Thursday, May 8, 2014

Part II - My First Axe Restoration Projects (Council Tool and Collins Legitimus)

Start at the beginning with Part I "My first axe restoration projects - Collins double bit and Council Tool Dayton"

At this point in my journey I've reached a mirror finish on the Council Tool, and resigned myself to put the Collins on hold until I "learn my way" through the Council project. If you follow all my blogs, you'll see that I recently scored a Grandfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet at a giveaway price; but it didn't affect my desire to do these restorations. In fact, I am enjoying this activity more and more with each step I take.

A week or so ago I bought my handles from House Handles; a website with great prices, selection and high quality handles. Shipping is also at cost which is nice. If you order from them, be sure to request "select grain handles" and no finish (you'll want to linseed it yourself). They up charge a couple bucks for this but its worth it. I have the boys at Bushcraft USA forums to thank for the recommendation. While waiting for the handles to arrive, I methodically planned my next steps by reading anything and everything I could find on the topic of refinishing axes, axe re-profiling, axe sharpening, axe hanging as well as general axe use, maintenance and care materials.

When I found a great resources, I read and re-read them. From these works I formed a list of things I'd like to make and/or acquire to get through future project steps - like a wooden carpenter's mallet, some proper files, wood rasp, linseed oil,  Swel-Lok, file card, Wonderbar rust eraser... In addition to the regular advice and feedback from the forums, I have found the following to be indispensable:

1. An Axe to Grind by the U.S. Forest Service as well as the detailed PDF of the same title.

2. The Woods Life Blog has three fantastic blogs on axe restoration and care.

3. This great post "How to Sharpen an Axe" by British Red on the Bushcraft UK forum, on which I am a member "Paracordist".

My plan is to reprofile the Council Tool with a file soon because the cheek is just too thick. I realize now that I might have been better off doing this before the fine grit sanding work I've done, but I don't mind doing it again as my goal is to do it right first and foremost.

I'm also thinking ahead about the hang. I like detail in the Forest Service publication and video, so I'm planning to follow it closely. One of my next purchases will be Swel-Lok which is the recommendation Bernie Weisgerber (author of Axe to Grind) for the wedge treatment prior to driving it home. I also need a "Carpenter's Wooden Mallet", and tonight decided to make one from an old fence post I was going to throw away. I saw the beginnings of a handle already, so decided to go with it!

 I made a couple vertical cuts down the quadrants of the existing "handle", then turned the post on its side and began to cut out the wedges.
 An excuse to use the Gransfors I just acquired for $30:
 Shaved / rounded the square handle left from the saw cuts.
 Next I just sanded the heck out of everything for a few minutes
 Now I think I have a serviceable mallet!

Written by Kevin Gagne


  1. Wow! I never fail to appreciate those who are really skillful and creative. I don't have the ample skill to create a survival axe, though, so all I can do is purchase a good one. I always examine the type of blade and how heavy the axe is. My buddies and I often go camping and having an excellent axe is important. I don't skimp on quality and I always make sure that I buy from top manufacturers who offer competitive prices and lifetime warranties, which I appreciate. Here's a good site I've come across with offering great reviews

  2. My buddies and I go to numerous camping trips together and we love having our axe do the work of cutting wood! I have no aptitude in sharpening my own axe, which is a source of joke within my camping circle. Joe, my friend is a real trouper and helps me sharpen my blade. Well, he does 90% of the work while I just watch in fascination. He shared a wonderful site with me that teaches how to sharpen an axe. Here's this wonderful site that you might want to go to