HOWTO: Vintage Axe Restoration

I managed to dig this old axe out of a shed clear out for a mate years ago. He didn’t want it, I grabbed it. I knew nothing about it, but it looked old and the head looked only lightly rusted.
It sat for a while as a future project.
I needed an inside project.

Apparently it’s a Hults Bruk ,made in Sweden, circa 1970’s.
Apparently a renowned and collectable axe maker since the 1670’s.
It’s currently fked and I’m going to restore it to its former beauty.
Any know some good , gentle , first wave of rust removal.
Any other tid bits from guys who like iron.
Do’s and don’ts, anything.
I will update the progress.
First step is handle removal
Head clean up
Source new handle.
Something nice. Will be a functional axe but also a wall hanger in the man cave.
Possibly give the head a polish…shine the axe up too. Thankyou I’m here all night.

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Nice Axe. I would go for electrolytic rust removal or a molasses bath.
The molasses bath can take pockets of material out of some steels usually lower quality ones. Both will leave the metal black.
As you are going to polish use whichever you have stuff on hand for.

Personally I’d leave it rusty, and just sharpen it with a new handle.You can buy a brand new axe anywhere, why make an old one look new?

When I got the rust off my grandfather’s tools I started by soaking them all in vinegar for a few days. That some off and seemed to loosen it all up a bit. Then a wire wheel on the dremmel and go from there.

I thought about leaving it. But the rust has just started to pit. I have no interest in its collector value, if any.
New handle.
I’m going to be gentle on the head. Not sure if it’s painted. It’s covered in mud. May try to find a photo of an original and get it to that. Plus I need a project that has some work involved.

Some rust removal gel would be a good idea in my opinion, pretty safe and can step it up from there, but a scotchbrite and elbow grease goes a hell of a long way too, we do that quite abit on piston sealing surfaces and precision machined parts at work where other abrasives would be to harsh

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It’s the old story. How far is too far gone to preserve vs restore.
I understand where you’re at. I have that attitude towards Milsurps.

At the very least it needs a new handle and a good clean up.

All done, didn’t take as long as I thought.


I’m just biased towards conservation, some of the things I work with are one offs from the 18th century up to the 20th and the prime mantra is conservation with any updates being completely reversible.
They can be made to appear brand new at any time, but preserving them as they are is current best practice.

New handle looks good :rofl:

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It’s a bit anoraxic

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Just hitting it with the calico buff wheel and some polish will remove all the rust and probably give you the nice shiny sheen as new look you are after. I love the polish wheel have used it on some old tools and such sometimes just for the sake of using it to make stuff shinny.

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Currently sitting in a bucket of white vinegar.
Debated making my own handle. Hickory blanks not easy to find. Don’t really want spotted gum.
Also hard AF and not the easiest thing to shape.
Aussie mob sells them for about $50.
A replacement factory handle is about $90 delivered.
Will decide at some point.

Got this style of handle. Imported from Sweden (seemed fitting) via a distributor in Sydney, $65 delivered.
Looks the part.

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I like this. I’m a bit of an axe fan myself

Sat overnight in white vinegar.
Took it out this morning got and hit it with a scotchbrite and wd40.
Cleaning up very well.
The steel is an amazing deep grey.
Some more research has revealed these axes are hand forged.
Extremely good quality steel.
Lucked out a bit. Half expected it to a be a Chinese POS.
It’s back in the vinegar now.

I wholeheartedly agree.
I also don’t believe in preserving neglect.
Things that have honest wear and tear deserve preserving. I do it too.
I would also rather see an old tractor restored to working order and repainted rather than watch it rust away to nothing.
Same as cars , tools, guns , bikes etc.
The line moves for everyone, but I appreciate something old and kaput that has been nicely restored.
I also love a well preserved antique and have the greatest respect.

What about its original state? I don’t know anything about forging or how it comes out when it’s all ready… For example, would an axe of that vintage be all shiny and polished when new or rough and black or some other oxidation?

There is some blue paint at the back of the head.
I imagine it was similar to the blue one above.axe2
My limited research says it looked like that.

So wouldn’t it be worth it to wire wheel, polish and paint with the same colour, using some durable paint, to bring it to its original look? It’s not a milsurp firearm or some antique ealy or last century tool to be displayed… Although 70’s were like half a century ago, geees. I wasn’t born. It’s a modern tool more or less, could just bring it back to life and original condition.