The 3 ‘Onces’ of Handle Oiling
One of the most important pieces of maintenance you can do for your axe, or any wooden-handled tool for that matter, is regular oiling. Keeping a tool handle well oiled prevents cracks and breakage.
Lack of handle oiling also contributes to the number one cause of axe retirement: loose heads. The end grain that protrudes from the eye of the axe head is especially susceptible to drying out, which causes the wood to shrink and the head to become loose. Once this happens, the handle or the primary wooden wedge must be replaced.
Oiling should be done even if the tool is not being used to prevent these issues in the future.
It is a simple task. First remove any excess dirt or grime from the handle. Apply a liberal amount of boiled or raw linseed oil to the handle. Distribute evenly with a cloth or rag. Allow the oil to soak in for 15-30 min, then wipe away any excess. Always dispose of oily rags properly, as they can spontaneously combust.
So, upon receiving a new axe or wooden-handled tool remember the 3 ‘onces’:
Oil up your handle
Once a day for a week
Once a week for a month
And once a month for year
Since handles are kiln dried to very low moisture levels before assembly, it’s important to oil them almost excessively when they are new. Subsequent oilings can be fewer and far between. Following these instructions should keep your tool handles moist and clean and ready for action.
Tradition has it that the relationship of the knife-giver and knife-recipient will be severed unless an item of some value (even a penny) is exchanged for the gift, rendering “payment.” A knife makes for a wonderful and lasting gift. So be it a Higo, a Hotta-san, or a Mercator, we just ask — for the love of your friends & family! — that you remember to collect!
The Holiday Deadline: Due to high demand of our axes this time of year we advise placing your order before December 12th. And remember! No gift beats a Best Made Axe: each one hand-finished and painted. Guaranteed for life, a Best Made axe is the most indispensable, virtuous, and iconic tool.
A Best Made Axe
For two decades C. W. “Butch” Welch (aka Cee Dub) served as the game warden / conservation officer along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. When we disembarked from our “squirrely” bush plane landing in high winds it had been nearly 30 years since the man had set foot back on that hallowed, dusty ground. What we knew of Butch had been learned through the pages of his cookbooks. So, on a windswept mountain top runway we saddled our horses, packed the cast iron on our mules…
Best Made Man: C.W. “Butch” Welch, photography by Nate Bressler & Peter Buchanan-Smith