Ax Handle Replacement
If you use an ax long enough, chances are that you'll need to replace a handle. The process is pretty easy in your garage with power tools, but what happens when you’re in the field? Misjudge your distance, accidentally strike the handle, and you may have a problem. How do you remove a wooden handle from the ax head? Follow these steps:
Replacement Handle: We highly suggest carving a replacement handle before you attempt to remove the existing broken handle. You may still be able to use what’s left of the broken handle as a stubby handle to cut your new handle with. When you find a suitable piece of wood to carve the replacement handle from, reassemble the broken handle to the best of your ability and use it as a stencil before carving.
Remove the Old Handle: When you have a rough new handle, it’s time to burn out the old one. Gather firewood and locate a safe place to build a ground fire. Wet the ground sufficiently before you start. This will help keep the ax edge cooler than dry ground. Bury the head in the wet soil and leave the wooden handle exposed. Light a fire and burn out the old head. It doesn’t need to burn to ash completely; sometimes, when it’s charred, the tolerances will give and it’ll push out with a dowel or log baton.
Fit the New Handle: This process can be done with a Swiss Army Knife equipped with a saw or with specialized gear like a rasp and a small folding saw. Fitting, aka “hanging,” an ax head on a new handle takes patience and time. Once you’re able to pass the new ax handle through the eye with some force, split the ax handle in line with the edge of the ax head with your saw. Use a wooden wedge carved from a good piece of hardwood to friction fit the handle in place. If the ax handle is properly hung, you won’t need to crack the wood grain with supplemental metal wedges.
Field-Ready Finish: Once your ax is handled, take the time to clean it up to make it more comfortable for use. Smooth it out by removing any knots or hot spots in the wood. If properly done, this handle will last you the duration of your trip.