Reconditioning an Old Axe

Sometimes you get lucky at a garage sale and find a diamond-in-the-rough. That’s just what happened to us when we found an old axe head at a sale recently. We show how we brought this old gem out of retirement.

This old axe was found at a yard sale in the bottom of a bucket that looked like it was heading to the scrapyard. It appears that someone had been using it as a splitting wedge and, with a little haggling, it’s owner threw it in for free with some other items we were purchasing.

The severely mushroomed head was ground down with a small right angle grinder. I made sure to keep the axe from heating up and losing it’s heat-treat by constantly quenching it in water. As the misplaced metal was removed it became clear that this axe was manufactured by Olympia. It must have been manufactured fairly recently since there was also a warning stamped into one side warning the user to wear eye protection. I’m guessing it was originally about a 2.5 to 3 lb. axe head.

After the back of the axe was reshaped, the grinding disc was replaced with a fine grit sanding disc and the heavy rust was removed from the rest of the axe using the right angle sanding disc and water. The edge wasn’t damaged badly at all and the small nicks were filed away.

When all of these items were completed, the axe was given a couple coats of flat black primer and enamel.

A $6.99 Menards 36″ axe handle was purchased and it became immediately apparent that the hole forged into the axe had also been distorted when the head was used as a wedge. The new axe handle had to be altered slightly in order to fit. This was quickly accomplished with a belt sander but could just as easily been done with the right angle grinder, wood rasp or a good knife.

Once the handle was completely inserted into the head, the wooden wedge that came with the handle was installed. I used a thin layer of gorilla glue on the wedge when it went in. I’ve had these handles loosen on my axes over the years and I wanted to try the glue to see if it would help.

The excess wedge material was sanded off flush and the axe edge was given a final filing and honing.

So there it is, a reconditioned axe that took about an hour’s worth of work and less than $10.00 out of pocket. Not a bad project!