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Thread: 1700's-1800's Axe heads.....do collectors clean/remove rust/dirt and if so, how ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2001
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    1700's-1800's Axe heads.....do collectors clean/remove rust/dirt and if so, how ?


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    Hi all,

    I recently came across an old Axe head at a antique shop. One could tell it was an old Axe head but it basically looked like an old hunk of rust. This got me thinking, if one were to purchase such an item (of possible Historical value) is it best left "as is" or, might there be a professional (Museum) process and/or "do it yourself" method to remove (200 plus) years of rust/dirt etc. so one can (hopefully) ID the "makers" marks to gauge it's age. Would a long term (weeks-months) Vinegar bath(s) (and light scrubbing) remove the rust/crud and give good results ?

    HARDBALL

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    Michigan U.P.
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    I have been into antique tools for a long time, and belong to a tool collector organization, even though my interest is in usable hand tools. The tools with real value are pristine factory new and/or rare. Many old axes are common and inexpensive. The rusted tools have relatively low value. However, for example a stamped or embossed axe is a sought after collector item. Most collectors I know hate vinegar or other acid baths. They hate shined up to "better" than new. They prefer aged patina. Electrolysis or wire wheel (on axes only, not on a scratchable tool) are the processes I see most collectors use.
    Last edited by halfaxe; 07-02-2013 at 03:51 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2001
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    Portland,Maine
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    Hi Hal,

    Ummmm.....interesting. I would of thought a Vinegar bath would be one of the least harmful approaches to removing rust. Electrolysis I can understand but.....a wire wheel ? I would think that would be too damaging an approach especially on a really old Axe. Then again, what do I know ? Oooh Hal, btw, since you are into vintage tools, might you know anything about the "WERK" company ? I recently found a very nice (me thinks) vintage (forged ?) Grub Hoe/Grub Axe marked WERK. It's pretty cool! I have a thread on the WERK on the Axe page. Thanks.

    HARDBALL

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Michigan U.P.
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    479
    Axe steel is harder than a wire wheel so it doesn't scratch the steel deeply. If the axe has original paint or finish still on it then 0000 steel wool is better. Vinegar or other acid changes the look of the axe to a dull finish that doesn't look like a natural aging. For a user it doesn't really matter, I'm speaking about collectors.

    I don't know werk. I think werk is a common suffix in German language for some companies.

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