Picture of Make a Pick Handle from Scrap Hardwood
The same method works for making a handle for an adze, pickaxe, pulaski, or any tool where the head slides up the new handle and jams up on the large end of the handle.

Step 1: Get Wood

Picture of Get Wood
Don't forget firewood!  Check out your woodpile, I bet there's some good hardwood out there that's well seasoned already. Green wood is okay for a pick handle also. Green wood is actually a lot faster to work with hand tools. It will shrink a bit, but that's not a problem, the big blob on the end will keep the head from flying off. Try your park department or trees blown down in a storm.
Orchards prune a tremendous amount of wood from their trees. They all have to pay people to get rid of their wood.

Hickory and its relatives are the strongest woods that grow in the U.S., which is why they're usually used for tool handles. Ash is almost as strong and I happen to have some. Don't use softwood, it just won't last, and you'll get to make another handle. On second thought, go ahead!

If you're in the south or in Mexico, hard yellow pine is plenty strong although it's officially a softwood. That's why they use it to make ladders and floorboards.
In warm areas like that  invasive "ironwood" a.k.a. Casuarina, called "pine" in the Marshall Islands is great for tool handles. Shape it green and wet, it's very easy to work. Then throw it in salt water until it sinks. It'll turn very hard and a pretty red-orange color. The New Zealand Maori call it "Toa" or "warrior" because they make their fighting staves from it.

Here are some tool handles I made on Majuro Atoll. The axe handle and maul handles are ironwood.
I didn't make the small adze handle, but both adzes are cutoff pick axes. The rightmost maul head is breadfruit wood, lightweight so the neighborhood kids could help me split logs. The last photo is my pile of ironwood splitting wedges. Some of the wedges fell in the lagoon and when I found them again they'd turned into super-tough orange miracle material.

kelms14 months ago
Thanks for this !
It's just what I was just looking for
Thav5 years ago
Even with the swinging force outward I still have some axes with wedged handles whose heads try to slip down. The only thing that saves it is the handle has a lip  to keep it at the top. Have any problems with that on your pick? I wonder what's a good way to deal with that.
ilpug Thav2 years ago
You could wrap it with a few feet of baling wire, that works great
scavanger5 years ago
 The price of replacement handles is almost the same as buying a new tool sometimes.

Well worth the effort, nice job.
That's may be true but we don't think this is a matter of money. Anyway a custom made handle is something special. Forty years ago I made a new handle for a hammer that was of my my grand grandfather who was a barrel maker. Steel is good, probably puddle steel, the new solid handle too and I think the hammer will do it's work at least for another century if not nuke bombed. Anyway I bought a pretty nice 400 grams german style hammer last week. None of the hammers ever asked me to be fed. If you see a suitable piece of wood pick it up and store it in a dry place. A double handle carbon steel pulling knife is the best tool for handles and similar jobs. Make or buy one it before you need for, it doesen't ask any food either.
bowmaster5 years ago
Yo, balsa is a hardwood. Is it good to use? Nice instructable.
From my experience Balsa is quite soft.
Exactly. It is insanely soft despite being a hardwood. I can break a 2X6 with my bare hand.
Okay, thank you for reassuring me. I use balsa for model rockets.
That's a good use for it. Don't forget to fill the grain.
The primer does a good job at that.
CaseyCase5 years ago
After all that work you might want to put some boiled linseed oil on that bad boy to make it last.
Quote: "Picks tend to get left out in the rain, so I'll finish mine with linseed oil."
Thanks. I obviously spaced out and missed that line.

I do recommend boiled linseed oil over the plain stuff--boiled has metallic driers in it so that it'll dry in a reasonable amount of time.
Good to know. Thanks.
lucek5 years ago
nicely done. I remember a book about a guy that went to Alaska an did this with his tools to save space.
Sabata lucek5 years ago
That would be Dick Proenneke. The man was one of a kind.

American Hophornbeam and the various Hornbeams are also good choices for tool handles.
Stew25 years ago
 Nice job! I like that post mounted vice as well... Gotta get me one of those!
TimAnderson (author)  Stew25 years ago
Easy to make, the post is the base of a round cafe table, the vice just happened to fit almost exactly on it.
KnexFreek5 years ago
I always like making tool handles. 5 stars.