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Homemade axe handle
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Skinwhittler    Posted 04-01-2002 at 15:17:04       [Reply]  [No Email]
any of you hillbillys ever fit a hickory on an adze - I mean right like? tell how you did it if you wouldn't mind none. SW

PCC-AL    Posted 04-01-2002 at 15:48:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi Skin,
I'm kinda more of a flatland billy cause we ain't got too many hills here. Anyhow, we made our own handles until we stopped needing them so much (about 1970 or so). I've got a fair knowledge of making handles, chair splits and most of the wooden things used on our place. However, I have never used a true adze, but I still have a real good one with the handle in it. Got lots of other old tools too. They all once belonged to my great grand-pap. Since I have never actually put a handle in an adze, I will be guessing, but I think I could do it. I don't think it would be that much different from an axe, hammer, hoe, rake or whatever. It shouldn't be too much trouble with all these new fangled lectric tools folks use nowadays. I still use a hatchet, draw knife and rasp. Takes a lot longer, but lots of room for correcting errors. What zactly is the problem you do be having? making the handle, fitting it to the head, taking up a little slack where you done whittled too much???

Skinwhitller    Posted 04-01-2002 at 16:17:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
How do PCC-
Problem I most have is gettin somethin in my way. usually somethin that can break or be broke.
so that would be it i'm guessin. what time of year do you take your hickory? what for a shavin horse have you got made up? me too on the old tools. uncles and g'pap. got braodaxe to handle too. have a odd growd hickory picked for it. thought to cut yet this spring an put them in the pond to soak up real good, then shave them out. have old spokeshave too that will finish up the particular parts nice like. figure that fall is the better time to cut out- but it ain't fall for a while yet, an I need them handles.
Use a Huskyvarna for the quick rough. that can get a fella in some sort of trouble too- 371XP
throws chips faster than I can, even if I use a 5 gal. bucket. well- appreciate you visitin with me about it. I'd like to see your shave horse. Mine hurts my back some bad. SW

DeadCarp - shavehorse    Posted 04-01-2002 at 19:02:03       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you're making axehandles, you must have trees around right? So find a handy, shady one and buzz it off at about waist-high. Now peel the bark off the stump so it stands out. Stack the resulting firewood and get ready to enjoy that stump cuz it'll do wonders for you. You can buzz a fist-wide tapered notch down into the top like a rear gunsight and cinch almost anything in there with a wedge and mallet. Wedge your axehandle in there and you'll be ready to spoke-shave the thing in no time. You can hammer steel bars straight and bend them with that notch. You can prop one end of logs in there while you're peeling them. At break time, set your thermos on there. Makes a dandy woods table or elbow rest for pickin off squirrels. Leave your tools scattered around it & you'll always know where they are. Yessir, you'll get 4-5 years out of that thing & then it's firewood. Where do you get all the stools and tools and wedges from? Maybe even an axehandle? The woodpile!

Almost forgot- when you work the handle down pretty close, instead of over-trimming, hacksaw a wedge-notch in it & let it trim itself! Just whittle enough of a taper on the end to START into the clean axehead - then take a healthy firewood chuck and start tapping it in - once it carries itself, let the head hang down and start soundly whacking on the grab end of the handle, and that head will defy gravity and just suck its way up that handle slick as can be, peeling back the shavings as she goes! Set wedges, hacksaw the yucky off and you're a woodsman. :)

Skinwhittler - man, what a great idea    Posted 04-02-2002 at 07:51:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sure do appreciate the way you put that out for ponderin. Like the idea of having a notched stump to work from. Might even put it in the shade on the edge of our front pasture. Got a groundhog problem out there. They don't mind watching you if you are about 200-300 yards away. As long as you make some kind of noise they just keep grazing. Can't open site them anymore, but man how they look with 12X.

Been using that trick of 'pounding up' a maul head onto the handle for some years now. Couldn't have described it a well as you did in your post.
You a retired carpenter? Been bendin nails some myself, or tryin to for 30 years or so. Started as a helper on a framing crew in 71.

Sure enjoyed your post. I'll definately notch me a dovetail in a good Hickory along the fenceline.
Count on that. Regards- SW

PCC-AL    Posted 04-01-2002 at 16:48:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
Howdy SW,
Don't know where you are, but down here in Alabama we generally cut the tree in late fall or early winter. Whenever the weather gets cold enough to let the sap drop. If you cut the tree in hot weather, it takes longer to dry and will often bow and be crooked. O.K. if you need to cut corners, heh heh. Couldn't help that one.
We didn't just use hickory. Used lots of ash too, but hard to find in real straight grain for chair splits. I've got a few real purty poplar on the ground let from the loggin crew making the road. Would make some bread bowls.
My old brain is foggy, but I still don't understand "gettin somethin in my way. usually somethin that can break or be broke" Run that by me one more time.
I think you'll find that the younger trees are easier to work with. It just needs to be big enough to split into quarters and make one axe handle from each quarter. Hammer handles, etc can be made from the waste.
Spokeshave is good too. I got an old one we used when I was a pup. Ashamed to say that I don't have a shavin horse. We just never had one and always used the old vise that daddy found before I was born. Seems to work o.k. but ain't fancy. Forgot to say, all our work was rough and we never made anything purty. Just wanted it to work good and last. If you like old wood things, I can tell you about a few we have had over the years. Good luck.

