Checking on my new hatchet handle day 2 ughh help

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Forum topic by jungleman posted 03-11-2015 01:12 AM 801 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jungleman's profile


2 posts in 594 days

03-11-2015 01:12 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood checking problems cracked wood checking wood problems question humor

Hey guys. I am new to carving. Cut this hatchet handle from a piece of hardwood from a green branch on my property yesterday. original piece was 2” wider all the way around. carved up nice with my hatchet then rasp file and sandpaper. was a little wet for sanding so i left it to dry in the basement over night to finish sanding today. low and behold a huge check across the handle. What did i do wrong? how can i prevent this in the future? cant invest all this time in carving if the woods just going to crap out on me. frustrated.

10 replies so far

View jumbojack's profile


1666 posts in 2045 days

#1 posted 03-11-2015 02:22 AM

Using. Ranches for tool handles is NOT the way to go. The pith in the center of the branch is not stable. Look at the end of your handle see it looks like a bullseye. Not good. You want some lumber with STRAIGHT grain. Look at retAil handles no bullseye.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 1631 days

#2 posted 03-11-2015 04:32 PM

Also, I don’t know much about drying wood but I don’t think overnight is going to do much good beyond the surface. That’s why people dry wood for months and years or kiln dry it to get it done quickly. Then they work it.

That said, yep, it sure is frustrating to put in the work you did and have it fail. I’ve got a 6’ kitty condo with spiral staircase that has fractured about half of it’s joints. Still stands, but it’ll have to be remade from scratch at some point.

View Hammerthumb's profile


2513 posts in 1396 days

#3 posted 03-11-2015 04:56 PM

Cool cats altendky. Mine wear bow ties!

Agree with both prior posts. Used dried wood and stay away from any wood with pith. Worst thing would be if you had finished this and it broke while swinging it.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4407 posts in 3381 days

#4 posted 03-11-2015 05:02 PM

I can’t add any more than what has been said.
No Green wood.


View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1772 days

#5 posted 03-11-2015 05:50 PM

What did i do wrong?

You used green branch wood. Next time use dry wood that has been sawn or split rather than a portion of the tree that is in the round form.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View jungleman's profile


2 posts in 594 days

#6 posted 03-11-2015 11:29 PM

Thanks a lot guys, that clears up a lot. I will use split wood with nice straight grains no pith. i love working the wood green, how do all those youtube vid guys keep those bowls from cracking i wonder. really appreciate the feedback. be well. id love to see the spiral staircase or any other interesting project.

View bondogaposis's profile


3969 posts in 1772 days

#7 posted 03-12-2015 12:06 AM

how do all those youtube vid guys keep those bowls from cracking i wonder

First they split them in half and then they hollow them out, totally different from your handle.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 1631 days

#8 posted 03-12-2015 01:59 AM

id love to see the spiral staircase

- jungleman

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2238 days

#9 posted 03-12-2015 10:40 AM

You can use green wood, people have been making ax handles on shaving horses out of green wood for centuries. But not a branch, you need to start with a bigger piece of wood and split it so that you get rid of the pith and a bit more. Then shape it but to a bit oversize, since it’ll dry a bit oval (shrink more in one dimension than the other), and especially make sure you don’t fit the ax head at this point (for obvious reasons). Stick it somewhere in your house that is not too hot and where there is some air movement, it’ll dry fairly quickly (way faster than an inch a year if it’s inside in a heated house in winter). Then do final shaping.
As long as you get rid of the pith there shouldn’t be any checking, this is way less complicated than drying green bowls, which have a lot of endgrain exposed. You can coat the ends of your handle with wax before you set it to dry for some added insurance against splitting.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1006 posts in 995 days

#10 posted 03-12-2015 01:12 PM

Bowl makers rough out the shape then bag and let dry for a few months,and they get cracking too.

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