How to Replace a Splitting Maul Wood Handle
If you’ve ever used an axe or splitting maul to split more than just a few cords of wood, then you’ve undoubtedly put some wear and tear on your maul and handle. And if you’re a seasoned splitter, you may have found yourself in the conundrum of a damaged handle in need of replacement – or even a fully broken one. Although this is mostly a problem with those who use splitting mauls with a wooden handle, some with fiberglass or other plastic handles may also need replacing. In this article we will show you some basic tips to help you replace your wooden maul handle so you can get back to splitting!
Removing the Old Handle
First things first – if you’ve got a broken or damaged handle, you’re going to need to remove it before you put the new one on. There are a few different ways to do this, depending on how your maul head is set on the handle and how the handle broke.
Typically what you will want to do first is just cut off the handle right up near the head to just get it out of your way. Use a hacksaw, reciprocating saw or other blade to do it quickly and easily. Obviously you’ll want some PPE like gloves, safety glasses and the know-how to use these tools safely. If not, get some help from someone more experienced with this sort of thing. When you’ve finished cutting off the excess handle it should look something like this.
Prepping the Maul Head
Once the handle is removed it’s time to remove the shaft inside the eye of the maul head. Again, the way you do this may differ slightly based on how your maul was assembled. The quickest and easiest way we have found is to drill through the top of the shaft. If you don’t have a drill or suitable drill bit available you can try to chisel it out with a hammer and chisel.
Some heads will have metal pins/wedges to help tighten the shaft against the head and so it may be more difficult. You’ll want to drill around any metal wedges in that case.
Once the shaft has been loosened up from the drilling, it’s time to pop that sucker out. Grab yourself a thick blunt object to use for a punch like a large bolt you may have hanging around your garage. Secure the maul head with a clamp or just hold it tight somewhere that you give the shaft some space to fall out. Give the bolt or whatever you’re using to persuade it out and head a few good whacks – it should just pop right out.
Prepping Your New Handle
Ideally when you are buying an axe or maul handle, it is made of a single piece of hickory or ash. These hard woods can withstand the beating they take from splitting wood. Try to also buy a handle that has no knots or imperfections, you want a nice clear and almost white piece of wood. You also want to avoid purchasing a pre-varnished handle. Using a varnished handle is a one-way ticket to blister city. Using some boiled linseed oil to cure the handle when finished is the way to go instead.
You’ll want to take your new handle and slide your prepped head onto the handle. If it doesn’t slide down all the way then you will possibly need to sand or shave away some of the handle in order to fit it on. Do so sparingly since you don’t want to shave away too much.
Wedging the Handle
You may have noticed that the tip of the handle will likely have a slit cut down the middle. This actually is called a kerf cut. We are going to insert a wedge into the kerf cut which will act to spread the handle against the inside of the maul head to apply pressure and keep the head secured properly, even when swinging.
Once your maul head is secured down the shaft as far as possible, you want to loosely insert your wooden wedge into the kerf cut just to make sure it fits properly. Once that’s good to go, take some wood glue and cover the bottom half of the wedge and re-insert it into the slot. Using a mallet, you want to push the wedge down as far as you can. Use a buffer like your old axe handle so you don’t risk breaking the wedge.
This video is a great resource if you’re unsure about the whole process.
Once the wedge is fully set, take a saw and cut off the excess handle and wedge. You can also sand the top to make it a nice and smooth if you so desire.
Lastly, to really make sure you safely secure the head onto your handle, you’ll want to use some metal axe handle wedges. Take one or two – depending on the size of your maul’s head eye – and hammer them into the top. Not everyone thinks this is a necessary step and in some cases you can actually split your handle as a result of inserting these wedges so we’ll just leave it at that. It’s a nice extra security blanket but it’s not necessary if you don’t want to.
And there you have it! You should have a nicely replaced handle for your splitting maul and can finally get back to work. If you’ve bought a new and unfinished handle it’s a good idea to give it a quick sanding to smooth it out and avoid splinters, and perhaps consider treating it with some boiled linseed oil or other such product to give you a nice weathered cure on the wood. Happy splitting folks!