Axe handle wedges
Some people just drive their new handles into the eye of their axes without putting any wedge.
But there is foreboding danger into that because the axe can possibly fly out from the handle and endangering other people nearby.
This is where the axe handle wedge plays an important part in securing the head of your axe.
An axe handle wedge is simply an object that is driven into the kerf of the axe handle to tighten its hold onto the hole.
Purpose and Function of the Wedges
When changing the handle of an axe, your main objective after removing the old handle is to put a new handle and secure it into the axe head.
So when you insert the handle, you make sure that the part of the handle that is inserted in the eye of the axe will be properly secured.
If you are to insert a wooden wedge you have to create a kerf.
The kerf is the space that you drive your wedge right into and you can create it by sawing off the wood at the middle parallel to the eye of the axe.
When you drive a wedge into the kerf this enables the wood to spread out and cover all the spaces inside the eye of the axe.
So the role of the wedge is to simply tighten the hold of the wood handle into the axe itself and secure both the handle and the axe head.
Without the wedge, the handle can easily loosen up.
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How To Use Axe Wedges
Expert says that there are two ways to use the wedges – single wedge for the middle of the wood or the combination wedge
which is driving two wedges either parallel from each other like train tracks or inserting a metal wedge right into the wooden wedge.
These types of wedging can prevent the wood from splitting and ultimately tighten the wood while covering up all the spaces.
And if you will pour carpenter wood glue or an epoxy resin over the top of the wedge this goes right into the smallest cracks and totally seal the wood.
Types of Axe Wedges
When choosing an axe handle wedge, avoid buying small hammer wedges that just look pretty.
Instead, find a large wedge for a single wedge or opt for the combination wedge.
There are different types and styles of wedges available to fit everyone’s choice.
We can find wedges made of plastic, aluminum, wood, and steel but we will focus on metal and wood wedges because these are the most common and more versatile and reliable.
The steel step wedge is the most common type of metal axe handle wedge in North America.
These are ribbed and so they bit well on the wood. They are also available in many different sizes and used mainly for combination wedge or for multiple wedging even without the kerf.
Swedish Style Metal Wedge
The Swedish style wedge is not very common but this type can save you a lot of troubles from changing your axe handle from time to time.
They are metal wedges with a 3-prong comb-like style so when you insert them into the wood its teeth separately goes deep apart and that gives the best hold on the wood’s fiber.
The Barrel Metal Wedge
The barrel wedge is the circle type of metal wedge that can put a limited amount of pressure on the wood thus they should be wedged into the wood by applying pressure on them.
The advantage of using them is that your wood won’t be able to develop cracks and they stay there permanently until you destroy the whole axe handle and replace it for a new one.
The British Style Wedge
The British Style wedge types are lined up with cleats so they can bite permanently on the wood.
They are used similarly like the step wedges but they offer better outward pressure because of their design.
Wood Axe Wedge
You can find lots of wood wedges for axe handles right on the web so it’s your choice on the kinds of wood wedge you need.
But then either the softwood or the hardwood can offer an advantage.
The benefit you can derive in using a wood wedge is that it gives the wood handle a more exact fit right into the kerf without forcing the sides of the wood out.
Also, in case you want to tighten the handle even more or if the handle gets to loosen up a bit you can drive a metal wedge as extra support along with a wooden wedge.
Other than these, the wood wedge also offers a more aesthetic value to the axe.
How To Use or Install a Single or Combination of Timber and Metal Wedge on an Axe Handle
Insert the end of the replacement handle right into the eye of the axe. Create a kerf depending on the size of the wedge you want to insert.
For a single wedge, saw the middle of the wood following the shape of the axe eye and create a kerf about ¾ deep the length of the head of the ax.
Drive the wood wedge as deep as it can go. This enables the wedge to provide force across the handle only.
For the combination wedge, saw off the middle of the wood as well to create a kerf and drive a wooden kerf in the middle and then drive a metal wedge right at the center of the wooden wedge.
This method put forces right into the handle in two directions.
You can also drive step wedges right into the wood without creating a kerf which is much quicker but the hold is not as tough as the kerfed handle.
Trim up the excess wood handle including the wedges that are protruding from the axe head.
For extra support, you can drive another metal wedge on any part of the wood but make sure you won’t crack the wood.
Seal off the top with a wood resin epoxy or carpenter glue to ensure everything inside the eye of the axe is sealed in and tightly settled.
If you want to see the actual process of axe handle replacement and how to install an axe handle wedge, there are lots of videos you can find on Youtube.