renovating a bearded axe

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renovating a bearded axe

Postby mrcharly » Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:16 pm

I bought a sadly battered and misused bearded axe off ebay. Rusted, bashed about, bad secondary bevel put on by grinder.

A bit of work with wire brush, file and wet n'dry paper
Before and After
Image

The bevel is now nearly flat and straight (slight wave in blade, took some out with a hammer). It is a bit soft, I could file it with effort, but still should work ok.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby jrccaim » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:56 am

Ohh boy what a mess! It can be fixed. I hope you are up to the effort! Was a nice axe once. Lot of pitting. Pitting cannot be fixed easily. Pitting along the blade edge is very difficult to fix. Not impossilble. There is some gunk called Moglice. Google on it. How it is pronounced I have not the faintest idea (is it Italian?) but it is used to repair lathe beds on metalworking lathes. It is fantastically expensive. For the poorer of us there is J-B Weld. This stuff is much cheaper and equally fantastic. It is a two-part epoxy. It sticks to metal very well, in fact the manufacturer says it's as good as welding. True, provided you get all the rust out. I am a J-B Weld fanatic. But I would never use it on the edge. For that you are better off grinding back the edge to where you have solid metal. Axes are impact tools and I would not trust them for five seconds with epoxy fills. You will lose some millimeters of edge. Too bad. But otherwise you would have to build up the edge with MIG or TIG welding and then grind it. Far beyond ordinary bodgering skills. Makes me shiver, in fact. No way I am going to buy a $300 MIg welder just to repair an axe edge! I could buy Gransfors axes new at at that price! And these welders are all 220 volts, too. Twice mains here in the USA. So I'm into electrics. Plus I'd have to learn how to use it!. No. Grind the edge. That is the critical part of any axe. Obviously pitting away from the edge is really not a problem. Fill it in with J-B if you like, but that's cosmetic.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby mrcharly » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:10 am

The edge is as ok as it is ever going to be.

I won't bother filling the rest of the pitting. The 'after cleaning' photo makes the remaining rust look worse than it is is; the camera has put in a yellow tinge.

Was going to rub linseed oil into it. While rummaging for the linseed oil I came across a can of renaissance wax, so I used that on all areas apart from the bevel. That should stop any future rusting.

Going to make a edge-guard for it tonight and maybe work on the edge a bit more with some wet and dry paper. The wood for the handle needs a couple more days of seasoning.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby Billman » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:02 am

The pitting has created the patina that gives the axe its age - it is normal on any old tool - grinding of the cutting edge has removed any problems, so there is no need for further work. To grind away all traces of old rust or pitting would destroy the tool's intrinsic value - sadly I see this all too often, especially with sellers on eBay, who use an angle grinder to remove all traces of rust from old billhooks.... the deeply scored surface from a coarse grinding disc is far less attractive than a lightly pitted rusty surface.... equally bad are those who feel the tool should be highly polished..... these tools I have to put outside for a year to get a sheen of rust back on them... Most 'heavy' edge were sold as forged. i.e. with a black oxide film - some, e.g. 'gentlemans' or carpenters chisels were sold fully polished - but in this case it meant 'ground all over'.... Certainly the vast majority of 'green woodwork' edge tools would have been sold 'in the black'....
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby Stanleythecat » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:44 pm

Billman is there a way to restore the 'black'?
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby ToneWood » Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:32 pm

Interesting Billman. I often think of your tale of leaving over-cleaned tools outside your workshop to "unclean" them (I recall some were stolen by scrap metal theives :() when I see cleaned or highly-polished axes on ebay (there have been quite a lot recently). I'm with you on patina. Actually I really like the manufactured patina on Alex Yerk's Stefan Ronnqvist viking axe - I was a little shocked by it at first but it now rather appeals. Alex may be able to tell more about it but I think somebody said (perhaps Alex or Witt on the Jogge DVD thread) that it has some sort of burnt oil finish.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby mrcharly » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:40 pm

Image

Now with handle and 'mask' on.

Edge needs work, is still not really sharp and has some flats in places

Handle final shaping not finished. Might take it a bit shorter and definitely thinner.

