Fron the Saw Shop, questions and answers: splitting axes, red handled saws, warped axe head.


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

You need ’em, I’ve got ’em!

1. (question about a double bit splitting axe)

Forget trying to split anything but the smallest of wood with a double bit axe. Double bit axes are generally restricted to use as felling and chopping axes, I’ve never run across one with a reasonable bit profile for splitting. The oldtimers would use a double bit to split kindling wood and that’s about it.

2. (question about an old hand saw with a red handle)

Very few vintage saws ever came with painted handles (the Stanley Foursquare homeowner’s line saw was one of the few) and those were almost always black. So, where do the red/blue/whatever handles come from? Simple, when you were a carpenter out on a job with a bunch of other carpenters, you wanted your saw to stand out so you didn’t lose it. You grabbed whatever paint you happened to have (usually house paint) and slapped it on!

3. (question about restoring a Sager Chemical Axe with a warped head).

Any axe head with any distortion needs to be junked immediately as unsafe to use. Typically, the eye of the head gets warped or even cracked or outright broken by users sticking the axe and then wrenching sideways on the handle. The bits may be over thin from being drawn out by a blacksmith or the head may have even been through a fire. I can say that the Sager Chemical Axe heads are simply the hardest axe heads I’ve ever run across so any damage that manages to warp them has to be considered catastrophic.

Visit me at any of the following locations:

Depot St, Norridgewock, ME (Mondays)

Tractor Supply, Skowhegan, ME (Tuesday)

Somerset Woods turnout, Canaan Rd (Rt 2), Skowhegan,ME (Wednesday)

Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Fridays)

Fryeburg Flea Market (Fryeburg Fairgrounds), Fryeburg, ME
(Sundays, Memorial Day thru end of September)

298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

SwiftWater Edge Tool Works provides mobile sharpening services across Maine and mail in services around the world for handsaws, carbide blades, planer knives, hand planes, chain saws, knives, scissors, hair clippers, router bits, and almost any blade!

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