Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My first axe restoration projects - Collins double bit and Council Tool Dayton

Following my recent fail to acquire a GB SFA from LLBean and some unfortunate financial developments at tax time; I decided to save the money and head out to the shed and see what I might restore. I had a badly rusted 3.5 lb council tool Dayton (age unknown) and an un identified double bit, also 3.5. Only markings on the double bit is text "3 1/2". The council is badly banged up and I have no idea what sort of activity it was subjected to. 

I struggled through the removal of the helves as I don't have a proper work area. I'm following approaches I learned here but I have limited resources. I forgot to take shots before the vinegar bath too! These photos are post bath, and post sanding of the council. I have not sanded the double bit yet. I'll update for feedback as this comes along. I'd like to put a short, maybe 26" on the council tool. 

After a bit of work the double bit reveals a logo. Collins Legitimus. Any idea how old? With a little research and feedback from friends on Bushcraft USA forum, I learned that Collins Legitimus went out of production in 1966 so this is at least as old. I found this example online of a restore of the same Collins head. It's mirror finish is amazing and started out just like mine. Does one need tools to accomplish this I wondered. 
Did a little looking at Lowes and I took a giant leap ahead in power today by investing in a Gator brand sanding attachment for my drill. Actually invest is not the right term - it's only about $5. Yahoo! Now I can take this to the level I want more quickly. The product came with three stick on disks 60, 100 & 150 grit. Starting with 60 grit:
It was quite simple to remove major pits and deep scratches.
Graduated from 60 grit to 100 deciding I was not going to remove more steel.  Pits and deeper scratches that remain, I'm leaving for "character" sake.
I went to hand sanding mode now after finishing 150 grit on drill. Here it is after I did one side by hand with 220 - it's starting to look good!
I printed up a profile guide from the forest service publication "an axe to grind". It's cool! This photo shows where the guide "hits" indicating I've got some meat to remove when I get to filing.
Got both sides sanded to 220 grit. All major scratches are gone except at bit where I believe they are in the file zone and will be cleaned up when sharpening. Below see first pic and current condition. Like a true fool I jumped into this without ever taking the real "before" pic when it was all rusted in the shed!!
I just bought handles for this and the Collins - thanks to BCUSA for the tip on house handle website. I asked people to look at the Collins in the first couple photos. I vinegar bathed it to remove surface rust, but nothing else yet. I'm tempted to leave it's natural patina rather than sand shiny like I'm doing the council - thoughts?

Well after doing the 400 and 600, I did a quick five minutes each with my 1000 and 2000 wet dry sandpapers on the Coincil. I promise I'm not going to be neurotic about trying to keep this shine once this becomes a woods axe. Since this is my very first restore, I wanted to see how far i could take it for experience. Next step going to work on reprofiling the edge using the guide I posted a bit ago and a file.
Go on and follow my progress with Part II
Written by Kevin Gagne

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