Tomahawk - with a loose head?

Shane

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I bought an old fashioned tomahawk today and the bloke at the counter told me to leave the head loose. He said it would get stuck in place soon enough and that way, should I need to repair the handle; it would be a cinch.

To me it just feels stupidly dangerous. Opinions?
 

Corin

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I bought an old fashioned tomahawk today and the bloke at the counter told me to leave the head loose. He said it would get stuck in place soon enough and that way, should I need to repair the handle; it would be a cinch.

To me it just feels stupidly dangerous. Opinions?
Stupid and dangerous!
 

Gundy

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Ummm. Yep, that does not make sense.... ????

They are usually lose when you place them on a new handle, but they should be well bedded before use!!!!
 

Shane

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That's what I thought. I think I'll get on that right away....
 

Shane

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Bloody hell. Now there's a huge difference of opinions on the best way to attach a head. Thoughts on that?
 

Gundy

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I have always trial fitted, lightly sanded to take out the 'slack' and then dropped the head on and simply hit the bottom of the handle on the ground/bench to bed it in. Has not failed me yet. I know some people split or cut the top of the handle to add thin wedges (mainly to larger axes) but I have never done that.
I guess you could always bind it in with leather lace Shane, if your still a bit worried about it????
 

Templar

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My Coldsteel 'hawk uses a press fit to keep it attatched. They use a hydraulic press, at home I just slide the new handle through and lay it over my vice to support it, then give it a few goodly taps with a hammer and a scrap bit of wood to keep it in place, basicly until it starts to lift some of the grain above the eye as it was when I bought it new. Give it several coats of oil on the grain end to swell the fibres and off I go again... Works for me...
 

Bartnmax

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Yeah another can of worms I reckon.

Axe helves are not a 'one way fits all' subject.
It all depends on what wood is used & how the head is made.
With one head design a helve may fit perfectly using one particular wood/methods but it may not suit a different head.
Best wood for axe helves? IMO it would definitely have to be hickory but that doesn't mean other woods don't also make good helves.
Too hard = splits/spliters. Too spot = fast wear + breakage (+ splinters - I seem to get em no matter what bloody wood I use).
The best timbers are dense but supple timbers with fairly straight running grain structure & few, if any knots.
Most helves are best fitted with a tight wedge effect fit.
That is to say the handle should taper from narrower at the bottom to thicker at the top so that as the axe is swung in use the head tends to tighten onto the helve.
The basic problem is that to fit the head/helve together rerquires there be some clearance between the two.
However, excessive clearance can mean exacerbated wear & dangerous working conditions, so the helve needs to fit snugly so that the final fixing required is kept to a minimum. A really well fitted helve requires very little final fitting whereas a looser fit could require excessive fixing. The problem here is that increased fixing via epoxy etc also means increased chance of the epoxy failing with rather nasty results.
Many years ago, prior to the use of epoxies the helve was carefully fitted by hand to as close a tollerance as possible & then final fixing was achieved via a stopper or 'jam' wedge. The problem here is that fitting a wedge may require the helve to be partially split (depending on helve/wedge size required).
That means a helve with good elasticity is required. Hence Hickory was the preferred wood of choice.
These days helves can ve fixed with epoxies that basically make the fitting of wedges redundent. Great.
My own practice is to lightly drill shallow counter sunk holes in the helve where it fits inside the head so that the epoxy used can for a 'grip' of it's own on the wooden helve. This greatly increases the holding power of the epoxy. It's a bit like gripping the helve with a glove full of studs.
A little care does need to be taken that the counter sinks are not drilled too deeply & hence chance splitting the helve.

Bill A.
 
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