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What is the best method for attaching a tomahawk to the handle? Slip on fit or install a wedge?

I just ordered a cold steel spike tomahawk that I intent to rework for a more period correct look. I do not intend to ever throw it.

Thanks for any advice.
 

DOUBLEDEUCE 1

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I bought a Cold Steel spiked tomahawk last year. It had a set screw in the side of the eye for the handle. I took the set screw out and bought another screw. I peeled the screw over and filled the hole in the side of the head. A little file work and the hole filling job disappeared. I did that because I wanted the ability to drop in a new handle if needed. I don’t throw the one either.
 
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Tomahawks are designed with the tapered eye to make a handle change quickly. They are also designed to hammer the head end of the handle on a rock or something to tighten them up if they get loose.

That said, on my carry hawks I grind a shallow internal ring inside the eye and a matching ring in the handle and set it tight in place with epoxy. This provides a hidden mechanical lock that works very well. Should I need to replace the handle just drill out the wood like any other hammer or axe.

On my throwing hawks I cross drill through the eye and the handle and install a roll pin or a steel rivet. I've yet to have one loosen up.
 
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Tomahawks are designed with the tapered eye to make a handle change quickly. They are also designed to hammer the head end of the handle on a rock or something to tighten them up if they get loose.
Bingo. Enuf said. Slip on is almost a necessity. If yer hawk is thrown the handle is bound to break. They all do eventually. Need a new handle? Order several at a time. In my opinion they should be considered disposable items. Also remember Frank's rule for t'hawk handles: 'the prettier and fancier ye make yer handle the sooner it will break'. DAMHIK :rolleyes:
 

Red Owl

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You could call and ask the folks at Cold Steel but it looks like a slip on fit. As others have said- you never have to worry about a wedge type fit loosening up.
 

Pietro

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My Cold Steel hawk was issued with a loose slip-fit handle, secured with a setscrew.

I first slightly shortened the handle length to my ergonomic druthers (17")

I made the handle a tight (but removable) fit via coating the inside of the handle hole in the head with a paste wax (release agent) before applying some epoxy to the handle head sides & sliding it home.

I filled the setscrew hole in the side of the head with an epoxied (threads) screw of the same thread size/pitch, flush with the inside of the setscrew hole, & cutting/filing off the un-needed exterior portion of the new screw flush with the outside of the head.

Be sure to use a carbon steel screw if you expect it to take a finish comparable to the head - I mistakenly used a stainless steel screw that kept it's shiny/stainless look until I decorated the head to camo it.

With a light sanding, the handle readily took the stain I wanted (MinWax)

I wrapped the grip portion of the handle with some tanned deer hide

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I'm going to take the epoxy advice and decorate my handle similar to yours. The goal is to have a connection that is as solid as possible.

I will post a before and after pic.
 
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Top one is my carry hawk with the hidden epoxy mechanical lock mentioned above, the bottom one is one of my throwing hawks with the cross drilled roll pin.

I expect the carry hawk handle to last a life time but changing it won't be any different than any other hammer or axe. Drill it out.

The throwing hawk I certainly do expect it to take some damage over time and I would probably want to refresh it at some point. Changing the handle is as easy as driving out the roll pin and fitting up a new one.

For new handles check out the House Handle dot com website. Excellent supplier for anything made by man that needs a wood handle.

Screenshot_20220708-174722_Gallery.jpg
 
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In my experience, I have found that if you fit the handle to slip in tight and then place the hawk head with the handle installed in a can of kerosene. The handle will swell as it absorbs the kerosene and is super tight. It also takes a good length of time to start to release and when it does just place it in the can of kerosene again.
 
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In my experience, I have found that if you fit the handle to slip in tight and then place the hawk head with the handle installed in a can of kerosene. The handle will swell as it absorbs the kerosene and is super tight. It also takes a good length of time to start to release and when it does just place it in the can of kerosene again.
Just don't leave it laying beside the campfire!!

Don't think I'd like kerosene wicking out onto everything that hawk touches either. Like my period correct leather shirt and belt. Not to mention the smell of kerosene belongs in the kerosene lamp.
 

Bighorserider

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There is an old but not very good trick to tighten handles by soaking them in water. It works but the water evaporates and it's loose again. If you use BLO it works and doesn't evaporate. I suspect this is the same for kerosene.
 
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There is an old but not very good trick to tighten handles by soaking them in water. It works but the water evaporates and it's loose again. If you use BLO it works and doesn't evaporate. I suspect this is the same for kerosene.
Yep, works as an emergency fix on hammers and axes when nothing else can be done at the time. Wet soaked handles though are prone to rot and will eventually break. I like to keep my handles dry and sealed from moisture, which is probably why I have good luck with my methods of attaching a hawk handle.

A tomahawk handle though isn't made like a hammer or axe handle. "Tight" relies on wedging friction to stay in place as the handle thins down its length. A hammer or axe relies on wedges driven in the top and swelling the wood out in the wider portion of the eye, trapping the head between two wide parts of the handle.

The simple fix for a loose hawk head is to just smack the head tighter by pounding the eye end, top, of the handle with another hawk, or strike straight down on a rock. This lasts for a little while but with no mechanical lock, and only the wedging friction, it will come loose again.

The entire theory behind this design was to allow the user back in the day to quickly hack out a new handle beside the campfire with his knife or with the tomahawk head, and replace a handle with no other tools needed.

So unless you simply enjoy replacing handles and can't wait until the next time you have to, why not just use what's available today and make a good tool less likely to fail you? Certainly epoxy isn't PC but if I didn't tell you about it you wouldn't know.

Certainly a roll pin isn't PC but I'll trade a handle that stays put long term over constantly tightening a handle up during a throwing session.

A small iron rivet peened over on the ends probably could pass for PC if it really mattered.
 

Red Owl

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You can wrap rawhide right under the head and part way down the handle- works well. On decor, they used to heat up a file and roll the hot file around the handle to give it a checked appearance.
 
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