You know what it’s like, it’s cold and wet outside but you really don’t want to be inside, because, well, you need to do something more than pushing pixels, or you just want to hide from the boss for a while so the only real retreat is the shed and as there’s only so many times you can sharpen your secateurs (you did see our “how to” video, didn’t you?).

You could clean the shed but you did that last week (Hah!) so something nice and simple and not too brain taxing. The most obvious and often neglected thing is tool handle maintenance. 

Too often tool handles, timber ones at least, become old, oxidised, splintered and split and fail at the most inconvenient time (axe handles at the beginning of winter is a prime example). So, how do we look after them?

1 – Examine the tool, is the head secure, are there splinters or splits in the handle? And if there are take note of where, If the handle’s looking too dodgy replace it*.

 

2 – Clamp the tool into a vice, taking care not to cause damage to the handle, in this case I’m using a post vice with smooth jaws to not mark the handle, In my other vice I’d use aluminium jaw protectors.

3- I have a good supply of old grinding belts, in this case I’m using a worn 120 grit, if you don’t have grinding belts then cloth backed wet and dry paper (180-240 should be fine if using new) and sand across the grain (if you go along the grain you could get splintered).

4 – Work your way up and down the handle taking any small splinters off.

5 – Fill in any remaining cracks or splinters with epoxy glue (e.g. Araldite) and allow to dry.

6 – Sand back the dried glue till smooth and with an old rag apply linseed oil to the handle and allow to dry, once dry it may need another light sanding and another coat or two.

*I’ve got my eye out for an old axe head to show how to restore them and how to fit handles properly.