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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]


9 Responses to Build Your Own Axe — The Easy Way

  1. Ben says:

    This looks fun. but $140 seems pretty expensive for the kit I bet you could find a decent hatchet head at a flea market for less then $5. plus an oak board for another $5. that leaves $130 for a jigsaw and a some whittleing tools

  2. Cameron Watt says:

    Send it back! That lower handle has some heartwood in it!

    $140 for a hand forged axe head and two handle blanks? That sounds fair but the real question is would an axe from the hardware store better suit your needs?

    On handles:

    I fit my own tool handles but usually use store-bought ones. Some tools, like mauls, can be bought so cheaply that the few dollars saved in fitting a new stem don’t offset the labour cost of doing it…so a new one gets bought and the head goes in the pile of projects reserved for long winter nights…

    I have a question: Do you find that employees/coworkers who make their own handles baby them too much? Sure, it makes you think twice about abusing the tool when your sweat made that handle but I mean is do they seem to coddle it.

  3. Cameron Watt says:

    @Ben: The only tools I’ve seen with oak handles are wheelbarrows, cant hooks and johnson bars; never on striking tools.

    You can skip on the jigsaw if you have more time than money 🙂

  4. Kyle says:

    Yea there isn”t noway I could spend that much!

  5. Dave says:

    I’ve got a 200-year-old hammer that’s been through 7 handles and 3 heads.

  6. Cameron Watt says:

    @Dave: At what point does it become a new hammer? I figure that when you put a new head on, what you’re doing is getting a new hammer and salvaging an old handle….

  7. Joe C says:

    I have a very old and valuable axe, it was used by Abe Lincoln, except the head has been replaced twice and it has had four new handles! (Sorry, Dave)

  8. Dave says:

    That’s all right, Joe, they used one of those cast-off handles for my hammer.

  9. JamesB says:

    You could get a used anvil and a bag-o-coal for less than that. I forged a drift for the socket, then hammered out a high carbon blade welded to a mild steel socket. It was a small throwing hatchet, but I had more fun making it than I would have had attaching a store bought head to a store bought handle.

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