Axe Handles & Throwing Axe Handles
Top: Finished Racing Axe Handle Below: Rough Turned Racing Axe Handle
At Tuatahi we stock two types of Racing Axe Handle: Rough Turned and Finished.
Rough Turned – NATO Stock Number 5110 98 2075048: These handles have come straight off the lathe and have not been sanded. They are an oversize handle to allow for the customers own shaping and have not been shock tested.
Finished – NATO Stock Number 5110 98 2075049: These handles are finished off and ready to go into the axe (except for the final eye shaping). They are all shock tested before dispatch.
Axe handle eyes are now machined (apart from the last 25mm), just a fraction larger than the Tuatahi axe eye.
Throwing Axe Handles: These handles are ready to fit into throwing axes and are shock tested.
We have a standard size Racing Axe Handle, but we can do special sizings for customer requirements. Please do not hesitate in contacting us if you require special handles made to your own pattern and sizings. We are also experimenting with carbon fibre and laminate handles and will advise when these are available
At Tuatahi we have often been asked about the difference in Red and White Hickory. The following is a report we received from the U.S Forest Service in which their Forest Products Laboratory conducted testing. All of our test results here at Tuatahi have produced the same result.
Red Hickory as Strong as White Hickory
Usually only a small outer portion of a mature hickory tree contains white wood; the inner part, or heartwood is red. Many people think that this red wood is not so strong or tough as the white wood. This belief however, is discredited by actual strength tests made at the Forest Products Laboratory upon many specimens of red and white hickory. The tests show conclusively that, weight for weight, sound hickory has the same strength, toughness, and resistance to shock, regardless of whether it is red, white, or mixed red and white.
The belief that white hickory is superior to red probably arose from the observation that young, rapid growing hickory trees, which are nearly all sapwood, or white wood, generally have excellent strength properties. As the tree matures, however, this same sapwood is transformed into reddish heartwood; and a half million tests made at the Forest Products Laboratory have failed to show any change in the strength of wood of any species, due to this natural change from sapwood to heartwood.
A reliable indication of the strength of hickory is its density. That is to say, of two pieces of the same size and dryness, the heavier will be found to have the better strength properties. This fact makes it possible for large manufacturers or purchases of hickory handles or wheel spokes to inspect the pieces by weight and very rapidly and at small expense with automatic machinery.
The man who is buying only one handle will usually find a visual method of judging hickory more convenient and practical than weighing. A fairly reliable visual guide to strength is found in the proportion of summerwood appearing on the end of the piece. The summerwood is the solid looking or less porous portion of each yearly growth ring. It is quite easy to distinguish from the springwood portion of the ring, which is full of pores or small holes.
The summerwood has much greater strength than the springwood, because it contains more wood substance per unit volume. Wide bands of summerwood and relatively narrow bands of springwood, therefore, indicate a stronger piece of hickory than bands of summerwood and springwood of nearly the same width. The greater the proportion of summerwood in a tool handle or other piece of hickory, the greater will be its strength.
The number of growth rings per inch also affords some means of grading
hickory. Few growth rings per inch, as shown on the end of the handle,
indicate a stronger and tougher piece than many rings, provided of
course, that it is straight-grained and free from defects at important
points. Acceptable handles commonly show not more than 20 rings per
inch, although much good hickory will be found with as many as 40 rings per inch. More careful inspection, however, by weight, is recommended for this very slow growth material.
As a further guide in choosing a good tool handle, it is worthy of note that the best hickory shows an oily or glossy side grain surface when smoothly finished; also, when it is dropped on end on a hard surface, such as a concrete floor, it emits a clear, ringing tone, in comparison with the dull sound produced by hickory of inferior quality.
The adoption by the general public of these methods of grading hickory, in place of the worthless prejudice with respect to colour, would put an end to the wasteful practice of culling red hickory stock. When hickory was plentiful, this was a matter of seemingly little importance; but now every means should be taken to conserve the waning supply of an important wood, for which no satisfactory substitute has been found.