Pretty much everyone has an old , beaten up box, with rustly old tools. They usually come as a heritage from our fathers/ grandfathers, reminding of an old era, when craftsmen only had a hamer and a centerpuch and enough patience, skill and ambition to build the whole world! Basic tools, no social media and a constantly spinning mind..
Sometimes that's all you need!
Well, I had recently some spare time and decided to dig a bit into that toolbox, grandpa's rusty tools. And let me tell you, quality steel must have grown on trees back then! You know the feeling when you try to get a screw with a srewdriver not-too-apropriate for the job and 5 out of 10 you end up with a stripped tool head? Well your ancestors probably didn't know how that feels!
Among various things, I found an old axe head in there which managed to get my attention. And it's certain that the old thingy deserves to live some more days of glory..So lets revive it somehow!
Step 1: The Axe-head
For starters we have to shape the piece. I mean, ok, it's already an axe, you could just stick a handle, sharpen it a bit and be good to go, but if we wanna name it ''the to-te-mahawk", a make-over is required. Adding some sharper lines, making it catch the eye..
So, I just eyeballed a sexy line and went looking for the angle grinder. With a cutting disk and square cuts I removed most of the waste and then used a grinding disk to get it to the final shape.
The whole thing was covered on some surface rust, no big deal at all. So I grabed a wire brush and hit it a bit by hand to get the majority of the rust off and you could say that it was not going to take too much effort to get a full metal surface on there again.
Then switched to a drill mounted wire brush which got the job done in no time.
The plan there was to get the whole thing polished to mirror finish at start, but then again, it came out to be hand made, forged by a blacksmith someplace some day, and at this point you could see all the tiny hammer marks he left up there, getting it into shape, which definitely add some character. It was just too heartbreaking to sand them all down, and make it just another axe that you could easily find in the hardware store. Plus, it would definititely lose some stiffness if I was to grind it smooth, given the amount of material I'd have to remove. And it's surely not a spliting axe as you can see!
Then I just hit the bench grinder to shape the top and bottom sides mostly and my lathe-sander to finish it.
Step 2: Making the Handle
For the axe handle I went looking in my favorite place to explore. The firewood pile! And every time I manage to save a little piece of timber, to make something nice out of it instead of throwing it in the fire, it just makes me happy! And with hand planing, shaping and all, you dont even need a fire to get warmer, trust me on that!
Thought to get a piece of european beech at first, but then thought it could get kind of boring (texture-wise) and I finaly went with oak. Used the same axe to split a piece large enoughto get a handle out of it, and a saw to get it into a more managable shape.
Then went ahead and shaped a tenon for the axe head, put it in place, and draw a rough shape for rhe handle with a marker. Using a saw I cut closeto the line as possible and with a spokeshave and a rasp brought it to shape.
After that, I draw a pattern for some reliefs/recesses and with a chisel and a spokeshave/scrapper I removed some more timber from there and sanded the whole thing up to 150 grit.
Then went ahead and printed some vector images that seems appropriate to scale, and with a carbon paper, some duck tape and a pen, tranfered those on the handle, so with a soldering iron or a pyrographer I could trace them and initialize the pyrography up there.
Cut a slot on the handle tenon and made a shim, put the axe head in place and secured it with the shim and a mallet. Then used a hand saw and a chisel to trim the shim to the lenght of the handle and sanded it also to 150 grit.
Placed a coat or two of oil and ,when dry, finished it with some glossy varnish.
Step 3: It's Finished!
When dry once again, I took the axe on the bench grinder and gave it a good sharpening. Buffed it on the lathe, with a wooden disk and some stroping compound. It has a straight blade, so no fancy twists are necessary here, just try to keep a consistent angle as possible through the whole lenght of the blade, both sides. Don't go for a too stiff corner on the bevel though, since its almost a tomahawk, and if there are high chances of you throwing it to targets several feet away, you wouldn't like a weak blade up there, unless regular sharpening is your thing! Mine must be around 30 degrees and as you can see in the embeded video, you can easily shave with it!
And there you have it! Up and running
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