i saw an old book a few days ago,that had a lot of tricks and tips for doing things around the farm.one was to tighten a axe head,first make sure head is tight on handle as stated earlier,then use a wooden shim drove in as tight as possible,then drive a thin nail through the handle,and the wedge on a angle. if you had a steel or metal wedge you could do the same but when the nail hit the wedge it would bendand sort of curve as you drove it,and lock in the wedge. old man that taught us boys years ago in school told us to use metal wedges only on hammers,and use a wood wedge on axes hatchets and things.according to him,a axe head is more apt to move as it sticks in wood and you work it loose,and a wood wedge wont make a groove in the handle around it like a metal wedge with ridges will, and work loose.i do know that most of the old axe handles you would see came with wood wedges,and most hammer handles came with metal as far as i recall. so there may be some reasoning behind this.best way ive found of keeping them tight is to simply keep one put up so it doesnt swell and shrink so bad.leave one out in a rain and it swells after it dries since the pressure has compresed the grain of handle its more apt to remain loose. years ago when every one used axes you would get a serious chewing out if a fellow found his axe outside.one thing to check,make sure if you have a handle with a wooden wedge,that wedge is not hitting bottom of slot in handle.if so either deepen slot,or cut wedge off so you can drive it deeper.
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