First, the obvious concern: Are you really “building your own” axe if you just install the head on a handle? Considering that anyone who uses an axe heavily over time will end up replacing a handle (or head) at one point or another, I’d have to say no. This would make a lousy purchase for an experienced axe man.
But it’d make a great gift for someone who’s on the way to being a bit handy. Think of it as a method of introducing someone (who you think has a bit of potential) to the world of owning and maintaining tools.
From the “Best Made Company,” this kit includes two 20″ pre-cut hickory handles plus a ready-to-go 6″ hand-forged head, all created by Swedish axe maker Wetterlings. Since the handles are cut to a “rough shape,” you don’t need any power tools (or related skills) to get started. Just use the included sandpaper to re-shape the handle to fit your desired grip, then install the head.
I know — you could make one of these yourself in no time flat. But remember that not everyone has the skill and tools. Put this in the hands of someone who’s already proven himself a bit (by, say, not losing the tools you gave him last year and maybe putting them to use) and you might encourage him to take the next step into the larger world of tools and toolmaking.
Pricing starts at $140, and sadly they’re a bit backordered. On the plus side, the website says they’re planning to include a simple spokeshave in the near future.
Wetterlings Axe Maker’s Kit [Best Made]