Pick axes and axe repair
1) Does anyone have a recommendation for a company that makes good quality pick-axes? I’m not happy with the quality of steel that comes on most tools imported from China or Mexico these days: I bent the last pick-axe I bought from Home Depot, and I’m not interested in replacing it with the same problem.
2) While replacing the handle on a chopping axe, I noticed a significant crack in the axe head. The crack is on the side where the handle enters the head.
The head is probably 50 years old and has outlasted several handles. Can I have the crack repaired by a welder or has it reached the end of it’s life?
Thanks in advance,
Watermelon Samurai - June 25, 2021
Thanks! Yes, the Beast looks interesting.
Pizza Ninja - June 25, 2021
Came here to comment because of your username. I’m Pizza Ninja and you are Watermelon Samurai. We must be brothers, cousins, or something.
Looks like your axe there is a Craftsman. I used to work at Sears and your axe should be under a lifetime warranty. The head you have there is probably better than any of the China heads that they will replace it with, but if it is cracked and unrepairable, it’s better to have a China head than just tossing it.
Watermelon Samurai - June 27, 2021
Siamese twins for sure – connected by a love of food, perhaps? 🙂
Sears closed in my area a few years ago. And, sadly, the last time I returned a broken Craftsman tool (a pair of pliers) to Sears under the warranty, I came away with a replacement of vastly inferior quality…
pint of beer - June 25, 2021
i watch these restoration youtube channels and people on reddit just because it is incredible what they are able to turn something into. i’ve always wanted to do an axe head restoration.
look through thrift stores, yard/estate sales, classifieds, and flea markets for some neglected rusty head and try and restore it to a mirror finish. keep at it and you’ll be able to find something that isn’t made in china or mexico.
Robert LarsonContributor - June 25, 2021
Is the axe handle you are replacing one you bought or one that you made?
You got me thinking about my tool care and taking a look at my 10 year old Leatherman Wave I see that it has slight areas of rust in the little nooks and crannies. I took a look at their website and it says to just spray everything down with WD-40 and use a light oil or teflon lubricant. I’m going to spray the whole thing with some CLP (clean, lubricate, protect) gun cleaning spray. Thank you for the reminder to take care of my tools.
Watermelon Samurai - June 27, 2021
I bought the handle. My woodworking skills are basic at best. 🙂
Regarding the rust on your Leatherman, you might want to try “Evapo-rust”. It’s a water-based rust remover that works extremely well. I fix a lot of old bikes, and I use it to remove rust on gears, cranks & derailleurs. It works like a charm, isn’t caustic, doesn’t stink and is biodegradable (or at least advertised that way). Drop the metal in for a couple hours and it comes out looking like new. Instructions say to rinse it off with water. I just dry off the part and douse it with Boeshield T-9. But a water rinse followed by WD-40 would be just as good.
Robert LarsonContributor - June 27, 2021
I’ve seen Evapo-rust at the store before and thought it was one of those products that don’t live up to what they advertise, but good to hear that it works for someone! I’ll have to get some.
The leatherman cleaned up to new condition with a bit of gun cleaner, but I do have an old bike and some tools that have rusted over, so I’ll have to get some evapo-rust for those.
Bob - June 25, 2021
Good morning WS,
I know of some companies making premium quality pick-axes and the related tools. Usually the cost of these premium tools is too costly for a private citizen prepper’s requirements.
My personal philosophy is to replace your old one with a fused handle to axe head model. My favorite … seen in barn picture Redneck posted over at “Homestead” thread … has yellow and black “art deco” geometric design on handle. Forgot company name and not here in study to check.
I would not recommend repairing an axe head. Relatively speaking, good quality axes are not an expensive item – less eg the specialized firefighters, ocean-going boat, oil rig types – Don’t gamble on repairs; just replace.
pint of beer - June 26, 2021
i have to disagree with you on just buying a new axe when your handle breaks. it’s a valuable skill to know how to make and replace your own handle, especially when stores are shut down or they are out of axes.
Bob - June 26, 2021
Good morning Pint,
Understand. Agree that it’s definitly worth knowing how to replace an axe handle … presuming one is sheltering in place and not in evac mode.
Here’s the background to my view:
Repairs by a welder are not free. One accident with the repaired head and new handle can mean a medical care requirement and it just might not be available – at least not here.
Safety must govern; upgrade tools to fused head to handle. The costs will be less than welder fees and replacement handles with locking wedges.
Misc; I have here in a displace case, a hatchet head dated 1941 mfg by Plume. The OD paint is still mostly intact.
pint of beer - June 27, 2021
alright, i have to give you that. repairs still cost and if done poorly could cause a worse accident that is worth more than the 20 bucks you saved. good skill to know how to fix and repair your gear, but better to replace with something new of a tested and proven reliability and safety level.
love this forum how we can rationally discuss things without getting all heated up and yellin at each other like is done in other forums. have a good one bob
Watermelon Samurai - June 27, 2021
Yes – given the potential safety issue – I think replacement is probably wise advice.
I still think I’ll investigate getting the old head welded. I could probably put it on a short handle and use it as a hatchet for light work.
Watermelon Samurai - October 19, 2021
Just to close the loop on this:
1) I did take the axe head to a welding shop to ask if it could be fixed. They unhesitatingly said “No”. They explained that welding would change the temper of the steel, making it brittle, and the welded area would certainly crack after just the first few chops. So I’m leaving it as-is and demoting it to a hatchet head.
2) Also, just for illustration, I soaked the head in “Evapo-rust” for about 6 hours and rinsed it off. Here is the result:
I have no idea what the vertical black stripe on the left side is. I couldn’t even see it before soaking it.
I had already soaked a pile of old bicycle parts in the Evapo-Rust solution before putting the axe head in, so the solution was not fresh out of the bottle. No scrubbing required either. (I have no affiliation with the company – I just think the stuff works really well.)
rangerjohn - October 19, 2021
Impressed with the Evapo rust results
pint of beer - October 19, 2021
nice results on removing the rust. does it look like that darker portion is from a previous grind and just has absorbed something different than the other portion of the axe? seems to be around the same area that people grind their heads at–
Watermelon Samurai - October 21, 2021
Actually, it’s the reverse of your picture. It’s more like the blade was dipped in something. You can see the dark “paint line” across the top edge of the blade (and the bottom edge too), areas which would not have been sharpened:
Also, you can see that the dark stain has survived previous sharpening:
So it seems like the blade was intentionally dipped in an anodizing solution or something that chemically altered the metal.
I have no idea…
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