It is important that the axe handle is of high quality. The handle and the wooden wedge have to be very dry when fitting. If not, they will dry and shrink later, loosening the head. Another reason for a loose head is the incorrect use of the axe, for example hammering on or with the poll and deforming the axe eye.
Sometimes it can be difficult to remove the handle, as it is secured with resin or glue. However, never burn an old handle from an axe. The heat can cause the steel to lose its temper.
To replace a handle:
- Saw off the old handle close to the axe head.
- Drill out as much of the wood and glue in the axe eye as possible.
- Once the majority of the wood and glue has been removed, the rest can be punched out from the side where you sawed off the handle.
- Clean inside the eye of the axe with a knife.
- Lay out two pieces of planking to support the axe head and then hammer in the new handle. Make sure that the handle is secure and comes out a little way on the other side of the axe head. Check and adjust the handle so that you have your desired angle of alignment with the head.
- Put some glue in the wedge slit and on the wood wedge.
- Drive in the wedge as far as it will go.
- Saw off the excess of the handle and the protruding part of the wedge. Keep a few millimetres.
- Finally, hammer in a three-pronged iron wedge, diagonal to the wooden wedge. Iron wedges are not always needed and are usually used in larger axes.