|Project by TheWoodenOyster||posted 416 days ago||1228 views||3 times favorited||6 comments|
I went out to an estate sale this morning and picked up some tools, and old wooden plane, some maple and teak, and an old Keen Kutter ax head. I saw that old “Made in USA” stamp on the ax head and just had to bring the ax back to its former glory. It was a perfect project for the day, as I’ve kind of been feeling like I need to quit doing research about woodworking for a while and actually get out and do it. This would give me a great chance to try out my new spokeshave, my homemade shavehorse, and a Paul Sellers curved part method using only hand tools. Photos 3 and 4 show the ax head before I did any work on it.
On to how I brought the ax back to life. My first step was to sharpen the ax head. It really didn’t take too long. I just touched up the edge with 80 grit on the belt sander. Then I went on to 100 grit, 220 grit, then my 1200 diamond stone, then the strop. Got it shaving off hair, which I figured was good enough for an ax. There’s something powerfully elegant about a mirror polish on an old pitted steel ax head.
For the handle, I used an old handle that I picked up at the estate sale as a template. I roughly traced it onto a piece of ash that I had dimensioned. After that, I used a method I saw Paul Sellers do at a show I went to a couple months ago. I don’t have a bandsaw, so the method is this: Cut down to your outline about every inch or so, then follow the line with a chisel, chopping block after block out. Photo 5 shows part of the traced traced handle with the saw kerfs cut down to the traced out line. Photo 6 shows the ax handle after the rough chopping with the chisel. This took a while.
Next step was shaving it down. I cranked down to get a thick cut from my spokeshave and got to work. I got a chance to use my homemade shavehorse, and it worked out great. It was the perfect thing to shave down the length of the handle. I kind of did trial and error to get the shape to a place where I liked it. After I was done with the handle, I traced the ax head opening on the top of the handle and got to work on it. After that, I sanded it all down to 100 grit.
Last step was to slam, and I mean slam, the ax head onto the handle. Took me about 30 minutes of pounding, but eventually it seated in nicely. Pounded a couple of nails in the head of the handle to tighten up the handle shaft inside the ax head.
Finished it with a coat of BLO just for grins. Pictures 1 and 2 show the finished product.
A few lessons learned:
1. Leave a little more than you think you need to when you are about to start with the spokeshave. The handle ended up a little skinnier than I would have liked because I shaved so much off.
2. Ash grain isn’t the easiest to deal with. It tore out a little on me in some places no matter which way I worked with the spokeshave.
3. Ash is hard. They make baseball bats out of it for a reason
Nothing beats a Saturday in the shop learning more about wood! Hope y’all enjoy!
-- The Wood Is Your Oyster