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Hello all! I wanted to share an axe that I made between yesterday and this morning. It is a wrap and weld construction made from 1/2 x 2 1/12 inch flat bar with a 3/16 x 2 1/2 inch piece of  1095 for the edge.  The edge on this one is 5 3/4 inches long, the head is 8 inches long, and the handle is nearly 27 inches long made from curly maple. This axe is wicked sharp and I'll be sad to see it head out the door. :( Oh well I guess I will just have to make one for myself... 

 

P.S. The runes read "Chopper"

 

Thanks for looking!

 

Robert

 

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I kind if like the knob. It might look a little more subtle if it was half as long, which you could accomplish by turning the top down a bit. I imagine your customer will like it.

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Bigfoot, normally I would agree in regards to tomahawk handles; however, this axe handle is 1 1/4 inch thick at the thinnest so I'm not to concerned with its ability to stand up. After all this isn't to be used as a full felling axe nor as a throwing axe so as long as the person isn't hitting the handle with a hammer constantly I think it should hold up fine. But I agree that it will most likely break before a harder wood handle but all axes if used will have to be rehandled eventually no matter what wood you use.

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Concerning curly maple handles, as far as I know the curl does not effect the strength.

When you are buying the wood the strongest would be hard maple (also goes by rock maple and sugar maple) and the weakest is silver maple, then there are several species in between.

When buying the handle the curl is not the most important but the species.

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Interesting perhaps but very wrong!  I do know what I am posting about!  Curly grain in ANY species will make for weaker handle stock!!!  Some species (like hickory) are so strong anyway that the weakness may be tolerable or even unnoticed.

 

Maple tends toward brittleness and even in such robust sections as baseball bats it has issues... the rise of popularity for maple bats combined with modern hitters desire for thinner whippier handles has created serious safety issues with shattering bats!  This is well documented and intensely studied!  In a curly grained billet a considerable portion of the fibers are not oriented along the length of the handle... this is effectively short grain which has negligible strength!  Thus a curly maple baseball bat would have a lifespan of about ONE contact with the ball!  Uselessly weak!  Even the straight grained maple bats have caused an alarming rise in shattered bats and resultant injuries!  As far as I know, there is absolutely no evidence whatever that curly grain does NOT affect strength!!!!!  And I do know pretty doggone FAR!

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Interesting perhaps but very wrong!  I do know what I am posting about!  Curly grain in ANY species will make for weaker handle stock!!!  Some species (like hickory) are so strong anyway that the weakness may be tolerable or even unnoticed.

 

Maple tends toward brittleness and even in such robust sections as baseball bats it has issues... the rise of popularity for maple bats combined with modern hitters desire for thinner whippier handles has created serious safety issues with shattering bats!  This is well documented and intensely studied!  In a curly grained billet a considerable portion of the fibers are not oriented along the length of the handle... this is effectively short grain which has negligible strength!  Thus a curly maple baseball bat would have a lifespan of about ONE contact with the ball!  Uselessly weak!  Even the straight grained maple bats have caused an alarming rise in shattered bats and resultant injuries!  As far as I know, there is absolutely no evidence whatever that curly grain does NOT affect strength!!!!!  And I do know pretty doggone FAR!

Are you sure you are not confusing Curly/Striped/Tiger with Burl? 

Assuming a curly billet was as straight grained as a normal one what then leads to the curly billet being weaker?

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The curled grain is what creates the curly figure!  Break some and you'll see!  NO curly billets are straight grained!!!  Just no such thing in this world!  There are occasional billets which have mostly straight grain with just a skin of curly grain on one side or other.  Wherever you see curly grain it is because the wood fibers are arranged in that twisty formation!  The curlier it is the weaker it is too.  I have had some very dramatic figure that was SO weak that it was hard to use for any kind of project... snap if you look sideways at it!

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One trick that I have used when I really wanted some curly figure but needed more strength than it could provide: is to drill through the curly wood and glue in a steel rod to take the stress.  Obviously this is an extreme solution with a lot of expense and limited potential... but it can work in some places when you are determined enough.

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I am a luthier and I have been studying maples for a pretty long time. The curly pattern in ANY wood is due to the wave pattern the grains. The deeper are the curls, the wider are the "waves". Now, when you cut and shape the wood, you interrupt the grains. Try to draw a constant waved line and then draw a line which goes a little bit underneath the top of the waves. That's, simplified, pretty much what happens to the grains: you create a lot of short, interrupted, weak curls instead of a long, strong grain. That is what makes the curly woods weaker, in fact, in furniture making/carpentry, the curly woods are discharged because they are not good. And they are very unstable, being, curly grains, a defect of the wood, indeed, because they tend to return at the natural straight status (even though they will never return) so if cut really thin, those kind of wood will warp and crack very easily. Even making scales for a knife (6-8 mm) can be at risk of cracks if intensively used just for humidity adjustments, no matter how old is the wood. You cannot believe how many times I heard huge "ka-boom" on old and new double basses and cellos and violins in my master workshop when humidity changes and woods move, resulting into big cracks in curly maples and poplars. Brocken necks... We use to cope over sizing some parts like necks or sides is we want to use a pretty wood but not always it's possible.
So, bigfootnampa is right, but, next time if you want to use such this wood (and I can totally understand, it's so beautiful...) you can laminate it: cut two stripes from the same piece all along the length and use the inner part of the cut as the external side of the handle so you will have matching patterns on both sides and the direction of grains will make the tension on the two pieces invert each other (this will add a little strength although not so much) then glue them onto a stripe of another wood, I usually utilize rosewood to change a little the colors and because it's a lot stronger, but you can use also a plain grained maple or walnut or whatever you want. The sandwich, even if made using a thin stripe in the middle, is a LOOOOOOT stronger than the single piece. And more stable. I hope this helps...

Francesco

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You are very welcome, guys!!! I am glad to know that I have been useful.

 

But, where are my manners? I started looking at this thread to make my compliments for the axe and, after writing I forgot... I am so sorry...

 

I love your axe, Antigoth!!

 

Francesco

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