how do you keep a hatchet from flying off at the handle?

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Forum topic by scottishrose posted 04-14-2010 09:54 PM 1308 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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110 posts in 2588 days

04-14-2010 09:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question blade rustic

I wish this post was about an ax, but I can’t find one of those in the stash, so it’s about a hatchet. I am trying to cut through the roots of an old cedar stump. I found the hatchet yesterday, used it for about 20 minutes and deciced it needed sharpening. That helped a lot! There is a wedge – looks like plastic or something like it. in the end of the handle. Every 20 whacks or so I gotta whack the head back on the handle or it will fly off. How do you get that wedge to go deeper so the head stays attached and is a lot safer to use? What tool do I need to do that?
Any suggestions from a “used to be boyscout” out there? or any one else?

16 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3098 days

#1 posted 04-14-2010 09:56 PM

I’d soak it in linseed oil over night, then use a slightly bigger wedge it that one doesn’t hold. Farm kid, not boy scout :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

449 posts in 2427 days

#2 posted 04-14-2010 10:07 PM

Take the head all the way off and see if you can get the wedge out of the handle. Most hatchet or axe handles have a slit in them the long way up where the handle fits into the eye of the head. If yours doesnt, cut one on the band saw almost all the way down to the botom of where the head stops on the handle. Clean out the eye if it’s rusty and make sure you put the head back on the right way. The eye is slightly tapered (the hole in one end is a bit bigger than the other, the bigger end is the top). Push it down on the handle as far as it will go. Cut a lightly tapered wedge shaped piece of maple that is as wide as the eye is long. Put some epoxy in that band saw cut and drive the wedge in as far as you can. Then get a couple of metal handle wedges at the local hardware store to put in across the top of the eye to expand it the other way.

Yes, used to be a boy scout, but did not fix an axe or hatchet until I was chopping the roots on a tree in the yard.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View PG_Zac's profile


366 posts in 2811 days

#3 posted 04-14-2010 10:31 PM

Just as Michael said. Also I was a Scout, but only needed to repair axes, hammers and hatchets until later in life. Use the metal wedges that have built-in barbs that keep themselves in place.

Depending on the amount of free play between the handle and the eye in the head, I sometimes use two barbed metal wedges and whack them in diagonally across the long axis of the eye. That takes care of wedge expansion along both the long and short axes of the eye.

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View flyfisherbob2000's profile


81 posts in 2409 days

#4 posted 04-14-2010 10:57 PM

Be careful of soaking the handle in any liquid. The handle swells, and crushes the wood fibers in the captive hole, then when the wood dries again, it is smaller (because of the crushing) than before. Barbed wedges may be the answer. If you live in a humid climate, its just gonna happen, wood swells & shrinks with humidity changes. I lived in So. Calif for the first 36 years of life, and was a carpenter there. I rarely had to re-handle my hammers there except for broken handles occasionally. Been in more humid North Carolina the last 20+ years, and find I sometimes have to re-handle my hammers every 2 years or so… the handles just swell & shrink…. sometimes wedges just dont help, not as well as a new, snugly fit handle to start

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2496 days

#5 posted 04-15-2010 01:20 AM

I have used a lag screw like shopguryl suggested and it worked great. But it was ugly. Another option is a wedge and glue. I used some gorilla glue and a wedge on a mallet I made years ago. It’s as solid as a rock.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View bladeburner's profile


88 posts in 2509 days

#6 posted 04-15-2010 01:36 AM

Axes, hatchets and hammers have their heads tightened by rapping the butt end of the handle smartly on a hard surface. If after re-setting the head a space appears above the tool head, then driving the wedge farther down will usually fix the problem for awhile.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


392 posts in 2444 days

#7 posted 04-15-2010 02:20 AM

I didn’t used to be a boy scout but I am lazy. Put aside the hatchet and use a sawzall with a pruning blade.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 2455 days

#8 posted 04-15-2010 03:32 AM

Anything can be fixed with Duct Tape.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3098 days

#9 posted 04-15-2010 03:35 AM

Not everything, sometimes you need baling wire :-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View SuperDave02's profile


138 posts in 2653 days

#10 posted 04-15-2010 04:06 AM

buy one of the super thin eastwings. Youll never go back to your old fat hatchet.

-- David South FLorida

View CaptainSkully's profile


1407 posts in 2980 days

#11 posted 04-15-2010 09:23 AM

The nice thing about a hatchet head flying off the handle is that at least it can’t hit the person swinging it! You don’t get that kind of guarantee very often in life…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 2588 days

#12 posted 04-15-2010 10:21 PM

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.
I wish I did have a saws-all or a band saw, but unfortunately those tools are missing from my collection as yet. before I went out yesterday I decided to resharpen the hatchet a bit and decided to soak it in evapo-rust for an hour while I was getting ready. To use as little as possible I wrapped the head in a paper towel soaked in evapo-rust and put it in a plastic bag. I then gave it a good sharpening on my Work Sharp – even getting out all the nicks.
Surprisingly I think the evaporust helped keep the head firm all day. I do think I’ll try those barbed wedges folks suggested as I don’t think I’ll use this thing a lot but it’s great to have a functioning tool when you need it.

View JJohnston's profile


1614 posts in 2713 days

#13 posted 04-15-2010 10:28 PM

Send it to anger management classes?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4408 posts in 3382 days

#14 posted 04-15-2010 10:31 PM

Soak the head, lag bolt, super glue, Gorilla glue? I don’t think so. You do that stuff and I don’t want to be anywhere near ya while you’re workin’. I don’t want this to sound like a slam, but re-wedging the head is the only way.


View David "Lucky Dawg" Brown's profile

David "Lucky Dawg" Brown

440 posts in 2414 days

#15 posted 04-15-2010 10:40 PM

or you could simply go buy a new one!

-- dumpster diver delux

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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