Refurbishing a Hatchet





Introduction: Refurbishing a Hatchet

Hi, this instructable will show you how to refurbish an old camp axe or hatchet like the one I found while working at an urban farm in Cleveland, Ohio. The hatchet belonged to my friends grandfather, Hal Johnson. Hal did a lot of work with this hatchet and his granddaughter, Dawn Johnson, couldn't bring herself to throw it out so I thought I would give it a second life. Now it is a tool that my friend loves to show off at her outdoor events at the Johnson Family Farm.

First I had to remove the old torn leather rings from the handle because so many rings were missing I decided to cut the rest off with a sharp utility knife.

Step 1: Refurbishing a Hatchet

After I cut off the leather rings I found spider eggs and rust had settled in on the handle so I used steel wool for the first cleaning and 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to start gently because I didn't want to destroy any markings that I might find that Mr. Johnson might have left on his hatchet. Using gloves are extremely important because steel wool can cut unprotected hands.

Step 2: Refurbishing a Hatchet

Soaking the hatchet in a rust removing agent saved me a lot of energy and time. I choice of rust removers was vinegar. I let the metal hatchet soak for about two hours in a bucket of vinegar for then wiped off a lot of the rust with a clean rag. I also started using an electric hand sander with 80 grit sandpaper.this is my result.

Step 3: Refurbishing a Hatchet

Once I removed the rust I still wasn't satisfied because I felt the hatchet needed a protective coating to help delay the return of rust. So I sprayed it with a combination paint and primer. I used three coats of rustoleum to give it a nice smooth look.

Step 4: Refurbishing a Hatchet

After letting the hatchet sit in a warm place for two days i started wrapping the handle in paracord. I admit I should have used a darker color paracord but I used what I had. To help make a nice tight grip I used a strong cement to help hold the cord in place as I tightened it while wrapping. The end result was worth the effort.



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    20 Discussions

    Meanie1500 I bet the wire wheel was quicker than my sander. I thought about putting a leather wrap on the handle and baking the finish on the tool at about 200 degrees, but I lost my patience. I like your wrapping technique. I considered using the whipping technique but the adhesive I used was too strong.

    1 reply

    I looked at that hatchet about a month ago, the paracord is still intact even though it was tortured on the farm.

    I know this is a ridiculously late reply I do apologize for the tardiness. I think I got the knife from Home Depot.

    I think that is a roofing hatchet

    I restored my step dad's old work(truck driver) hatchet that had so much dirt & rust it was almost black. Was able to get it shine with a vinegar soak, metal scour pad (fine) & very little elbow grease. No sandpaper needed or any other abrasive metal removing labor.

    Abeimers I bought that knife at Home Depot on clearance sale

    Thank you pudtiny ! Paracord is extremely durable, true paracord is designed to tolerate 550lbs of stress before breaking although one source tested his paracord and it took a thousand pounds of pressure. There are a lot of imitations out there because it is fashionable now so read up on what you are buying.

    Nice work, how durable is paracord ? Does it come in different qualities?

    Hmmmm @fresnoparacord I will try the beeswax on another project, Thanks!

    Not sure how old it is. It was found in a wooden. crate of tools when we cleaned out a relative's house. At least 25 or 30 though.

    Quick run-down....
    Stripped the old leather handle (was as bad as yours), and wire-wheeled the whole axe clean.
    Two coats of primer, and two coats flat black.
    Handle is wrapped with somewhere between 75' to 90' of true Mil-spec para cord in 3 or 4 sections (roughly 25-30' each), wrapped so I can take a length off, and still have a decent handle - plus it matches the thickness of the buttplate that way.

    After sharpening, I took it camping with us. The finish got a little beat-up, but a quick re spray fixes that. Only change I'd make is making the lanyard much shorter, as it gets in the way a bit at times, when swinging the axe

    Wow, small world! I like what you did with it! How old is yours?

    Wow, this is a real coincidence. I just finished the exact same axe, and was gonna write an instruct able!

    Took it camping over the weekend and it worked flawlessly

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    Thanks for the vinegar tip I may use it on another project of mine. you might want to put some beeswax on your paracord . I like it because it gives us a gift card a better feel and look. Thanks for sharing .

    1 reply

    Sorry stupid phone mine. I meant that the pair of the beeswax gives a paracord a better grip on the cord and a better feel.

    Nice instructable! I used a similar rust removing procedure on my grandfathers knife.

    Have a great day!

    Thanks @MichaelO9 and @unclear in Cleveland the roofing hammer is what we call similar tool with a much smaller blade. The old folks here used to call this tool a roofing hatchet.

    Nice job,looks good.My choice in rust removers is also vinegar,works great and is cheap been using it more then 10 yrs .Years ago while working as a carpenter one of my roofers carried and used this tool exclusively,he called it a "roofers hammer"