Sunday, August 7, 2016

Council Tool Hudson Bay Project Pt.2

hudson bay axe
In Part 1 I took a look at the Hudson bay axe from Council Tool's standard line as it arrived to me. The purpose of the project was to get a Hudson Bay pattern axe because I didn't have one, make a new handle in the length I wanted, and then put together a sheath and sling combo similar to what Council offers. Part 1 also covered the creation of the handle from a Locust stump that a local tree service saved for me. There were probably 10 or so 35" staves in that stump, so I have plenty of material for future projects. What I didn't do was cover the creation of the sheath. I used to buy veg tanned tooling leather for these sorts of projects which is probably the way to go if you want all the control and an extra fine finished product. I now just buy finished oil tanned leather. Cut it out, make a welt if you are so inclined, glue and rivet it together, done. Stitch it if you are feeling extra ambitious. You won't get the finely finished edges that you can get with tooling leather, you are stuck with the colors and finishes you can find but honestly, the options are pretty deep and it's a good way to spend twenty bucks here and there to just get enough for the project at hand. If you want to be a master leather guru, this probably isn't the route to take, but if you just want a nice finished product but need to save a little time and spend a little less money, it's a good alternative. As you can see from the pics, I purchased the leather from different places at different times so the strap doesn't match the sheath. That's the case when you start with finished leather products. To wrap it up, all I do is rub in some Neatsfoot Oil, then go over it with Mink Oil and/or you could use some other kind of leather water proofing concoction.

bushcraft axe, camping, hudson bay, custom sheath
Moving on, this post is all about the finished product. I took the angle grinder and went to work on the areas where the flashing had been ground from the head at the factory. Obviously they use a very coarse grinding solution because it's fast, but it leaves rough marks and as was the case with my example, if the head was held out of square with the grinder, it probably only takes a second to take off too much. I trued up the grinds then took it to the belt grinder to clean up the angle grinder marks. I then used a cup brush on the angle grinder to remove the remaining black paint. What I discovered in the process is that the cup brush acts as a really gentle deburring tool that hides some of the belt grinder lines. I hadn't bothered to go too fine with the belt grinder - I used a half worn out 36 grit followed by a half worn out 80 grit. I wasn't looking for perfection, just a clean and tidy grind all around. I applied my own bevels here and there for some personality, then dunked it in vinegar for awhile just to get a uniform appearance. The bit needed some work. It had been ground unevenly at the heel and when you have to do a lot of work to the heel or toe portions of an axe, you are dealing with the thinnest areas where you have to be even more careful about the heat. With a jug of water at the ready I went to the 36 grit belt and began working the bit back to straight. If the steel doesn't get hot enough to burn you, it's nowhere near hot enough to impact the hardness of the steel and even going slow, this isn't a very time consuming process.

Enough talk, let's get to the finished product. The only complaint I have about my own work is that I should have paid better attention to the lines through my handle. I ended up with a slightly "closed" feel where the swell is somewhat forward of the tongue (the portion of the eye that passes through the axe head). This isn't much of an issue unless it's extreme but if you aren't critical of your work you won't improve, I figure.

bushcraft, hiking camping axe


hudson bay sheath and sling




custom handmade sheath and sling

odellstudios odell studios original content


Note the heel has hardly any edge bevel. This is where the factory had already removed too much steel.

But the heel on this side is ground further than the rest in an effort to straighten the edge.