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Axe restoration thread

LondonNeil

LondonNeil

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Is there a world wide handle shortage, or just in England ? Mostly I'd not got round to hanging heads as I've been side tracked by work, kids or other family issues but partly I hadn't got the handles. IdI looked a few times and they'd been out of stock. Well I found some in stock at last... Possibly not the ideal lengths but good enough. So 1 Arvika haft (needed for its extra eye thickness as I could find no other 28+mm wide) and 2 smedbergs straight 28" handles ordered. Just shy of £100 after postage... I better make a good job of these!
 
LondonNeil

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yes If I scrounge up some straight Ash branches of the right size I might have to set it aside for blank making. I did one cheaper handle fro ebay to try, an RST Bulldog handle in Ash. it wasn't clear on the thickness of the eye though, 23mm I hope.

does anyone know the dimensions of the standard pick axe/mattock eye? I can get pick axe handles cheap and I'm sure I could shave the head down to make an axe eye. i perhaps should have tried that instead of buying the £30 arvika handle I needed for the 4.5lb HB head...its got a massive 68mmx28mm eye and I couldn;t find a hande that thick anywhere else.
 
Haywire Haywood

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This is an old 3.5lb Collins that my dad had for as long as I can remember.. I figure it's at least 45 years old. Anyone know anything about it? How much do you think it would cost to get it refurbished and rehung by someone that has an idea what they're doing? Edit.. I found vintageaxeworks.com that is about 90 minutes from me. He wants $75 for a head restoration and $175 more if I want it hung too. The head restoration seems reasonable, but an additional $175 for having it hung seems expensive. As part of the restoration, he does something called "forced patina" which to me looks like hot salt bath bluing. I'm not liking that too much.
Collins35.jpg
 
lead farmer

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This is an old 3.5lb Collins that my dad had for as long as I can remember.. I figure it's at least 45 years old. Anyone know anything about it? How much do you think it would cost to get it refurbished and rehung by someone that has an idea what they're doing? Edit.. I found vintageaxeworks.com that is about 90 minutes from me. He wants $75 for a head restoration and $175 more if I want it hung too. The head restoration seems reasonable, but an additional $175 for having it hung seems expensive. As part of the restoration, he does something called "forced patina" which to me looks like hot salt bath bluing. I'm not liking that too much.
View attachment 713957
That head looks good already, just put a light coat of boiled linseed oil on it an let it dry. Not sure what the handle looks like but for 175bucks I'd scrape it with a blade then sand it real nice like an then put about 20 coats of the same boiled linseed oil on it. If the head is loose pick out the wedge and tape the head off. Clean rust out off the eye with a wire brush reseat the head and put in a new wedge. Set down one your chair with a beverage of choice an admire your handy work.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 
Haywire Haywood

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Ah, I did a vinegar soak on a carbon steel chef's knife. It didn't come out nearly as dark as the ax head in his picture.

Edit... Rob at Vintage got back with me. Apparently it's a Jersey pattern. I think I'm going to let him do the head. I think it needs some recontouring in the cheeks and I don't want to hack around on it.

Not sure what the handle looks like
It's got overstrike damage on the other side and needs to be replaced. I started looking for a good hickory handle to replace it. Beaver Tooth is out of their select grade. I need to do some more reading at Handle House. Where do you guys get your handles?
 
Multifaceted

Multifaceted

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This is an old 3.5lb Collins that my dad had for as long as I can remember.. I figure it's at least 45 years old. Anyone know anything about it? How much do you think it would cost to get it refurbished and rehung by someone that has an idea what they're doing? Edit.. I found vintageaxeworks.com that is about 90 minutes from me. He wants $75 for a head restoration and $175 more if I want it hung too. The head restoration seems reasonable, but an additional $175 for having it hung seems expensive. As part of the restoration, he does something called "forced patina" which to me looks like hot salt bath bluing. I'm not liking that too much.
View attachment 713957
Like @lead farmer said, the steel looks to be in already good enough condition, not much restoration is needed except for a proper grind, that is, if you intent to actually use this; otherwise if this is destined be just a wall hanger, then you can skip that step. $175 is a little high for something that would be provided. I might charge that much if I'm sourcing all of the materials, but f someone were to provide me the head and cover the shipping to me, then I would charge around $125 and that would include shoring up the steel, proper cutting grind and edge sharpening, patina, then hung on a carved, thinly contoured handle.

