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Whittling knife and axe advice

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El Barto

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Chris152":vzawsml3 said:
Barto - looking at this thread, it seems that head would benefit from a fair bit of work to turn into a carving axe, some way above my pay scale?
diy-carving-axe-t93260.html
That’s a cool thread thanks for sharing. He’s done a nice job with it! I’m no expert but I’d say he’s definitely gone to the more extreme lengths there - if you compare the gransfors carving axe with the robin wood one (non-northmen) you will see there is quite a difference in shape, yet both will function well as carving axes. So it’s entirely a matter of personal preference and if you’re just starting out then it’s hard to know exactly what that preference is. Which is why, for me at least, I think it’s worthwhile to get a cheap axe (like a Kent pattern or small hatchet), start carving with that, see what works and what doesn’t, then make changes or upgrade as you go. None of these axes will stop you from carving well, it’s just that some of them are much more dedicated to the task.

I will dig out those Kent heads I mentioned earlier and post my findings. I’d be happy to grind a more rounded edge on to one of them if that’s what you’re after.
 

adrspach

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To my knowledge there are 2 main grinds on Kent Pattern axes one of them is more like a wedge and the other much lighter is more concave.
Shame that i useless with IT as I have few of them at home just do not know how to make and transfer pics here.
For the restoration stick the head in vinegar (or use other method for de-rusting) and then a bit of elbow grease with wire brush sandpaper and stones and either reuse the old shaft or put it on a new one. I often see carving axes having shorter shafts than the standard one. That is before their owners also carve them into sometimes odd looking shapes but it works for them.
Price ways I would be looking for about £ 15-20 investment in not clean axe including either still good or replacement shaft and about £ 30 for clean one also dependent on brand and age. If you are willing to put that elbow grease into it you can get really nice one which you know were not made by a robot and if you take care of them it will last awfully long time.
 

dannyr

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good advice adrspach

many axes can even be shaped with a good file

I must confess to using a power grinder for that stage - but keep the steel cool - dipping, damp cloth, keep it moving etc

some of the older Kent pattern may be 'bitted' - ie hand forged and with a sandwich of wrought iron encasing an edge of hard steel - I'm lucky to have a Kent axe and a drawknife like this - both roughly forged, probably by a village smith, but with a very good cutting edge
 

adrspach

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As I normally clean few tools at the time I use wire wheel and for course work with grinding disc on small angle grinder and refinement a flap wheel. When I am working on them they are lined up in a tab of water and I just circulate them after few passes. Dependent is that is directly to be used or for the charity I finish them accordingly.
 

Chris152

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Thanks fellas. Tbh, I think Barto hit the nail on the head - I don't really know what's going to work for me because I haven't used an axe to carve enough. And at the moment I'm working on small bits of wood but have the ambition to do some bigger ones. Sooo, I think for the moment the best thing is to go ahead with what I've got and take it from there. It may be awful metal (I've no idea) but this head is quite easy to handle (I took the sharp corners off the back as well as putting an initial bevel on it) and it's not such a big deal if I have to keep sharpening til I get something better.
IMG_20200801_154216.jpg

Just needs a handle and some sharpening and I'll be able to get exploring and learning.
Let me know if that head is really hopeless, otherwise I'll crack on?
Cheers
 

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dannyr

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The DIN 5131 on your axe suggests that it's German made and to a set Quality standard (Deutsche Industrie Norm) - so should be a reasonable starting point.

Tho I rather doubt sunnybob's would qualify for a DIN
 

Chris152

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Probably now worse than I'm getting on with making a wooden handle for this one, SB.

Is it normal for the hole in the axe head to narrow in all directions toward the centre of an axe head, with the top and bottom of the opening being wider? And if so, how do you deal with that in making the handle fit? And am I right thinking small gaps to either side are ok, on account of the wedge that'll hold it in place?
IMG_20200801_193422.jpg


Can't... get... it... on...
IMG_20200801_194842.jpg
 

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El Barto

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In my experience a perfect fit isn’t really necessary, as long as it generally fits. The wedge takes care of everything else.

One thing I saw somewhere and have adopted is to give the end of the handle a coat of linseed oil, then fit the axe head, add wedge etc and then let the head and handle sit in a bath of linseed oil overnight. The idea being that the handle then swells and makes for a more snug fit.

If I don’t do that I still give it a lick of oil before fitting the handle which generally makes things easier.
 

