Saturday, June 1, 2013

My First Hatchet Hafting

Last fall I picked up a few hatchets from a local antique store. The one on the far right in the picture would be my first adventure into axe refurbishing and restoration. I chose it because it was the rustiest head and the handle was the junkiest out of my collection. So I wanted a challenge. Now there's 1001 ways to do this, but this is the path I chose. Big thanks to all the axeperts for showin' the ways.

So first up was to remove that junky handle and toss it. I had picked up a link handle for this job. For the next step I soaked the head in white vinegar for a day and eventually gave it an apple cider vinegar soak for about 3 more days.

After the soak, a little scotchbrite rub to get the rust off revealed a partial makers mark stamping. To my great surprise, it turned out to be an American Axe and Tool Co. Americanaxe manufactured in Glassport, PA! Probably forged in the 19-teens, and no later than 1921. Needless to say I was thrilled!

I continued the cleanup with flap wheel and wire brush wheel drill attachments. That wire brush wheel really shined up the metal. The head was pretty pitted out from the rust, but very tiny pits. So pitted in fact that after cleaning it up, the tempering line is easily seen.

Shaped up the mushroomed poll with a file.

The new Link handle I picked up at the local hardware store was covered in a thick laquer. So after sanding all that off, I gave it a quick rub down coating of tung oil. Four coats is what this one called for.

So this morning I finally decided to finish this thing. First had to fit the head to the handle. Did a little shaping and rasping with a four-in-hand.

Sharpened the bit. Started with a Lansky Puck followed by an old sharpening stone. Wasn't doing much so I got out the file. I'll start with the file next time. So filed, then back to the puck, and again with the stone until I was satisfied.

Seated the head on the new helve. Did a little sanding on the wedge. Oiled it up and hammered it in.

Not perfect alignment of the handle with the head, but I'm happy with the mushrooming of the haft over the top of the eye.

No metal wedges here. All ya have to do is swell your wood. Heh heh

Nice grain alignment in the handle.

Still working on this Finnish bad boy. It's gonna take a lot of work.

Almost finished product. Just gotta soak the head in oil for a few days to swell the fibers tight.

14" overall length. 1 lb 9 oz overall weight, with a 3 " bit.

The Americanaxe hatchet.


  1. Awesome post and great photos.. really.

    I'm glad you took the plunge and finally took the plunge. There is no turning back.. you will be hooked. Good work. I've been following your writings and enjoy them.


  2. Thanks for the kind words Alex! Means a lot coming from a photo professional like yourself. It sure is fun and satisfying in a way to mess with these old tools and bring them to life in your own way.