Guide to Making a Throwing Axe

Making a throwing axe is a fun and rewarding project that can be completed with a few simple tools and materials. In this guide, we will show you how to make a throwing axe from scratch. We will also provide tips on choosing the right materials and crafting the perfect blade. So whether you are an experienced axe thrower or a total novice, this guide has everything you need to get started.

First off, there are two major parts to a throwing axe the head and the handle. The head is the business end of the axe and needs to be made from a tough and durable material. The best option for this is a steelhead. If you know how to forge an axe head, then that’s awesome, but most axe throwers buy a premade steel axe head themselves based on what they have found they like.

The second part is the handle. The handle needs to be the right length and weight to balance out the head. It also needs to be made from a durable material that will not splinter or break easily. Most throwing axes use hickory, but there are a ton of options we will get into. Wood is a lot easier to craft into a shape than forging steel, so if you want, you cut down the wood to a shape you want. If you are curious about the different benefits of handle shapes, you can check out our blog on straight vs curved axe throwing handles.

Axe Throwing Head

Where to find axe throwing heads

The best places I’ve seen to find axe throwing heads are:

  1. Garage sales
  2. Estate sales
  3. Facebook Marketplace
  4. eBay

As axe throwing has become more popular, facebook marketplace and eBay prices have gone WAY up. So you are much more likely to find a good price if you go in person to a garage sale. After you purchase the axe head, you may have to restore it a bit. To help with the profile, shape, and edge, I recommend using an angle grinder.

Profile

The profile of an axe is the thickness of the blade. You can see the profile of a blade by looking down at it from overhead. Different types of profiles help axes perform specific tasks. A thick profile like a sledgehammer is good for splitting wood and durability, while a throwing axe will want to be thin so it can easily pierce wood with as little resistance as possible.

Having a thin profile will help performance for axe throwing; however, if an axes profile is too thin, it can lose durability making the blade more likely to warp or even break. When looking at axe heads, it’s important to ensure the profile is straight and hasn’t warped at all.

Shape

Depending on what you want to do, the shape of the head itself will change. If you want to throw axes competitively, it’s important to pay attention to the rule set of the axe head shape. For example IATF no longer allows bearded axe heads in competitive throwing.

If you are purchasing a premade head, then the only elements you really should change are the blade length by slightly cutting it down. I don’t think there is much benefit to actually changing the shape of the head.

Blade

I’ve talked about the different benefits that blade shapes can have for you, specifically curved blades vs straight blades for axe throwing. The most important thing when you are making a throwing axe is that whatever head you are using has a blade that you can restore no massive chunks out of it that could cause the end to break. Most edges you can bring back using sharpening tools, so as long as the axe has a mostly intact edge, you should be fine.

  • IATF blade length regulations state a blade needs to be between 3 and 4 inches.
  • WATL blade length regulations state only a maximum length which is 4 inches.

Weight

The weight of the axe head is going to change the feel of it when thrown. I have changed the weight of the axe I throw to much lighter because I feel like it gives me even more control and allows me to throw an axe more like a dart. I used to throw a heavier axe because I liked the feeling of letting the axe do the work. This comes down to personal preference although I have found that axes on the lighter side are easier to be accurate with.

  • IATF does not specify an axe head weight but does say the total axe must weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds with the handle.
  • WATL regulations state that the head of an axe must weigh between 1 and 1.75 pounds.

Handle

Handle length

Handle length for throwing axes affect the way they rotate, the shorter the handle, the quicker they rotate, and conversely, the longer the handle is, the longer it takes to rotate. This can affect how far away you need to be from a target to properly rotate and hit the target at that ideal 45-degree angle. Official rules state that handles need to be between 13 and 17 inches. The throwing axe I currently throw is 13 inches because I like the quick rotation as it allows me to get closer to the target, making my throws more accurate with less room for error.

If you want to find, your ideal handle length, start longer, then slowly cut down. You can always cut further, but you can’t reattach more wood to the handle. To test if you can choke up and place your hand higher on the handle, then try some throws out. This method will help you find the perfect length for your throwing axe.

  • IATF regulations state that the handle length has to be between 13 and 17 inches.
  • WATL regulations state that the handle length has to be between 12 and 19 inches measured from the top of the axe.

Rehandling an axe

Rehandling an axe is a relatively simple process that can be done with a few basic tools and materials.

  • First, if you purchased an old throwing axe, you will need to remove the old handle from the axe head. This can be done by using a hacksaw to cut through the wood or by using a chisel to chip away at the glue that holds the handle in place. A less elegant way to do this is just to use a hammer.
  • Once the old handle has been removed, you will need to sand down the surface of the axe head until it is smooth. You can also use an angle grinder to clean the axe head up.
  • Then, you create a small gap at the top of your new handle. This gap is where you will place a wedge to help the head stay attached to the handle.
  • Use wood glue on the wedge to ensure it will stay in the gap. With throwing axes, you must use an eye wedge or a pin to hold the axe head in place.
  • Place the wedge on the split in the wood, then use a rubber mallet to firmly set the new handle.

This process can be used on any throwing axe just make sure you use a pin or eye wedge otherwise, it won’t be legal to use in competitive axe throwing.

Type of wood

The type of wood you use on your handle will affect the weight and durability of your axe. The most common way an axe break is its handle snapping from the repeated damage that throwing an axe causes to the wood. Choosing the wrong type of wood could lead to you needing to rehandle an axe in only a few weeks instead of a few years.

I would recommend using one of these three types of wood:

  • American Hickory
  • Oak
  • Ash

American hickory is the most commonly used wood for throwing axes because of its strength, durability, and flexibility. This wood absorbs shock very well without splitting or cracking like other more brittle woods. Any of these three axes, however, are great choices.

The perfect axe for me

My perfect axe will look different than yours due to my personal preferences. But I think explaining my perfect axe will help paint a picture of exactly how you can think about making a throwing axe.

  1. Axe head: Axe gang axe head
  2. Profile: Slightly thinned out from the out-of-the-box version because it is a little on the thick side, but only slightly because I don’t want to lose durability.
  3. Axe shape: I wouldn’t make any adjustments to the shape of the head because I really like the style of the straight blade and shape.
  4. Weight: I would drop the weight of the handle by about 0.2 lbs to make the handle weight around 1/2 lb and the total weight around 1.5 to 1.7 lbs, so on the lighter side of legal regulation.
  5. Handle Length: I would want my handle to be between 13 to 14 inches I like my handles shorter because it allows me to get closer to the target with a quicker rotation giving me more control.
  6. Type of wood: American hickory since it is a tried and true classic.

Conclusion

Making a throwing axe is not as difficult as it may seem. With the right tools and materials, you can have a new handle attached to your old axe in no time. Or a new axe modified to your exact specs!

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About the author 

Cory