Restore an old French axe
handle and care detailed.
Some years back I bought a few wonderful axe heads from France, this is one of them and how it came back to life.
(This is a old series of pictures I just found on my computer from my old workshop. guess they never got out). ;-)
Here the tools that came from France.
Step one is to grind of any bend out edges, since these are potentially a danger.
(Yes I was a boy scout once and did get the axe medal – smiles).
This is what it looked like after.
Still traces of use, just as I like it.
Then a light touch with the brush to remove any loose rust, again careful not to remove the history.
Some pre work on the edge at the sander.
A good layer of bees wax for rust prevention.
I was fond of the shape I did for the other French axe, a small type, really handy.
Inspired by the Japanese I also like, so it is a MaFe hybrid.
Here making mi sketch on a piece of oak.
Try to look on both sides of the wood, make as much fibers go straight from end to end of the handle like this you get the strongest handle.
Cutting the rough shape on the band saw.
Then its just to spend some wonderful time with the draw knifes.
Be careful with the grain directions, if you dig in, then change direction, you will get it fast.
I also use spoke shaves for next level of finish, in this case you need a round sole version.
Cut a groove for the wedge and shape the end to fit in the axe head.
In this case I use a contrast wood color, just for the beauty of it.
Bang it in place.
Leave to dry.
Cut of the extra.
I like to beat up the end grain a wee.
To get a look like this.
Plenty of linseed oil, plenty, let it suck until it cant take any more.
Then the handle can be finished up with a card scraper.
Nothing beats that finish.
Linseed oil and then some bees wax.
From a sweet little grease box.
Here it is.
I have used it since then and really love it here in the shop.
If it was a daily use forest axe I will recommend a thicker handle, both for better grip and strength.
I’m sure Mike can guess when I made this axe handle.
Hope again to be able to share some energy, to perhaps even inspire others to bring some old tools back to life,
Best of thoughts,
-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.