1700s belt axe or hatchet

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
I dug this axe head about a week ago by a pre-1850 cellar hole and posted it on the “what is it” forum. I got some good feedback that confirms my thinking that this is possibly a 1700s belt axe or hatchet/tomahawk. It is about six inches long, has no back edge poll to speak of, and appears to have a seam, perhaps formed when the iron was folded over in the forging process. I also see a small vertical indentation, which I think might be the remains of a blacksmith maker’s mark, similar to the one in the non-dug photo of a 1700s trade axe. The axe shape looks very similar to this Kentucky Style axe I found posted online, which also claims to be 1700s. I have not dug many other items to help date it, though I did find (and post) a 1700s coin spill about 100 feet from this hole back in January (two Fugios, 1754 2-reale, and a 1797 LC). I am pretty excited about this axe, and will hang it in my shed with some other axes, horseshoes, and locks. If anyone on this forum has any thoughts about the age or axe type, I’d love to hear them. Thanks and happy hunting.
4897E0EE-03D0-4D03-8144-2031F93B2823.jpeg
C70BCA3F-2086-45E8-8FAF-6B8D6A2E0F0B.jpeg
3219F267-9062-4D43-913A-02412387B326.jpeg
64E645E4-8068-4442-9606-4C8AF2CC269F.jpeg
AAB2C7FE-AE10-4A83-B34E-1AEC90E09865.jpeg C77871B3-D630-4917-9B40-025A7E3066C7.jpeg
 
Upvote 23

callmez

Jr. Member
May 25, 2014
96
153
East Tennessee
Detector(s) used
Equinox 800
Tesoro Vaquero
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Congratulations! That's exactly what an early trade axe should look like. I agree that this one has been made by bending the iron around a stake and forge welding the ends back together (should be a steel bit to form the edge where they meet.)

IMHO electrolysis is 100% the way to go. I have used vinegar to clean things like this in the past and sometimes had a heck of a time completely neutralizing the acid so it wouldn't continue rusting after being cleaned. No such problem with electrolysis, and as others have stated a simple setup in a bucket would be quite sufficient for a small item such as this. I found a couple of cheap old battery chargers at garage/estate sales, and they work great. Try a farmer's estate sale, a farmer will probably have multiple chargers lying around.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #22
Congratulations! That's exactly what an early trade axe should look like. I agree that this one has been made by bending the iron around a stake and forge welding the ends back together (should be a steel bit to form the edge where they meet.)

IMHO electrolysis is 100% the way to go. I have used vinegar to clean things like this in the past and sometimes had a heck of a time completely neutralizing the acid so it wouldn't continue rusting after being cleaned. No such problem with electrolysis, and as others have stated a simple setup in a bucket would be quite sufficient for a small item such as this. I found a couple of cheap old battery chargers at garage/estate sales, and they work great. Try a farmer's estate sale, a farmer will probably have multiple chargers lying around.
Thanks for the great info. Based on the encouragement here and some YouTube videos I have seen, I am sold on giving electrolysis a try. I just need to get off my butt and buy a few things. It sometimes takes me forever to get things done, but hopefully I can give it a try soon. Thanks again for the insights; I appreciate it.
 

ARC

Gold Member
Aug 19, 2014
34,266
113,171
Tarpon Springs
Detector(s) used
JW 8X-ML X2-VP 580
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Thanks for the great info. Based on the encouragement here and some YouTube videos I have seen, I am sold on giving electrolysis a try. I just need to get off my butt and buy a few things. It sometimes takes me forever to get things done, but hopefully I can give it a try soon. Thanks again for the insights; I appreciate it.
I have skimmed this thread a few times...
First... great find... it most certainly is a early belt / split hatchet.
Second... Electrolysis should NOT even be an option... it should be the only option.

After its done please post pics... i for one cannot wait.

Well done... super great hit... you will savor that find for a long time.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #24
I have skimmed this thread a few times...
First... great find... it most certainly is a early belt / split hatchet.
Second... Electrolysis should NOT even be an option... it should be the only option.

After its done please post pics... i for one cannot wait.

Well done... super great hit... you will savor that find for a long time.
Thanks for your comments on the axe and the encouragement on the restoration. I definitely want to go the electrolysis route. I am particularly excited about the possibility of bringing out the potential makers a bit more. I will make an updated post with the results, provided I don’t screw it up or burn down my house😁.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #26
Congratulations! That's exactly what an early trade axe should look like. I agree that this one has been made by bending the iron around a stake and forge welding the ends back together (should be a steel bit to form the edge where they meet.)

