Jump to content

Grandfather’s Axe. Questions...Opinions...


Recommended Posts

Hi all,
I found my Grandpa’s rusty axe sitting in his shed. I think there’s another rusty head sitting in his workshop, but I'll have to go back to find it. (He passed away last year. A carpenter by trade, and an amazing woodworker) I thought I’d try to restore his axe as best I could. I really know nothing about axes or much about restoration. I’ve mostly been going by YouTube videos to get an idea of what I would have to do. It looks like it’s probably just a craftsman or at least that’s what the handle told me. Baltimore Jersey? But even if it’s not a great axe, it’s sentimental for me. Anyway, I let the head sit in vinegar over night which loosened up much of the rust. Then used a cup brush to get rid of the rest, but had to switch to a file. I know it’s pitted in spots, and I noticed an area where it looks like he may have had it filled. (It looks like there was a little chunk missing on the side at some point). After cleaning up the rust, I noticed a crack at the front of the eye on the bottom. Is this something that can be repaired by weld? If you think it's something that could be ground out and welded, I'll try to find a local welder. If you think it's too dangerous to fix and continue to use, I'll just finish sanding and hang it on the wall. Just wondering what you all think!

Thanks!
Dan

 

IMG_3828.jpegIMG_3835.jpegIMG_3832.jpegIMG_3830.jpeg

IMG_3834.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a nice axe.  I don't see the crack you mentioned, might it be a weld line from the forging?  Anyway, after all this time, it's probably not something to worry about and I would NOT let a welder try to "Fix" it.  Just for information, if you had left it in the vinegar for a couple of more days, all the rust would have been gone and please don't try to clean it up anymore, it's beautiful as it is.  Find a handle you like, put an edge on it and you'll have a nice tool. 

Others with more knowledge of ax styles will be able to tell you what style of axe.

 

Edited by Gerald Boggs
Link to post
Share on other sites

I see what you're talking about. But without a better look I can't tell how deep the crack is. Most of these older axes were created by forge welding a carbon steel bit into a mild steel body, look up wrapped axe. If there wasn't a good weld, then the softer steel could be cracking along the seam. Either way, don't get a welder to fix it like Gerald said. It would ruin the temper of the axe which would have to be redone making you have to shine it up again. Just get a good hickory handle in it and make a proud wall hanger of it.  And remember, often the beauty of a tool isn't how shiny it is, but in the age that it shows.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys! Yeah, it's in the second image at the point of the eye. I'll try to grab closer shot with my camera tomorrow morning. I'll do what you say though...grab a handle and put it on the wall. I'll go take a look at the other head sitting in his workshop. Thanks again. I appreciate your opinions and the info! I'll vinegar the heck out of the other one before I start rust removal.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the vinegar soak has given it a little character as now you can clearly see the difference between the hard steel and the soft steel.

 

That crack has survived in that axe head all these years proving it not a flaw to worry about.  A carpenters axe is not meant to be used like a big felling axe anyway. Although seeing it in your hand there makes me wonder about its weight and dimensions. And grandpa took care of that axe as the poll has not been mushroomed!

 

The shape of the eye tells me that your not going to have a hard time getting a handle to fit it. A standard handle should fit, but I'm betting that the handle on it was short.

 

When I think of a carpenter and an axe I'm thinking up close cuts to rough out shapes from rough cut lumber.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pretty sure that's a Jersey pattern Emerson & Steven's Co. Axe. Here is a video on how they were made.

 

 

Edited by Jeremy Blohm
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

You can definitely see the steeled edge, nice!  I'm not great at guessing factory axes, but that's a nice one.  Not Craftsman. ;)  Handles get replaced, and as far as I know none of the old makers marked their handles.  Which reminds me of the old story of "That's Grandpa's axe.  It's had five new handles and two new heads, but it's his axe!" 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

Here is a video on how they were made.

Thanks for sharing, Jeremy.  Fun video to watch.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really appreciate all this info! Thank you all so much for the history lesson! He had it on what I think was a 30 or 36 inch handle. I’ll look at it tonight. It was in rough shape. My guess is he used it to chop wood for the stove in his workshop. So where’s everyone’s favorite place to get handles? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

What makes it distinct to Emerson and Steven's?

The way the body is inset into the bit Vs. the bit into the body. 

 

Look near the poll for any markings.

 

This is my favorite handle maker.

https://lamacaaxes.com/products/owens-axe-and-handle-replacement-handles

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

The way the body is inset into the bit Vs. the bit into the body. 

 

They were hardly the only ones to do that. Just the only ones to have survived long enough to get filmed doing it.  It was standard practice on American factory axes from ca. 1850-1920.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have some Seymour hammer handles being shipped to me right now. 

 

2 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

 

They were hardly the only ones to do that. Just the only ones to have survived long enough to get filmed doing it.  It was standard practice on American factory axes from ca. 1850-1920.

I guess I didnt realize that. I plan to make an axe like this one and use the same welding methods. 

Edited by Jeremy Blohm
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jeremy Blohm said:

I guess I didnt realize that. I plan to make an axe like this one and use the same welding methods. 

Why?, without the machine made bits, it looks to be more work then the insert method.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The bits seem easy enough to make. I have a power hammer. That would be all the machine I would need!;)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Update! So I ended up hanging it on a 36. It was too long and I didn’t feel in control. Took it off and hung it on a 32 Link from the hardware store that actually had pretty good grain orientation and  feels more natural. I thinned the handle to my liking. Rehanging a few times was good practice though. I sharpened by hand with a stone, but know it could be much sharper if I start with a file. 

I didn’t notice that some linseed oil had ran its way onto the head. Made it a little gummy in a few spots (the dark dirty spots). Anyone have a good recommendation for removing linseed / tree sap / etc. from the head? Favorite cleaning methods? I know it’s probably the wrong place to be asking. 

9C771BA4-8584-4E1D-9A63-C5E6C655AD9C.jpeg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...