There are some fantastic axe makers out there today, Hultafors, Condor, Council Tools and such. These companies have many years experience in axe making, and produce a number of high quality bushcraft and camp styled axes.
Once you get your shiny new axe, it’s important that you know how to care for it. Caring for an axe should be no harder than caring for your knife if you give it attention before it really needs it, and by this, I mean stropping the cutting edge and caring for the handle with preservatives.
Parts of an Axe
- Axe eye
- Cutting edge
- Axe blade/bit
- Axe lip, or lug, secures the axe head to the handle more stably and securely
- Axe handle
- End knob, swell knob, prevents the axe from slipping out of the hands of the user.
- Poll, butt
- Axe head
Now that you know the names of the various parts of your axe, it’s time to discuss how to care for your axe to insure you get many years service from your fine cutting tool.
Axe Head Care
Caring for the head of your axe is very important. If left untreated after use, it will rust, and this will in turn effect the lifespan your your axe, as well as the look of it. Most axes will be subjected to moisture at some point in their life, be it in the field on a rainy day, or being left outside for a few days.
In order to protect the head of your axe from moisture, simply apply some oil to the exposed metal. The best way to do this is soak a cotton ball in oil, and rub it on the axe head, then store the cotton ball in an air tight container, and this can be used again until dry. This is also a great way to save oil.
After some use, you should give your axe a quick strop on some leather to maintain the edge and keep it sharp. Once you let it get blunt, it is a bigger job, and will require sharpening stones to sort out, so do yourself a favour, and strop it every night after use. You will hardly ever have to put it near a sharpening stone.
Most quality axe handles are made from hickory, and look stunning out of the box, and this is the way we all want to keep them, right? Hickory will last a very long time, though you can increase the lifespan with some care.
The best product to use on axe handles is boiled linseed oil. This can be bought at most DIY stores, or online. Do make sure it is boiled linseed oil, and not normal linseed oil though.
Before starting with the treatment, make sure the axe handle is clean and free from dirt. Once ready, apply the boiled linseed oil with a rag or paint brush. Apply a generous amount or oil all over the exposed wood, wait 10 minutes to allow it to soak in, then wipe off any excess with a rag. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times for the best result.
Axe masks are usually made from leather, and do require some care to keep the leather fresh, and water repellant. Plain old leather boot wax will do the job for this. I use mink oil, and find it does a really good job at waterproofing the leather, and making it last a long time.