As to the forced patina, some ways of doing it is more aesthetic, but some also create a protective layer to prevent rust. I do a forced patina by soaking the steel in a warm bath of peroxide and salt, which covers it in rust. I do this several times and evenly brush the rust to spread it, then once satisfied, I'll boil the steel in distilled water which turns the brown rust layer into a black passive oxidation layer. Very similar to boiling water in an aluminum kettle to 'season' it.

Here are some forced patinas that I've recently done:








That head looks good already, just put a light coat of boiled linseed oil on it an let it dry. Not sure what the handle looks like but for 175bucks I'd scrape it with a blade then sand it real nice like an then put about 20 coats of the same boiled linseed oil on it. If the head is loose pick out the wedge and tape the head off. Clean rust out off the eye with a wire brush reseat the head and put in a new wedge. Set down one your chair with a beverage of choice an admire your handy work.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
This! You can do this yourself, lots of folks in this thread who can help guide you along the way. Each one you do gets better, and the whole process is very satisfying - and fun! Nothing like enjoying a tall pint of your favorite beverage and listening to some tunes out in the shop for a night of breathing life back into an old toool.

Ah, I did a vinegar soak on a carbon steel chef's knife. It didn't come out nearly as dark as the ax head in his picture.

Edit... Rob at Vintage got back with me. Apparently it's a Jersey pattern. I think I'm going to let him do the head. I think it needs some recontouring in the cheeks and I don't want to hack around on it.



It's got overstrike damage on the other side and needs to be replaced. I started looking for a good hickory handle to replace it. Beaver Tooth is out of their select grade. I need to do some more reading at Handle House. Where do you guys get your handles?
Beaver-Tooth is a good handle maker, though he's a one-man operation, so shipping is slow and often some items are out of stock, so you'll have to watch the page often to get what you are looking for. I would avoid House Handle, I've been disappointed by their quality control more often than I received anything satisfactory. I'm talking sloppy lathe work, hafts not aligned with the eyes, turning down a handle to the thickness of a toothpick because you ordered a lacquer-free handle and they just put a lacquered one on a lathe. Just crap, I'm done with them. Proceed with caution.

If you need some help and or guidance, feel free to message me. I've helped and done work for a few folks on here.
 
Haywire Haywood

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Like @lead farmer said, the steel looks to be in already good enough condition, not much restoration is needed except for a proper grind, that is, if you intent to actually use this; otherwise if this is destined be just a wall hanger, then you can skip that step. $175 is a little high for something that would be provided. I might charge that much if I'm sourcing all of the materials, but f someone were to provide me the head and cover the shipping to me, then I would charge around $125 and that would include shoring up the steel, proper cutting grind and edge sharpening, patina, then hung on a carved, thinly contoured handle.

As to the forced patina, some ways of doing it is more aesthetic, but some also create a protective layer to prevent rust. I do a forced patina by soaking the steel in a warm bath of peroxide and salt, which covers it in rust. I do this several times and evenly brush the rust to spread it, then once satisfied, I'll boil the steel in distilled water which turns the brown rust layer into a black passive oxidation layer. Very similar to boiling water in an aluminum kettle to 'season' it.

You can do this yourself, lots of folks in this thread who can help guide you along the way. Each one you do gets better, and the whole process is very satisfying - and fun! Nothing like enjoying a tall pint of your favorite beverage and listening to some tunes out in the shop for a night of breathing life back into an old toool.

Beaver-Tooth is a good handle maker, though he's a one-man operation, so shipping is slow and often some items are out of stock, so you'll have to watch the page often to get what you are looking for. I would avoid House Handle, I've been disappointed by their quality control more often than I received anything satisfactory. I'm talking sloppy lathe work, hafts not aligned with the eyes, turning down a handle to the thickness of a toothpick because you ordered a lacquer-free handle and they just put a lacquered one on a lathe. Just crap, I'm done with them. Proceed with caution.

