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Thread: Axe Polishing/Finishing Advice

  1. #1

    Axe Polishing/Finishing Advice


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    Hi all:
    I found an old (about 35 yrs) rusted axe in my father's garage and thought I would clean it up a bit to see what was underneath. It turns out that it is an old Sears Craftsman Axe, which after a bit of work on the belt sander, and a new hickory handle, is actually real nice.

    There are some slight gouges in it and rough spots. Also, I only have the standard 36" bench top belt sanders. As such, I can't get the finish even. For example, I would like to have a satin finish on the whole head, but can't seem to get there with the belt sander. I do have a palm sander, but not sure if this will work?

    Is there some hand polishing I can do? If so, what can I use? Keep in mind, a satin finish is good, NOT a mirror polish.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I have used a angle grinder with a wire cup with good results. It leaves sort of a satiny/shiny finish and keeps most of the patina.

  3. #3
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    If you want to hand sand a satin finish on just start with a coarse grit, like 100 and work your way progressively up. I think that 400 leaves a nice satin finish.
    1. Don't move up a grit level until you've removed all the scratches from the previous grit.
    2. Sand in straight lines, alternating directions to see the scratches that still need removed (sand awhile straight from bit to poll, then switch to heel to toe, then back to bit to poll). Don't sand in weird patterns.
    3. Keeping your grit levels closer together will save time. I'd go something like 100, 150, 220, 320, 400 then 600 if you want more shine, even more go to 1200, but that's almost polished.
    4. Finish up all in one direction, with as straight of lines as you can.
    5. The fine grits will go faster and cleaner if you use wet/dry sandpaper and keep the steel wet with windex (trust me, it works well).

    Hopefully that helps some. Have fun, hopefully you've a good stash of elbow grease on hand!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by M3mphis View Post
    If you want to hand sand a satin finish on just start with a coarse grit, like 100 and work your way progressively up. I think that 400 leaves a nice satin finish.
    1. Don't move up a grit level until you've removed all the scratches from the previous grit.
    2. Sand in straight lines, alternating directions to see the scratches that still need removed (sand awhile straight from bit to poll, then switch to heel to toe, then back to bit to poll). Don't sand in weird patterns.
    3. Keeping your grit levels closer together will save time. I'd go something like 100, 150, 220, 320, 400 then 600 if you want more shine, even more go to 1200, but that's almost polished.
    4. Finish up all in one direction, with as straight of lines as you can.
    5. The fine grits will go faster and cleaner if you use wet/dry sandpaper and keep the steel wet with windex (trust me, it works well).

    Hopefully that helps some. Have fun, hopefully you've a good stash of elbow grease on hand!!!
    Good advice,also helps to use a sanding block to hold the paper.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/soft-ru...ock-95603.html

    Take your time and you will have a fine looking axe.
    Stan
    www.sbuzekknives.com
    Aspire to Inspire before you Expire

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    M3mphis,

    thanks for posting that, I have been thinking about trying a satin finish on one of the few that I have (or maybe a polish).

    I just have to learn patience first

  6. #6
    Great advice, thanks!

    Will post pics when done

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBuzek View Post
    Good advice,also helps to use a sanding block to hold the paper.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/soft-ru...ock-95603.html

    Take your time and you will have a fine looking axe.
    Stan
    Thanks, Stan. I'm not too shy to admit feeling darn good about getting your approval!

    And, yeah, the soft sanding block is a must.

  8. #8
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    Another thing that can really help you even out your satin finish is to go back a grit for the finish sand. For example, sand all the way to 1200 grit. For the final sanding, use 600 grit all in one direction, in straight lines. That can help to make sure you aren't leaving behind little scratches that aren't uniform.

  9. #9
    Thanks for the step by step, M3mphis. Is this the same prep you would use before gun bluing?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailmaker View Post
    Thanks for the step by step, M3mphis. Is this the same prep you would use before gun bluing?
    Well, I guess that depends. I've gun blued a few after doing nothing more than hitting it with the wire cup brush then cleaning with isopro alcohol. The one below was sanded down to 600, brought back up to 400, then blued with steel wool rub downs in between bluing "coats."


  11. #11
    That looks really nice. How did the axes prepped with the cup brush and alcohol turn out?

  12. #12
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    Here's a couple. The alcohol is always a good idea before bluing, just because it removes any oils on the steel. Even the oils from your hands can cause the blue to react unevenly on the surface. I put on nitrile gloves, then clean the head with alcohol, and keep the gloves on while I blue.




  13. #13
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    what brand blue do you use memphis?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearhunter View Post
    what brand blue do you use memphis?
    Birchwood casey is all i've used so far, Red.

  15. #15
    I've got a little bottle of Birchwood Casey but I haven't had a chance to try it out yet. That double bit and the Norwegian job look awesome, thanks for the pics.

  16. #16
    Beautiful !!! Love that finish.

    I always thought a wire brush would have caused deep scratches?
    Quote Originally Posted by M3mphis View Post
    Well, I guess that depends. I've gun blued a few after doing nothing more than hitting it with the wire cup brush then cleaning with isopro alcohol. The one below was sanded down to 600, brought back up to 400, then blued with steel wool rub downs in between bluing "coats."


  17. #17
    Join Date
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    M3mphis, good stuff. Thanks for posting it. Those blued ones look great.

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