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Miner's drift pick restoration (pic heavy)

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Square_peg, May 17, 2015.

  1. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    Here's something a little different. I found this miners drift pick at a local estate sale last year. Restoring it has been a work in progress for some time. I finally hung it today.

    Here it is as it came to me last year. Rather than grind away metal to re-point this pick I decided to draw out the points on the anvil.


    Heat up the forge.


    One point done.


    Back in for the other side. The neighbor's dog loves to watch me work.


    Re-pointed pick.


    Time to hang it. I ordered a new drift pick handle from House Handle.


    One of House Handle's drift pick handles could be made to fit a double bit axe. Nice thing about them is that they come with no kerf. Like many of House's axe handles this handles eye is rotated out of line with the rest of the handle. I had to straighten it out to hang my pick true.


    Here it is hung.


    I did a little knob on the swell.


    I fit the haft to the eye like I would a Jersey pattern axe.


    Kinda weird, because of the shallow eye I had to cut the kerf deeper than the eye. I've never had to do that with an axe - not even a Hudson Bay.


    I guess I should have used a wider wedge.


    Hope you enjoy the photos.
  2. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Holy cow! You are talented, and patient. That's become a thing of beauty! I presume you would have had to re-temper the picks.
  3. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Gorgeous! Lovin' it.
  4. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I posed that question on a blacksmithing forum a few years ago. Consensus was no, don't harden or temper picks. They're an impact tool and will crack or chip if hardened. Air hardening is good enough. I think you'd be fine hardening and then tempering back strongly - like 600°F.

    The coal ran out around here 50 years ago. These old coal picks aren't that common anymore. They're probably all over West Virginia. But I found this at a local yard sale and wanted it for posterity.

    Funny thing, there are still a few lenses of coal at the surface in this area. They're not big enough for commercial mining but I'll sometimes collect the coal for my forge. If you're a fellow who spends a lot of time tromping around in the wilds then you notice these things. Sometimes I find big chunks in the river.

    Yankee Josh and survivor45 like this.
  5. Agent_H

    Agent_H Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    stuff is lucky when it ends up with you Square_peg :thumbup:
  6. 300Six


    Aug 29, 2013
    Lovely job! Only Disney can bring inanimate objects 'back to life' better than Peg. I was wondering about the use for a 'miner's pick' but later on when you mention 'coal pick' it all starts to make sense.
  7. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    Looks great. Renewing the tool, instead of grinding it away.
    Yankee Josh likes this.
  8. rjdankert

    rjdankert Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 10, 2011
    Great post and I did enjoy the pictures What is the length of your pick? After seeing this post, I realized I my have one of those. The one I have is the same shape (no markings) and is 13 3/4 in long. One of the points has been blunted so it may have been 14 in originally. I didn't know what it was for because it seemed so small.

    http://kycoal.homestead.com/KYCoalMiningHistory.html Lots of coal history here.
  9. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    After re-pointing mine is 14 inches.
  10. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    Good job!
  11. Remzy


    Feb 7, 2015
    Im loving your work mate, great job!
  12. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    I took this pick out to a volunteer trail work party last Saturday. Because of the freezing weather we had a couple inches of frozen soil at the top. I let a young women use this pick and she absolutely fell in love with it. Nice light weight and slender haft. It's a pleasure to use. I used a heavier vintage pick that has also seen blacksmith repairs in its past.

    Sorry - no 'at work' photos. But here's an 'at lunch' photo. The ground was thawed out at this sunny location.


    Here's the pick I used. You can see that a blacksmith added a new tip to this pick at some time in the past. This pick was made by Klein-Logan.


    Love me a good pick.
    Moonw likes this.
  13. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  14. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    Might be some truth to that as many stories are rooted in fact.

    Blacksmiths are also rumored to demonstrate the hardness of the punches they made for customers by punching the off side of their anvils. Of coarse most of these anvils back then had wrought iron bodies and where very soft, so about anything would punch into them.

    My anvil has many punch marks and other various dings and dents and cuts to its off side. I have often wondered about the chop marks to the legs.

    Square_peg likes this.
  15. Dusty One

    Dusty One Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    Well Done !
  16. rockman0

    rockman0 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 5, 2013
    Good job bringing it back to a useful state, looks great!
  17. markv


    Sep 8, 2004
    excellent work on that old pick.
    i think drawing out the cheeks on old axes would work also.
    i see small picks around these parts of north Mudzoory as coal was what built these small towns. the railroad needed coal so the surveyors located the towns on the line near seams.
    the picks i've run across are altogether smaller, maybe because the mines were smaller.
  18. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    The other day I came across a NOS Warrenteed pick made the Warren Tool Co. of Warren Ohio, not Warren Axe and Tool.
    https://archive.org/stream/WarrenCo...ren Columbian Hargrave Tools Catalog_djvu.txt


    This was brought out to a jobsite by our county utility workers. It's probably been in the shop for 50 years or more and rarely seen the light the day. They were hand digging a hole for a concrete pad to support a ballot box that our county elections department wants installed.
    Classic narrow drift pick eye.

    Indian Chief handle from the Sequatchie plant, Sequatchie, Tennessee, now owned by Seymour Manufacturing and still in operation as evidenced by this Google map.

    With it's nice slim handle this pick is a real gem to use!

    I'm classified as a carpenter and I'm not supposed to do pick diggin' work. But our laborers (classified utility workers) came out ill-prepared for the hard pan glacial till soil they found in this hole. They had come with only a badly worn pick mattock, worse than the one shown in that 2nd photo. The soil had a 4-6 inch duff layer that was dense with cedar roots. Their mattock was almost worthless in those roots. And below the duff was our famous 'natural concrete' glacial clay hard pan. Those boys got real down in the mouth about the work they had to do so I broke the rules and helped them do a little pick diggin'. But first I ran to the local hardware store and bought a railroad pick with nice long sharp points. What they had in stock was Vaughan striking tools which are now made in India. But the pick proved to be a decent tool.
    They next day I brought a Hubbard cutter mattock from home and the boys had found this beautiful NOS Warren. I sent one of the laborers away that day, a big strong fella who would cry like a baby when he had to do any real work. Pity.

    Anyway, we dug out this hole so I could set this form for the new concrete pad. I'll only pour up the the red line on the first pour and after that I'll set up an an inner wall to form a curb to hold back the soil. It saves time to form the outer wall for the slab and curb at once. And working for the county now I'm always conscious about spending taxpayer dollars, after all I'm a tax payer, too.

    This was something of a bitter sweet moment for me. Most carpenters would bitch and moan about doing some pick work. Me, I relish it. But this might be the last time I am ever paid to swing striking tools heavier than a hammer. It's something I've done at least occasionally for over 39 years now.

    You see, I've recently accepted a promotion to move into the office and perform an administrative role. I'm in my mid-50's and my career is starting to take a toll on my physical condition. I have to accept that I can't do field work all the way to retirement. Plus the administrative position pays pretty well.

    In 3 weeks I will hang up my tools, as least as far as professional work is considered. I'll still use them at home and with friends and family. And I'll still volunteer with the local non-prof trails group. But an era is coming to an end for me. I'm grateful for all the co-workers I've been able to share my skills and knowledge with. And I'm grateful that there are people like those on this forum who are still interested in the use and care of striking tools. We are all a dying breed.
  19. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    I will venture a guess that you started out doing menial tasks with such tools. I know I did. Had to show you were worth the effort to further train. I also learned to never be to good for any task that needed done.
    Congratulations on your promotion.
  20. Square_peg

    Square_peg Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 1, 2012
    You know I did.

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