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Old 12-15-2011, 10:34 AM
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Getyershells Getyershells is offline
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Default My axe resoration project



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I've read a lot of threads recently about folks doing this and thought I would try my hand at it rather than dropping 100+ on a Gransfors or a Wetterlings. Before my grandfather died he had his own wood working shop where he made furniture, bed frames, baskets, etc...he had a lathe and tons of old tools in his shop. The last time I went up there I asked my grandmother if it was ok for me to go into his shop. She gave me permission to take whatever I wanted. I found a couple of old axes in there. I took both of them. They were both badly rusted/pitted and I decided to clean them up and rehandle them.

First I cut the old handles off of them as they were both rotted/loose. I taped out the handle from the head with a punch and a mallet. With the heads free I gave them a bath in vinegar. The vinegar is acidic and does most of the work to get the rust off. After soaking for 24hrs I took the axe heads out.

I dried them off and began the long process of sanding. I started out with low grit to get the remainder of the surface rust off. After the low grit I switch to medium and then fine grit.

With the heads cleaned up I then went to home depot to look for a handle. I sorted through about 15 handles to find the best grain orentation. I found only one that was straight grained.

The handle was a little too thick for my liking so I sanded it down. It was also covered with laquer which will give you some nasty blisters. I sanded it down to the bare wood and got it thinner in the places I wanted it. After that I gave it a good soaking in boiled linseed oil. After this I hung the axe and fitted the handle and drove the wedge in.

I now have a 100% American made Council Tool axe. Total cost was 12.00 for the handle. I am still looking for a handle for the other head. Here are some pics of what they look like now.











*UPDATE*

I found a good handle to hang the Sager axe head. I started this project around 5 PM last night and finished around 7. I sanded off the laquer that was on the handle and thined it out a little. Here are the tools I used to complete this project.









Here are some pics of me in the process of sanding the handle





Finished with the sanding, now adding the boiled linseed oil. Look at how it brings out the grain in the wood.







Hung the axe to the handle. Here's the finished product






Hope this has been helpful to everyone. I had a great time doing it. Let me know what you think.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:04 AM
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Awesome job. I tried to restore some old axes years ago but my efforts where... less than successful and I never got back to it. I've taken up blacksmithing since, maybe I should give it another go.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:04 AM
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Nice!

I just picked up an old axe and an old square point shovel from a shed a couple of days ago. These date back to my grandfather. The shovel has some serious wear in the center of the working portion. I'm thinking that he might have used it to debark logs, as there are a couple of old log structures still standing.

I'll be looking to put new handles in them. Thanks to your post I'll use the vinegar soak and sand them back to luster! These will be keepsakes that work if I need them to work.

And, my boss asked a long time ago if I knew where he could buy old implements. Anyone who does flea markets might want to keep an eye out. They're not making them anymore like this.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:08 AM
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I also enjoy restoring and actually using old hand tools. Keep up the good work and show others how bringing back these items is worth the effort.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:12 AM
Pangea Pangea is offline
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I have a family heirloom axe too. It's been in the family for 150 years and has 8 new handles and 3 new heads over the years but it still looks pretty good.
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Old 12-15-2011, 11:19 AM
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Looks great!

Your axe has a value that cant be equaled by any you could buy. It was your Grandfathers.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:23 PM
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Looks great!

Your axe has a value that cant be equaled by any you could buy. It was your Grandfathers.
Yes, it holds a very special place in my heart. You just can't beat a good ol' American made axe.

Beats the crap out of any of the chinese junk sold at the local China Mart.

Some day I will pass this axe down to my son. Nothing like a good felling axe.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:26 PM
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good work.... I used some of my grandfathers old worn files to make a couple decent fixed blade knives..I think it is awesome whenever someone can re use, refinish, or re-purpose and old worn item into something new and useful.
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:13 PM
TxHills TxHills is offline
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Nice job, Getyershells! I have my grandfather's axe. It's an old True temper, Perfect kelly Works. Needs a handle still. I used it when i had my lawn service, and broke the nice hickory handle in it. (Wasn't original...) My dad used it in the 30's to cut wood, helping make a living for the family. My dad filed some dings on it once, and I cleaned some surface rust off it, but have never done much in the way of restoration. I always left it alone for the nostalgia of it....for now.
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:19 PM
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I am working on anold 2 bit, well i was. Guess I should get back to it. Good work...
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by TxHills View Post
Nice job, Getyershells! I have my grandfather's axe. It's an old True temper, Perfect kelly Works. Needs a handle still. I used it when i had my lawn service, and broke the nice hickory handle in it. (Wasn't original...) My dad used it in the 30's to cut wood, helping make a living for the family. My dad filed some dings on it once, and I cleaned some surface rust off it, but have never done much in the way of restoration. I always left it alone for the nostalgia of it....for now.
TxHills,

