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Handle for a sentimental hatchet


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I have a hatchet from my deceased FIL that I would like my son to have one day. It isn't a real nice hatchet or anything, it just has sentimental value. It's a one piece steel job and there is an oversize tang at the end riveted to the but. I need the handle to match the tang. It originally had leather rings. I want it to be wood from a red oak I milled for lumber with my son.

So far I have split a 2x4 section of oak and started channeling to let the hatchet handle fit into. I finished one half today and will do the other tomorrow. It has been unpleasant to say the least using chisels. I have a router and thought of it after I had finished the half, but I got to thinking, how would it have been done in the old days. (Probably no one piece handle/ax in the old days) I started a machete a long time ago and stalled on the same thing. I will file and sand to contour the outside when all is done.

Any input here? Also, I want to rivet or pin the halves. What would look good with the red oak? Red brass?

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Check out BP1012 'Making Hammer Handles' by Uri Hofi, he uses an abrasive belt exclusivly

A sharp wood rasp removes a lot of material is a predicable fashion. It works well cross-grain. A draw knife works well with the grain but it needs to be very sharp and it only cuts it one direction with the grain depending on the run, you'll learn soon enough.

I think yellow brass would make fine pin. I would countersink them, too, so the surface could be ground flush. I would also use an adhesive between the steel and wood. I've been using epoxy for a long time for it's strength, but I read that Uri Hofi uses sikaflex, a marine bedding compound that remains resilient after it cures, and that makes sense. I'm going to try it in the future, or maybe 3M's 5200 that cleans up with mineral spirits before it cures.

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I think most woodwork was done in the green in the old days... sharp tools (knives, chisels, axes etc.) go through green wood so much easier than seasoned. Also, a good knowledge of the advantages of different species of wood would have been standard; what's easier to carve, what to split etc. etc.

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My boy and I made a machete last week from a big sawblade. We used a piece of broken axehandle (hickory) for the handle scales. We counter sunk and used copper rivets. The copper was malleable enough to fill the countersunk hole pretty easily. One thing we learned the hard way was to use little nuts and bolts in the vacant holes to keep the handles tight while doing the riveting. Do a trial run with your brass rivets, some brass would rather crumble than peen over.

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As you mentioned you could use a router. Maybe a dremel. Or you could burn it. Make a piece of scrap the same shape as the tang on the hatchet, make it hot, burn into handle, scrape away burnt material. Repeat as needed. Get the camera out and give us voyeurs a couple of shots on how it worked out.

good luck, Harry

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