Introduction: Viking Inspired Bearded Axe (no Forge)
This bearded axe is made from a repurposed wood axe. It's crafted using common hand and power tools. For shaping the axe, you will need:
- An old axe
- A saw that can cut curves easily (scroll, jig, band, coping, etc)
- An angle grinder
- A belt sander
- A bench vise
- A drill w/ small wood boring bit
- Safety gear (eye protection, work gloves, long pants that cover the tops of your boots, leather boots
For acid etching, you will need:
- Muriatic acid
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Nail polish (any color)
- Nail polish remover
- Electrical tape (optional)
- A cool design that can be mirrored (reversed)
- Nitrile gloves
- Eye protection
- A plastic container
- Buckets of water
For final assembly, you need
- A new axe handle
- Wood glue
- A hammer
- Stain of your choice
- Some scrap leather and leather stripping
Step 1: Get Down to the Axe Head
First, cut off the old handle, and drill out what's left in the axe head. If you don't remove all the wood, it will start smoking from the grinder.
Trace out the shape you want. The "beard" is the bottom front of the blade. It's used to hook a shield and yank it away, or hook an ankle and trip your adversary.
If you want a deeper beard than shown here, you may need a smaller angle grinder, or a 1" belt grinder/sander. My grinder is 4", and was just barely able to get the back of the beard.
Step 2: Grind, Grind, Grind
Put the axe in your vice, and start notching to the line. Once you have a series of notches, go in at an angle to remove them. Rough in the entire shape.
Be careful. The pieces coming off will be glowing red hot. They will put a hurting on you if they land on you. Make sure you have leather boots (not cloth or vinyl), and your pants cover the tops. It's also a good idea to have a fire extinguisher or some water handy.
Step 3: Sand, Sand, Sand
Start sanding out all of the grinder marks, and removing any rust or pits from the face. I used a 4" portable belt sander with 80 grit to smooth everything, and 120 grit to shine it up. The finer grit you use, the more polished it will be.
Step 4: Dry Fit and Shape the Handle
Dry fit the handle, and cut away the excess from the top of the head. I dId this before etching, so I didn't have to worry about scratching the etch with my jig saw.
I also cut some of the back below the head, and some of the curve at the base of the handle. Take the head off and sand the handle smooth.
Step 5: Transfer Your Motif
Put your design to paper. You will need to transfer it, or freehand it. Regular pencil will show up on the metal.
Put the mirror image on the reverse side.
The nail polish and electrical tape block the acid from reaching the metal, so you are going to basically create a negative image of the finished design.
Paint the parts you want to stay shiney with nail polish. I found it's easier to go over the edge of the design, let it dry, and clean it up with a hobby knife. You can get much finer detail. Take your time.
You can also cover larger areas with the electrical tape, like the top, back, bottom, and edge.
Step 6: Acid Bath
Put on your eye protection and Nitrile gloves. In a WELL VENTILATED AREA, pour your one part muriatic acid (e.g., 1 pint) into your plastic container. I used a disposable tray from a microwaveable meal.
Add 2 parts (1 quart) hydrogen peroxide. Don't add acid to peroxide. I hear bad things happen if you do this backwards.
Gently place the axe head into the bath. The longer you leave it, the more defined the etch will be. I left mine for around an hour, but you can leave it a lot longer.
Once it's done, rinse thoroughly.
Step 7: Finishing Up
Fix the head to the handle, using a little glue on the wedge for security. Sand the top flush with the head.
Stain the handle (or don't). This handle is from Walmart. It's hickory, but stained with Min Wax Jacobean.
Add some leather to the grip, and leather lacing. I used a flat lacing, as it feels a little better. Feel free to glue it down as you go, or it may slip.
Your axe is now ready for display. Or battle.