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Official blog for "The Register" newsletter; containing articles and updates from the ATC about stewardship on the Appalachian Trail.

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Flashback- Hanging up the Axe

by Robert "Bob" Proudman

Original article published in the June 1983  issue of the The Register.

“One of the worst things that could be said about someone in rural old New England was “that person keeps a dull axe.” A second sin follows logically: “that person’s handle is loose, split or broken.” For those who may be guilty of these faults and those who want to prepare their tools for a season’s axe cutting, limbing and splitting, ATC offers the following photo essay on how to get the hang of “hanging” an axe. The term “hanging” refers to rehandling an axe. This essay shows the step-by-step process for installing a new store-bought hickory or asd axe handle. The principles also apply to other important tools used in Trail work, including the pulaski, sledge hammer and even the old wood-handled carpenter’s hammer.

Hanging An Axe Step 1

1. Remove the old axe handle. Avoid dulling your saw against the metal axe head.

Hanging An Axe Step 2

2. Drill out the wood in the axe head to relieve pressure.

Hanging An Axe Step 3

3. Pound out old wood with a pin punch or cold chisel.

Hanging An Axe Step 4

4. Shape the new axe handle to the eye (hole) of the axe head with a wood rasp (shown), spokeshave or surform. Keep refitting the handle to the eyes until the new handle fits without force one-third to one-half of the way into the eye.

Hanging An Axe Step 5

5. Lengthen the cut 1” to 2” in the handle to receive a store-bought wooden wedge. Also cut a small pounding surface on the butt end of the handle by cutting one half inch off the tip of the handle.

Hanging An Axe Step 6

6. “Hang” the axe by fitting the head onto the handle and, while holding the handle in a free hanging position, pound the butt of the handle with a mallet. The inertia of the metal axe head causes it to climb up the handle with each blow of the mallet. It is wise to place the wooden wedge into the split cut before final pounding, to assure its placement.

Hanging An Axe Step 7

7. Pound home the wooden wedge. Avoid crushing the wedge by heavy blows.

Hanging An Axe Step 8

8. Cut away the waste part of the wooden wedge.

Hanging An Axe Step 9

9. To prevent hand blisters when using the axe, sand the handle and apply a linseed oil finish.

Hanging An Axe Step 10

10. If you have further questions, just axe.”


These links connect to more Axe resources provided by the USFS

An Ax to Grind
An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual

Robert Proudman


Robert "Bob" D. Proudman

Then: Trail Management Coordinator
2013: Director of Conservation Operations for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Now: Retired from ATC but keeps up as  Sidehill Contributor in The Register Newsletter. 


Leave a comment
  1. Bob Proudman | Nov 29, 2016
    Hi Elier Larson:

    I'd use a rasp, spoke shave or even a sharp chisel (carefully) to flatten the long sides even more so that when you're "hanging" the axe, ​the collar points don't start to act ​themselves like a inefficient chisels, curling handle wood away and impeding the axe head from achieving its optimal position.  Indeed, this curling indicates that you need to shave more ​in anticipation of the final set of the collar points. ​Thanks for writing.  BP 
  2. Elier Larson | Nov 29, 2016
    Any tips on a Jersey pattern with those little collar points? 

    Leave a comment