How to Prevent Axe Heads From Coming Loose

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Although many axe handles are well made, well treated and reinforced, they can still shrink and swell if they're made from wood. If an axe handle shrinks too much, the axe head can become loose, which creates the danger that the axe head might fly off with the next swing. There is a preventative step that you can take to stop the axe handle from shrinking, however. Just use this system to keep your axe handle saturated with boiled linseed oil, and you'll never have to worry about another wobbly axe head.

Things You'll Need

  • Axe
  • Electric drill
  • ¼-inch drill bit
  • Boiled linseed oil
  • Fasten a ¼-inch drill bit onto your electric drill. Turn the axe upside down and rest the head on the floor or on a stable surface. Hold the handle steady as you drill a hole about 2 to 2 ½ inches into the butt of the handle. The hole should be drilled straight down, parallel with the length of the handle.

  • Pour boiled linseed oil into the hole and lean the axe against a wall or in a tool rack so that it remains upside down. The oil will gradually soak into the entire axe handle through the pores in the wood.

  • Wait for the oil that remains in the hole to take on a waxy consistency. This will happen after a matter of hours. Once the oil has solidified to some extent, you may use the axe as you normally would, but the oil will continue to permeate the axe handle.

  • Check the oil level every time you use the axe or about once a month if you use it infrequently. Top off the oil level whenever it appears low. Be sure to allow the oil to harden before using the axe.

Tips & Warnings

  • This technique works because linseed oil will keep the wood well saturated for a prolonged period of time, reducing the extent to which the wood can shrink without weakening or rotting it. You can use similar techniques to solve other problems that are caused by shrinking wood.
  • Never swing an axe with a loose or wobbly head. It could come flying off with any swing, turning it into a deadly projectile.
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