If you need some help and or guidance, feel free to message me. I've helped and done work for a few folks on here.
Thanks. I'm going to be using this as it's my only ax, but it's a once in a great while kind of use. I just ordered a sheath for it to protect it once the work is done as it will be sitting in the corner of the shop more often than not. What got me wanting to do more reading about handle house is a blistering video review on the Tube where a guy ordered 5 handles to review and paid the $2 premium for "hand selected". Three of them ended up being unusable and the other 2 required alteration to fix. Their description of the handle didn't include what kind of wood it was made out of either which I thought was strange. I tend to get lost in the details, and was reading conflicting information about heartwood mix and not so conflicting information about grain orientation. As much as I'm going to be swinging it, neither is most likely very important. Beavertooth plainly states that grain orientation doesn't play a role in his grading process. It's basically completely clear, mostly clear or "Clear? Never heard of him, what's he look like?"

$250 ($175 hanging plus $75 head restore) is him providing everything except the head and he builds a wooden crate to ship it back in. I'm NOT going that route. He's going to clean up the mild imperfections, resurface it and give it a proper sharpening. I only have this one axe to do and I'm not going to start learning on it. I'd rather let someone that knows what they're doing have it. The finish I chose is his buff brushed. Example attached. If I hadn't moved so quickly and told him that he had the job, I would have let you do it, but I've given my "electronic handshake" on the deal. Wouldn't be right to back out now.

Buff.jpg
 
Multifaceted

Multifaceted

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Thanks. I'm going to be using this as it's my only ax, but it's a once in a great while kind of use. I just ordered a sheath for it to protect it once the work is done as it will be sitting in the corner of the shop more often than not. What got me wanting to do more reading about handle house is a blistering video review on the Tube where a guy ordered 5 handles to review and paid the $2 premium for "hand selected". Three of them ended up being unusable and the other 2 required alteration to fix. Their description of the handle didn't include what kind of wood it was made out of either which I thought was strange. I tend to get lost in the details, and was reading conflicting information about heartwood mix and not so conflicting information about grain orientation. As much as I'm going to be swinging it, neither is most likely very important. Beavertooth plainly states that grain orientation doesn't play a role in his grading process. It's basically completely clear, mostly clear or "Clear? Never heard of him, what's he look like?"

$250 ($175 hanging plus $75 head restore) is him providing everything except the head and he builds a wooden crate to ship it back in. I'm NOT going that route. He's going to clean up the mild imperfections, resurface it and give it a proper sharpening. I only have this one axe to do and I'm not going to start learning on it. I'd rather let someone that knows what they're doing have it. The finish I chose is his buff brushed. Example attached. If I hadn't moved so quickly and told him that he had the job, I would have let you do it, but I've given my "electronic handshake" on the deal. Wouldn't be right to back out now.

View attachment 714152
If you're shelling out the kind of coin make sure you hang it on a rack, or drill a hole in the bottom of the the handle, run a lanyard through it and hang it from a hook. Leaning it against the wall will cause handle warp if repeated for a length of time.

Also, err on a shorter handle rather than a long one if that's an option. The long handle for a tall guy is only dogma that is parroted mostly by people who seldom ever swing an ax for chopping. For example, I'm not freakishly tall, but at 6' 1", most of my axes are around 28". My favorite felling and bucking ax is 25" long, and my longest handle working axe is 32".
 
Haywire Haywood

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Just bought a 36". LOL I have always favored longer handled tools. Mostly I think because of improper technique and the idea that the longer the handle, the more head speed you get (there's a joke there someplace). Watched an ax video that said when bucking, the handle is never supposed to break the horizontal plane and you're supposed to bend your knees as the ax drops to keep the handle horizontal. That would drive me bonkers.
 
Multifaceted

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While I'd recommend nothing longer than 32", or if you're able to change your order with him, otherwise you should be okay with 36", only you may find it irritating when bucking on thr ground. If I was using a 36" long handle bucking a log while standing on the ground, I'd be spending a lot of my effort trying not to hit the dirt, and my grip would be swinging dangerously close to my groin. However, if standing atop a log and bucking, then a longer handle would be useful.

Once you get your technique establish, stop on over to the cordwood challenge thread:

https://www.arboristsite.com/commun...cordwood-challenge.328478/page-5#post-6802427
 
Haywire Haywood

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He's just doing the head for $75, I'm not spending the money on his full meal deal. I picked up an Ames handle from Lowes this afternoon. I found one on the rack that was almost perfectly straight and the grain was near perfectly aligned with the head also. The only thing that I'm a little worried about is the front to back length of the eye portion. For some reason it looks a little on the short side. I already have the head packed though, so I'll figure it out when I see it again. He says he's booked 6 or 8 weeks out at the moment.
 
