I’ve been admiring the work of Peter Follansbee lately, especially his carving of riven oak panels and spoons. My Christmas gifts this year included some instructional DVDs and a couple hook knives. All of this has motivated me to find and restore an old axe so that it functions as a carving axe.
I took an old Blombach axe, made in Germany, and retrofitted it with a new handle in the style of the Granfors Bruks carving axes.
Here is a picture of the axe right after I removed the handle which you can see featured a metal sleeve. I believe that my axe was probably originally setup to be the carpenters model.
The restoration began with me purchasing some hickory from a local source. My selection criteria included finding stock that had curved grain not straight. I wanted curved grain so the grain pattern would run parallel to the handle curvature I wanted. I designed the handle to exaggerate the curvature of the Gransfors Bruks axe. I started with 1 3/8″ thick stock and worked it with a drawknife, coarse rasp, spokeshave, and then finally I used a cabinet scraper. After frequently testing the fit of the handle fit to axe head as I reduced down the stock, I got to a point where I was happy with the fit of the handle in the eye and could then invest more time in shaping the handle. The outcome is that I made a handle that nicely fits my hand. This is the first time that I’ve made my own handle and it was a good experience. I might eventually invest in a Gransfors Bruk carving axe, but right now I’m satisfied that this retrofitted axe has a good edge and will be suitable for attempting to carve a wooden spoon in the Swedish tradition.
Here is a picture of the completed axe restoration. I ground and honed the bevel on one side and then oiled the handle with boiled linseed oil.