Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Axe makeover

There was a bit of discussion recently on the Spoon Carving, Green Woodworking and Sloyd Facebook group about modifying a Kent Pattern hatchet. This is something I've posted about before, you can find the previous post here. One of the things I had problems with last time was the thickness of the bit, as these can be thin on some Kent Pattern heads. So with the renewed interest I thought I'd have another go with a thick bit this time.

The shape of the head is roughly based on an axe by Hans Karlsson, which is very popular at the moment. The modification has reduced the weight from about 600g to about 500g, about the same weight as the Robin Wood axe. The photo below gives you an idea of what was taken off.

The majority of the work was done with a hand hacksaw in about an hour and a half (It could be done quicker if you can saw continuously for an hour). It's worth having a brand new blade in your saw for this. After the hacksaw I cleaned it up with a belt grinder and then re-ground the edge.

I pick up old axe heads like this from car boot sales for about a pound, so its great to give them a new lease of life. I'll be honest and say that aside from reducing the weight and giving it a new edge, I probably haven't improved it's performance much. Kent Pattern axes can be great carving axes as they are, in fact they're the axes that the English craftsmen of the past would have used. I think that the Scandinavian influence on greenwood-working has had a knock-on effect on our taste in axes ("I want the axe that Wille or Jogge Sundqvist use").  There's also the influence of Swedish toolmakers like Hans Karlsson, Svante Djarv and Gransfors Bruks. I've never seen a new Kent Pattern axe, which in a way is strange as they've obviously earned their place, but then maybe the vast numbers of available Kent Patterns make sit unnecessary for toolmakers to continue to produce them,

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