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Best handle wood?

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Gavlar

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this from the Faithfull catalogue for indicative woods and prices:
1617199307434.png
 

planesleuth

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None of that lot. What do you mean you have no Ash? It's the only one to use. Try going for a walk.
 

--Tom--

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Ash. If you need some let me know and I’ll try and dig some out.

If he’s anything like me he’ll want a straight parallel handle so that you can hold it anywhere up the shaft.

Smithing handles are traditionally scorched finish. Helps with grip and stops it looking manky. But of linseed every now and again and all good.

Any wood that’s too dense will transmit the vibration and won’t be any fun to use.

Fruit woods can make nice handles but not for smithing, I’ve seen them on repousse hammers though, but then aggressively shaped to give the flex
 
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dickm

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Given the prevalence of ash dieback, would have thought green ash would be flooding the market! Of the woods readily available in UK, would be loth to use anything BUT ash for handle on a big hammer. As others have said, it's a complex balance between springiness, non-brittle strength and surface feel, and years (centuries?) of ash use in this context probably says it all.
 

Chris Brunton

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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?
If you're ever in the Hertfordshire direction, I've loads of Ash, quite a bit of Hornbeam (plenty in Herts!), a bit of Field Maple, Apple, etc. ...and Hornbeam is the English equivalent of Hickory. Apple or Hornbeam were used as the teeth for 17,18,19th Century cogwheels for watermills & windmills, hardwearing - ok for tool handles but nothing beats Ash.
 

stuckinthemud

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Wow, leave the thread alone a few hours and see what happens! Thanks everyone! I am off to pick up new handles for my spade and fork ( yes fork 'andles) and while there will see if they stock ash and/or hickory. Anyway in digging out my yew I found a small length of knotty ash I totally forgot was there, with one clean length perfect for the job, now nearly finished. So, a follow-on question. The ash is small diameter sapling, the grain in the head is semi circular not on the quarter: do I instal the wedge at 90 degrees or 180? Also, do I cut a slot for the wedge or just hammer it in?
 

dannyr

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How I do it -- after carefully rasping etc of the dry handle to fit the hammer making sure it will protrude from the top slightly, saw a half inch or so deep saw-width-only slot in the end on the long axis of the cross-section, make a wedge (dry oak along the grain is ideal) of an acute angle, then wallop the handle in to its final position (if I'm too late and it's already there, then a chisel can make the thin slot (remove no wood)). After knocking the wedge home as far as it will reasonably go, saw off the protruding handle and wedge a bit proud and then make a small chisel cut starter at about 45deg across the wooden wedge and handle end and, if you're sure the handle is dry and tight, ie will not move even for a smith, put in your final cross wedge of steel or iron. I then file the whole lot off to match the curve of the hammer end, but some leave it a bit proud for further wedge knocking after a bit of use.
 

David bonner

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Hummm don’t have much choice here but holly would do as it’s tough and is strong that’s my theory ok.😇
 

leisurefix

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I'm concerned to see Apple suggested, as is the only wood that I have seen shatter. Implies the wood cannot flex & is brittle, definitely not something you want in a handle.
 

David bonner

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Well you got you’re choice as of no ash or hickory but if I were me to pick the wood out of you’re selction as of mentioned before well me is holly nice white hard wood and strong to take the bashing and beating for a hammer head.😇
 

TRITON

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Hickory Dickory Dock.

Or straight grained or riven ash.
 

Stevekane

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Toolstation have a range of handles for sledge hammers and picks, around £6 or £7 I bought one and trimmed it to fit my wood splitting maul several years ago and its had some heavy use without problems. I suspect most builders merchants have them.
 

swb58

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20210324_151000.jpg

I thought this might make a good handle by the way it didn't want to break.
Anyone hazard a guess as to what species it is please?
 

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