Hatchet (Solid Steel) Restoration and Wood Handle





Introduction: Hatchet (Solid Steel) Restoration and Wood Handle

About: Don't take the world to seriously relax a little and enjoy the ride.

After going through some camping stuff I found an old hatchet that I always enjoyed using because of the weight and head size. It was extremely rusted and the rubber handle was cracked causing it to slip off while being used. I decided that I would try to breathe life into this old hatchet for something to do, as well as have a really nice kindling hatchet for hunting and camping trips.
The hatchet is entirely drop forged steel so just swapping out a new handle was not an option I decided to make a custom wood handle secured similar to a knife handle.

Step 1: Rust Bath

Place Rusted hatchet in rust bath for 36-48 hours

Once it has been removed most of the rust should be gone.

Step 2: Sanding

After I removed the hatchet from the rust bath I began sanding it. I started with sand paper for metal in this order

***Continually apply WD40 while sanding***

  1. Emery Cloth
  2. 600 Grit
  3. 800 grit
  4. 1000 grit
  5. 1500 grit

Each time I changed sand paper grits I would sand the previous "grits" scratches out Ie. 800 removes 600's scratches

Mirror finish means its done

****Sharpen hatchet only after project is complete*****

Step 3: Handle Wood

Choose the type of wood you want for your handle. For any type of handle you will most likely want a hard wood. I went to an exotic wood store where I live and decided on a combination of Birdseye maple and Purple Heart.

If using two kinds of wood make sure to glue them together and clamp firmly for 24 hours.

I traced the tang of the hatchet on the inside of the wood to get an idea what shape of handle I would like to make. I then used a combination of chisels and a dremel to remove about half the width of the tang from the wood.

repeat for other side

Step 4: Cutting Out the Handle Shape

There is no really easy way to do this if you don't own a band saw ,but overall its not too hard.

Once you have drawn your handle deign on 1 half of wood you can now cut it out. I just used a jigsaw because I didn't have a band saw.

After you have cut out one side, simply trace the cut piece on the other half of wood and cut.

**Don't worry about the curved parts when cutting these can be fixed during sanding so just cut straight lines its going to look blocky for a bit but we will fix that.****

Step 5: Rough Sand and Trimming

I do not have a large stable sander so flipped a belt sander upside down was able to easily and safely sand my handle.

Clamp the two pieces firmly together with a single C clamp that can be hand tightened. Work one side at a time and begin to sand the curves and shapes into the wood to make it start to look like more of a handle.

After I got my shape down my handle was to thick so in an effort to reduce sanding time I did a quick chop on the chop saw

Step 6: Detailed Sand

Using the belt sander I shaped the handle to how I wanted it to look once finished. I did all this work on the belt sander little bits at a time and checking each side to make sure it was fairly symmetrical.

**The hatchet is NOT attached at this point I also sanded the inside of the handle to make the tang fit tighter. I used the clamps to hold the wood together and take the photos**

Step 7: Drilling the Handle for Pins

Use at drill press to drill the handle. I used a 3/16 inch bit because I had 3/16 brass rods I am going to use for the pins.

You will need to get a small metal rod I used brass, other things will work like a hanger or something along those lines.

great video on drilling steel if you are wondering -

Step 8: Resin and Pins

I went to a hardware store and bought some two part epoxy resin that mixed itself as your applied it.

After drilling the metal tang I used those holes as guides and then drilled the wood. Then I made sure the brass pins were cut to just slightly larger then the handle width. I added the epoxy resign to the tang as well as the wood on both sides and in the holes drilled. I basically covered the entire inside of the handle and pins with resin. Then I put the handle together wood first then the pins hammered into place. I added a little more resin to the pins and then left it to set for 48 hours.

Step 9: Final Sand

After the Resin had set for 48 hours I did a final sand to make sure all my seams were even and remove excess resin. This handle is now complete and ready for varathane if I decide to add it.

Step 10: Creating a New Sheath

I went to a leather store in my area and grabbed a few things. I had never worked with leather before but this was fairly simple. I traced the hatchet then cut out the design and attached the hardware.

Step 11: Complete


Now I can sharpen. Its good not to work with a sharp hatchet through this process for safety sake.

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    26 Discussions

    pimped your hatchet. It's bea

    Nice look. I just finished an instructable on making a sheath for mine, and saw you had the exact same hatchet. Do you know anything about it? Mine only says "drop forged" with no other markings. It seems like a cheap one like go for $30 or less at a hardware store, but the only other ones I found online said "vintage 1960's hatchet" and had the same original sheath as mine. Also, do you remember when you sanded it if there were a lot of grinder marks going the length of the blade? I had to start with 40 grit with an electric hand sander to even make a dent on polishing them out of mine. I've worked it to 120 grit now but want to keep polishing it down to mirror finish or close.

    you should check out axe junkies on face book

    I also found the same hatchet buried in a field years ago i been wanting to re do but i wanted to do more of a leather wrap kinda handle any ideas?

    Forgive me if I missed something somewhere, or if it was meant to be obvious, but what did you bathe it in initially? I have a few tools I want to do this too. Is it an item that's called Rust Bath, or something else? And you did a very good job, well done.

    4 replies

    apple cider vinegar eats rust like a champ and isn't a harmful chemical. its also cheap. I used it to eat the rust out of my motorcycle gas tank.

    Will the apple cider vinegar damage or weaken the metal at all though? I'm not familiar with venegar at all, except knowing I hate the smell lol. My primary use would be on assorted blades, hatchets and axes and daggers/knives and swords, so I need to make sure the metal itself wouldn't be negatively impacted.

    I've never heard of anyone having problems using vinegar. it worked on my gas tank. vinegar is acetic acid. its a light acid but it works great. it also eats through the rust preventing coatings so be careful that you don't soak things in it that have those special coatings. my carburetor had some parts that were either galvanized or were something like galvanized. the parts are still fine but they could rust if I let them sit for too long. but with your solid tools you will be absolutely fine.

    Thank you very much!

    And no problem I didn't give the exact name because there is a variety of different rust removing solutions available and you can also make some at home. The product that I used was called "Evaporust" and can be found at Canadian Tire or Home Hardware or online at


    also here is a site i got from Google for a home made option if you are interested


    Thank you so much. I hope to make a lot more instructables I am currently attempting a re-curve bow using, Zebra Wood, Purple Heart and this reddish coloured wood that starts with a "P" I can't remember the name though.

    That sounds great! I've been thinking of doing one for some time now too, but just haven't pulled the trigger on it yet. I'll definitely keep an eye out for that project.

    That's a really nice looking repair! I actually have the exact same model hatchet, which I found buried in a pile of rocks I was moving years ago. I built a similar wooden handle, abet without the pins . Sadly, I used to soft a wood, and my handle shattered into kindling one day while using the hatchet, so I replaced the wood handle with one made from that rubberized electrical tape. I recently took that off and did a Para cord handle.

    1 reply

    Thank you. Ya I was worried about the handle breaking because of the nature of the use of the hatchet. So to hopefully stop it from breaking I pinned it and used a lot of epoxy resin coating almost the entire handle in it as well as where the pins are secrured. so far he handle is holding up well

    Outstanding job! this has inspired me to renew some of my fathers old tools.

    1 reply

    Awesome job! I made a leather sheath for my camping hatchet in exactly the same way, and although I did use rivets at the corners, I stitched the rest.