I picked this hatchet up at a yard sale quite a number of years ago and used it as-is, in it's rough and abused condition, for quite some time. Last year I decided that it was time to restore the old workhorse and bring the hatchet back to it's former glory.
When I bought the hatchet, it had been badly stored, and had rust all over the head. The hammer poll was mushroomed and gouged from heavy pounding. The top edge of the head was badly hammered from an attempt by its former owner to pound the head back on to the loosened handle........... in short, it had good bones, but a rough and shabby exterior.
The wood handle was solid and sound, but had quite a bit of yellow paint applied as some sort of "owners identification marking". The wood wedge was badly shrunken and breaking up. After HOURS of carefully working the handle loose from the head, I finally could begin the restoration work.
I ground off all the damaged edges and reshaped the hammer poll of the head, then polished out 90% of the head surface. I left the area around the Boy Scouts seal "natural" so that I would not polish it off. I re-profiled the blade edge, removing numerous nicks, and then gave the entire head a new "patina". I used a pan of boiling hot white vinegar as the "patina solution". I soaked the head in the vinegar for hours, until it had tarnished to the proper "old patina".
The wood handle was carefully sanded smooth, revealing new wood and removing the yellow paint (some of the original yellow paint is still visible in the wood cracks).
I finished the wood with light wood stain and several coats of Danish Oil, and then reset the head with new wedges. The handle has some superficial "age cracks" that in no way weaken or compromise the wood. Cosmetic only (although they really do add to overall look I think!).
To finish up the project, I made a "vintage" head cover out of recycled leather. I fastened the leather with hand peened rivets and brass washers. By using recycled leather, I was able to match the old "patina" of the hatchet with a properly pre-aged, and perfectly tailored cover.
The project turned out great! The best part of all is that this hatchet is a wonderful "chopper"! it feels fantastic and natural in the hand and the steel is some of the highest quality, old USA tool steel, not a cheap foreign "poser" that only looks good.
Now a little bit about the history of this particular Hatchet. First off, I have no way of knowing it's exact age, but there are a few clues that help us date it in a "time window". The logo, "Genuine Plumb" was first used in the 1920's. The wood handle has a straight cut end, which dates it as pre-WW2. Plumb started using red resin to set and attach their axe and hatchet heads in the 1970's.
So with all of that considered, I would date this as a 1930's hatchet: Half way between the 1920's and the start of WW2.
So next time you see an old and abused hatchet at your local thrift store, or yard sale, or maybe even in your own tool box or garage, give it a little attention and you may end up with a real treasure!
Now let's take a closer look at this beautiful old hatchet and cover.