Skinwhittler    Posted 04-02-2002 at 06:39:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hey there PCC,
We're in southside Virginia. See the Peaks of Otter from kitchen window. Flatlanders though. Wanted to cut these handle blanks in the fall. Couldn't work it in, then I just forgot. Last week I broke 2 handles. Remembered then.
Can't seem to find any Ash, but I been lookin real hard. Plenty of Hickory. Thought I'd been told once that if you do have to cut handles in the spring you should soak them good before working them. Suppose they dry more even then, don't know.
What I meant about gettin in the way was that I've got to the point where I don't see the old splittin wedge as well as used to. Clobbered the maul off angle on the larger of my 3 wedges. Dang thing slipped down off the head and snapped the handle like a toothpick. Went to hardware and the new handles there look like there made out of a junk wood. Never seen such poor handles. Then a day later I backed the tractor over the 8# splittin maul and broke that handle. Got to diggin around and found a 2# hammer with a bad handle, a ball peen, a single bit axe, the old adze head, and that broad axe that my G'pap left.
So- got to get after them.
Got an old tractor seat that I'm thinkin of fittin to a shavin horse. Have a Wild Cherry stump with a 6" root about 4' long that I think might make a good vise head for it. Figured I'd better build a good one given all these wood handled tools that keep losing their wood. I like that idea of cuttin a vee in a stump and workin them that way. The horse is better suited for me. I work on this stuff at night, or on a rainy day.
The horse can be moved into the shed, or even next to the stove. Sure like that stove when its cold.
You mentioned that your handles weren't purty. Just as long as they are smooth enough to keep your hands from getting sore. Thats as far as I go with mine.
I'd like to hear more of your old wood tools and experience if you got the time to share it. Take Care- SW

PCC-AL    Posted 04-02-2002 at 07:22:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi SW,
It's been years since I was in your part of the country, but I remember it was pretty.
My great grand pap built the house I live in about 1850. It was a typical old southern home. Nearly all of the house was built with virgin long-leaf pine cut from the land. The sills are about 3 ft square and the aze marks are clear on them. The six columns on the front are solid and cut the same way, but more care was taken and only a few aze marks show. The wide pine boards throughout the house were sawn, but planed by hand. I suspect they were sawn on a steam mill. A lot of the original tools are still in the old toolhouse. Aze, broadaxe, left and right sharpened axe and hatchets, and lots of old cross-cut saws.
When I was a child all the buildings were roofed with red cedar shingles. We have lots of red cedar. I still have the froe for splitting the shingles, but no mallet. It was probably just a home made mallet anyway.
The old smokehouse still stands and has the salt-log in it. This was cut from a poplar tree 3-4 ft. in diameter and hollowed out by hand. It looks a lot like a canoe and is over 12 ft long. We used the smokehouse up until about 1960.
Still got the old two hole privey out back and double door carriage house.
Up until about 1990, the house was heated entirely with open fireplaces. Yours truly was in charge of cutting, splitting, hauling, stacking, etc, etc,. There are only two times when you are warm with open fires. It's either when you are toting wood or toting ashes. So goes it.
After my folks died in 1996 I restored the home and put gas logs in all the fireplaces so my real fires are out in the yard in a big syrup kettle. Anyway, we originally cut the trees with the cross-cut saws into 3 ft lengths. We split these with a wooden maul made from hickory or ash. The maul weighed about 30-35 lbs after it was dry. We roughed out the handle with a hatchet and smoothed it with a draw-knife and spokeshave. It was finally hardened in front of the open fire in the house. I still have a couple of these, but rarely use them. Steel wedges were used to start the split and a wooden wedge (glut) made from dogwood was used to finish the separation.
I could go on and on, but that's probably enough for now. By the way, I saw a shavin horse picture somewhere, maybe on tv, can't remember. Anyway, it didn't look like it would be too hard to build. If you can find any Amish folks, I bet they have some great ones you could copy. Enjoyed your posts.

Boo Cox    Posted 01-02-2003 at 09:32:16       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I am interested in obtaining information on how to build an old fashioned smokehouse. Any ideas on size, type of materials, etc. I have always been fascinated by these and remember my great grandpa having one when I was very small. Can't find any info or anyone to help me in this area. Any ideas, anyone? Thanks!

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