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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/892

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Ax-Handles Made to Order

The boss chopper wants his ax-handles made to suit him

���The wood must be straight-grained, free from knots and other defects

��Roughly shaping Making the opposite faces of the ax

the green handle handles as nearly parallel as possible

��AL THOUGH nearly all ax-handles are J-\ machine-turned there is still a local ck-mand in logging camps for the hand-made product. The boss choppers and sled-tenders are exacting in their requirements and pro\icle a good business for the professional hel\e-niaker who caters to their particular needs and whims.

Choppers generally use an ax with two edges or bits, one edge for clear chopping and the other for chojiping knotty places where there is liabilit\' of striking the ground. The handle for a double-bitted ax is straight and has a "nub" at one end to prevent it slipping out of the grasp. Though simple in design, the making and lilting of such a handle rec|uires considerable skill.

There is a knack in the choice of tree for ax handles. The wood must be straight-grained, free from knots and other defects, and natur.ilK- tough and strong. Medium-si/cd. thrift\' trees are ijnferred: and usuall>- only the butl-cul <p| some thirty-four inches in length is taken, as the remain- der f)f the tree does not possess the inherent strength and re- silience that years of resistance to the swaying action of the wind has imparted (o the portion nearc-i the gromid.

This bolt i^ <niartered, and from e.ich piecf the jie.irt is split otf, le,i\ ing no tr.iic to mar the clear whiteness of the sapwood. If a quarter is large enough for more than one hantiie it is divided accord-

���Finishing off the green handle nnd iwlishing it

��ingly. The bark is then hewed off and the piece flattened and roughly shaped. The final hewing lea\es the hanille i)lank "eight square," though strictly speaking, the cross-section of the handle at this stage is a flattened octagon.

The eight-sciuared blanks are taken to the shop, where all hewing irregularities are smoothed off with the draw-shave. This is followed by a small plane which makes the opposite faces as nearly parallel as possible. Two knobs are then left on the ends of the blank, one to form the nub and the other to form the part that fits into the eye of the ax. In ri'dncing these to the desired sha|>e the maker uses a crooked knife specialK- tlesigned for cutting ciir\es in woinl. He holds the handle in his laji and shapes the nub. This portion is made larger for winter use when the chojiiier's hands are mittened.

When the nub is linished the TOl of the h.mdle is sli,i\ed down, the work being done troni each encl toward the middle. Sonu' jirefer that the lower grip of the hanille bedeci- dedK (lattenetl. while others in- sist u])on a more roundetl form, ("hoppers do not w.mt their handles seasoned, as the dr\ing in, ikes the wood more brittle and ri-duces the flexibility. In <ir<lcr that the green handles m.iy be pro- pirK smoothed. howe\er, they are superlici- ally dried on wires over the stove. They are then rasped and sandpapered.

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