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I Forge Iron

Sourcing wood for handles


Jobtiel1

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I used to have a sign shop across the alleyway from my house.  The would get pallets 10' to 16' long for their supplies.  I rebuilt the shed addition to my 1920's detached garage using oak for the roof joists all free from them.  Sheetrock also comes in on heavy duty pallets and also comes in 10 and 12' lengths at the better dealers.

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I bought a 5/4" x 4" x 6' piece of clear straight grain hickory from a lumber supplier who's specialty market was cabinet makers.

I make slab hammer handles similar to Uri Hoffi's but with a bit of taper from the head widening to the end. A slab handle is easy to hold without having to grip and the slight taper causes a reflex reaction to tighten your grip if it starts to slip. 

I have no idea what's available in the Nederlands but if hardwood is hard to find cabinet makers are who I'd ask in the search. THEY get their wood somewhere who should sell to you too. No?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Hi Frosty, That's a great idea! I'm going to ask around a bit, several wood suppliers for construction work I called didn't carry any ash, so a more specialised woodworker might point me in the right direction for a good local supplier, in the meanwhile I have found two ice hockey sticks I can use to make top tool handles.

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Construction building suppliers won't carry cabinetry lumber except in very limited quantity and selection. 

I picked up a bunch of broken hockey sticks at the local high school one winter, there was a garbage can full of them by the dumpster to go out with the trash. Hockey players aren't known for being easy on their equipment, ice rinks, each other, anything, they break a lot of sticks. All it takes is a crack and they're no good and they usually break at the paddle leaving quite a bit of good wood.

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 1 month later...

Well we have hundreds of acres of Pecan farms out here!  For Osage Orange I split it out of firewood logs from a tree service. For commercial handles:  Used to get them from a freight salvage place in Arkansas who sold "seconds".  They stopped carrying them; so next trip to Quad-State may include a visit to  House Handle Company in Cassville MO.  I always try to buy a bunch as they have to be seasoned for at least a year for the NM climate as kiln dried may  not  be dry enough!

Yard sales, fleamarkets---being able to judge a good handle's grain from a bad helps a lot!  Also ones with cosmetic damage in areas that will be rasped off to shape it for my hands.

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Welcome aboard Dueldor. If you fill out the header with where in the states you are it would be a little easier to answer that question. For instance i get a good deal on 5/4 hickory board at a store that is the only one in the country and even many locals do not know of it. 

If you want to make your own handle think outside the box. A sledge handle can make 3 hammer handles, along with wheel barrow handles, shovels, etc most of which are made of hickory, at least where i buy them. Most are carried by any hardware store including the big box stores. Hammer handles alone i have found are a rare find in these parts. You either have to order them from industrial supply or find a mom and pop hardware that actually still has them. 

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Yea I guess with a lot of tool manufacturers going to synthetic or metal handles wood handles are kinda phasing out. Thank good ness there are some who still use wood. I will have to check out some other tool handles I can modify. Sounds like a solid plan. 

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I can't tell the difference in use;  The Wood Database states: Pecan

Common Uses: Tool handles, ladder rungs, wheel spokes, and flooring.

Pecan has slightly lower strength values than some of the other species of Hickory, but it is still among the hardest and strongest of woods native to the United States. The wood is commonly used where strength or shock-resistance is important.

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I find an agreeable farmer who has bois d’arc growing on his place. I find a nice fat limb, remove it and cut it into manageable lengths to haul home. Once home I split it and coat the ends in paraffin (American sense of the word) or bees wax. I stack it in the garage for at least a year or longer.

Very sturdy wood. Bright yellow when new, but a rich, golden brown after a bit of UV from the sun hits it. No better handle wood to my way of thinking. 

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When i lived in Louisiana during hurricane Gustav we had a huge, and i do mean huge, pecan tree fall on the house. It hit the family room between the main house and the mother in law apartment. We kept a few chunks but we had no problem getting rid of that tree. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Using earlier suggestions, I've now used two hockey stick handles to make 6 handles for top tools.

Also I've gotten small maple logs that I plan to use for hammer and axe handles. I do plan to forge a claw hammer for my dad's birthday, and a handmade handle would totally complete that build.

Also, our local muncipality often lets people cut down trees that they want gone to use as firewood or whatever, I don't know how that works in America, but i might be worthwhile to ask around if people know they're doing that too.

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Good afternoon, I always save broken pieces of handles whenever possible, and even will pay a buck or so at yard sales.  You get a lot of hickory that way.  Shovels and axe handles become hammers, broken hammer handles become knife scales, and so on....

I'm not crazy about kiln dried wood, it seems more brittle.  Of course that may be because a lot of wood these days isn't "old growth" and doesn't have the same density.  Pecan, mentioned above can be tough as nails.  Try splitting it green and you'll see what I mean.  It laughs at the maul, and I've seen it break a hydraulic splitter.  I always waited a minimum of one year, and for preference split it on a day when the temps are well below freezing.

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I have a question regarding pricing for wood for handles, i have the opportunity to buy 70 cm (27.5 inches) long and 40cm (16.7 inches) in diamter Ash logs for 40 euros (48 dollars). 

Do you think this is worth it for good, straight grained wood for handles? this is an advert on a craigslist type site.

thanks for your replies.

~Jobtiel1

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Is there a local company that deals with trees: planting, removing, trimming, etc; they might have access to wood at a better price. And if possible I would suggest buying wood that was cut in winter when the sap is down.

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LeeJustice, 

I have, and there is one nearby, however, it only sells to businesses unofrtunately.

That's about it for the area, not a lot of trees around here to be milled.

~Jobtiel

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