Introduction: Plywood Inspired Hatchet Restoration

About: I'm a woodworker/maker on YouTube

This is an old hatchet I've had for a few years. It's seen a lot of action and it's looking a bit tired. It's time to show it some love.

Watch the video here:

Step 1: Remove the Old Handle and Clean Up the Steel

The old handle was made of rubber so getting it off was pretty easy. A heat gun and a chisel made light work of it. There were small pieces of it in the corners of the handle so to get those off I had to use a wire brush. This brush came in handy again later to clean the rest of the handle.

To lock the new handle in place I was going to use a combination of epoxy and dowels. I drilled 3 holes in the handles to accept 8mm dowels.

After the holes were drilled I went back to cleaning the steel going from the wire brush, to the belt sander, and finally 600 grit paper. This brought the steel up to a brushed finish.

Step 2: Create the New Handle

Using some hardwood scraps I cut 9 squares, 35mm x 20mm x 20mm. Each square got sanded to flatten it but also get it ready for glue.

The specific look I was going for with this handle required the grain change direction. This is how plywood is made. You can see the striped effect here.

I glued all the pieces together and used some levels to stop the pieces sliding around as the glue dried.

Once the glue had dried I cut the new piece in half down the middle.

Step 3: Attach the New Handle

Before gluing the 2 halves back together I flatten the inside of each half on a block of wood with sandpaper.

Now I could trace the outline of the hatchet handle onto the pieces of wood and remove the material using a router. You want to the fit to be as snug as possible but ultimately the epoxy will be doing most of the work.

The first half of the handle is glued to the hatchet using 5 minute epoxy. Once that dried I went back with the 8mm drill bit and drill holes through the steel and through the wood. Then I repeated the process, on the other side; route the inside of the wood handle and glue it to the steel using 5 minute epoxy.

Once the second glue up had dried I drilled through the wood, through the steel and through newly attached piece of wood. I glued some dowels into the holes and cut off the excess.

Step 4: Shape and Finish the Handle

When the glue had dried I sanded the dowels flush and used a big round-over bit in my router to give the handle a rounded shape. This worked a lot better than I was expecting.

To shape the handle I went back to the belt sander. As I went I worked out different methods to create repeatable shapes. Here I'm sliding the base of the handle along the table while moving the top of the handle down. As I got to the steel I would stop. This process could be repeated on all 4 sides.

I used boiled linseed oil as a finish. This great for hardwearing surfaces because it can be reapplied easily at any time.