That there is a fine looking axe head. From all the research I've done Kelly Works (Tue Temper) Perfect was the top of the line axe of it's day. If you ask me it still is. Those axe heads fetch a premium on Ebay. Yours looks to be in great condition given it's age.
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:54 PM
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Some day I may pay the $$ for a Gransfors. Until that day comes I am having more fun than a human being should be allowed to have restoring old axes back to working condition. I find the whole restoration process to be therapeutic. Axe restorations make a great winter project. I'll wake up early on a Saturday, start a pot of coffee, throw on my favorite bluegrass album (reminds me of being back in the mountains) and get busy. It helps even more if it's really cold outside. I'll krank on the kerosene heater then. The repetition of the sanding, combined with a dip of Copenhagen helps calm my nerves.
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Getyershells View Post
TxHills,

That there is a fine looking axe head. From all the research I've done Kelly Works (Tue Temper) Perfect was the top of the line axe of it's day. If you ask me it still is. Those axe heads fetch a premium on Ebay. Yours looks to be in great condition given it's age.
Can't remember the forum now....but read it was probably from the 20's....I think? Jersey Pattern? I still do need to put an edge back on it when I can't get another vice.
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:17 PM
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Can't remember the forum now....but read it was probably from the 20's....I think? Jersey Pattern? I still do need to put an edge back on it when I can't get another vice.
That might actually be a Dayton pattern head. The other axe head I have pictured is a Sager Jersey pattern.
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:19 PM
TxHills TxHills is offline
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I just did a search...and found the site I had read a while back. It actually wasn't a forum. A bit confusing actually.........lol
http://www.roseantiquetools.com/id1.html
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by TxHills View Post
I just did a search...and found the site I had read a while back. It actually wasn't a forum. A bit confusing actually.........lol
http://www.roseantiquetools.com/id1.html
Here is another good site for understanding the different axe head styles produced by Kelly Works over the years.

http://www.yesteryearstools.com/Yest...%20Co.%20.html
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Getyershells View Post
Here is another good site for understanding the different axe head styles produced by Kelly Works over the years.

http://www.yesteryearstools.com/Yest...%20Co.%20.html
Good read...thanks!
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:35 PM
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I use electrolysis to clean old rusted axe heads, hatchets or anything else for that matter. The advantage is you do not take away metal in the cleaning but replace it and it is easier. There are some real good write ups on it if you simply search the web using 'electrolysis with a battery charger'.

Basically it is

1) Take a plastic container (Must be plastic. 5 gal bucket works great)that your piece will fit in and fill it 3/4 full with water

2) Add 1TBS of washing soda to the container per gallon of water in the container.

3) Connect the negative side of the battery charger to the piece you want to clean and put it in the connect.

4) Take a scrap piece of steel and place it in the container. Make sure it does not touch the piece you are cleaning. A section of old leaf springs work good. Do not use stainless steel. This is the sacrificial piece that will supply the new material. Ensure that some of it sticks above the water line. You must attach the positive lead to this piece above the water line or your positive lead battery clamp will get eaten away.

5) Plug in the charger. You should see the current meter move a little bit and bubbles start to rise in the water. These are hydrogen so make sure you do this in a well ventilated area.

6) You may have to move the piece you cleaning around a bit or add more sacrificial pieces of steel. The reaction is line of sight.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:16 PM
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The point is, it was your grand dads.

I was once at a very high class get together, and I was out classed by a mile. This little filly was wandering around curious about all my friend's high class watches. They were all wearing TAG, or Rolex. When she asked me what kind of watch I was wearing, I proudly stated I had no idea, but it was my grand father's.

I didn't go home with the girl, but we still talk, which is more than I can say about any of my pals from back in those days.

Carry your gifts proudly. They MEAN something.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:17 PM
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I love axes,,, I have several, they are worth their wieght in Gold, imo. Wouldn't trade them for anything, unless it's a dire emergency.
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