The wedge is an underestimated part of the axe handle. It is crucial for safety and stability as it makes sure that your axe head doesn’t go flying off of the handle. Whether you’re making your own axe handle or trying to refurbish an existing handle that you have lying around, knowing how to wedge an axe handle is a very important skill.
If you already have the woodworking skills to remove an axe head from the handle or make your own handle, wedging an axe handle should be easy. First, you need to shape the wedge out of your material. Then, insert the wedge and secure it.
The specifics will vary based on what material you use, so here is how to wedge an axe handle, explained in more detail.
Table of Contents
The first step in any project is gathering your equipment. Wedging an axe handle is no different. You will need:
- Material. You can use wood, metal, or plastic to make your axe handle wedge.
- Your axe handle and head, for assembly later.
- A saw.
- A hammer.
- Sandpaper (if working with wood).
- Protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles.
How to Use a Wooden Wedge
Wood is the most common material for axe wedges. If you have any experience with woodworking, it’s also the easiest material to work with.
The key is choosing the right wood piece to start with. Pick a decent-sized chunk of hardwood. You want hardwood because it is sturdy enough to hold up to the wear and tear it will inevitably experience as you use your axe. Hardwood is still easy enough to shape if you know what you’re doing.
Size is another important factor. While you don’t want to be working with a massive chunk of wood, you need to get down to wedge size, after all, you also don’t want to sand your wedge into shape only to realize that it’s too small for the handle. Err on the larger side because you can always sand down a larger wedge, but you can’t add wood to a smaller one.
1. Shape your wooden wedge
Then, it’s time to shape your piece. Make a wedge that is slightly taller than the axe head and fits well with the eye (you can get a professional to help you with the calculations). Use sandpaper to sand it into place.
2. How to create a kerf
When you’re making a wooden wedge, you need to create a kerf. A kerf is a narrow slit in a piece of wood, usually made with a saw. Make the kerf at the top of the axe handle. This creates a space for you to drive in the point of the wedge.
3. Insert the wedge
Finally, your wedge is ready for insertion. Angle the point into the kerf with the wider edge sticking out. Using a hammer, hit the end of the wedge until it drives deeper into the wedge. You’ll know it’s properly inserted when both the wedge and the handle feel completely secure in the axe head.
4. Secure the wedge
Finally, it’s time to secure the wedge. The wedge may feel stable after you drive it in, but you want to be really sure that it won’t move as you use it. Apply glue or resin to the edges of the wedge and let it dry according to package instructions. That will secure your axe handle with additional strength.
You can also clean your axe at this step.
How to Use a Plastic Wedge
Plastic wedges function in a very similar way to wooden wedges. You can carve or sand it into shape like the wood wedge, although you will need special plastic-shaping tools. As with the wood wedge, you need to carve a kerf and then insert and secure the plastic wedge.
If you have a piece of plastic on hand, using a plastic wedge is a convenient alternative to having to hunt down some wood. Plus, if you have access to a 3-D printer, shaping a plastic wedge is as easy as designing and printing it.
How to Use a Metal Wedge
Finally, you can use a piece of metal to make an axe wedge.
Forge a wedge by melting metal or pouring it into a mold. Or, you can use a hammer and anvil to shape a good-sized piece of metal into a wedge shape.
Shaping a metal wedge is harder than working with wood or plastic, but it is easier to insert. You don’t have to cut a kerf and can drive the metal wedge into the handle with a hammer.
If you’re making or replacing an axe handle on your own, you need to have a wedge for safety. You can make one out of wood, plastic, or metal.