How to Fix an Axe
A long as it is treated with proper care, an axe can last for many years. When damage does happen, it is generally in one of two forms. Either the handle will begin to splinter or even break, or the blade may chip. Minor chipping can be filed out of the blade, but severe cupping can only be corrected by replacing the axe head.
Step 1: What to Avoid Doing
Axe handling is as important as making corrections. Do not use an axe that is extremely cold. when tempered metal reaches freezing temperatures, it is many time more likely to chip, or even break outright. Additionally, do not use the flat side of the axe head as a hammer. Beating on an axe head, or using the axe head to hammer on something else, such as a splitting wedge, can cause the head to deform or even break. Lastly, do not leave the axe exposed to the elements. Heat, cold and rain can weaken the axe handle, causing it to become loose, or splinter and eventually break.
Step 2: Removing the Old Handle
If your splitting axe has a cracked or broken handle, mount the axe head in a vise so that you are able to access the top of the axe head. Using a hammer and a punch or coal chisel, drive the old axe handle out of the axe head. An axe head is designed for the handle to only fit one way, so be sure that you remove the old handle by driving it out through the bottom of the axe head. Use steel wool to clean out the opening completely before installing a new handle. Failure to do this could result in a loosely fitting handle, or accelerate decay in the new handle.
Step 3: Installing a New Handle
The best handle for a chopping axe is a hickory handle. Make sure that the handle has some weight to to it. If the handle is too light, the force of chopping will cause it to break fairly easily. When you have selected a handle, insert it into the bottom of the axe head, and tap it into the head until the top of the handle is flush with the top of the axe head. To lock the handle in place, drive a metal wedge into the slit in the top of the axe handle, causing it to expand within the head, forming a tight, dependable grip.
Step 4: Sharpening an Axe Head
To sharpen an axe, place the head in a vise with the blade pointing up. Use a flat metal file, and sharpen the blade with long strokes that reach across the entire width of the blade. Alternate between filing each side of the cutting edge to get the best edge. For the best sharpening results, most experts suggest treating the blade with machine oil before sharpening. This increase the cutting power of the file, and reduces splintering.