Wednesday, 16 January 2013

How to restore old hatchets. Part 3 - Fitting the helves

First off prepare some wedges.

I’ve used Oak and split out some sections from a larger piece that’s been sitting around for a while so it’s nice and dry. Put them in a low oven at home for an hour  if you want to make sure. The pictures give you a guide to the shape and size of the wedge, each is slightly different depending on the shape of the heads eye.

I split the Oak down using the growth rings running the length of them and shaped the end so as to not be too weak, basically add a v shape secondary bevel. Don’t be fooled by the other short numerous markings in the oak, they are the Medullary rays which run at 90 degrees to the growth rings and when in the round stem, add Oak it’s strength.

Start to look at the head on the (now dried) helve and check everything is the right way round then pop it on the top and draw out the eye shape onto the top of the wood. Start shaping with axe and knife until you can start to offer up the head. Tap it down a few times then take off to see the areas that need to be further removed. Scraped areas and dark marks show you where.

Once the head is on or before if you like, split the wood the length of and centrally along the carved out section with your knife, using a baton. Then fit the Oak wedge also with the baton, hitting it down until well in. You can put a spot of wood glue on to make sure of a good fit if you like. The wedge due to its length can then be used a second or third time for other heads, after a reshape with the Axe.

All done, with a slight bend in the handle and head for right hand use, but you could make it centrally located for general splitting and chopping work or to the left. The choice is yours.
Finish with a drink of Raw Linseed Oil (or other suitable oil) around the head over night and a wipe over the rest of the helve, then allow curing for a couple of days. 

A quick wipe over with an oiled cloth now and then and you should have a nice old tool perform well for many more years, and saved some money too.

Have fun and I hope these posts were of interest or use to folks.

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.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

How to restore old hatchets. Part 1 - The head

Through last year while working at various places and with the odd purchase or trade, I acquired quite a few axes to restore for teaching carving. 
They are mainly Kent patterns of various or non stamped/eroded makes and around 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 LB. I decided to do eight of them this time and making do with another four for now that require less work.

I'll take you through the re-shaping, cleaning and sharpening of the Hatchet heads.
I'm sure this is old hat to most but hopefully its of use or interest to some. 

I take a quick, cheap, and basic approach to this sort of work, but I like to do a decent job as they have to perform well on the day in someone else's hands. Sorry about the pictures though the lights either very on or off in the workshop.

The Sandvik and Stubs Farmers files with a course and medium face on each one. They cut beautifully and fast and once they are blunt I will forge them into knives as they are very good quality tool steel. 

First off, get the head in the vice edge upwards and file out all the nicks and damage from the cutting edge. This always feels wrong even on a heavily damaged example, but its very important to make a clean central area which the bevels can blend into.

Next off its time to sort those bevels out, a block underneath helps a lot with support. You can get most of the rust etc. off with the wire bush too at this stage. As there for carving I do an almost flat long shallow bevel on the LHS and a more acute convex on the the RHS as I'm looking at it when in final use. 

Clean out any burrs and debris from the eye with half round and smaller types of files if necessary, and a small wire brush too.

A quick run across a medium/fine grit slack belt on a grinder helps to finish the job, but mouse-mat blocks and emery paper work just as well.

Sharpening kit. Combination whetstone, broken half of a medium stone and various home made strops of various grits.

As the last stage was quite smooth I tend to go straight to the broken stone, taking the stone to the head using a circular motion and water.

Stropping across an old fence post with a very old belt containing stropping paste. This is important due to the previous formation of a wire edge. Use the stones again if you are struggling then return to this stage.

All done, this is the longer flatter bevel

 And the other side with shorter more convexed bevel. A drop of oil and a wipe to finish.

Three done so far so Five more to go, then I'll write Part 2 on carving and fitting the helves from some Ash that I felled several weeks ago during some thinning work.

Edit - All heads finished, just waiting on the Ash to dry now

Part 2 - Carving the helves

Part3 - Fitting the helves