Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fighting the Inner Poser.

Question of the Day:  I figure this is a pretty fitting question for today's post.  It shows what a poser I really am!  Has anyone ever owned a Kelly Black Raven Axe?  I've been watching them on Ebay and they tend to go for a decent amount of money.  I like the look of the embossed emblem. I know what you're thinking - POSER!  That is exactly the theme of the day!

Link of the Day:  This is a really cool website.  I need to spend a few more hours there reading, but basically, it documents axe manufactures from the past in North America.  Very cool website. It is a great resource. 

Fighting the Inner Poser

I wrote about the three Snow and Nealley axe heads I found in my grandfather's garage here.

I've been holding off from putting handles on two of the heads simply because I've been broke.  Snow and Neally replacement handles run about $30-35 dollars from CSP Outdoors, then about $10-15 dollars on get the idea.

Today, I was messing around with L.J.'s hatchet in my shed and ran across a "28 handle I bought awhile back, as well as a "36.  I looked at them and pondered making my own handle.  It is a skill I want to acquire and I think I have the brain power to do it, however, we have crap wood here in Colorado.  I could probably buy a piece of hickory, but it would probably cost just as much as a handle I could buy at the hardware store.  I know, dilemma. 

Pic is sideways.....nice grain.

The bottom line is, I have a 2.75 lb. S&N head sitting on my bench, ready to use and I've been waiting for the money to buy an official Snow and Nealley handle.  Why?  I've never been tromping through the woods and had some person stop and say, "Nice axe, bro.  Snow and Nealley.......real cool."  Unless I'm hanging around with one of you folks, nobody cares.  And, really, the only difference between the "28 inch handle and the last S&N handle I purchased is etched words - advertising for the company, if you will.

So I decided to put the 2.75 head on the "28 hickory handle I have.  I don't want to pose.  I want to use.  Here is roughly how it will look.  Taking advice from bmatt, I'm going to make sure I have a little handle sticking out the top.  I took at it with my EDC knife, a CRKT Full Throttle.  It is a good knife....

....but unfortunately, the CRKT is no match for hickory.  

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel....out.


  1. Good one. Thanks for the link.

  2. Work it down with a file, sandpaper and then a sharp piece of glass. Hickory is hard wood and has to be persuaded, not forced. You could use a belt sander if a lot needs to come off. Stop well before finished thickness and finish with a file, sandpaper or sharp piece of glass as needed. If it has to gently tapped into the eye it is probably a just right fit. Don't forget, wood shrinks and swells with humidity. A little tight is better than a little loose.

  3. Up until recently, I had only worked on birch axe handles because that's all that's available here in Finland. My recently acquired Council Tool axe has a hickory handle, and while it was definitely a different experience carving the hickory to get it to the right shape, it was still easily doable with my puukko knife. So it is possible to just use a knife to shape that handle. Here, technique is key.

    I'd personally recommend getting the tightest possible fit of the handle into the axe eye, and then installing the wooden and metal wedges. You want to make sure that head stays on under hard use!


  4. When you're hanging the ax on a store-bought hickory handle you're got to do several things to allow it to hang correctly. First, you have to understand that a properly hung ax should sit ON the shoulder or bulge at end of the handle. So, first you should start by deepening the wedge-hole (where the wedge will be hammered in after the head has been fitted) by about an inch or so. Then it's best to use a spoke-shave, chisel and sandpaper to remove enough wood so that the head fits down to the shoulder. It should be very very very snug. When testing the fit, do not try to hammer the head ONTO the handle, instead push the head onto the handle by hand, turn the ax with the head facing the ground and the other end in your hand and hit that end with a hammer or mallet. You'll be amazed at how well this drives the head onto the handle. After a few blows, go ahead and work the ax head off of the handle and you'll be able to clearly see the areas where you need to remove more wood. When I'm hanging an ax I go through this process anywhere from 5-10 times and maybe more. Finally you can use the spoke shave to work down the actual handle since mass-produced handles are so incredibly thick. This process can take as long as you want it to, and you need to have actually wielded an ax for a whole day to understand how much material you should take off to reduce the fatigue in your hands. I know I'm a year and a half late but I hope this helps!!