Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Do I Haft to? Pt. 1, by the Wandering Thinker

Today in the News:  The Wandering Thinker (TWT) returns today with a new guest post.  You're going to look at it and think, "why can't I have a pile of axes like that?"  We're definetly happy to have TWT back at it.  I always look forward to his posts!

Link of the Day:  My friend, Le Loup, over at A Woodsrunner's Diary has written a book called Primitive Firelighting , available at Lulu.com.  I bought a copy today!  I've tried the bow drill fire a few times and, while I've gotten a lot of smoke, I have yet to get fire.  That is a goal for this winter and I'm sure this book is goi ng to help.  Buy or download a copy of this book today!


As previously mentioned........

Do I Haft to? Pt. 1, by The Wandering Thinker

  Like most of you I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off during this holiday season. Family and friends aside my project list has grown more to a book as I read great posts here on The Sharpened Axe and other sites, but I only get enough time to start them before I have to run again.  In returning to the spirit of this blog I wanted to give you a look into the axe's I've been working on.

 All but the Plumb hatchet had been sitting around our basement and out in the barn for several years. All of these at first were my father's, who used them all at one time to clear our land and cut firewood for the winter (being a necessity for years because we couldn't really afford to run the central heat when it got below 40 outside, and we have seen negative digits for weeks here). But in the past few years his age has begun showing a bit and it's been so much easier on him to buy wood from a family friend, who needs the money much more than us so its a real win-win situation. So, with all of them sitting around they have been slowly going down hill. After wiping off the layers of dust and grime, it because obvious the first thing I had to do was treat the handles with something, and soon. I chose Boiled Linseed Oil because I had heard that was one of the best things for maintenance and did a quick wipe on/off. I also decided to lay them across our wood furnace for a few minuets, in hopes of the heat opening the wood pores and forcing the oil deeper, but I have no idea if this helps ... and thoughts?

It was around 100 degrees on top on the stove, not sure if that is hot enough, but I didn't want to do any damage.

After they cooled down I decided to do the same to a Maul handle my dad had bought but never put the head on. Of course, with my spastic attention span, I forgot about the Axe's and decided to go ahead and hang the Maul. This being the first time I had ever tried to re-handle a tool I had no idea what I was doing, except for the things I had seen Mike do here. Luckily, the handle and head were almost a prefect fit from the get go so all I had to do was tap the bottom of the handle until the head drew itself up and seated tightly. I used a piece of Hickory I had  for the wedge and hammered the steel wedges back in. As you can tell from the pictures, I didn't get the steel wedges centered as I should have, but the Hickory wedge made it shift before I noticed and by the time I saw it it was too late. I don't think it's going to cause much issue because the Hickory wedge I used was very wide at the top and spread the handle out a great deal.Then I soaked the eye in BLO to finish swelling the wood and protect it from shrinking and splitting.

I think the best advice I can offer here is go slow and PAY ATTENTION when hanging a head, I got lucky here but it could very well spell disaster if your Axe head comes flying off.

After hanging the Maul, I noticed that the double bit my father gave me out of this set was hung wrong and decided to go ahead a fix it.
This was a bit more of a challenge because not only was it my first time with an axe, the head had been jammed on without trimming the handle. It took me about an hour or two after I pulled the pin that was set through the head to finally get it off . After I got it off, the rest was just seating the head, finding the high spots, and sanding them down and trying again. Without a good rasp and a worn belt on my 6in sander, this took about two hours over two days to finish (it was quite frustrating).  As you will see I didn't get the head all the way down to the shoulder, but its much better than it was and I may end up trying to fully seat it later, now that I have learned how hard Hickory really is. Again I didn't get the steel wedge quite right with the wooden wedge making it a bit difficult to keep to straight, but I replaced the pin and swelled the wood with BLO so, again I got lucky.

 You can see the line where the head sat at first, about three inches from the shoulder.
 After the sanding, only about a half inch or so from the shoulder.

This steel wedge just followed the split instead of cutting in diagonally.

So, here is part one! In part two I'll cover cleaning and restoring the heads, including the single I got as well, which has some nasty chips in the bit.

 There's a cheap hatchet I'm working on and Spoon Knife that Ive almost finish, so I'll be posting on that as soon as I can, as well as a new wood carving knife in the works. Thanks again and be sure to click "Follow" if you like The Sharpened Axe!

That's all for today!

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

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


  1. I should post pictures of my axes, maybe in a guest post someday. It would be a lot, I've got around 20, still not many compared to some others, see Larry Mcphail.

  2. I have in the past rubbed lindseed oil into my helves in front of the open fire. After rubbing I placed the helve where it would get some heat. Not sure if it opens the grain in the wood, but it does thin the oil and help it penetrate. This is the reason why lindseed oil is usually rubbed in by hand, the friction cases warmth which helps penetration.
    I have also stood oiled stales and helves in the sun for the same purpose. These days I use a length of sewer pipe with a cap glued on one end. This is filled with a mixture of turpintine and lindseed oil. I soak my helves in this for as long as I can afford, a month is usually good.

  3. So I see I wasn't just barking in the dark with the heat. Is there any temperature range that you have found that works the best?

    Thanks Le Loup!

    Eric, I'm sure Mike would love to have you post something, shoot him an e-mail.

  4. Great post, TWT! I love to see all kinds of axe projects.

    I can't tell from the pictures, but did you insert a wooden wedge into the helve of that double-bit, or just the metal wedge?


  5. I encourage anyone to guest post. Simply email me the article with the pictures and I will post it. If anyone worries about spelling and such - don't. Just give me a nod that you want it spell checked and I'll give it the works. Similar to Le Loup, I usually heat up my handles by the fire before applying linseed oil. I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty sure the laws of expansion and contraction apply for this purpose, i.e., heat expands stuff and cold contracts.

  6. bmatt, I used a hickory wedge as well, but when the metal one hit I apparently didn't have the wood one in all the way and it drove it down a bit. I might try to replace all this later on if I can salvage the handle.

    So you do it before oiling Mike? Ok, I'll try it that way when I re-hang the single bit. Do you remove the wax on a new handle before coating or just let it all get in there?