Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Old Tool, New Life

I have posted several times about tools that were my grandpa's or great grandpa's, but here is another. My favorite hatchet to carve with belonged to my grandpa. It had a handle on it that he had made himself.
Here is Grandpa's hatchet with the handle grandpa had made

I wasn't knowledgeable enough about axes/hatchets to know how to correctly fix the fact that the head was loose on the hatchet. I would typical bang the bottom of the handle on a stump to try and tighten it up while working, One day mid winter while splitting some kindling to get the stove going the head broke off the handle. I was sad that I had broken something my grandpa had made. I then did some research on the correct way to fasten (hang) a head on an ax or hatchet.

Hickory is the wood of choice for ax and hatchet handles. After digging in the wood rack I found some Hickory. I rough cut the overall shape on the bandsaw and then did all the shaping with rasp and files.

While making the handle and studying the hatchet head I realized that one side of the head was flat and the other side was beveled. After looking online and talking to some friends I decided that originally the hatchet head had a single bevel and would have been for hewing timbers, and that some point someone sharpened it putting a bevel on both side. I decided to reshape the head and sharpen it back having a single bevel. I didn't want to remove all the pitting and patina on the blade so I didn't grind the sides, and focused my work near the cutting edge. I did the majority of the reshaping using the old stationary belt sander that I had gotten from grandma. With a 60 grit belt I established the single bevel cutting edge and with a little filing it was sharp enough to shave. I plan to polish the cutting edge more soon.
The flat side of the hatchet 
The curved/beveled side
I hung the head on my hickory handle and then finished it with boiled linseed oil. The hickory really came alive when I applied the oil. I shaped the handle where it had a nice place to grip right under the head for detailed work and made a nice palm swell on the bottom of the handle to give a good grip when taking a full swing. What I have learned while doing this has made me want to restore some other axes and make some more tools.  I am very  glad to have grandpa's hatchet back to usable condition. I really enjoy using these old tools, thinking about what was built using them. I hope that someday someone in my family will be using these tools and some of mine also and thinking back about me.

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