Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rehabbing Old Axes

The axe may well have been the first tool humans ever developed.  Examples have been found that were made by Homo Habilis in the lower Paleolithic era, meaning that axes have been around longer than modern humans.

Various religious orders throughout history have used axes as symbols..  They have also been used as symbols of military power and authority (see the Roman fasces).  These factors have lead to axes having a place in a lot of folklore, as well as other more modern forms of mass media.

I had a couple of axes that were in pretty sorry shape.  I'm not really sure where I got one of them, and I got  the other (the double bladed one) at a garage sale for the princely sum of $2.

You can see that the handles were in pretty sad shape, and that the heads were rusted.  The double bladed axe had probably been used to chop something other than wood as well.  I removed the handles by placing the axe heads in a vise and driving them out with a hammer and a metal rod used as an ersatz punch.  The single bladed axe took a while, but the handle for the double bladed one came out after two hits.  Some moron had tried to simply glue the handle in.

I soaked the heads in old motor oil (I'd just changed the oil in my car) overnight to soften up the rust.  After that I used a drill-mounted wire brush and orbital sander to clear the rust off.

I then sharpened the heads with an angle grinder and belt sander, and applied a few coats of paint.

After this, I began the rehafting process.  First the handle is inserted into he head.

The next step in the process is to drive the wedge into the notch in the end of the axe handle

After the wedge is driven into place, it is secured with a metal clip.  I had issues with the clip the handle came with bending, so I just used a fence staple.

After repeating the process on the double bladed axe, I now have two perfectly good axes.

It could be argued that I may have been better off just buying a couple of new axes and calling it a day.  It certainly would've saved me a bit of time.  None the less, I'm glad I did this.  I get tired of how disposable things are.  It felt good to take "worthless junk" and make it into a good, useful tool.


  1. Those old axes probably have better steel in them than what you'd buy today.

  2. And they're not made in the PRC to boot.