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Wood Ice Axe

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Project by Mark Shultz posted 01-27-2017 02:35 AM 759 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a wooden ice axe I just finished in anticipation of an upcoming trip to the Adirondack High Peaks. I’m not going to put my life on the line with it, but it can take a beating and it can certainly hold my weight (i made a prototype, shown below, and couldn’t break it with my hands when the axe was held in a vice.

It’s made from a pair of bent laminations, with the pick set into a curved daddo between the layers. I soaked, boiled, bent, and dried the strips, then epoxied them. First time with laminations. after boiling, there was 1/4” of spring back. after the glue up, zero spring back.

The steel pick, from Furnace Industries (who makes the only technically rated wood ice axe), has an unusually long stem on it. With the epoxy, this alone made for a fairly strong axe. For added assurance against shear stress, I pinned the pick stem on the inside with screws and more epoxy. They are hidden in the finished product.

The ‘finger rests’ help prevent your hand from sliding down the shaft; the upper one for when you need to choke up one it. These are both pinned with nails to give them extra strength.

Overall design copied from the venerable Petzl Quark axe.

Walnut with ash/cherry/ash center band. Home made Danish oil finish.

If i post a follow up in mid february, you’ll know it didn’t break on the mountain and kill me.





5 comments so far

View Slider20's profile

Slider20

116 posts in 276 days


#1 posted 01-27-2017 05:04 PM

That is so cool, awesome piece for the mantle.

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

17455 posts in 2943 days


#2 posted 01-27-2017 09:02 PM

Wow very interesting, Great work. A real beauty.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3467 days


#3 posted 02-25-2017 07:01 AM

It would be real interesting to see how this would stack up to the aluminium axes you see everywhere. It might actually be nicer to uses as there may be a bit of ‘give’ in the handle that may allow for a more effective bight into the ice. It would be interesting to see videos of this one in action :-)

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Mark Shultz's profile

Mark Shultz

90 posts in 2145 days


#4 posted 02-25-2017 06:44 PM

Thanks all.

Mark S, it worked like a champ during my last adventure. I did not use it on a long technical vertical ice climb, but did use it during a trip in the Adirondacks where there where several ice walls that needed to be ascended with axes and crampons. It can easily hold my weight. I refrained from taking too many hard hammer-like blows in the hard ice and instead focused on pick placement. It does have a little more give/flex than an aluminum axe, which I consider a plus. It is lighter than an aluminum climbing axe (slightly heavier than an aluminum straight shaft mountaineering axe). I think Wood feels better than aluminum, particularly when it’s icy cold.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3467 days


#5 posted 02-26-2017 06:33 AM

Interesting that it is a bit lighter. Glad to hear that the flexibility is a plus.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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