The technology for making composite axes and hatchets has come a long way in the past ten years. But with all the advances and innovative features offered by fiberglass, wood axe makers like Gransfors Bruks and CRKT are busier than ever.

It’s hard to fault a well-crafted wood axe handle. They flex on impact, feel comfortable in hand, and look impressive. But that’s not all they offer, so keep reading as we reveal all the benefits of wood axe handles.

Are you researching axe handles? You may like to get the details on the difference between wood and composite handles.

What are the benefits of using a wooden axe handle?

Wood axe handles offer several advantages, such as comfort, balance, shock absorption, and the ability to custom-make the haft to fit your hand perfectly. They also last many years with proper care. Perhaps most importantly, a wood axe handle offers aesthetic appeal that other materials can’t match.

1. Eye-catching appearance

While an axe needs to perform, the tool’s looks can also greatly influence buying decisions. Wood axe handles have a timeless look that modern tech can’t compete with. With the right skills, an old axe can be restored to a work of art. Try doing that with a composite or steel handle.

While food lovers post pics of their latest cake or burger, outdoor enthusiasts show off their latest axe. Check out Axe Junkies over on Facebook if you don’t believe us.

A man resting on a log with a hand-crafted axe that has intricate carvings in the haft and head.
Some axes are a work of art.

2. Impressive comfort

A well-designed wooden axe handle offers impressive comfort that other materials don’t provide. If you’ve ever held a Gränsfors Small Forest Axe, you’ll know what we’re talking about. No matter where you grip this tool, it feels comfortable and well-balanced.

3. Personalizable

While steel and composite handles can’t be modified, wood axe handles are easily altered. A feature that’s a handy benefit as we all have different-sized hands. The helve can be planed and sanded down so that it’s a perfect match for the user’s grip.

A rustic axe wedged into a log with trees in the background
Old axes are a blank canvas for personalizing.

For safety and durability reasons, axe manufacturers often produce their handles a little on the large size. However, excessive size reduces swing accuracy and power and results in premature hand fatigue. Anyone handy with wood can reshape the handle for better results.

Hint: You may also want to read up on the ideal thickness for an axe handle

4. Shock absorbent

While composite handles have made valuable advances in reducing impact shock, wood also helps minimize vibration. Less shock means less wrist and shoulder pain, so you can keep swinging longer.

Choosing an axe constructed with suitable wood is essential. Varieties like hickory, oak, black locust, and maple are some of the best choices. They offer the right balance of spring, weight, and strength.

Are you interested in learning more about different wood varieties and how they impact flexibility, durability, and other variables in tool making? Check out all the top wood types for axe handles here.

5. Corrosion resistant

As you’d expect, wood handles are non-metallic and won’t rust like steel axes.

Some models also feature a powder coating on the blade, which adds a layer of protection against corrosion.

6. DIY-friendly

Repairing a fiberglass handle is tricky, so the whole axe must be replaced. It is a wasteful practice as the axe head is still perfectly fine.

Wood handles are often repairable. For this reason, survivalists, tool shed tinkerers, and eco-friendly types of people will likely prefer wood. If the damage is severe, remove the old helve and replace it with a new one.

A man working on the wooden handle of a hatchet
It’s much easier to alter wood axe handles.

7. Non-conductive

Wood handles are non-conductive, making them a safer choice for use around electricity. There’s less chance of electric shock. While this advantage won’t impact most axe users, some workers operate in dangerous conditions where safety is a strong focus.

8. Super grippy

Wood grain offers excellent grip no matter where the hands are positioned. Even in the rain, the tool feels secure throughout the entire swing.

An image of a man holding a wood-handled axe in the outdoors with some important benefits of wood handles listed in white text over the top
Some important benefits of using a wood axe handle.

What are the disadvantages of wood axe handles?

  • Susceptible to weather: Sweltering weather isn’t wood’s friend. Over time, the handle will crack or warp. Wet conditions also degrade traditional wooden axes and hatchets, making them swell.
  • Lack of standardization: While axe makers can produce consistent-sized wood axes, they don’t have complete control over the wood’s quality. It may have weak points or knots. Manufacturers produce materials like steel and fiberglass to a specification that’s more consistent.
  • Challenges sourcing materials: Sustainable, fast-growing trees are easy to find but don’t make good axe wood. Hardwood varieties are needed, like hickory or maple. Sadly, factors like urbanization, forest fires, and disease make them harder to source.
  • Maintenance required: While composite axes require little maintenance, the wood variety must be cared for. Splinters may need sanding, and wood needs oiling if you want it to last. Remember, whatever material handle you choose, the axe head will still need sharpening and upkeep.

Summing up

Axe handles made of wood have a range of benefits, including comfort, balance, shock absorption, and the ability to make alterations.

With careful maintenance, wood handles can survive for many years. But it’s the visual aesthetics of wood axe handles that many consider their greatest strength.

Are wood handles the best? That comes down to personal preference. Most axe forums and social media groups have big followings for wood-handled axes and hatchets.

Fiberglass axes last forever – you can throw them the hardest jobs, and they barely flinch. But there’s something about a wooden axe that is hard to put into words. They’re comfortable in hand and do an excellent job. There’s a reason that almost every” best axe” page published has multiple axes with wood handles on their list.

Ready to learn more? Discover the main advantages of using a composite axe?

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