Are Leather Axe Handle Guards Worthwhile?

Discussion in 'Edged Tools' started by BradGad, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    I've been pondering these handle guards for my GB hatchets.

    Are leather guards worthwhile? Do they make the hatchet more comfortable or less comfortable for carving? How significant is the protection to the handle?

    http://reviewog.com/
     
  2. J. Pierce

    J. Pierce Perpetually Off Topic, Sorry. Supporter

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    I'm sure you'll get answers on both sides, but to me they are just decoration.

    I suppose they would prevent a scuff on an over strike.
    But if you're really good at missing, the damage will still be done.

    I'd never harass anybody for having one on their axe, but I see no reason to have one on any of mine.
     
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  3. Mr. Tettnanger

    Mr. Tettnanger Supporter Supporter

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    I’ve tried several variations on different hatchets/axes. I find them more of a hinderance than a help.
     
  4. Metaldog

    Metaldog Scout

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    As J. Pierce said, They help to protect the axe shoulder from an overstrike. The only other thing they provide is a nice cushion grip for your hand, should you decide to choke up on the axe and use the head for carving/shaving wood. The hand grip idea works best for a hatchet vs. an axe.

    To protect the shoulder form an overstrike, rawhide wrap or metal wrap works best. It will help to keep the wood from cracking or splitting. Either way though, an overstrike is an overstrike. Your axe will sustain some damage from it, even if only minor damage.
     
  5. Stophel

    Stophel Scout

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    I always saw it as being purely buschraft-chic.
     
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  6. GoKartz

    GoKartz Sharpaholic

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    I’ve found them to be quite helpful as I improve my axecraft. I’d rather damage a piece of leather on an overstrike than my axe haft. Personally I don’t like the look of them, but hey... it’s helped.

    The following picture will make sure people know I suck at axes and bushcraft, but just imagine what my poor handle would’ve looked like without it...
    F7450ACA-16A7-4E11-9ADF-6C105864E7D6.jpeg

    But instead... TaDa!
    CC3506DE-D0BD-4CC8-851A-896479572C7A.jpeg

    Oh and the nice thing about my leather bit is it slides right off, so I can remove it for carving.
     
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  7. Muleman77

    Muleman77 Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    I don't have or use the leather things.

    Splitting wood will eventually chew up an axe handle, overstrike or not. I just wrap the few inches below the head in friction tape on my couple main splitters. The tape gets replaced fairly often, as it gets beat up. The wood stays a lot nicer and the handles last longer.

    A real bad overstrike could snap the head off or crack the handle immediately either way.

    I can see the advantage to some protection at times, whatever you use.
     
  8. Not yet know

    Not yet know Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Handles are cheap and consumable..
     
  9. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    Gotta add somethin regarding handle width compared to the width of the head. Damage is inevitable wherever the handle is wider than the head. If your protective wrap is wider than the head, damage to the wrap is likewise a foregone conclusion.
     
  10. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    No, but they sure look good especially on a ladies axe.
     
  11. Kelly W

    Kelly W Love the Axe Supporter

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    They're purdy and I have several. I'd probably take it off if I need to chop with the axe it's own. Hate to tear up that pretty leather and if I miss and scare the haft, I can cover up the booboo with the guard. :)
     
  12. batmanacw

    batmanacw Guide

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    I use a piece of inner tube and nothing more.

    Leather guards, like the chewed up version above, make the handle thicker so it is sure to hit when you split wood.

    A thinner handle will do more to help prevent a handle getting chewed up than anything else barring actual over strikes.
     
  13. GKiT

    GKiT Supporter Supporter

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    Kind of like an axe man bun.
     
  14. MJGEGB

    MJGEGB Guide

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    Are leather guards worthwhile?

    No

    Do they make the hatchet more comfortable or less comfortable for carving?

    Less IMO, the handle shape is the most significant factor for comfort. A thick piece of leather is always going to detract from that IMO.

    How significant is the protection to the handle?

