Monday, April 18, 2011

Hafting the Snow & Nealley 2 3/4 Head

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Hafting the Snow and Nealley 2 3/4 Head

This is another head I pilfered out of Gramp's garage.  It weight 2.85 lbs., so I'm guessing that at one point in time, it was a 3 lb. head. 

I recently found a 36" ash handle with an okay grain at the hardware store and decided to give it a go.

I'm not a big fan of 36" hafts.  Nothing personal, I just don't like them.  Something about these older S&N heads is that they are shorter than your average head.  Here it is compared to an old Collins I picked up at a yard sale:

It slid down easily on the new haft without a lot of room left over around the eye.

I measured it off and, sure enough, it was about 36" long.

I marked it at 32".  30-32" is my comfort zone for wood chopping.
I used a hacksaw to make sure I had a nice, clean cut.
When I was done, I carved a bit away, so it wouldn't look too trailer park.

I then did some sanding to finish it off.

Bangor, Maine.  I miss Bangor.
I then cut off the excess.  I left a little sticking out of the eye.  That's what all of the educated people do.  Didn't feel right, but I rolled with it.
I then sized up the wedge, which seemed too large for the eye.
So I shaved a little off.
After the first couple of taps, the haft retreated down into the eye.  I turned it upside down and whacked it a few times with the 4 lb. single jack.  It went right back into place.

Then, I hit the haft with some linseed oil.  Mrs. Hotel hates the smell of linseed oil.  I told her that if she mixed a little linseed with a little W-D 40 and put it behind her ears, I'd never leave her alone.  She told me that if that ever becomes a problem, she'd be sure to take such desperate measures.

Here it is, side by side with my 30", 3 1/4 lb. S&N from the same garage.

I chopped up a piece of aspen with it. It worked fine, but the bottom of the haft did feel a little skinny.

All in all, if axes were dames, my 3 1/4 would still be my main squeeze.  Ain't she purty?  But the 2 3/4 isn't that bad.  She'll be a good rebound, should the 3 1/4 ever leave me.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Voiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel...out.


  1. I grew up with 3-1/2 lb. double-bitted axes, so anything under 36" feels toy-like to me. I prefer straight handles, too (for the same reason, no doubt), but the two single-bitted axes I have both have fawn's-foot curved handles on them. I guess it's all a matter of what we get used to.

  2. I grew up using mauls, mostly. Couldn't swing one til I was about 12. As far as axes go, it doesn't feel right to me unless it is has a curve. Not sure where I picked that up. My 3 1/4 just feels right when I swing it. You know? It's funny because when I found all of those heads, I was most excited about the 2 3/4. Turns out you don't know what suits you until you try it.

  3. just 2 recommendations, 1 is that you should deepen the wedge kerf so the wedge goes deeper and tightens the head more. second, to make that shortened handle fit your hand a little better, thin it down (leave the swell knob), you will trick your body into thinking the swell knob is bigger.