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Early American Hewing Hatchet Head? Looking for help

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    Posted 7 years ago

    (807 items)

    I was fortunate enough to find this axe head at a garage sale in Englishtown, NJ. I have been studying Eric Sloane's book, "A Museum of Early American Tools," so I was able to recognize this immediately. When I picked it up the guy says, "that is very old you know, I dug that up years ago."

    I recognize this as a hewing hatchet head, pre 1820. It is, I believe, too small to be a broad axe head. It is only 5 3/4 inches across. These were used to square off railroad ties or other rounds. As you can see, one side is flat the other is bulged, only ONE side is sharpened, unlike an axe, more like a chisel. I am looking for someone to verify my assumption. Thanks all! Not sure if the hewing hatchet had a straight handle, but I believe it did.

    One final note, I haven't seen this with modern iron, but when you run your finger along the edge, and off the bevel it RINGS like a dinner bell. If you closed your eyes you would think it is glass by the sound. Also, note NO chips along the edge after decaying in the ground for a long time.

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    1. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      thanks mikelv, blunder, jewels, agh, and sean for the loves.
    2. jacko66, 7 years ago
      nice find hears a link for video showing master carpenters using hewing axes today in timber construction the speed they use them is amazing to watch
    3. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      You are correct that it was never sharpened on both edges. Just like a shingle hatchet. I would expect this to have been used to cut tenons on timbers for a post and beam structure. I am not doing posting but you tempted me back because I enjoy your finds. If this is marked it will be on the hammer end. Gun cleaning nitro powder solvent will help clear away the rust without causing damage.
    4. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      jacko66, thanks for the link, will check it out shortly! fhrjr, always great to hear from you, thanks for checking in. I will certainly try what you recommended. Thanks for the loves vetraio, fhr, walksoftly, and jacko
    5. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      fhr, I do have a question, what does this ring like that when I flick it? It is because the iron is extra hard? I've never heard metal rink like this before.
    6. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      The ring has less to to do with the hardness and more to do with how the edge was sharpened. You should also get a ring but a different tone if you tap above the edge with a piece of steel. I have seen guys long ago use their pocket knife to do it. They actually had contests, I think called singing axe's or ringing axe's. Normally hand filed at the proper angle works best. Using a power grinder or even a wet stone will make hot spots that will break very easily. Too fine an edge breaks and too thick doesn't cut well. A felling axe and a splitting are good examples. One cuts across the grain and the other cuts with the grain. Neither does the other job well. Your axe is made to cut with one edge and the other side to leave a smooth finish job. I don't have any axe's left but I saved some timber slips made of Sheffield steel that are kind of special to me.
    7. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      Also if you get it cleaned down use a soft cloth and rub bees wax into it to keep it in shape. I use to melt some bees wax so it was more a paste and add a few drops of mineral oil, mix it up and rub away.
    8. Zowie Zowie, 7 years ago
      Job well done with some extra tips for caring of tool who would of thought
    9. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      always VERY grateful fhrjr, thank you! zowie thanks for the comment!
    10. Zowie Zowie, 7 years ago
      No problem looks as if for some reason it was cut short

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