IMHO electrolysis is 100% the way to go. I have used vinegar to clean things like this in the past and sometimes had a heck of a time completely neutralizing the acid so it wouldn't continue rusting after being cleaned. No such problem with electrolysis, and as others have stated a simple setup in a bucket would be quite sufficient for a small item such as this. I found a couple of cheap old battery chargers at garage/estate sales, and they work great. Try a farmer's estate sale, a farmer will probably have multiple chargers lying around.
I might have trouble finding a manual battery charger. Do you think an old phone charger would be sufficient for an object this size? I have a 12 Volt, 0.3 amp charger I might be able to attach clips to. Also, would you coat the ax with something after cleaning? Thanks.!
 

callmez

Jr. Member
May 25, 2014
96
153
East Tennessee
Detector(s) used
Equinox 800
Tesoro Vaquero
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
I might have trouble finding a manual battery charger. Do you think an old phone charger would be sufficient for an object this size? I have a 12 Volt, 0.3 amp charger I might be able to attach clips to. Also, would you coat the ax with something after cleaning? Thanks.!
In the beginning I experimented with low power transformers, and in theory they would work -- but you might be waiting a long time to get results. Ideally, you really want the power that a car battery charger will provide as things will happen a lot more quickly (think hours instead of days or weeks). You could also use a car battery I suppose, and charge it up when it runs down.

You will probably have to grind a spot down to shiny metal in order to get a good connection, but after you've done that it should go pretty smoothly. I'm sure that most approaches you will find online will work. I use washing soda as the electrolyte, pretty much everything I do is based on this writeup: https://www.castironcollector.com/electrolysis.php
I originally started doing this on cast iron cookware, but it works equally well on rusty steel/iron finds.

Good luck!!
 

Davers

Gold Member
Jan 8, 2013
8,051
7,012
N.of , I-285...GA
Detector(s) used
Whites Spc xlt & Tesoro Tejon- Now back ...Fisher 1266-X. TRX Pointer. New .Teknetics G2 + . New AT Pro .
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Super easy, just a plastic bucket, a car battery or charger(not automatic), a random chunk of steel for an anode and some washing soda. Blam!, rust gone. Just hook your pos. lead to the chunk of steel and the neg. to your work with about 1/4 cup washing soda per gallon.
Can't wait to see it cleaned up!
oldmxrat is 100 % correct it's super easy to do and you will be amazed by the results .

If you live close by I'd be glad to cook it up for you and coat it with your choice of sealer.

That's DEF, a sweet find , those don't pop-up here in N GA ; that I've ever seen , maybe in Savannah but not up in these parts.
Davey
 

nagant

Hero Member
Apr 21, 2017
696
813
iowa
Detector(s) used
Tesoro Golden micromax, compadre. ML EQ 800
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
That will look so good you wont believe it! I said earlier citric acid but it may have been what i used on cleaning brass stoves. Anyway look up a good solution. I used a ring of #9 wire for anode on optimus stove cases and it helped to speed things up as it pulled rust 360 degree's. Don't quit to fast, turn it a few times till your sure it's done. You can redo it but easier to to get it done in one bath.
 

JeffInMass

Silver Member
Jan 14, 2006
4,277
6,048
Cape Cod
Detector(s) used
Minelab Equinox 600, Minelab Explorer SE Pro, Explorer XS, Fisher CZ6A
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Great find fellow Mass hunter- GL with the restoring job- it sure does look like it'll clean up well.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #32
In the beginning I experimented with low power transformers, and in theory they would work -- but you might be waiting a long time to get results. Ideally, you really want the power that a car battery charger will provide as things will happen a lot more quickly (think hours instead of days or weeks). You could also use a car battery I suppose, and charge it up when it runs down.

You will probably have to grind a spot down to shiny metal in order to get a good connection, but after you've done that it should go pretty smoothly. I'm sure that most approaches you will find online will work. I use washing soda as the electrolyte, pretty much everything I do is based on this writeup: https://www.castironcollector.com/electrolysis.php
I originally started doing this on cast iron cookware, but it works equally well on rusty steel/iron finds.

Good luck!!
Thanks for taking the time to provide the detailed feedback. That link is great! I bought the plastic tub, rebar, and washing soda last night. I am hoping my father in law has a charger I can borrow. I might try this first on a different axe I dug that isn’t as special. Again , thanks for all the info; I really appreciate it.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #33
oldmxrat is 100 % correct it's super easy to do and you will be amazed by the results .

If you live close by I'd be glad to cook it up for you and coat it with your choice of sealer.

That's DEF, a sweet find , those don't pop-up here in N GA ; that I've ever seen , maybe in Savannah but not up in these parts.
Davey
Thanks. I wish I lived nearby you, particularly since it is now in the 20s up here. I am looking forward to giving this a try; I just need to get a manual battery charger. By the way, what would you use for a sealer? I saw a video where someone baked the axe for an hour or so to heat it up, the rubbed a regular candle over it.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #34
That will look so good you wont believe it! I said earlier citric acid but it may have been what i used on cleaning brass stoves. Anyway look up a good solution. I used a ring of #9 wire for anode on optimus stove cases and it helped to speed things up as it pulled rust 360 degree's. Don't quit to fast, turn it a few times till your sure it's done. You can redo it but easier to to get it done in one bath.
Thanks! I have seen set ups in videos that included multiple rebars hooked in series to get the 360 effect. I like that idea, but probably won’t invest the time and effort given the limited good iron objects I dig. I will make sure to flip the object as you suggest.
 

oldmxrat

Silver Member
Oct 25, 2020
2,568
6,387
Reno Nevada in the summer, Las Vegas in the winter
🥇 Banner finds
1
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Detector(s) used
Garrett ACE 400, Nokta Simplex+, Nokta Legend
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Thanks. I wish I lived nearby you, particularly since it is now in the 20s up here. I am looking forward to giving this a try; I just need to get a manual battery charger. By the way, what would you use for a sealer? I saw a video where someone baked the axe for an hour or so to heat it up, the rubbed a regular candle over it.
Put it in a 250 degree oven for about an hour after you have COMPLETELY rinsed off the soda bath, then CAREFULLY submerge in melted paraffin wax (I do this on a hotplate outside) until it stops bubbling, then rub down with a piece of terry cloth and it'll look like a museum piece.

