What type of wood should I use to make the haft?
Short Answer: ALWAYS select a greenwood sapling of some sort.
Long Answer: The specific type/species of wood is of less importance than the freshness. Dead/fallen wood tends to be too dry and brittle.
I have used all different sorts of greenwood to make hafts, ranging from young hardwood to Aspen, to random scrub trees and even large bushes. The key is to locate a sapling or section of sapling that is adequately straight and long enough for your intended use.
Another advantage to using the freshest haft possible is that you benefit from the natural compression which occurs between the two halves of a freshly split sapling. Like tongs, you will find greenwood will "pre-clamp" your Axxis before you even begin lashing. The compression pressure from greenwood should even be great enough that you can hold the hafted Axxis upside down before it has been tied, and it will not fall out.
*** NOTE *** Always try and locate a sick, broken, dying or otherwise ailing or unneeded sappling to chop down for your haft. It is never good to kill a young, healthy, tree. Coming from Colorado, I am very fortunate to have a steady supply of good haft wood as elk and moose frequent my land, and often leave broken Aspen saplings in their wake.
How long should my haft be?
Short Answer: A straight 18-20 inch piece of wood should be adequate for most general chopping tasks.
Long Answer: Different lengths are better for different purposes. But 18-20 inches will cover most of your needs. What’s most important, is the diameter of the haft. The ideal haft should have a diameter of at least 1 1/4 inches. If it is too thick, it can always be shaved down; Whereas a haft that is too thin will not adequately fill the channeled mounting wedge at the center of the Axxis, and will not keep the tool properly secured when chopping.
How can I quickly tell if a sapling is the right diameter?
Short answer: Use the Axxis triggers as your guide.
Long Answer: The best way to tell if a haft has the appropriate girth is to use the opening between the forward and rear-facing trigger as a guide. You will know that the sapling is thick enough if the diameter of the wood is just slightly larger than the space between the two triggers. For optimal functionality, you’re looking for a tight fit. When the haft fills the channeled mounting wedge adequately, the triggers should tightly brace off of the haft (both forward and back), and the edges of the haft split should nest snug into the shoulders of the mounting wedge.
Once I have chopped an appropriately sized haft, should I remove the bark?
Short Answer: NO!
Long Answer: The bark helps give your lashing cord better traction for securely tying the Axxis, and in my experience, the rougher the bark the better. Wood tends to be exceptionally smooth beneath it's bark, and while smooth wood can still be used, the lashings must be tighter and checked more regularly. I often use Aspen, and while it has never failed me, the bark is smooth and waxy (especially on young saplings) and I have to be more diligent with my lashing technique. On the flip side, if you find that the bark is too rough for your hand, you can certainly shave the bark off of the handle section, just be sure to steer clear of removing bark from where your lashings will be.
The only circumstance where you should remove bark from the hafting end is if the haft is slightly too thick for the Axxis. In this circumstance only remove bark from the area directly to either side of the split; just enough so that the Axxis barely fits.
What type of lashing cord and how much of it should I use?
Short Answer: There is no set type/or length of cord to be used. If you are in a survival situation, you use what you have.
Long Answer: You can use a couple of shoelaces, bank line, scrap fabric, whatever! Personally, I always use roughly 10ft of paracord and it has worked well for me. When you receive your Axxis, you will also find it comes with 10ft of 550 paracord. If you are doing a lot of chopping, you may need to replace your lashing material eventually due to the natural abrasion that occurs. It’s a good idea to have spare cordage for backup just in case.
How do I start my lashing?
Short Answer: Try a slip knot.
Long Answer: While there are a number of different ways you could begin lashing your Axxis to the haft, I prefer to first create a loop with a slip-knot on one end of my cord. I place this loop over the two halves of the split and slide it down so that it is directly above the Axxis before tightening it. The knot doesn't have to be anything particularly fancy. It just needs to securely tighten and hold the haft while you proceed to lay more wraps. Make a point to lay a few ultra-tight wraps over your initial loop/slip-knot. The additional coils of cord should serve to bury and retain the knot.
