After reading a few blogs about carving axes, I decided to have a go at turning a kent pattern hatchet into something that is more typical of a carving axe. A decent kent pattern axe makes a perfectly good carving axe without any help from me, but i wanted to reshape it a bit in order to do four things 1) make the edge more curved 2) give it more of a beard so that I can choke up for detail work 3) make the top of the edge (I think it's called the toe) more of a point to make it better for concave work 4) make it a bit lighter. This is what I started with:
You can see the pencil lines that indicate what needs to be removed. Now I could have done this with an angle grinder, but was conscious of not wanting to overheat it, so I decided to go at it old school and use a hacksaw. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to do this, all in I reckon it took about 40 mins. to get the shape using just a hacksaw and files. So then it was on to the stones to put an edge on it. I began with some rough shaping on a grinder, then files and then stones. I finished off with some mdf loaded with Flexcut honing compound.
Next job was to make a handle. I had a rough cut handle lying around from a previous project, but it was way too rough and still needed a lot of work. This was hard going as the wood was very dry and hard.
So after wedging and oiling it, the only thing left was to give it a try. Unfortunately all I had to try it out on was a bit of firewood, but i was still impressed. It slices through the wood nicely and also performs well choked up. I'd like to have a go at carving something with it, but I had to quickly make a mask for it and send it off to my brother Eden. It was his birthday yesterday and I thought it would make a nice gift as he will now be joining Richard and myself at Spoonfest. I'm sure he'll let me have a play then.
I pick Kent pattern heads up for 50p to £2 from car boot sales, add about four hours of work and you're left with a very decent carving hatchet. I'll definitely be trying this again. Next time I'd like to try using a head that is a bit thicker. I'll let you know how I get on and would love to hear from anyone else that has tried this.