Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My New (To Me) Completed Hatchet

I was able to complete my hatchet handle the other day. I'm pleased with the way it turned out. It's nice to make your own tool handles because you can fiddle and whittle until it feels just right to your hand and suits your grip. I think hatchet handles are even easier to custom fit than saw handles; less worrying about the style of them. At least in my mind.

This was a fun little project and the first time that I've made anything useful from a piece off the firewood pile. All of the shaping and fitting was done with a hatchet, a drawknife at the shave horse, and a little work with a paring chisel. I don't have a decent spoke shave so even the fine tuning was just done with the drawknife, bevel down. The toughest part, not surprisingly, was getting the top of the handle that goes into the eye to fit well. This is made even more difficult when the  eye has sort of a bell shape to the inside as mine did. It didn't come out quite as tight as I'd have liked; I had to glue a small wedge to the back of the handle at the bottom of the eye section, but that  tightened things up significantly. With the hard part done, it was time to shape the rest of the handle to the shape I wanted. When I got it to where it felt good in my hand, I shaped the butt end by nipping the corners with a crosscut saw, eased the edges with a paring chisel, and smoothed it up with a bit of 120 grit sandpaper. I carved a B in the end of the handle with a v gouge just to personalize it a little and then put two coats of Tru-Oil on it. This is the same finish I put on my saw handles. I really like the look and feel of it and it couldn't be easier to apply.

After letting the finish dry really good for a few days, I cut a slot about 2/3 of the way down the part that the eye of the hatchet fits in, tapped the hatchet head on real well, and tapped in a wedge that I'd made from the same oak log the handle came from. This tightened things up nicely. Then I trimmed the excess length from the wedge and called it a finished hatchet. It feels good in my hand and I'm happy with the way it looks. I'll get a pretty good idea of how it works in about 12 days during my Joint Stool class with Peter Follansbee down at Roy's place. Very much looking forward to that.


Anonymous said...

Very nice handle. Looks like you can choke up on it easily. Do you feel in control of the axe head gripping from bottom to top? Are you curious about what Peter will say about your handle?


Jamie Bacon said...

Thanks Dean. When I shaped the handle I was more concerned with how it felt with my hand up close to the hatchet head than anywhere else, so it'll be real nice using it with a choked up grip. It's quite comfortable all along the handle, though I doubt that in use it will be gripped down low much.
As for Peter, I'm actually more interested in what he'll think of the hatchet head itself, as it looks to be very similar in shape and size to the one he always refers to as his favorite.

Derek said...

Hi Jamie,

Beautiful looking hatchet and're going to be the envy of the group in Pittsboro. Be sure to bring lots of water, it gets HOT down there....I took the class w/ PF last year and had an awesome time...but lost 10 pounds to sweat!


Jim Paulson said...

I agree with Derek that the hatchet and handle turned out beautiful. It looks like the Scandinavian style and although I have a fine traditional broad hatchet, I can see the obvious benefit to the blade curvature in hewing. BTW you are inspiration to anyone facing challenges and woodworking is a gift that often gives me peace. Nice shaving horse also.
Take care,