You will recall that I live on a family compound. Yesterday, I walked up on an axe in one of Poppie’s buckets that was filled with water. A dirty bucket of water. I thought to myself, “What’s he trying to do? Rust the axe?” So I asked. It seems that the axe head was loose and he was soaking it for a little while to swell the wood to make the axe tighter on the handle. So I asked, “Won’t it just get loose the minute the handle dries out?”
“Not right away,” he said. He’s a man of few words. I found numerous suggestions on the internet for fixing a loose axe this way. Poppie mentioned that the water would rust the axe a little bit and sandpaper or steel wool would remove the rust.
Woodtrekker suggested two other ways to fix a loose axe head – replace the handle or fix the wedge at the top of the handle. He said “many axes have a wooden wedge in the eye of the head, which stretches out the handle and provides for a secure fit.” He went on to say that in an emergency, you can hammer a thick nail or two into the center of the handle through the eye (he demonstrated with a photo) and spread the wood enough for a tighter fit. Poppie’s never had much luck with this method.
I did some internet research for you and found some other good axe and handle tips at Do It Yourself.