You purchased this tool for a reason. Now make sure you allow it to tell its story for generations to come.
I am a big advocate for taking good care of the tools I own.
Products purchased from Motor City Axe typically consist of three main materials: the wooden handles, the metal heads and the leather safety sheaths. Each of which requires different methods of care to ensure the tools is as strong in year forty, as in year one.
While it may seem like common knowledge, I feel it necessary to point out, that like any material, leaving an edge tool outside doesn't bode well for its longevity. The cold to hot and wet to dry cyclical nature of mother earth can damage your tool. Store your tools inside, preferably in a dry area. A shed, closet, garage or basement will do.
Let's explore the proper technique of caring for each of the three materials mentioned above -
Wooden Handles: Most of the handles on the tools offered through our site, whether refurbished or new, are made of hickory. Hickory, with over 18 species worldwide, is a very hard, stiff, dense and shock resistant wood, yet it is flexible.
As with any wood, the elements are a threat. Hickory handles can dry out which allows for moisture or particles, such as dirt or sand, to penetrate the wood. An untreated handle is more prone to not function well or break leaving you susceptible to injury.
I use boiled linseed oil (BLO) or wax to coat and seal all handles before they leave the workshop. BLO is available at your local hardware store and I recommend using a rag to apply 1-2 coats on a quarterly basis. Be sure to dust any debris off the handle before applying. This practice will ensure a sturdy handle for the years of use ahead.
Use caution when administering BLO and be sure to dispose of the rag, as some test have shown it, in very rare occasions, can spontaneously combust.
Metal Heads: A majority, if not all, of the heads on the tools in the shop are made of steel. The earliest reports and archeologic findings of steel date back to 1800 BC. What is the main enemy of steel? Correct, it's rust. Rust can cause pitting and corrosion of this ferrous metal.
After each use, I clean and sharpen my blades. Adding a simple application of a wax can seal the head and prevent it from rust. I prefer a wax product that contains beeswax. Axe Wax is one of the better known companies making a quality product today. Others are starting to produce it as well.
Leather Sheath: Wild Bill handcrafts all leather sheaths that accompany our products. After time, just like the hickory handles, leather will become dry leading to eventual cracking, flaking and visible breaking down. Proper care can preserve your sheath and protect you for years to come. A periodic wax or balm application can prevent any deterioration that may happen. Again, storing the entire tool, sheath and all, in a dry place will do wonders as well.
I am a big proponents of continual maintenance. Even during times of little use, I make a habit to pull out my axes and hatchets for a quick inspection and coat of wax/oil. This will keep the tool healthy. Holding your axe will also invoke a feeling of nostalgia and longing. Think back on the journeys you've had and look forward to what's ahead.
If there are unwritten chapters in your story and you hope to pass your tool to the next generation, the simple steps outlined above with keep your tool in tiptop shape for years to come. Respect the axe and extend its life.
Ask yourself this - When you walk into your shed after a cold winter do you want to pick up a splintering handle with a rusty head, or a well-cared for, clean hatchet that is ready to use?