From Junk to Jewel

This axe came into the shop as an ugly little hatchet-head, covered with dings, dull as a brick, and mushroomed from being used as a splitting wedge.hatchet in sheath front

The first job was to get the remains of the old handle out.  It took a lot of drilling and pounding.


Then, some time on the 60-grit belt, getting all the dings out.

Yes, there were some markings– a letter “M” and “1 1/4.”  Gone now, unfortunately.

Polishing was done in about 4 more grit steps, ending at 400, and then moving to the Scotchbrite EXL wheel.

This was followed by a light Ferric Chloride etch, which brought out this interesting hamon line:

hamon line on hatchet(For those of you who wonder what a “hamon line” is, it is a difference in steel quality, created by either welding a piece of different alloy into a base, or by differential heat-treating that leaves part of the metal harder than another part.  This difference becomes visible based on the difference in how oxidation forms on the surface of the steel.)

DSC01887The handle was made from a piece of curly maple that was given to me by my cousin, Dan, who works at a cabinet shop.  It was a scrap of 1 x 2 1/2 material, which was roughed out on the bandsaw, and shaped on the belt grinder.  Then it was hand-sanded, the grain raised by several wet-rubs between grits, stained to bring out the contrast in the curly grain, and then the whole axe was given a couple coats of Boiled Linseed oil.

The wedge for setting the handle was cut from a piece of hickory knife-handle stock, and shaped into a wedge on the belt-grinder.

Sharpening was done by hand, with a file and diamond stone.  Yes, it shaves–very well.

The sheath was made from some leather scraps, and given the hot-grease bath.  No other dye was used.  (The grease is a 50/50 mix of neatsfoot oil and beeswax, and melts at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Is it for sale?  No.  It goes back to the girl that provided the dinged-up jewel-in-the-rough.  You can follow the example, and fix one up for yourself.  Or, I could do it for you, for about $100–if you supply the materials!  (If you supply a good handle, I could polish, mount, and sharpen the head for considerably less.)

Oh–by the way, after all that grinding, the head still weighs 20.35 ounces–a full 1 1/4 pounds.  The sheath weighs 2.2 ounces, handle is about 7.5, and the whole package came in at 30 ounces.  Handle is 18 inches long.



About christophersknifeblog

I am a knifemaker and dealer, and live a very diversified life in the mountains of central Idaho. I love nature, agriculture, and homesteading. My knifemaking motto and advertising slogan is, "Knives Built for the Bush." I intend them to be efficient, durable, comfortable, functional, graceful equipment for life's challenges and opportunities. My website is Please visit!
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5 Responses to From Junk to Jewel

  1. Ron Moss says:

    Hi Chris, Thanks for the photos and explaining the process of bringing an old beat up hatchet back to life. Its a well done piece of work. I like the looks very much . Take Care

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