Ax type and Ax wedge problems

Discussions about other types of tools, logging history, trail maintenance, etc.
PostsCOLON 22
JoinedCOLON September 9th, 2016, 8:23 pm
LocationCOLON Western Oregon

Ax type and Ax wedge problems

Post by DucksinOR » March 27th, 2017, 4:51 pm

Does anyone know what type of ax this is?
The only mark is a 4 stamped on the head. It is well tempered and is still very sharp after cutting the notch in a 52" Sequoia. It is interesting though because head is asymmetrically forged. One half is noticeably thicker than the other half and it does not look like it was ground that way later on. Is that normal?

When I got the ax (8 years ago) the last person had hung it upside down on the handle so the head would not stay on at all. I flipped the head over and rehung it but ever since then I have trouble with the wedge working its way out of the kerf. I have put a new wedge in the handle at least 3 times including an emergency repair in the field on Saturday when I had to make a new one with my hatchet. Do you have any idea why the wedge keeps popping out and how to fix it? I've use hickory, red oak, and pear wood for wedges.

User avatar
PostsCOLON 769
JoinedCOLON June 28th, 2012, 9:34 am
LocationCOLON Onalaska, Washington State, USA

Re: Ax type and Ax wedge problems

Post by Jim_Thode » March 27th, 2017, 10:48 pm

The "4" must be the weight, 4 lbs.

I wonder if the wedge could be glued in?? Or maybe us some swel lock or chair lock or linseed oil or glycol to swell the wood and make it tighter.

User avatar
PostsCOLON 717
JoinedCOLON February 19th, 2011, 5:27 am
LocationCOLON Northern Michigan

Re: Ax type and Ax wedge problems

Post by PATCsawyer » March 28th, 2017, 5:10 am

Symmetrically flared axes like that are called peeling axes. You see them in a lot of old-timey western logging photos. Does the handle and wedge completely fill the eye or are you leaving wiggle room on the ends? When you put the new handle on, fit it tight and let 1/4" protrude beyond the eye after you drive your wedge and cut off the excess. I typically don't use steel wedges, but one or two driven across the wooden wedge might help keep it in.

User avatar
PostsCOLON 100
JoinedCOLON November 16th, 2012, 11:24 am
LocationCOLON Gloucestershire, UK.

Re: Ax type and Ax wedge problems

Post by brianthehurdler » April 8th, 2017, 8:13 pm

When I'm re-hanging axe heads I look to cut the slot for the wedge about 2/3's the depth of the head and aim to have the wedge get down to the bottom of it. This means that your wedges need to be fairly long and slender.

Too slender, though, and they won't expand the slot enough to fix the handle in the eye. The result here, I think, would be that the handle would become lose in the head, rather than the wedge come out of the handle.

Too fat, though, and the wedge won't drive any depth into the slot and would only be in contact at the top of the slot. This might result in the wedge becoming loose.

So how slender should a wedge be? I think that it's largely depended on the width of your kerf. I generally use a tenon saw to cut my slots and to get a fairly narrow slot and I should think that my wedge is around three or four times the width of the fully open kerf (the kerfs do close up when you drive the handle into the head, so you need an 'edge' to the wedge to enable it to enter the slot).

Some people. myself included, use a couple of small, metal, wedges across the line of the wooden one. Others seem to reject this idea but I'm not sure why. Possibly it make extracting a broken handle easier if there is no metal in it.

I can't see any real problem with glueing the wedge, other than it might mask an issue with your wedging technique which would be better corrected.

Although hardwood wedges are generally recommended, people do seem to use softwoods successfully (see Dale Torma's post, also in 'Other General Discussion'.

Good luck next time,