Hi Paul, I don't know from personal experience, yet...
In the video, the author states that they don't last forever, particularly since they crack as they dry, and those radial cracks weaken the head and then it breaks.
However, it was free, and nearly finished once you cut... and literally "grows on trees", so there's plenty more.
My thought on a smaller head was rather than make a commander/beetle/persuader from a large whorl, that you could begin by splitting it radially (like it will in time...) and get four or five smaller billets with decent size branches for handles.
There's always the option of using hoops or something near the faces, to reduce the chance of splitting, but that seems like gilding the lily.
A big lesson here is the whole "dry peg in green wood" thing. But I am sorely tempted to include the idea ... although it does seem to require a list of standards (thick enough handle, proper shape of the head and handle ...)
Green wood is of oak cut off of a branch which was found over a bedroom with a metal roof and sleepless inhabitants. Handle is also oak and dry. Everything cut via chisel and the previously made mallet (which I must admit I liked better than a rubber head mallet).
I cut a piece of green round wood from a tree that had been recently cut down and found a dryer stick outside that looked like it had been laying there a while. Then I used a manual boring tool to make the hole into the green wood. I chiseled the end of the dry stick to taper it off. After, I bashed the dry stick into the greenwood using a club style mallet until it fit very tightly. Finally, I chiseled the bark off and cleaned up the mallet a a bit and I got the final product.
paul wheaton wrote:I kinda wonder for folks that want a super dry stick for the handle, if putting is somewhere warm for a few days would help. Or maybe "bake at 150 for an hour"? :)
To get my wood dry, I tend to stick it in front of my woodstove, or near it in some fashion (about 2 or 3 feet away, so it can't catch fire, but does get dry and heated). One could also stick it near their hot air vent, if they have electric heating (my vents push out barely hot air, so it's not like it's a fire hazard. Those with hotter vents, should distance their sticks further).
Walked up behind the fisher price house to cut off a small round from a tree that was cut down in December. Found a couple of sticks lying around, all dryer than the round I cut. Brought that all down to the shop where the clamp is and used a manual auger bit to make the hole for the stick. Didn't take much after peeling the bark off the end of the stick to fit it in nice and snug.