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What is the best wood for axe wedges?

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Forum topic by BigJon posted 11-06-2015 01:31 PM 881 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BigJon

34 posts in 1471 days


11-06-2015 01:31 PM

Well the title pretty much says it all. I have a good friend that is a black smith, and makes quite a number of axes. So much so the local supply of wedges have been depleted and the quality of said wedges is lack luster at best. So I have been asked to make a couple hundred. What would be a good wood to make these from? Ash, oak, walnut, popular? Any advice? Don’t want to put a crummy wedge in a $200 forged axe.

Thanks!

-- Im bleeding, go get my super glue and roll of black tape....


17 replies so far

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3551 posts in 1229 days


#1 posted 11-06-2015 02:12 PM

Normally it is oak or hickory. Oak has the advantage of swelling pretty good with humidity. Some folks dip their oak wedged ax in water before using it.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4024 posts in 1813 days


#2 posted 11-06-2015 02:12 PM

I make mine from poplar.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

2143 posts in 1634 days


#3 posted 11-06-2015 02:21 PM

I think hickory is probably the best. Hickory is one of the hardest north american woods and very tight grained. It will drive in the slot and hold its shape. Poplar is too soft while it works it won’t hold its shape over the long haul and red oak being open grained again over time will compress and loosen. White oak might work as a second to hickory.
They dip their ax in water because the head is loose and the water tightens it temporarily. These same people use a single bit axe to drive metal wedges and round out the eye of the axe so it won’t hold an ax handle.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View bearkatwood's profile

bearkatwood

1198 posts in 473 days


#4 posted 11-06-2015 02:42 PM

Hickory would be my choice or a steel wedge works too.

-- Brian Noel

View Knothead62's profile

Knothead62

2581 posts in 2423 days


#5 posted 11-06-2015 02:45 PM

Steel wedge would be my choice.

View lndfilwiz's profile

lndfilwiz

90 posts in 1062 days


#6 posted 11-06-2015 03:40 PM

I use seasoned Black Locust. Just one step down from steel. If you every tried to cut locust with a chain saw you will know what I mean. Once driven into a handle and moistened it swells and takes a long time to shrink.

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View Bluepine38's profile

Bluepine38

3341 posts in 2547 days


#7 posted 11-06-2015 04:34 PM

I bought a selection of steel wedges at a hardware store quite a few years ago and I prefer them to
wood wedges, do not know if they are still stocking them, but it is worth checking out.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21997 posts in 1800 days


#8 posted 11-06-2015 04:48 PM

Eastern Hop hornbeam would work well also.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View BigJon's profile

BigJon

34 posts in 1471 days


#9 posted 11-06-2015 06:31 PM

Thanks guys I have all the above mentioned species laying around in one form or another. I will whip up a variety pack and see how he and his customers like them. Probably going to throw some Osage in there as well as I have just cut a mort for firewood.

Anyone know if there is a majic angle that’s holds superior?

-- Im bleeding, go get my super glue and roll of black tape....

View AESamuel's profile

AESamuel

61 posts in 684 days


#10 posted 11-07-2015 07:52 PM

Just some advice – don’t dip am axe in water, when the wood swells it crushes the cells and when it dries the wood shrinks smaller than it was originally and makes the head loose. Dipping an axe head on water is a temporary fix for a loose head but doesn’t last long.

View bearkatwood's profile

bearkatwood

1198 posts in 473 days


#11 posted 11-07-2015 08:22 PM

I have had the same ax in my family for four generations. I have only had to replace the handle three times and the head twice.
I agree with that black locust comment. I still have a big slab in my wood barn that I want to do something with, but I need a blade made from kryptonite.

-- Brian Noel

View jerryminer's profile

jerryminer

528 posts in 903 days


#12 posted 11-08-2015 09:00 PM


I have had the same ax in my family for four generations. I have only had to replace the handle three times and the head twice.
I agree with that black locust comment. I still have a big slab in my wood barn that I want to do something with, but I need a blade made from kryptonite.

- bearkatwood

What ??? If you replaced the handle 3x and the head 2x, how is it still the same axe? What parts are original??

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4216 posts in 1661 days


#13 posted 11-08-2015 09:31 PM


What ??? If you replaced the handle 3x and the head 2x, how is it still the same axe? What parts are original??
- jerryminer

I was thinking the same thing… and it reminds me of a movie I once saw, “John Dies at the End”, written and produced by Don Coscarelli (great watch if you like really weird movies :) It starts out with a guy who breaks the handle on his cheap hand axe from home depot, so he replaces the handle with one he buys in a hardware store. Later on, he messes up the head, so he visits the hardware store again and gets a new head. Then the question is posed: Is it the same axe?

Cheers,
Brad

PS: The title of that movie isn’t a spoiler… John doesn’t really die at the end :)

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View BigYin's profile

BigYin

347 posts in 1878 days


#14 posted 11-08-2015 09:35 PM

Hickory wedge and 2 barbed steel cross wedges
then soak the head in linseed oil for a couple of days. swells wood keeps water out

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4450 posts in 3422 days


#15 posted 11-08-2015 09:51 PM

I will NOT dip an axe head in water.
Don’t know where that idea came from, but I would not want to be anywhere near that fellow while he was working.
Have ya heard the term “fly off the handle”?
Steel wedges in my shop, and some glycerin to swell the wood fibers.
Just old school, but I’ve never lost a well seated axe head.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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