Friday, October 5, 2012

Vintage axe garage sale find and restoration

I was at a garage sale recently and found these gems hiding in a dark corner of the seller's garage:

The double-bit is a top-of-the-line 3.2 Pound Mann "KnotKlipper" Western Double-Bit, and was probably made sometime in the 1930s to early 1940s. Except for a chip out of the one side of the bit, the overall head was in excellent condition. I was rather shocked to see how it turned out after restoring it (check out the restoration pics below).

The pulaski is a 3.3 pound Kelly Works True Temper Flint Edge, stamped "C.S.F.S.", which stands for Colorado State Forest Service. My guess is that it was made in the 1950s, and was used by the CSFS until more recent times, based on the condition of the handle.

The rusty axe head labeled "Lakeside" is actually a vintage Montgomery Wards axe head, and is similar in design to the Kelly axes of the day. I plan to to restore this head at a later date and give it to a friend.


The CSFS Pulaski cleaned up nicely. I reseated the head on the handle, removed the rust with naval jelly, and oiled the head. I also reprofiled the edge with a belt sander. The steel on this axe is really outstanding, as it took an edge as sharp as my best Mora knives. I also like the natural patina that's formed over most of the head.

The Mann KnotKlipper was the real shocker of the bunch. After several scrub-downs with a brass wire brush and naval jelly, it looks almost like a brand new axe head. The temper lines are also nice and clear.

I'm also amazed at the balance of this axe. Even though it has a 3.2 pound head with a 36" long handle, it feels light in the hand. My only conundrum is whether to keep it the way it is as a historical piece, or to re-handle it and use it the way it was intended to be used. Decisions decisions! If you haven't tried a good double-bit axe you're really missing out!


  1. Scorex10
    That western is sweet. Gotta get one someday

    1. Thanks Al, yeah, it's a peach. I've decided to put it into service. Can't wait to try it out!

  2. Nice scores. I'd rehandle that double and use it. It's not a collector's piece in a sense of high dollar value, but that's good steel and would be a waist to not user her.

    On a side note I love full size doubles. I think they swing smoother and just have a nice balance to them. Plus you have two axes in one. I've got an old Plumb double that is just pure awesomeness.

    1. Hey Outdoor, yeah, I've decided to re-handle it and use it. Just too nice not to use! I've seen your Plumb on the forums, very nice. And yes, doubles swing smoother (and lighter too). I plan to write up more doubles in the future. People are really missing out!