The next major transformation (after vinegar bath, initial polish and establishing the bits angle) is giving the hatchet head a body.
before i can even start the fitting, i first take off the mill's wax coating from the handle and smooth the entire helve with 3 grits of sand paper. i will be adding my own protective coating later on.
replacement handles come in only a limited number of dimensions
i have NEVER had one that just fits perfectly into a tool i am fixing right away.
in fact, this usually takes a bit of time to get to fit perfectly. with a bit of patience the results will be very rewarding. both sides of this tool are usable so i need to use straight 18" American hickory handles. my preference to an 18' handle versus a smaller one means greater versatility in reach and momentum. if ever a fine cut is needed just choke up.
the process follows these general steps:
1-reduce the handles eye wood so at least it can start to fit inside the head.
2-tap on the head a bit, remove the head and see where the rub on the eye wood is.
3-riffler the wood where the rub is and then do steps 1 & 2 again
|tight fitting hanging on the restoration of this carpenters hatchet|
4-eventually i will get close to the helve's shoulder. i really want the head to sit on the shoulders as much as possible. that thicker part of the handle will not only act a solid base to butt up against but will take the abuse of missed strikes better (when the handle hits the surface being struck). i also need to add here that carpenters hatchets are versatile strikers that are not one dimensional splitters. a bit of beef around the shoulders will be more beneficial.
sometimes i get handles that do not have pre-sawn wedge cuts. in this case i simply take a rip saw and make my own.
|ripping a new home for the wedge in the hatchet handle|
5-the final step is to wood glue in the softer wood wedge into the handle. i NEVER epoxy a handle in the head but i do add the wood glue for the wood to wood contact of the wedge and handle.
after at least 24 hours of curing time the head will go into its first linseed oil soak. this will condition the wood and help reduce wood shrinkage.
as wood dries it shrinks and this will happen no matter what after time. it is necessary to periodically condition the eye wood in linseed oil to prevent this.