Turn an Old Hatchet Head Into a Bearded Hatchet




Introduction: Turn an Old Hatchet Head Into a Bearded Hatchet

About a year and a half ago I bought four hatchet heads off of ebay with the plan on modifying them into this style of head and adding new handles to them.I chose these style heads because I liked the idea of a hammer on one side and the cutting head on the other. It makes it convenient for a camping hatchet because you can hammer in stakes with it and cut firewood as well.I had already completed three of them before I became involved with this site, two for friends and one for myself, but I had one last one and since Christmas was coming up I figured I should probably complete this one and give it to the last friend that I had intended when I bought them.

There have recently been two other Instructables recently posted regarding hatchets similar to this but hopefully this may provide some additional knowledge or I did something in a different way that may help you out.

Step 1: Shaping the Hatchet Head

When I bought these hatchet heads I knew that I wanted to cut away some of the material to make them a beaded style hatchet. This step is option if you don't want to modify the shape of the hatchet head.

You will first want to mark the shape of the material you want to remove. This head already had an indent in the shape so that made it easier on me. Then you just need to cut down to that line without cutting beyond it. I used a hacksaw for this but an angle grinder would make it much quicker.

NOTE: Be careful not to overheat the hatchet head when cutting or you will remove the heat treat.

Step 2: Cleaning Up the Hatchet Head

Once you have the rough shape cut it is then time to clean it up. To clean it up I used a Dremel with a sanding drum, well multiple sanding drums, until you remove all the cut marks and get to the desired shape. I used the Dremel to clean up the rest of the head and and remove the coating that was on it. I then used my belt grinder, see my Instructable if you're interested in making one, to clean up the face of the hammer. Then came the hand sanding. I didn't sand it too much but just enough to remove any rough edges. I didn't need it to be perfect so I didn't go crazy on the sanding. The inside of the hatchet head was a little nasty so I used some files to clean it up.

Step 3: Initial Handle Shape

Now is the time to make the handle. I had some Maple so I decided to use that for the handle. From what I could find it appears that Maple works pretty decently as a handle material. I then drew out the shape that I wanted. I used my hatchet that I made previously to help determine the shape for this handle. Then I just had to cut out the design on a band saw.

Step 4: Fit the Hatchet Head Onto the Handle

Now that I had the handle cut to shape it was time to shape the end so that the hatchet head would fit onto it. This process just takes a lot of time and patience. As you sand you can can find the spots that are rubbing and sand them away until the head fits all the way down to the depth you want.

Step 5: Clean Up the Handle Shape

When the hatchet head fits on the handle it is now time to finishing sanding the handle to the final shape desired. I used a hand sander for this because it gave me the control I wanted.

Step 6: Cutting the Slot for the Wedge

It is now time to start working towards attaching the handle to the hatchet head. To do this you need to cut a slot down the middle of the handle where a wedge will be inserted. You don't want the slot to go down far enough that it goes below the hatchet head.

Step 7: Darkening the Head

I wanted the hatchet head to be a dark color so I decided to use a cold bluing solution to give me the color I wanted. Just follow the direction on the bottle. I then used the slack portion of my belt grinder to remove the color and sharpen the edge of the hatchet.

Step 8: Wedges and Attaching the Handle

Now that you are ready to assemble the hatchet you need to make the wedges and assemble it. I made the wood wedge of out of some walnut I had and then the metal wedge out of some scrap 1/8in steel. You will want to lightly hammer the head as far down on the handle before inserting the wedges. Glue the wood wedge and hammer it down. When it dries then cut it off, sand it, and then insert the metal wedge. Unfortunately inserting the metal wedge cracked the handle top. I don't know if this is an issue but I'm leaving it like this.

Step 9: Finishing the Handle

Now that it is all assembled just apply whatever finish you want onto the handle. I used Danish Oil because that is what I had. The hatchet is now complete.

Step 10: Sheath for Safety

Because I was giving this as a gift I wanted to make a sheath. I had some leather pieces so I cut them to shape and then glued them together before I riveted them together. I then needed a way to keep it on the hatchet so I looped a strip through one of the sides and then wrapped it around the handle and then cut a slit where they overlapped where the strip could slide in which would hold it in position.

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4 years ago

With a proper fit and a wood wedge, you really don't need the metal wedge. Mainly because it tends to crack the handle (like you saw). Check out the Forestry Service publication "An Axe to Grind."


Reply 4 years ago

Thank you. I'll have to check that out for the next time I replace a handle.


5 years ago

Very nice project. Your tutorial was well written and pictured. Did you have any issues removing the web section at the head of the ax? I was wondering if that made the ax more susceptible to breaking or even loss some weight in the cutting ability? Either way it came out really nice and the handle section was equally well done.


Reply 5 years ago

Thank you. As long as you don't over heat the head you shouldn't have any problems. The one I made for myself I took out camping last summer and split a lot of logs and cut through a couple logs about 6in in diameter and it hasn't shown any signs of distress or had any issues cutting due to the reduced weight.