Birch for outdoor tool handles?
White birch's comparative weakness renders it a poor choice for handles on tools that must sustain high impacts. 1998.
by Professor Gene Wengert
Is there any good reason not to use White Birch (betula papyrifera) for the making of handles of tools (ax, hatchet, sledge hammer, adz, mattock, etc.) for tools that will be used outdoors, and sometimes subjected to a bit of the elements?
If there is some tendency to decay, can this be alleviated with some kind of fungicide that isn't harmful to the human skin, or isn't absorbed through the hands and harmful to the human system?
White birch is not a very strong wood. Its impact strength is low, compared to other species used for impact handles. For non-impact handles (brooms and the like), white birch could be used, adjusting the size to achieve the desired strength.
Note: Birch will decay easily, but usually the handles would not be left in the rain, so they would not pick up enough moisture to support the decay fungi.
I know of no approved, safe fungicide. If you left the handle in the rain, it would likely come loose when it dried out.
Professor Gene Wengert is Extension Specialist in Wood Processing at the Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Click on Wood Doctor Archives to peruse past answers.
If you would like to obtain a copy of "The Wood Doctor's Rx", visit the Wood Education and Resource Center Web site for more information.
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: General
KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties
KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Woodworking
KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in
any manner without permission of the Editor.
Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.
335 Bedell Road
Montrose, PA 18801
Copyright © 1996-2019 - WOODWEB ® Inc.