Multifaceted

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He's just doing the head for $75, I'm not spending the money on his full meal deal. I picked up an Ames handle from Lowes this afternoon. I found one on the rack that was almost perfectly straight and the grain was near perfectly aligned with the head also. The only thing that I'm a little worried about is the front to back length of the eye portion. For some reason it looks a little on the short side. I already have the head packed though, so I'll figure it out when I see it again. He says he's booked 6 or 8 weeks out at the moment.
Many Jersey patterns have an elongated eye that differ from most American teardrop eye patterns. When you go to hang it, be generous on your wedge lengthwise (front to back of the eye) so it will fill in the gap(s).
 
Haywire Haywood

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I'll do that, thanks. I usually use two part epoxy to fill any voids between the handle and the head too. I've had good luck doing that. BTW, that video I said was very critical of Handle House was done by that skill cult guy. I noticed that was him in the wood chip video over on the cordwood challenge thread.
 
Multifaceted

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Yes, Skillcult and others have expressed their displeasure with House Handle's quality in recent years. For handles other than axe handles, they're actually not that bad. Whenever you get around to hanging it, I would also recommend removing the lacquer, and then shaving it down thin. A thick handle is not strong, you want it to bend and flex with an axe. That is why Hickory and Ash or often chosen in North America for percussion handles - they have the perfect balance of strength/hardness and elasticity. Grain orientation doesn't matter as much as even grain runout. Additionally, the heartwood/sapwood mix doesn't matter either. I think the USFS states in their manual that somewhere around a 40% heartwood is acceptable. The best thing for a long percussion handle is flexibility, IMHO.
 
CaptObvious

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Newbie here but I bought a Collins Homestead 3.5# single bit head off FleaBay to put a handle in and use for driving felling wedges and other general axe uses while cutting firewood. Can anyone point me in the right direction for what I should look for? I would prefer a 24-28" handle if possible. Where is a good place to order one online? I don't want to order something online and get the wrong handle only to get something that wont fit and will cost more to return than I paid.
 
LondonNeil

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well I'm both pleased and frustrated with my handles.
1. cheap (£9) ash handle....slightly warped and twisted, considerable gran run out, wouldn't pay a pond for it. oh well...its useable just and its to handle a head for my 13 year old nephew who wants to start helping his dad split wood...so no handle will last long i suspect. Disappointing.
2. smedbergs handles, great grain orientation and no run out..very very good. pleased.
3. hultafors arvika handle. great grain orientation and no run out...but...oh, its got the wrong eye size for what i need. poo. I've rechecked...my mistake...I'd convinced myself it was larger than normal and large enough..even with Clarence's photos...I blame imperial measurements and a metric conversion f*** up...if Nasa can do it then I can blame that too. Oh well. I have an excellent quality spare 32" handle!

I still need to find a haft to fit a massive 28mm x 70mm eye, that's 1 1/8" x 2 3/4" (Nasa conversion aside). I've ordered a couple of £10 pick axe handles, the eye on those is 70mm x 50mm so I could reshape it....IF the swell goes far enough down the length...hmm. Aso found a supply of hafts with long eyes, 2 3/4" , 3" and even 3 3/4" I've messaged them about the width, but not overly hopeful. Short of making a handle myself I may be stuck. hmm
 
Yotaismygame

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Newbie here but I bought a Collins Homestead 3.5# single bit head off FleaBay to put a handle in and use for driving felling wedges and other general axe uses while cutting firewood. Can anyone point me in the right direction for what I should look for? I would prefer a 24-28" handle if possible. Where is a good place to order one online? I don't want to order something online and get the wrong handle only to get something that wont fit and will cost more to return than I paid.
Homestead huh....those heads are made of real soft metal. Not very old either. Hope you got it cheap. Two places I buy handles from: www.househandle.com and www.beavertooth.com . That head is going to take a standard size eyed handle

"HOMESTEAD BRAND

The earlier HOMESTEAD labels were quite detailed and used in at least two different sizes. Versions of both generation labels have also been observed printed in black on white paper and black and gray on white paper. These versions were used in catalogs although Collins did use a variety of black on white labels over the years.
The HOMESTEAD brand was used over such a period of time that the label design was modernized at some point, possibly during the late 1950s or early 1960s. That updating also resulted in some of the labels being printed in blue and white on gold colored foil as compared to the traditional paper."
 
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