While I was cleaning up my workshop I found a worn out circular saw blade. So I thought about making an axe out of it. It’s 3mm thick, a little more than usual, which makes it perfect for this project. Here you’ll find the free plans:
After cutting the printable template, I’ll glue it onto the disc with spray glue to guide me as I cut it. I’m going to cut it with an angle grinder. The thickness of the disc makes it harder to cut than in previous projects, but little by little I give shape to the steel.
While I’m doing this, I mark the position of the pins before tearing off the paper. Later I’ll prepare a template that will help me give the axe’s edge its proper angle. I sand it little by little to obtain a radius equal to the axe’s edge.
When using this kind of belt sanders to sand metal, it’s best to put on a mask and not use the vacuum, because sparks come into contact with the woody debris inside the vacuum and eventually cause a fire. It’s advisable to wait a few minutes after sanding before vacuuming.
Now that I got hold of a blowtorch, I’ll try distempering the steel, softening it and making it easier to drill holes in it. Once it starts to take on a black hue, I stop applying heat and wait for it to cool off gradually…
The operation starts off smoothly, but eventually the same thing that happened to the folding knife I’d made a while ago happens again… After drilling a few tenths of a millimeter, the bit stops advancing. I may not have distempered the steel enough.
Then again, I’m sure a sturdy column drill at lower RPM could drill through the steel, but as it stands, I have no choice but to take the same approach I did with the knife.
After making this little groove, the operation is back on track and I manage to drill the hole, although these bits are now in dire need of some sharpening…
Then I’m going to temper the edge with the blowtorch. I heat the steel up until it’s red hot, and then cool it down.
Now it’s time to sand it. I’ll use my thickness sander with P120 grit sandpaper. Looks like it’s working! I’ll finish sanding it by hand. First with P320 grit and finally with P500. I’ll sand the curved edges with a dremel.
Now I’ll make a handle with this piece of olive wood. Also, I’ll make a rebate for the steel with my table saw. This rebate is necessary to lengthen the axe’s handle, otherwise it would be too short with just the steel. I finish the job by hand
I’ll use epoxy glue to bond the wood to the steel. I’ve made two pins out of a steel pipe to make the axe more resistent. After letting it dry for an hour, it’s time to finish the job. I cut off what’s left of the pin by hand. If I were to do this with the belt sander, the steel would heat up, softening the epoxy and weakening the handle.
With the belt sander and the thickness sander’s drum, I continue sanding the handle into shape. I’ve mounted some P80 grit sandpaper on the sanding drum and attached the thickness sander’s lid to the bottom of the sanding drum to collect dust and sawdust.
When using these thickness sander drums like this, we must be careful not to damage the velcro underneath the sandpaper or deform the drum. If we work slowly and carefully, this drum is very helpful when doing this kind of jobs.
Then, I finish the process by hand with files and sandpaper. I also drill a hole at the end of the handle to insert an 8mm tube which will allow me to hang the axe or attach a decorative string to it.
After a good sanding, all that’s left is to apply some homemade oil and sharpen the axe. The sharpening could be done with the same method that I used a few days ago to sharpen my chisels, with sandpaper and water.
The edge seems to cut pretty well while remaining sharp. I think I’ll get some use out of this project in my workshop!