Friday, November 5, 2010

Refurbishing an axe head.....or sort of.

Today in the News:  Axes remain Awesome.  Tune in tomorrow for more of the same news.  I'm always looking for guest writers.  If you're interested, please email me at .  Also, if you like this blog, go to the upper left hand corner and click 'follow'.  I certainly would appreciate it.  I'd eventually like to monetize this blog in an effort to be able to provide the readers and writers with rewards and contests.  The more followers I have, the easier that will be.  Again, thank you all so very much for reading.  This blog has already exceeded my goals.

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I was on the forum the other day and saw the work of a user that goes by "Gaga".  Gaga would take these axe heads and refinish them and, frankly, they looked fantastic.  So I axed (haha) Gaga what the process was.  Gaga replied, "elbow grease and sweat - wire brush on drill- naval jelly- some special grinder buffing wheels... i try not to grind of any markings and i do it on 2-3 axes in one session so i can interchange them not to overheat the steel."

Sounds simple, right?  Let's begin.

I had three implements that I wanted to restore; a brush hook and two axe heads.  One of the axe heads looked as though it sat at the bottom of a river for a few decades.  That's the one we're going to focus on.

Here they are -

This is the axe we'll be talking about -

Here is the Naval Jelly.  I had never heard of it before.  I know that you're thinking what I'm thinking........I don't think you're ready for this jelly.......I don't think you're ready for this jelly....enough with the Beyonce.  This stuff is pretty caustic and you should use it in a well-ventilated room with rubber gloves and safety glasses at the very least.

I put it on the head and spread it around.  I think the bottle said leave on at least 15 minutes.  The first round, I did about twenty.

I rinsed it off and gave it the scrubba-dub-dub with the wire brush, then the wire wheel on my grinder. 

Then I'd go outside and rinse the mud off.  I'm not gonna lie, I must be missing something.  I did the process at least 10 times and here's the result:

Better?  Yes?  As awesome as Gaga's?  Not even close.  Not sure what I did wrong, but I will, eventually, figure it out.  Maybe we can get Gaga to do a guest article. ;)  Stop by and search for Gaga.  There you'll find the goods.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.


  1. You got rid of the rust and are down to the metal, which is a great start. There's extensive pitting on that head, so it will take a lot of work if you want the head to be mostly shiny and smooth like gaga's axes. Maybe he'll chime in and suggest what to do next. :)


  2. Next step will be basically grinding the face down to a suitable point, probably not as far as removing all the pits. Where you are now the pits will provide a very rough surface to the wood, if your trying to split with you would have a lot of trouble.
    Get out the belt sander or flap wheel and get after it. Your going to end up with a lot of pits, but it should still clean up and be a usefull implement again

  3. Thanks Danny and bmatt. I was wondering if that was what needed to be done, but because I'm new to it, I just didn't know. I guess the next piece to the project is to track down a belt sander. Craigslist? I probably need to watch for heat when I'm sanding, so as not to overheat?

  4. Yes, try craigslist. You can find some really cheap ones, mabeye 30 bucks instead of 100 dollars somewhere else.

  5. Craigs list might get you there, I build a KMG clone 2x72 knifemakers belt grinder last year, I have about $600 in it but they sell for $2500, so I am ok with that

  6. That's a deal. I always say why by new when you have craigslist!

  7. I have an old fire fighter's axe head with rust. After I clear it off with the process you described above, do you have any recommendations on how to apply a finish or any finish at all. Thanks,


  8. I have read apple vinegar Wilhelm refinish an axe head but am worried what it might do to my handle which is still attached. thoughts?