The edge is currently 'flat', no convexing. There is a tendency to dig in a bit. I'm thinking of making the edge very slightly convex. What do you think?
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby jrccaim » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:17 am

Very nice indeed. I would not make the edge convex at all until I got all the flats out of it. I have made every mistake in the book, and some that aren't even there. A convex edge causes bounce. The very reverse of dig-in. Which, of course, you want to make the edge convex. I would go over the edge bit by bit and get all of the flats out. Flats cause sticking, which feels exactly like dig-in, but different cause. The flats are acting like chisels and -- well -- digging in. Maybe, hard to say without actually trying the axe. Axes are much like violins. They take some tuning. You want some convexity, because a concave edge really will dig in, as you have astutely observed. But just where you go, and where you start convexing (is that a verb?) is really trial and error. With my first axe I found 2-3 mm about right for a knife edge, about 20 deg angle for a carver. Then after that I strove for a rounded, convex shape. I was balancing bounce against dig-in and it was a long journey. This is for a carving edge. If I wanted to chop wood with it I would certainly go with a different approach. Lot of latitude. My figures are what works for me and you may have a completely different opinion. Lovely axe you have there.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby mrcharly » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:54 am

Thanks for the feedback. I'll listen, muster my patience and work the bevels flat until I've removed all the flats on the edge.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby gavin » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:53 pm

mrcharly wrote:Thanks for the feedback. I'll listen, muster my patience and work the bevels flat until I've removed all the flats on the edge.

I'll be interested to see what jigs you may invent or use.
You can do it free hand.

I am all for jigs myself. This one from Tuatahi has the file out of sight in the image below.
Image

From this excellent source http://blueandwhitecrew.org/resources/t ... afilingjig , a similar but home-made suggestion is made:
Image

If you have access to a belt-grinder, this is recommended:
Image
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby mrcharly » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:45 pm

I think I'll be using a bit of 1x2" pine, some wet and dry paper and mark 1 eyeball
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby Billman » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:54 pm

Stanleythecat wrote:Billman is there a way to restore the 'black'?


There are two type of black (at least) one is an oil blackened finish - often found when the tool has been tempered in an oil bath during manufacture - whale oil was used in the past, but we now think 'green' in more than just woodworking - personally I find old engine oil fine, but try not to handle it too much due to the high carbon contect and supposedly cancerous properties (I think you may need daily contact over many years, but better safe than sorry).

Heat iron or steel to red hot and it oxidises, when cool it leaves a black scale (mill scale) on the surface of the tool. This act as a protective layer, but is brittle and can flake off in use....

The other black is an oxide film that develops over many years - rust takes many forms. Red rust is usually iron(iii) oxide or Fe2O3 (there are also FeO and Fe3O4 etc) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron(III)_oxide. Black rust is iron (ii, iii) oxide or Fe3O4 see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron(II,III)_oxide.

If you brush off red rust it still leaves a slightly porous surface which can be blackened with something such a lampblack or stove polish. I usually dilute it with turps, gun oil or WD40 - wipe it on, leave to soak and wait for the solvent to evaporate, and then polish with a dry rag.

Cleaning with phosphoric acid can also leave a black iron phosphate film, but be careful or you will lose the patina in the process.

Electrolytic cleaning also leaves a black oxide film, most of which comes off with a brushing, but enough remains to take an oiling to give a sheen and resist further rusting.

The method of cleaning I use depends on the state of the tool - usually elctrolytic, followed by wire brush and diluted stove polish is enough. The time in the electrolysis bath determined by the degree of surface rust (rust has about 40x the volume of the iron that is rusted i.e 10mm of rust = 0.25mm loss of metal). Even very rusty steel tools have no more than a few mm of rust.... but surface pitting can occur which is much deeper...
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby ToneWood » Tue Apr 30, 2013 7:57 pm

Wow, I hadn't realized how long the beard was, I'd expected you to fit a short handle - like a small cooper's axe. Do you know what this type of axe was used for? Nice edge guard, clever. Sounds like you think you are done with machine grinding. If the wet & dry doesn't get you sharp quick enough, you could try files or diamond plates (3 large-ish ones for £5)
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby chipsrod » Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:31 pm

check to see if you have any good steel on the cutting edg it may be worn out and not worth the effort or get some one to forg a new high carbon steel blade to it. and exctend the end of the blade . my axe is much the same as yours but the blade exctends out beyond the front of the shaft. this way you will have a much better tool in the end.as for a handl use a curved branch large enoff for the shaping.
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Re: renovating a bearded axe

Postby mrcharly » Wed May 01, 2013 2:25 pm

Helve thinned now and all shaped apart from the 'heel'.

The edge is about 6.5" and the head weighs around 2.7lb, so similar to a felling axe in weight. It's quite a weight when used one-handed.

Use? Well I'll use it for debarking, rough shaping, flattening large surfaces such as logs that are being converted to stools and benches. Choked up, it can be used almost like a plane.

The steel of the edge isn't great; I suspect it never was. That's ok, this is for rough use. If I wanted a fine tool I'd be buying GB or talking to the likes of Nic.
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