Milling hickory for handles

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Forum topic by Slabguy posted 06-28-2016 09:00 PM 664 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 1917 days

06-28-2016 09:00 PM

I’m getting ready to cut down a couple of hickory trees in my yard and want to mill them to have a good supply on hand for making axe, hammer, shovel, etc… handles. What would be a good dimension to mill the boards to for the best usage. Also, what’s the best method for milling them to get the correct grain orientation for the handles (quarter sawn, rift sawn, etc…)? Thanks.

2 replies so far

View bold1's profile


305 posts in 1996 days

#1 posted 06-29-2016 01:25 AM

Your best handles are split, then milled along the split. That way you don’t go across the grain. As to thickness. You’ll need thicker if you are doing pick handles, thinner for hammers. I like to allow 1/2” over finish in the green split. If you’re doing shovels, its easier to steam the bend at the head, while the split is green. Then weight it or place it on a drying board with pegs to hold the shape while drying. A good split wooden handled hammer is easier to use all day long than most steel ones, as the split wood has a natural bounce that helps bring the hammer back up after the blow.

View HokieKen's profile


6298 posts in 1287 days

#2 posted 06-29-2016 03:33 PM

Never done this personally but I do know that, like bold1 recommends, you should split the wood and use the natural grain lines rather than sawing/milling it from full logs. Seal the ends up with Anchorseal or laytex paint immediately after splitting out your blanks to aid in even drying and prevent checking on the ends.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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