You need an axe on the spur of the moment. You are a little short on cash, but you have a scrapyard and a 110-volt gasless MIG welder on hand. Old circular saw blades can be used to make a lightweight axe suitable for camping, live-action role play (LARP), or historical reenactments. Whether you use the axe to chop firewood, hack up old pallets, or quell a zombie uprising isn't anyone's concern but yours.
Make the Blade Blanks
Old, large-diameter circular saw blades can become axe-blade blanks by using a cutting wheel on a 4.5-inch right-angle grinder or a new titanium-coated circular saw blade to cut them in half. After you grind the teeth until the blade halves are smooth semicircles, you will have a pair of axe-blade blanks.
Choosing a Blade Shape
There are five main types of axes: felling, splitting, broad axe, adze, and hatchet . Each has different profiles, which is the shape when viewed from the top and side, and different blade geometry. "A Brief History of the Axe," published by the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, states, "Around the turn of the 19th century, more than 300 different ax-head patterns were being manufactured in the United States." The Ax Manufacturers' Association created a chart of standard axe designs that eliminated many of the duplicates.
Axe craftsman Cleve Cheney explains that a slightly convex blade works better on hard or frozen wood because it releases from the cut more quickly than other shapes, while a concave blade shape tends to bind and needs to be pulled loose with each blow. Concave axe blades such as the adze are used for creating a level surface. They peel the wood rather than chopping it. Choose the blade shape and geometry that matches your intended use.
Although it is possible to pin the blades to the haft, the axe will be more durable if it is welded in place. You can still include brass or steel pins for adornment or to make your axe match an existing survival knife or machete to create a camping/survival blade set. Don a welding helmet, gloves, and full leathers before you begin. Weld the resulting axe blades to an 18-inch long, 1.5 inch-diameter steel rod using a 110-volt gasless MIG.
An 80-grit mop disk on your right-angle grinder will make short work of cleaning the welds and finish-grinding the axe blades. You can leave the handle bare or coat it with contact cement and wrap it with leather strips to create a more comfortable grip.
- Photo Credit corner axes - copy space image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com axe image by Sean Gladwell from Fotolia.com
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