Saw shop questions and answers: axe handle shims,


Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

And we’re back! You’ve got questions, I’ve got the answers!

1. (question about shimming axe handles)

If an axe handle will not hold solid when properly wedged or will not tighten up when treated with boiled linseed oil, do NOT trying to shim between the handle and the axe eye. I can’t say it enough, this is a dangerous thing to do. Either reseat the head further down the original handle or replace the handle.

2. (question about the finish of old Disston saw handles)

Most old saw handles I start off with for my restorations, whether Disston, Simonds, Atkins, or almost any other, were finished with a tinted shellac. This is entirely a non-penetrating finish that sits on top of the wood. Of course, shellac deteriorates and then flakes, so you’re left with bare wood and then the handle deteriorates. My handle finish is a penetrating linseed oil finish that will never flake off.

3. (question about determining the age of a Sager Chemical Axe)

Every Sager Chemical Axe I’ve run across has the date of manufacture marked on the head.

4. (question about mushrooming on a poll axe).

Mushrooming of the poll on a poll axe is almost always the result of pounding on steel splitting wedges. A poll axe isn’t a splitting maul folks, pounding wedges will not only damage the poll of the axe, eventually it will distort or break the eye (notice that axe eyes have thin sides, maul eyes have very thick sides). As a rule, I don’t grind mushroomed axe polls unless they’re severely bad. The weight of the poll provides the momentum to drive the axe bit as well as balances the head. Grinding metal off the poll throws both of these things out of whack.

Visit me at any of the following locations:

11 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 Labor Day)

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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