Is there a specific lashing pattern I should follow when hafting my Axxis?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: How you haft your Axxis is completely dependent on a number of factors including: the type of wood you select and the abrasiveness of the bark, the length and type of lashing cord material, the freshness of the haft, etc.
The key to a good lashing is to make sure that you wrap the haft as tightly as possible, applying even compression along the entire split. This is achieved by weaving the cord above, through, and below the Axxis evenly. Always check your lashing regularly to confirm that your Axxis is still secure and seated properly.
How long does a haft last?
Short Answer: On average a fresh haft should safely last 2-4 weeks.
Long Answer: If you regularly check your lashings and tighten accordingly, a haft can conceivably last much much longer. It is important to note that wood shrinks slightly as it dries. Because of this, you may find that your hafted Axxis starts to loosen (even if you haven't been using it) if it's been left to dry for a matter of days. Just re-tie, check your lashings, and keep on hacking!
Can I reuse a haft?
Short Answer: Possibly, but it isn’t recommended.
Long Answer: Greenwood always works best, but a good haft can last 2-4 weeks, sometimes longer. After this point, it will depend on the type of wood, but if you’re planning on doing a lot of chopping, it's always a good idea to cut a new haft.
Furthermore, a fresh haft that has retained much of its moisture content will be heavier than a dried counterpart. This added weight helps the Axxis to naturally bite deeper when chopping without necessarily having to use more muscle. That being said, I have reused hafts that are months old and fully dried, and they have served me well. In these circumstances, I lash my Axxis as tight as is humanly possible, and am VERY CAREFUL to check my lashings regularly as dry wood is more likely to crack/splinter.
Can I precut a haft and use power tools to machine a fitted slot into the top for the Axxis?
Short Answer: I wouldn't recommend it.
Long Answer: As previously noted, the natural compression of a fresh split sapling aids in securing your Axxis. If a fitted slot has already been cut and material removed, then you must rely solely on the quality of your lashing technique and the amount of compression you can create therein. I have never precut a haft or machined a slot in the top of one because this is not the intended usage. However, if you wish to try I would recommend that your slot be no wider than 3/16", and at least 4 inches deep. This will allow you to still get some compression since the top of the mounting wedge is a 1/4" thick, and there should be enough haft extending beyond the top of the seated Axxis to tightly pull the two halves closed (or as close to closed as you can).
Do you sell hafts?
Short Answer: No, not currently.
Long Answer: The beauty of the Axxis is that it does not need a haft to function as a hand axe (obviously), and it is further designed and equipped to make its own haft while out in the bush, sparing you from having to carry any unnecessary weight in your pack. As we all know, adventuring is awesome, but carrying heavy gear sucks!
Do you plan on selling a haft in the future?
Short Answer: Yes!
Long Answer: I have been working on a universal haft design for some time now. If I get it right, it will function properly with the Axxis, as well as all future "Axxis Technology" designs. Although I am not 100% sure, I believe the concept I am developing could even potentially be used to haft a flint or stone axe head if you were really in a bind! This design study still has a long way to go. However, I feel that I am closing in on an awesome solution.
When will the haft be available?
Short Answer: We're still working on this....
Long Answer: This is a bit difficult to predict as this is still a product in development. We also know that we want to have released a handful of Axxis Technology (haftable) blades prior to debuting the haft; otherwise, the notion of a "universal haft" which fits with all Axxis tech tools, would be lost.
Furthermore, the COVID pandemic has given us cause to reassess our development budgeting/timeline for all future products. Like all small businesses right now, we are attempting to plot the best course forward, which is exceptionally difficult since no one really knows how the chips are gonna fall. With this in mind, we will need to keep our efforts focused on blades for the foreseeable future, as this is strategically our best option from where we currently stand.
If there are any further questions you have that are not answered, please let us know in the comments below!