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Best handle wood?

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stuckinthemud

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I have to rehandle a hammer for my local blacksmith. It will have a hard life. I do not have any ash or beech or hornbeam. I do have apple, plum, oak, yew, cherry, hawthorn and hazel, holly and laurel. Clearly the yew and oak are bad choices. Which wood would you go with?
 

TheUnicorn

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I put a green hazel handle on an adze recently, as the existing handle broke and I needed to use the tool, thought it would break almost instantly but seems to have held up well
 

sneggysteve

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Hi

I've got some olive ash about 34mm thick if any use to you.

If interested send me a conversation - may not be too far away?

Steve
 

thetyreman

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I'd go with one of the fruitwoods, apple, plum or cherry, they are usually very stable in terms of movement and take finish very well and improve with age.
 

topchippyles

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Hi

I've got some olive ash about 34mm thick if any use to you.

If interested send me a conversation - may not be too far away?

Steve
I have a plie of olive ash now dry steve. Box wood is the best if ash is not available but very hard to come by
 

D_W

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apple or plum. Haven't used Yew, Hawthorn or haze. Apple and plum will have a nice smooth feel, and the others may also. If splitting of a handle could be an issue, then some sort of design to mitigate it is in order (a ring on a firmer chisel where it's struck and a ferrule toward the business end). It then becomes more about what it feels and sounds like, and how heavy it is (which is part of the feel).

Too hard, and the "clink clink" and vibration can be annoying. Too soft and unable to transmit vibrations and the feel can be off in the opposite direction - totally dead and limp.
 

dannyr

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I like all those choices for, say, a chisel handle --- but note that s-i-t-m wants the handle for a blacksmith --- has to be really tough --- I'd really look for some fast growth ash - if you're in the UK you should find enough for one handle easily - or even better American hickory, - I have reshaped more than one hickory pick handle with a broken end for a heavy hammer (make sure it's not split or rotted at all)

so, unless it's really light-weight smithing ---
 

Jacob

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You can buy an ash pick axe handle for a fiver or so. Enough to make two hammer handles.
 

stuckinthemud

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It's a heavy hammer and is the smith's go-to hammer, his favourite... so no pressure. But, I also need to make a new handle for my favourite carving axe. He repaired my axe in exchange for me repairing his hammer. Re-purposing a pick axe handle might be a good call. Might make one out of yew for practice and lamp seven bells out of it to see what happens
 

D_W

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Hammer, hickory. Ash would be ok, second to hickory. Make sure you take shape and proportion off of a handle the Smith liked, and if you don't have that to go on, off of a handle from a similar style hammer or photos of one.
 

D_W

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He said he hasn't any ash. We don't see hickory, other than pre manufactured handles.
Right, that's a suggestion to find some. There may be other handle materials in England, but I've never seen a substantial smithing hammer in the US that didn't have an ash or hickory handle. American hickory is sold in Japan - if it doesn't grow in England, I'm sure it shows up in tool handles there (and replacement handles in good orientation, intended for sledges, axes, picks, etc).

It's well enough thought of here that when we get hammers from China, they're usually made with wood that was exported to china from the US (almost always hickory).

The handle on a hammer (and the wood used) will have a big impact on feel, and a smith will probably notice it. A much different situation than the typical chisel replacement handle, etc.
 

raffo

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Are replacement handles for axes and such tools available in hardware stores in the UK? If so what type of wood are they made of?
 

spanner48

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I have to rehandle a hammer for my local blacksmith. It will have a hard life. I do not have any ash or beech or hornbeam. I do have apple, plum, oak, yew, cherry, hawthorn and hazel, holly and laurel. Clearly the yew and oak are bad choices. Which wood would you go with?
I'd suggest Hornbeam [also known as Hardbeam]. Very hard and tough; doesn't split. Used by people like Veritas and Lie Nielsen for their mortice chisel handles.
 

dannyr

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Are replacement handles for axes and such tools available in hardware stores in the UK? If so what type of wood are they made of?
Yes they are -- usually of American hickory for the big boys (sledge, pick etc) some of ash but you have to watch out for some of the cheaper ones being of beech (in my opinion not a great wood for a hammer handle) or some unknown. That's why I suggested making it from an old handle from pick or sledge or maybe buying a new one - not so cheap but I'd suggest a long new hickory sledge handle should give enough for one smiths hammer plus at least a lump hammer or a couple of chisel handles. Can't confirm wood, but I think I noticed Wickes having pick handles for a reasonable price.
 
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