By James Price

The weather has been cold, rainy, and gloomy on The Ozark Border for days. It was during such times that my Pa would sit behind our old wood heating stove and make hickory handles for his tools. He would rough out handles outside but bring them inside for finishing them with a pocket knife, a rasp file, and bits of broken glass he used as scrapers. I well remember the sound of the scrapers removing narrow curly shavings from the hickory. I have been repeating over the last four days what I learned from him about handle making right down to using broken glass to put the final smooth finish on them. These axes will be used in demonstrations for The National Park Service within the next year.

These are two French axes I have hafted this week. They are my way of celebrating the French Colonial occupation of this region prior to The Louisiana Purchase in 1804. The top one is a little belt axe and the bottom one is a bigger felling axe.
I use steel scrapers made from table saw blades and pieces of broken glass to put the final smooth finish on hickory handles.
There is another French belt axe at the top of the photo and on the left is a big Russian felling axe I decided to haft. Three of the handles have been treated with brown dye to give them a bit of mellow color.