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Vaughan U.S.A junk ? ?

Discussion in 'Axe, Tomahawk, & Hatchet Forum' started by Gator39, May 13, 2017.

  1. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
    Just picked up a Vaughan U.S.A hatchet head at a local fleamarket.
    I knew it was not old, and is carried by Home Depot, but it had a bit of patina and i want to paint the hatchet as I probably won't be using it anytime soon.
    I soaked it for a day in vinegar and it cleaned up perfectly.
    Which revealed the problem.
    It had a very shallow heat treat line on the hammer head, but no line what so ever on the blade.
    Does this new production, U.S.A made hatchet really have no heat treated, hardened blade?
  2. Beachlogger


    Dec 27, 2015
    Take a file to the blade and that will tell you
  3. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012

    Good advise. Vaughan makes good stuff. File test is in order.
  4. garry3


    Sep 11, 2012
    I know somebody here had a complaint about Vaughan's broad hatchet having a bad heat treat a few years ago.
    I recently used one of their rigging axes to chop through old electrical wiring, nails, lathe and plaster , stucko with chicken wire etc, with minimal damage to the bit. It's just a few years old and it seems to be pretty good.
  5. jblyttle

    jblyttle Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2014
    Some hatchets are better than others, but I would be surprised if it was bad. Anything is possible. Carpenter style?
  6. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
    Carpenter style.
    Its my. (Limited) understanding if it is properly heat treated the line will definitely show very distinctly.
    No line what so ever.
  7. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
    I will take a file to it and see what happens.
  8. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
    The whole hatchet could have been heat treated to one hardness and then the hammer poll induction heated and hardened further. That's just one scenario where a quench line wouldn't be visible in the bit.

    File test.
    Kentucky likes this.
  9. Square_peg


    Feb 1, 2012
  10. littleknife


    Nov 29, 2000
    I have seen and examined dozens of Vaughan half hatchets over the years in Home Depot (while they were still carrying them) and in Sears (under the Craftsman brand). I have never seen a visible quench line on the blades, only on the hammer heads. Square_peg’s scenario suggested above is a very likely one.
    I also doubt your hatchet is a junk, I think it is likely properly hardened and tempered for its intended use.
  11. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    Vaughan does a great job with the 1080 Steel which they've been using for decades, they would never put out a tool that didn't have any heat treat at all.
  12. Steve Tall

    Steve Tall

    Aug 28, 2010
    This video shows the Vaughan factory and some of their heat treatment process, with hammers heads being heated in a "molten bath" (starting around 3:30) before being quenched.

    Some types of salts can evidently be used in "molten baths" for heat treatment:
    "Salt baths are available for operating at either tempering or hardening temperatures. Depending on the composition of the salt bath, heating can be conducted at temperatures as low as 325° F to as high as 2,450° F. Lead baths can be used in the temperature range of 650° F to 1,700° F."
    Agent_H likes this.
  13. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
  14. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
    Some very good info in these replies.
    Much appreciated.
    As I said my knowledge was limited and now it is somewhat broader.
    I did sharpen it but it is not hung yet so I will just have to use it and see how it holds up.
    Thanks for the replies.
  15. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    The point of filing is to see how easy or hard it is to sharpen. If it's super easy you know it's not very hard.
  16. quinton


    Nov 4, 2006
    That may have been me. I have a carpenters hatchet that was bought new in the late 80's or early 90's. When I sharpen it the the bur breaks off every time, leaving you right back at square one. The hatchet is still in an old toolbox along with other junk.
  17. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
  18. Gator39


    May 13, 2017
    I did not file it, but sharpened it up with one of those old echo brand wheel knife sharpeners.
    Best knife sharpener ever made in my opinion.
    I sharpen all my knives with these and have sharpened a couple hatchets with it before.
    This Vaughan did sharpen right up but I am not experienced enough to tell much difference.
    Agent_H likes this.
  19. Hickory n steel

    Hickory n steel

    Feb 11, 2016
    A simple way I've used before is to file on a cheap old butter knife ( using a single cut mill bastard ), seeing how easy it is for the file to bite in. Then do the same to your hatchet, if it's as easy or easier ( butter knives aren't very hard ) then you know right away it's not worth the effort. If it's much harder you can at least give it a chance.

    I'd hate to take the time to wire wheel and hang a head that'll turn out to be too soft.
  20. SC T100

    SC T100

    Apr 2, 2014
    A lot of heads came with a clear coat (modern Vaughns do), so if it was still on there, or the head had even a light coating of old crud and grease, then the vinegar wouldn't have touched the bit steel and therefore wouldn't have shown a hardening line.
    garry3 likes this.

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