One of the weak points of an axe is the haft. The haft is the area below the axe head. An issue with the haft is if you happen to be chopping wood and you find a slightly rotten piece. Your axe head will go through it easily but the ring of bark and wood attached to the bark is solid still. So when the axe head breaks through it will smack your axe handle and mar and start to wear away at your axe handle (haft). In this instructable I will be making a custom guard made from leather to protect it.
Step 1: Tools Needed
The items and tools your will need for this project are.
1. Leather, I used a bag of scraps that I was able to get for 5 dollars.
2. Line, I used 65 pound test fishing line. It is thin and a dark green color that I like. You do not need to have waxed linen, or sinew.
3. Knife, I used my customer Kiridashi from Ecos knives.
4. The item you are wishing to wrap. In this case it is my Gransfors bruk axe.
5. Cutting Board, used so that you don't cut into your table.
6. Boiled linseed oil, I use this to keep my axe handle and tool leather hydrated so it does crack.
7. Foam, I used a old sole from a flip flop. I used the foam behind the leather when I am punching the holes for the lacing. It is easier to push through the leather and foam. I first tried just my cutting board but only a small portion of the tip of the nail went through. I tried some stacked leather but it was still quite stiff. I didn't want to be holding the leather as a force a nail through the leather because it might poke my fingers, and it isn't fun the first time let alone repeatedly. If you have a actual hole punch that would be best but I used a nail since it's all I had.
Step 2: Measuring
Wrap the leather around the area you are wanting to wrap and do a rough cut but leave room for more precise cuts later.
Step 3: Rough Cut
Once you have the length, you are going to want to take this time to cut any areas out that are in the way. Just do a wrap as tight as you can with your hands and use something hard to press the shape into the leather. The cut the shape out.
Step 4: Cutting to Length
Now that you are able to get the leather directly onto the wrapping area without any places bulging. You are going to want to line up the cut outs the way you want it. Once line up the way you are wanting, mark the middle where the crease will be. Once you have the length cut the way you desire, trim the excess off the top if there is any. On the last 2 pictures you will notice a slight slope on the horns where I trimmed mine to be under the hammer end of the axe.
Step 5: Punching Holes
I do not have any real leather working tools so I needed to improvise some way to lace the thread. A finishing nail works great for punching a small hole in the leather. I used a ruler with centimeters, every half of a centimeter I made a mark and that was the spacing I used for the holes. But depending on the type of string you use or what you use to make the hole you may need to allow more room. You will need to push it back through before you use the thread because it will start to close but it is quite easy after the initial hole has been made.
Step 6: Putting It All Together
You can use the linseed oil and a rag and wipe the leather and handle with linseed oil. It will make the leather more malleable and when it dries will hold that shape better. In the third picture you can see I made an X pattern to start it. I put the string in from the outside, brought it up and through the crease and into the next set of holes. After the X pattern I laced it like a pair of shoes. To tie it off I used a square knot. Trim the strings and you are finished. The next step will be pictures of the finished product.
Step 7: FINISHED
When I finished I put an extra coat of linseed oil on the whole handle and the leather to keep it moist and let it soak in. Now just look at it and enjoy how beautiful it is. The linseed oil should be applied before storing it for winter so that it doesn't warp with the temperature changes.