Special note if you're married: Don't use a pot from the kitchen, get one at Goodwill. :laughing7:
 

HCW

Bronze Member
Feb 5, 2007
1,228
784
Metro west ,Boston
Detector(s) used
Minelab equinox 800, Whites MXT "retired"
I dug this axe head about a week ago by a pre-1850 cellar hole and posted it on the “what is it” forum. I got some good feedback that confirms my thinking that this is possibly a 1700s belt axe or hatchet/tomahawk. It is about six inches long, has no back edge poll to speak of, and appears to have a seam, perhaps formed when the iron was folded over in the forging process. I also see a small vertical indentation, which I think might be the remains of a blacksmith maker’s mark, similar to the one in the non-dug photo of a 1700s trade axe. The axe shape looks very similar to this Kentucky Style axe I found posted online, which also claims to be 1700s. I have not dug many other items to help date it, though I did find (and post) a 1700s coin spill about 100 feet from this hole back in January (two Fugios, 1754 2-reale, and a 1797 LC). I am pretty excited about this axe, and will hang it in my shed with some other axes, horseshoes, and locks. If anyone on this forum has any thoughts about the age or axe type, I’d love to hear them. Thanks and happy hunting. View attachment 2058791 View attachment 2058792 View attachment 2058793 View attachment 2058794 View attachment 2058795 View attachment 2058796
Beautiful!
Cherish it!
 

HCW

Bronze Member
Feb 5, 2007
1,228
784
Metro west ,Boston
Detector(s) used
Minelab equinox 800, Whites MXT "retired"
I dug this axe head about a week ago by a pre-1850 cellar hole and posted it on the “what is it” forum. I got some good feedback that confirms my thinking that this is possibly a 1700s belt axe or hatchet/tomahawk. It is about six inches long, has no back edge poll to speak of, and appears to have a seam, perhaps formed when the iron was folded over in the forging process. I also see a small vertical indentation, which I think might be the remains of a blacksmith maker’s mark, similar to the one in the non-dug photo of a 1700s trade axe. The axe shape looks very similar to this Kentucky Style axe I found posted online, which also claims to be 1700s. I have not dug many other items to help date it, though I did find (and post) a 1700s coin spill about 100 feet from this hole back in January (two Fugios, 1754 2-reale, and a 1797 LC). I am pretty excited about this axe, and will hang it in my shed with some other axes, horseshoes, and locks. If anyone on this forum has any thoughts about the age or axe type, I’d love to hear them. Thanks and happy hunting. View attachment 2058791 View attachment 2058792 View attachment 2058793 View attachment 2058794 View attachment 2058795 View attachment 2058796
Some may think I’m crazy but I’ve put my iron items in my fire pit to cook the excess rust off and had great luck with that leaving it in the coals over night taking them out in the morning and lightly scraping them with a wire brush
I use a product called AeroKroil
on my iron finds
It keeps the original patina but prevents further rust
 

villagenut

Gold Member
Oct 18, 2014
5,312
9,040
florida
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Very good find and a great candidate for conservation. I might add to others advice on electrolysis......make sure that your positive alligator clip(annode) be completely out of the electrolyte solution so as not to be compromised. Soaking the axe in distilled water for several weeks after will also add to the longevity of the restoration....but that part takes much patientce and waiting.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #39
Put it in a 250 degree oven for about an hour after you have COMPLETELY rinsed off the soda bath, then CAREFULLY submerge in melted paraffin wax (I do this on a hotplate outside) until it stops bubbling, then rub down with a piece of terry cloth and it'll look like a museum piece.

Special note if you're married: Don't use a pot from the kitchen, get one at Goodwill. :laughing7:
😆 Lol. Thanks for the tips. I ordered a battery charger today that has a manual option. Guess I need to get wax now too. Hope to work on the axe in a week or so.
 
OP
lenmac65

lenmac65

Bronze Member
Jul 28, 2009
2,011
5,988
Massachusetts
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Pro, Equinox 800 (as of 10/2019)
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #40
Some may think I’m crazy but I’ve put my iron items in my fire pit to cook the excess rust off and had great luck with that leaving it in the coals over night taking them out in the morning and lightly scraping them with a wire brush
I use a product called AeroKroil
on my iron finds
It keeps the original patina but prevents further rust
Thanks. I have not heard of that method; sounds interesting. I am going to Google the sealer.
 
  • Like
Reactions: HCW

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Top