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Hatchet from the scrap pile.

Daniel W

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Quite a few years ago, I found an old Ball pien hammer.  It was not my best work, and for many years I threw it in the scrap pile. I thought that it had far too many flaws. There were cracks from forging the blade down just form the material and being too aggressive to make a bearded axe shape.


As the past few years have killed a lot of my hot work forge time, I've been turning to my files and doing some little things.  I looked at the old axe head, and started to draw file it.  It was still ugly however showed some potential. I decided it was time to finish it.


The spark test on the little axe was nothing exciting. However it did not file like soft mild steel. I threw it into the forge to just heat treat the edge to see if there was anything in it. I did this as the old fashioned way, nothing fancy,  just heat, and dunk into some hot oil. After the quench, the edge had some hardness to it. My single cut file would not bite into it.  I tempered it back to a blue then seemed to have lost all that hardness as the file was biting almost as it was before the process.  


I didn't worry about it too much.  I put an edge on it, cracked it into some limbs I had around, and though it was doing well enough to go a little further.  I browned it, then put the final edge on it and became pleasantly surprised that the edge is holding up better than expected. Still pretty soft as I did the final edge with a double cut file - then finished off with some 320 paper.  The edge was then stropped and its doing well with the abuse I'm putting it through.




My first bit of leather work - I just needed something over the edge to protect it and fingers. Not pretty - good practice for another axe mask I have to do.



Due to so much scaring when I tried to heat treat it, I paid attention not to let that heat travel up to the spur. The hammer end is normalized.




This is a slipped handle and I do like it for this.  It easily comes apart to be stored away, it allows the head to be used independently of the handle which with this 'Bearded' design has some advantages.


it's 1 1/2lbs, cutting edge is 3 1/4.  The spur, really is nothing more than for looks as far as I can tell. It did develop as I worked just the blade and was just further forged for looks.  The hammer side of the hatchet was once the pien side it was a relatively large hammer. 


If I happened across another ball pien, I would not do this again.  It is far easier to just make a top tool from them. Eventually, you would need that top tool to make a better hatchet.


For the past few days I have been testing it out, the edge is pretty fine but giving it a strop before use seems to be all that it needs as I'm not going around bucking timber with it.

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