This Firefighter Shows How to Make an Axe Handle That Never Quits
We’re going to learn how to retrofit a splitting axe with sheet metal to protect the handle from overstrike. Wranglerstar, a YouTube personality who covers a range of subjects related to homesteading, does a really good job in showing the process of how he fashioned a sheet metal collar for a Husqvarna hand-forged splitting axe. Overstrike is a big problem when splitting wood.
It doesn’t matter the quality of the handle or the disposition of the blade, eventually an overstrike will occur. And in the case of the Husqvarna splitting axe, unlike traditional splitting mauls, it’s more exposed to this tendency due to its smaller size. What makes this axe truly advantageous is it has an admirable splitting capability at far less weight than a traditional maul.
Husqvarna’s signature hand-crafted splitting axe proved to be a bit of a challenge for the Wranglerstar host as while it was extremely well made, it was not quite symmetrical. He lamented the fact that he hadn’t been able to add the collar before the axe head had been attached to the hickory shaft but alas – most of us are in that same predicament.
Taking a piece of 22 gauge sheet metal procured from a hardware store and tin snips, he meticulously measured out the dimension on the shaft before cutting. A good lesson learned
Husqvarna Axe Collar Creation
Taking a piece of 22 gauge sheet metal procured from a hardware store and tin snips, he meticulously measured out the dimension on the shaft before cutting. A good lesson learned here in terms of tin snippers is that red handles are for left hand turn cuts, green handles are for the right, and yellow handles for the straight aways.
Using a shot-filled soft hammer to prevent spreading the sheet metal, he carefully pounded that cut piece flat. Once it was cut to fit the near dimensions of the Husqvarna axe head, he then used a brass hammer to gently pound the sheet metal into the proper contour. Worth noting is that using brass – which is softer than steel – still lends power to gently pound the sheet metal. And, as with all metal work, it’s necessary to then deburr. For this project, he used a half round file. Once he placed the shroud back on, Wranglerstar then made use of a ball pin hammer to get the gaps to close on the back end of the Husqvarna axe shaft. A simple center punch marked the hole for the rivet and thankfully the rest was impeccably easy. Well, at least Wranglerstar, a sometimes humorless yet pragmatic homesteader/forestry firefighter, made it look easy.
Splitting Axes – Wood Handle Insert or Synthetic Overlay?
Anyone who chops wood on a regular basis understands the concept that it’s a devious amount of work to replace a handle. Sure, the handle replacement in of itself isn’t bad but finding the right wood, preparing it, sanding it and then wedging it into place can be quite the hassle if a round of bad luck keeps leaving you with split handles instead of wood.
What’s the alternative?
Well, the Fiskars X27 36” Splitting Axe marks the departure from using organic materials such as wood for the handle. Additionally, it uses a synthetic composite overlay to avoid handle splits. This has brought a range of reactions from wood choppers. Wranglerstar, himself, admittedly hates this style because the synthetic handle doesn’t do a lot of shock absorption – meaning your body carries the shock more than the axe.
Other lumberers, however, seem to have no issue whatsoever. One wood chopping enthusiast made his own thing where he shows how a hairline crack in the Fiskars X27, even with heavy use afterwards, showed no outward signs of spreading. That’s a marked difference from the usual trend with regular wooden handles.
Another guy who uses wood to heat his house reported that the Fiskars splitting axe held up well for all his requirements and seemed to do everything he wanted it to. And then there’s videos from other Fiskar users that show them using a Fiskars to take out a half a cord of wood in six minutes.
Worthy of note, in a price comparison of splitting axes of roughly the same dimensions and reviews, the Husqvarna 36” splitting axe usually costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $90 while the Fiskars X27 36” rings in at $60. Husqvarna has also wandered into the world of synthetic axe handle overlays versus traditional inserted wooden handles in what looks to be direct competition with Fiskars – a company owned by Gerber.
The biggest issue stemming from this discussion comes down to ergonomics – which one fits the right price, the right effect, for the right job? Would you rather fabricate a steel collar to save your favorite wood handle or just switch to a synthetic one? What’s your story and what’s your preferred splitting axe? Tell us in the comments section below.