    Not very. Leather vs American hickory, leather looses every time. If you find you need something to protect from overstrikes I find wrapping some jute twine around the shoulder and soaking it in epoxy or similar will be more effective, cheaper, and thinner so as to not get in the way. Keep in mind the handle should be thinner than the head especially at the shoulder. Otherwise you end up with pieces of your handle missing just like my neighbors axe.
     
  15. Bax 40

    Bax 40 Supporter Supporter

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    I think they look cool but don't own any, have seen some real beautys., handles are made to be replaced any how!

    Larry
     
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  16. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    OK, I’m convinced.
     
  17. the cow

    the cow Tracker

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    They're useful for splitting or if you find yourself overstriking a lot. I ended up getting one for my father's since he seems more talented at overstriking than actually hitting the wood. I've always ended up sharpening the edge and rehanging it after he busted a handle.
     
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  18. Kona9

    Kona9 Supporter Supporter

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    Less comfortable. Looks kind of cool. I have been thinking of selling mine as it just sits.
     
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  19. charlesmc2

    charlesmc2 Scout

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    Just buy an Estwing and practice. I usually watch Youtube video reviews and come to doubt whether the evaluator's opinion is any better than mine based on their lack of skills. My baseline is memory of the older men when I was a kid. They could hit where they aimed so much better than I could (can).

    I think one of my problems is I think too much in terms of hitting hard rather than striving for accuracy.
     
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  20. leightyj2

    leightyj2 Supporter Supporter

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    Jute twine with epoxy coating. I use it on my pack axes. If you make sure the handle is still thinner than the width of the axe head including the wrap, it won’t get nearly as dinged up. Also skill with an axe will determine some of that as well. 867CAA5B-2809-4BB1-A21F-F7DC8252C21D.jpeg
     
  21. JD Miller

    JD Miller Scout

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    I rapped some para-cord around at the end of 3 1/2 lb 28" handle axe I use for splitting. It worked good but kept coming loose. Needs to be epoxied on , but I wanted to be removable
     
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  22. Ptpalpha

    Ptpalpha Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    You can use a piece of inner tube under the wrap to allow it to be removed even after epoxy. I suppose it even adds a little bit of extra cushion if you overstrike.
     
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  23. MadMarcus

    MadMarcus Tracker

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    C5117E91-FE73-4D2E-8C45-86E59C640200.jpeg Leather collars look cool but I don’t care for the added bulk. I like to wrap mine in heavy kevlar string soaked with epoxy. It still looks kinda old timey but it’s thin, comfortable and super tough. After a few years of use there’s no visible damage.
     
  24. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    I tape a piece of 1/8" thick leather against the face of the axe handle, just below the head. I use orange hockey stick tape. The leather protects the wood a bit, but over strikes, side swipes, etc. tear the tape up and eventually I have to re-wrap it. Is it worth it? I think so. I know that a really solid over strike will splinter the wood and ruin the handle, even with the protection. But lighter damage is absorbed by the tape and leather.

    Why orange tape? It makes it harder to lose my axe when I lay it down while using the chain saw, dragging wood to the trailer, etc.
     
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  25. BradGad

    BradGad Supporter Supporter

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    Hey @MadMarcus ... I clicked “like” on all responses as a courtesy to everyone taking time to give me advice, and I did get good advice. Thanks everyone! (Not gonna shell out for two leather handle guards.)

    But I do actively like this response and pic and idea!

    I’ve been using a GB mini/small for about six years, and it still looks fine, so evidently I’m not a total klutz who is hell on his axe handles, but this looks like a true enhancement to the tool. And, as you say, it looks cool too.
     
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  26. arleigh

    arleigh Guide

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    Part of the reason I come here is to learn how to do stuff ,
    One of the things I learns is carving a new ax handle ,
    It was fun and a lot easier than I thought .
    So what am I saying ?
    Ax handles being used ,are going to take a beating, and eventually need replaced, it's just the nature of the beast.
    I've rehafted before and it's no big challenge, really , but taking a stick and carving it into a shapely ax handle is a whole other thing.
    This is a marbles hatchet and the handle is ash. it is carved identical to the original .
    What i'm sayen is expect to rehaft your tools , it's a good challenge and a great feeling . DSCN4619.JPG
     

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