About three weeks ago, I wandered past the tractor and my boot caught on something in the soil and eroded leaf litter beneath my feet.
Since we took over this place late last year, we have been picking up all sorts of crap and scrap that have been left where it was dropped by the previous owner. So kicking up something was less of a surprise, more just second nature.
This time, it was an axe head. I picked it up, banged the dirt out of it on the tractor tyre and gave it a quick look over. Something about it made me think ‘potential’. But as I was doing something else, it got dumped on the bench...for a rainy day.
Rainy days are uncommon things of late. Drought has taken hold. Grass is thin. Or non-existent. And many people are hanging on by the teeth of their skin. Fortunately, I’m not a farmer so this is not our burden. Whenever possible, we shop local so we can at least contribute in some way to a struggling local economy.
The last time I was at the local hardware place, I picked up an axe handle. One of our exes (a lovely Oz made casting restired by my uncle) seemed to have a crack in its handle. Replacing it would be a perfect rainy day job. And the Spotted Gum handle is one of the best too.
Spotted Gum is a species of eucalyptus that grows on the Australian east coast ranges. The timber is hard, stiff and very straight grained. It makes for very good flooring and some of the best tool handles...second only to Mallet (another species of eucalyptus) from Western Australia.
Today...it rained. Not much. But it rained off and on for much of the day.
The cracked handle wasn’t cracked...just a lifted splinter. Quick sand and a little oil, back in business. Another axe had its handle sanded and oiled so it feels like butter again. And my new Surveyors Hook (combination brush hook and zombie dispatcher) handle got the same treatment.
But now I had a spare axe handle. So now I just needed a rusty old head to go with it. Yeah that one...
A very quick dress up with the welding brush showed that it had a nice shape and form and a very clear stamp.
Swedish steel. Turns out that this head is quite a bit older than I am since the factory that made it closed in 1966.
All I did was knock the worst of the rust off, filed an edge back onto it (not that easily I must say) and connect head to handle. It’s all a bit rough and ready but the weight and feel of the assembly is surprisingly spot on.
It’s lighter and thinner than a traditional axe that we would typically employ on Australian hardwood but, by golly, it can be swung and it does indeed cut. I gave it a slog at a dead Bloodwood (another sort of gum tree) and, despite the haphazard sharpening, it blew chunks out of it with ease.
So here's to a dead and abandoned piece of Swedish scrap that somehow got a restart and a new career after the most unlikely and yet timely rediscovery.