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Axe Polishing/Finishing Advice

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by charlesbjr, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. charlesbjr

    charlesbjr

    397
    Mar 8, 2006
    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. garry owen

    garry owen

    64
    Jan 24, 2012
    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. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    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!!! :D
     
  4. SBuzek

    SBuzek KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 7, 2006
    Good advice,also helps to use a sanding block to hold the paper.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/soft-rubber-sanding-block-95603.html

    Take your time and you will have a fine looking axe.
    Stan
     
  5. crazyengineer

    crazyengineer

    Apr 2, 2011
    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. charlesbjr

    charlesbjr

    397
    Mar 8, 2006
    Great advice, thanks!

    Will post pics when done
     
  7. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    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. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    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. trailmaker

    trailmaker

    506
    May 15, 2011
    Thanks for the step by step, M3mphis. Is this the same prep you would use before gun bluing?
     
  10. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    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."

    [​IMG]
     
  11. trailmaker

    trailmaker

    506
    May 15, 2011
    That looks really nice. How did the axes prepped with the cup brush and alcohol turn out?
     
  12. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. bearhunter

    bearhunter

    Sep 12, 2009
    what brand blue do you use memphis?
     
  14. M3mphis

    M3mphis

    Jan 13, 2011
    Birchwood casey is all i've used so far, Red.
     
  15. trailmaker

    trailmaker

    506
    May 15, 2011
    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. charlesbjr

    charlesbjr

    397
    Mar 8, 2006
    Beautiful !!! Love that finish.

    I always thought a wire brush would have caused deep scratches?
     
  17. jwaj

    jwaj

    596
    Dec 19, 2002
    M3mphis, good stuff. Thanks for posting it. Those blued ones look great.
     
  18. LogicallyCompromised

    LogicallyCompromised

    4
    Aug 4, 2012
    i understand this thread is a couple years old but i would like to know who makes this axe/(hatchet?)? does the profile of this head have a name? i assume european? what is the approximate head weight as well?
    thank you for your time.
     
  19. LogicallyCompromised

    LogicallyCompromised

    4
    Aug 4, 2012
    thank you kindly square_peg, live long and prosper!
     

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