Sideways

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Mora / Frosts sloyd knife for whittling.
About 3 inches long blade, slim and pointed on an oversize handle. You can apply plenty of force.
Get one with a laminated blade - a hard core between soft steel sides.
They're cheap. There are several variations including different handle shapes.
It can also be nice to have an even shorter blade

There are a couple of variants of the Mora and many other choices here:
http://www.woodlandcraftsupplies.co.uk/ ... u7acigsrm4
 

Sheffield Tony

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Chris152":1u36vkcz said:
Is it normal for the hole in the axe head to narrow in all directions toward the centre of an axe head, with the top and bottom of the opening being wider?
Absolutely, if it is hand forged the eye is formed by knocking a drift in from both sides, so it can't really end up otherwise.
 

adrspach

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That is how most hammers and axes are made. The hole is hourglass shape like. When you fitting the shaft make it conical from half way down that it fits the bottom of the taper. The top conus is then made by use of a wedge/ wedges which by hammering it in spread the wood to the opposite taper shape. This stops the head sliding up or down the shaft.
 

Chris152

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adrspach":29e1s4s4 said:
When you fitting the shaft make it conical from half way down that it fits the bottom of the taper.
Hmm. Didn't think of that when I carried on shaping last night...
Top seems fine (the glued wedge went from about 1mm to 6mm and extends about 1/3 of the way down the head, couldn't ram it in any further):
IMG_20200802_091641.jpg

The bottom, not so much!
IMG_20200802_091706.jpg

Should I try to insert a wedge into that space? Is it just too dodgy like that to use for carving (I don't intend to be swinging it overhead)?

Overall tho, I'm really pleased with it - I shaped it to my hand and might make more changes as I get using it.
IMG_20200802_091718.jpg
 

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novocaine

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Gaps fine at the heel. Done well with that wedge.
Now go get on with some carving.
 

sunnybob

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I'm obviously missing something here :shock:
Why would you pick up a 5 lb axe to carve with when 8 ounce chisels and knives are plentiful? :roll: :roll:
 

Chris152

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Thanks novocaine - it also has a bit of a shoulder the head sits down onto so that'll stop any movement toward the handle. And yes, once I've sorted sharpening I'll get to using it!

Sideways - I was hoping to get a folding knife but those ones seem pretty cheap, so maybe that's the way to go. Really dislike the plastic sheaths tho!

Sunnybob - that's a 1.5 lb head! But tbh I don't know what the relative merits of different tools are, but as I was sat whittling (for the first time in decades) in the sunshine with my old wobbly pen knife a couple of evenings ago I had to use one of the old axes to split a log and figured it'd be good to have a decent little axe anyway. I made these things and thought it'd be nice to make a proper (more careful) version of them
_MG_9750.jpg

and maybe to have a go at making a much larger version, which an axe might be good for. That or a chain saw. :)
 

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El Barto

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Chris152":9hgogmtf said:
adrspach":9hgogmtf said:
When you fitting the shaft make it conical from half way down that it fits the bottom of the taper.
Hmm. Didn't think of that when I carried on shaping last night...
Top seems fine (the glued wedge went from about 1mm to 6mm and extends about 1/3 of the way down the head, couldn't ram it in any further):

The bottom, not so much!

Should I try to insert a wedge into that space? Is it just too dodgy like that to use for carving (I don't intend to be swinging it overhead)?

Overall tho, I'm really pleased with it - I shaped it to my hand and might make more changes as I get using it.
Looks great! If you're open to fixed blade knives then this little Mora is brilliant, I'm not much of a carver but I use it for everything (and it's brilliant for carving when I do end up doing some): https://wood-tools.co.uk/tools/wood-carving-knife/

Sheath is ugly but functional, I made a quick one out of some scrap leather.
 

Chris152

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Thanks Barto - I'll probably go with one, and maybe treat myself to a cheaper but decent folding knife for when I'm away. Preferably with a lock - I discovered the value of that the other evening, too.

What's a good angle to grind the bevel? I did both sides to 60 degrees but guess I could go to 45 or less?
 

El Barto

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Chris152":1qld9vo5 said:
Thanks Barto - I'll probably go with one, and maybe treat myself to a cheaper but decent folding knife for when I'm away. Preferably with a lock - I discovered the value of that the other evening, too.

What's a good angle to grind the bevel? I did both sides to 60 degrees but guess I could go to 45 or less?
If you mean the bevel of the knife, I honestly couldn't say. I've actually never given any thought to the bevel angle of a knife. I think the best thing you can do is just play around with stuff like that and figure out what works for you.
 
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