  22. Loved this video but maybe it is because I just finished building my own screw advanced box joint jig using Matthias's excellent plans. That jig is freaking awesome and I couldn't be happier with how well it works! Is that axe still hanging in there for you Matthias?

  23. 2:23 A Festool clamp? You make your own stationary tools from scratch, but have a Festool clamp, I almost don't believe it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. You can put the axe now into a concentrated motor coolant (anifreeze). The wood will expand but the fluid will never evaporate. So the joint will be very tight.

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