Hatchet: Using Mistakes to Your Advantage

I picked up this hatchet for $5 at a Flea Market with the intention to replace its rubber handle with one made from wood. I have a bunch of reclaimed British Columbia barn wood, and was going to use some of the termite-infested Oak I used for my Demolition Hammer, but it literally exploded in my hands while boring the hole; hilarious, but not helpful.

Choice #2 was some Cedar that had a beautiful and sappy knot at the end. Bored the holes, cut the mitres to accommodate the shaft curve, and then realized I made a mistake with the angles. No problem, I just recut them; but then realized I didn’t actually make a mistake and had fixed it into a mistake. Long story story, by the time things were ready the go the knot had popped out a bit, I had to swap pieces on the shaft, rebuild the knot with epoxy, and added a scrap piece of walnut to the top because it wasn’t long enough.

The shaping and finishing was really fun. There were some curves in the wood grain that helped sculpt the shape, and the amount of different textures made finishing really interesting. By the end of it, the mistakes became my favourite parts:

  • the feel of the Cedar is much better suited for this tool than the Oak
  • cutting too much off to resolve my “mistake” with the mitres gave an amazingly contrast at the curve, and adding the walnut to the top gives a visual stop point and makes choking up more comfortable
  • the knot exploding actually let me use a lot more of that wood, and the epoxy made finishing that part into something comfortable for heavy chops a lot nicer
  • I think it looks amazing


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