Thursday, 10 January 2013

How to restore old hatchets. Part 2 - Carving the helves

Right, helve making time.
Thanks go to Robin Wood, and various greenwood working books for the information on how to make one and to generally carve.
Here’s my pictures and a basic walk through.
Take a section of Ash, and split in half. You can use an axe or a froe, but the froe tends to be a little more accurate on larger sections and splits easily with a pull on the handle.

You can then use just the one half or split down further to get more out of one piece, here one log makes six. Note the direction of the growth rings on this and the next picture for extra strength when in use.

Here you can split off the triangular inner section to start and create a flat surface with strong form of the growth rings. Draw on your eye at the end using the hatchet head for the guide then....

... mark out your design for the rest of the shape.
As I don’t have an old handle of the type I wanted to make, I used pictures in books to help create it, then stuck mainly with that first one, and replicated it.

I used a wide section of wood to accommodate the curves in the design. To make best use of it I placed where I wanted to carve the eye section towards the bottom of the wood section in the picture. Always pay attention to where the eye is going to be on the wood, so as to keep everything straight and leave enough wood on should some tweaking be necessary.
Make the whole piece rectangular in cross section to start with.

To remove wood, make a series of stop cuts with a hatchet suitable for carving, followed by a further cut(s) to remove them all, and make flat sections of wood.

For more curved sections cut deeper or more frequent stop cuts in the low part of the curve, remembering to also cut from the opposite direction.

All the Axe carving done

Start carving with the knife.  Smooth out the four flat faces of the rectangle cross section and check the uniform thickness and shape as you work. When you think your about there, start to take the corners off to form an octagonal cross section.

Add some shape around the end of the handle to prevent the hand slipping off and for comfort. You can do this near the head too for when closer work is done.

Knife work done

Getting there with the rest

Made it, phew!

Now I'll leave them for drying for a few days in the house but not in too hot an area, before fitting onto the heads I've been restoring. I've still a couple of those to finish off, but I'll rest up the hands for a night I think!
Last part to follow soon, with the fitting of the handles and all the finished  Hatchets. 
Looks like I'll be busy making Axe masks for a while after that too.