Viking Axe Mod WIP

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
I started posting this in another thread and thought I'd make it a WIP so I could add more detail about the build as I progress.

To give some background, this is the 3rd axe I've modded in this way, each one getting a bit more detailed. The first was a roofing hatchet that was found in the ground and given to me and the second was a Harbor Freight fireman's hatchet I picked up. I've found the HF fireman's hatchet to work the best due to its blade shape/size and the size of the eye.

The roofing hatchet:
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The first Fireman's hatchet:
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Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
To start, I purchased a HF Fireman's Hatchet and disassembled it. These run around $16-$20, depending on coupon or sale. As with anything HF, look through the lot and pick the best one. The handle was cut off and discarded, though you could probably strip it and reuse it. There are also some round wedges that I was able to salvage on this one. I may or may not reuse these, we'll see.

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The next step it to decide on the shape you want. Lots of images and ideas online to choose from. I laid out my design in Sharpie and cut it out on my portaband. I've also used a cutoff wheel. Both work. You can see where the hatchet shape gives you a lot of flexibility for your final design.
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I've not chosen to use the spike in any design yet, but you could. I also had to skip some of the hardened area on the axe that my saw would not cut. Those spots were taken down on the grinder. There are also some stamped numbers on the head that needed to be ground away.

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I used a 10 inch wheel and small wheel to take it from 36-120. No hand sanding was needed, as I didn't want it completely smooth for the antiquing step further on.
 

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
On this one, I wanted to do a more detailed carving on the sides. Coming up with a repeatable design was a challenge. I also tried a couple different ways to transfer the design to the axe head. None of them worked, so I ended up free handing it with a fine Sharpie. If it didn't match exactly on both sides, so be it. I'm sure the Vikings didn't really care so why should I?

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The next step was to carve it in with the Dremel. I used several bits and burned through 2 of them completely...Ball burs in various sizes seemed to work the best for this one. For the straighter lines on the outside, I used a cut off wheel on the Dremel.
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At this point I wanted to see if electro etching would deepen the carving much and darken it. I used Testor's model paint to mask it out and then etched it.
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The final result was OK, but not as pronounced as I was hoping. Your mileage may vary.
 

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
I want this axe to look really old. For this I used a technique I learned from John Cohea's DVD, Frontier Fixed Blades. (This DVD also has some good information on working with bone too).
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The technique used ferric chloride and regular bleach to to actually pit and corrode the steel very quickly. The head was dipped in ferric initially for around 10 minutes, followed by 15-20 in bleach. It will immediately start to form a rusty sludge on the blade.
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I rinsed it off in my water bucket and scrubbed it with a steel brush. I ended up doing this step about 4 times before it had the look I wanted.
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The pitting isn't super deep. I wet sanded it a bit with 1000 grit to get this look.

I decided I wanted the design more pronounced and dark so it was more visible. To do this I opted to use some Birchwood Casey Super Blue.
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I just brushed this on with an artist's paintbrush where I wanted it darker. On the next one, I may try some Plum Brown and see how that looks.

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Next step will be working on the handle...
 

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
Finally had time to get back to work on the axe.
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I had a piece of curly Maple that I decided to use for the handle. Found some reference photos and am going with a swept back handle.

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Did some shaping going back and forth with the belt grinder and hand rasps.

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Getting it shaped to fit tight is the hard part...

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...and carving the shoulder to fit the axe head shape...

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Not too bad. I can work with it.

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I stained it with leather dye. Next step will be to attach the axe head and add some details. I'm thinking I'll do some rawhide wrap on it.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Finally had time to get back to work on the axe.
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I had a piece of curly Maple that I decided to use for the handle. Found some reference photos and am going with a swept back handle.

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Did some shaping going back and forth with the belt grinder and hand rasps.

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Getting it shaped to fit tight is the hard part...

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...and carving the shoulder to fit the axe head shape...

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Not too bad. I can work with it.

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I stained it with leather dye. Next step will be to attach the axe head and add some details. I'm thinking I'll do some rawhide wrap on it.
Nice! Now I have an axe on my to-do list
 

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
More progress today.

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I decided to try 3 Walnut wedges to make a cross pattern. Soaked them in boiled linseed oil and hung the axe head.
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They made a cool pattern after trimming the top flush. It kinda disappeared when I stained the top to match the rest of the handle. After all that I took it out and beat on a couple stumps in the back yard to see if the handle could take it. This one will most likely be for decoration, but should still be able to bust a zombie skull if needed ;)

I've got an idea for a copper embossed rawhide wrap for the handle next. We'll see if it works out how I picture it. Stay tuned...
 

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
Embossed copper detail. This is also a technique I learned from the John Cohea DVD.

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It starts with a thin sheet of copper, .005" thick. I picked it up from Hobby Lobby I think. You can crinkle it up to give it some texture. On this one, I also used an embossing tool to write what I think are the runes for "Fenrir", the giant wolf of Norse mythology. You could also use leather stamps or other tools to punch shapes in it.

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The next step is to use a torch to anneal it, which also gives it some color...didn't get shots of this cuz, only 2 hands...

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Here's after annealing...

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Here's after a quick 220 grit sanding. Need to make sure to NOT remove all the oxides.
 

Heikki

KNIFE MAKER
Next step is the rawhide wrap. I used deer rawhide, but you could also probably use jute or hemp. Both would have a similar look.

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The copper strip is attached with super glue.

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I cut a circle of rawhide, then cut it into a spiral of lace, about 1/8"-3/16" wide. Doesn't need to be super exact or consistent. Soak it in warm water and stretch it out.

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Here's the finished wrap. The ends are tucked under. When it dries, it should tighten up quite a bit.

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I dyed it with a chocolate leather dye, wanting it to be darker than the wood.

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Last step is to coat the rawhide with a mixture of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits. Once this all dries/cures, it should be compete. Maybe some wax on the handle and blade, but that's about it. Should have some glamor shots tomorrow. Hope you've all enjoyed this WIP.
 
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