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Replacing Wood Handles for Striking Tools III


Usually, the best way to begin is to use a wooden wedge first. Drive it in and let it sit. Saw it, and any extra handle length, off. Let wood wedges extend beyond the top of the eye a bit more than the handle itself extends. Trim them flush with the top of the eye at the same time you trim the handle. Then, drive a steel wedge at near right angles to the wood wedge. This serves as a lock for both wedges and keeps the handle tight longer.

Recent reading suggests standing a handle, eye down, in a pan of linseed oil, overnight, causes the wood to swell. Wood swells because it absorbs moisture all right, but in the form of water, not linseed oil. You can stand the striking tool head in a pan of linseed oil and let it soak overnight as well. The linseed oil doesn’t harm the head’s metal, but does help (a little) protect the raw parts of the wood handle. Remove, wipe, let dry and use. You can go ahead and use the tool immediately after wedging and trimming, too.

What’s more, fiberglass handles are easier to replace. Make absolutely sure the head is cleaned out, much cleaner than with a wood handle. Simply use the emery cloth for longer, until bright metal is showing. Then, check the new handle for fit.

Fiberglass handles come with a packet of epoxy. Once removal and clean-up is done, follow the packet instructions carefully. There really should be no trimming needed to get a side-to-side fit. You may have to trim the length a bit.

The failure of heavier Striking Tools handles is often caused by over-strike, where the head misses the mark and the handle hits it, either damaging the handle or snapping it off completely. Wood handles can last many times longer with a simple sleeve shoved up against the head. Handle savers are a great help with larger striking tools, axes, sledges and splitting mauls. Find a piece of dense rubber, for a sledge or splitting maul, and use duct tape to wrap and hold it on the handle, just under the head. If nothing else is available, make a pad of duct tape and then wrap that in place. It will do for the time being.