I had purchased a cheap hatchet at a local flea market but the handle was uncomfortable and a very loose fit in the hatchet head so it needed replaced. This was an exhausting project at times working only with hand tools but the final product was very rewarding and I am very please with how it turned out. The following instructable is of how I made a new handle out of walnut wood.
Step 1: Gather Tools & Materials
I made this project without the use of power tools and so it was a relatively cheap but time consuming project. I only had to go out and purchase $3.50 in materials to complete this project because of stuff I already had before the project.
-Boiled Linseed Oil
-General Purpose Saw (dovetail saw, hacksaw, etc.)
-Sand Paper (150 grit)
Step 2: Sketch Handle Profile
For this step I knew I wanted a handle that I could get a great grip on at the end of the handle for more power swinging. I also wanted to be able to choke up on the handle and get closer to the head and have a little more control for finer detailed work. So taking those two things and the previous handle design into consideration I settled on a shape that some what resembles a coke bottle. I simply free handed these lines on as reference marks to try and keep the handle symmetrical during the process of making it.
Step 3: Rough Cut Handle Profile
Once you have your handle design sketched out you want to remove as much excess wood as you can so that you begin to get a feel for the handles shape but also so that you save yourself from a lot of excessive file work. For this process I used a coping saw to cut first the side view that I had sketched and then the front view that I had sketched.
Step 4: File the Handles Profile
Now its time to start giving the handle its curves. I started off by drawing a new reference line down the middle of the handle so that I had a visual guide to help keep the handle symmetrical. Once I had drawn the center line I begin filing.
*If you attempt to do this entirely by hand like I did there will be A LOT of file work that will make you very tired*
I started by filing off the corners and then began rounding off the entire handle until every part was circular. Once the handle was circular it was just a matter of working it down until it was the size I wanted and it felt nice in my hand.
Step 5: Fit the Hatchet Head
This step is the most meticulous in my opinion but everything turned out fine in the end.
First I started by simply removing excess material and rounding over the head to get the approximate shape. I took great care to remember that it is easier to take away material than to put it back. Once I got the top of the head to fit in the axe head it was just a matter of testing fitting it, finding the high points, filing them down and repeating the process again. For this particular hatchet head I had to cut a curved recess at the top of the shoulder on the handle to allow the head to fit properly.
Once the hatchet head fit snugly I cut straight down the center of the handle. This is what will allow us to wedge the axe head on.
Step 6: Further Profile the Handle
The handle was a little thick in comparison to the hatchet head so I took off some of the excess making the handle flush with the sides of the hatchet head. I also refined the curve on the shoulder of the handle so that it fit the hatchet head nicely.
Step 7: Sand the Handle
I used 150 sand paper to take out any file marks and to smooth out any rough spots on the handle. I paid extra attention to the two main spots my hand would mostly be gripping.
Step 8: Cut Wedge
For this step I needed to cut a wedge that would be used to attach the hatchet head to the handle. My wedge is about a 1/2" thick at the top with a 2-3" taper. The width was cut down to be the exact size of my hatchet head eye. I used a speed square to mark where I needed to cut and I used a dovetail saw to make the cut. Once the wedge was cut I squared of the pointed end of it.
Step 9: Attach the Hatchet Head
First I applied boiled linseed out to the hatchet handle and to the wedge. Then I hammered the hatchet head as far on to the handle as possible. Once I was on I used a mallet and scrap piece of wood to drive the wedge as deep as possible into the wood. I cut off the excess handle and wedge with a coping saw and applied more boiled linseed oil to the top of the handle.
This is enough to hold the handle on but to go the extra mile in making sure the handle stays on I chose to use step wedges. I put two step wedges in the top of the handle and angled one slightly so that it would fit in the eye of the hatchet.
Unfortunately, I managed to break my rubber mallet in this process and now need a new one. I finished the process with an old sledge hammer head simply held in my hand since it has no handle.
Step 10: Oil Your New Hatchet Handle
I applied boiled linseed oil to the entire handle and hatchet head being sure to leave excess on the surface for the wood to soak it in. After allowing the boiled linseed oil to soak in I applied 2 more coats and then wiped off any remaining excess from the hatchet.