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5 Popular Vintage Axe Brands [Maintenance Tips]

Most vintage axes are made in the period between 1920 to 1980. There are people who prefer to buy their axes regardless of the condition, price or the quality. It all depends on the purpose or history behind the vintage axes.  What are some of these vintage axe brands?

Kelly vintage axe brand stands out among all other vintage axe brands. The entire profiles of Kelly vintage axes are excellent. Their axes are all even, uniform, and come in great shapes. Issues such as pitting, cracks, damaged eyes, or grinding marks are in no way associated with their vintages axes.  

However, there are other reputable vintage axe brands that you cannot go wrong with. Brands like Norlund, Old Collins, Plumb, Sager, Zenith, True Temper, etc., cannot be neglected.  Keep reading this article for the points to note when evaluating a vintage axe brand.

 Vintage Axe

Points to Note when Evaluating a Vintage Axe Brand

Vintage items are indeed a treasure and vintage axes are not left out. You probably desire to own one or a few; however, you do not want to return home and regret leaving the mall with a vintage axe that is not worth your time and energy.  

It is easier to buy items when you know exactly what to look out for. But in situations where you do not know the things to consider before paying for one, below is a list of crucial things to note while evaluating your prospective vintage axe.  

1. Profile of the Axe

The most important thing to note is the entire profile of your potential vintage axe. You want to ensure that the axe looks its best shape. Check out for uniformity and evenness. No one wants an axe that has been re-profiled.

2.Too Much Pitting and Rust

It is not uncommon for vintage axes to come rusted – that is just how they are. However, you want to avoid axes that have deep pits, especially close to the cutting edge or bit.

3.Stamps, Etching, and Embossed

The majority of axes have one or more of these three – stamp, etching, and embossing. However, one without a name isn’t really a deal-breaker. But it is best to continue searching until you find one with some form of labeling on it.

This point is essential to help you avoid putting your money into axes made to a low price point, which principally translates to low-quality.


Look closely for cracks. Common places to look out for cracks are the back of the cheek which is known as the poll. Also, check out for cracks in front of the eye. In some cases, there may be delamination of the bit. Although these things can be fixed, we don’t think it’s worth the trouble.

5.Damaged Bit of Cutting Edge

You want to avoid axes with immense damage on their toe or heel. If you are missing a big chunk from the bit of your potential vintage axe, you may not be able to access good hard steel when re-profiling. So it is best to avoid such axes. 

6.Grinding Marks

If the bit of the vintage axe looks like someone attempted to sharpen it using an electric bench grinder, do not take it home. It’s possible that it was heated so much that its temper was lost. This means that the bit isn’t strong.

7.Damaged Eye and Poll

Stay clear from axes with damaged eye and poll. A damaged eye results from using the axe as a wedge or the poll as a hammer. Sadly, this is common. Some damaged poll can be filed off or repaired, but a damaged eye is harder to repair. You want to ensure that the axe is uniform.

Ways to Maintain Your Axe

Like many other tools, your vintage axe needs maintenance; below are some ways to maintain your axe.

1.Prevent it From Rusting

Do not store your axe wet or dirty because moisture causes corrosion. Protect your axe head with oil. Use fine steel wool and vinegar to remove rust.

After using your axe, clean it before storage to prevent issues. Start by using acetone and wool to clean the head of the axe of any tannins or sap. Clean the handle of sap and dirt. If the handle isn’t too dirty, use some turpentine and extra-fine steel wool.

But if the handle is very dirty, hand sand it until it’s smooth. After that, oil both the head and handle with boiled linseed oil. The oil protects the metal and helps the blade cut faster and deeper, thereby saving you effort and time when using it.

If your sheath looks dry, apply a generous coat of leather oil both in and out. After cleaning the axe, carefully dry and protect it with the sheath. After this, your axe is set for storage.

If you are yet to follow these steps and your axe is a bit rusted, you can use steel wool and white vinegar to clean out the rust. But in a case where the entire head is rusted, you might want to soak it in white vinegar. In this case, you should remove the handle before submerging it in the white vinegar; else, the handle may become damaged.

2.Sharpen the Edge

A chipped or dull axe is both dangerous and ineffective. Using a chipped or dull axe will require extra force because you will be pressing through the wood instead of cutting through it. When axes are damaged or dull, they are prone to bounce or glance, causing them to become more challenging to control.

Sharpening is the basics of axe maintenance. All axes will become dull over time – even the best steel. Depending on the type of blade, sharpening an axe is a pretty simple technique.

Although any axe will become dull over time, you do not have to make this happen faster. Avoid chopping or splitting into the ground, as this might cause it to hit the ground or even worse. You want to get a splitting block, as it will reduce the chances of damaging the axe blade or hitting the ground; it will also keep the axe far from your feet.

When cutting green wood, try not to cut knots into them. If you’re gathering wood from the ground, try not to cut into bark that contains grit, rocks, and sand. In addition, avoid mini corrosion by keeping your axe blade dried and oiled after use.

3.Keep Your Axe Away from the Element

When axe handles are exposed to the weather, they may split, splinter, or shrink. They may also get warped if they are kept leaning against a wall. Avoid exposing your axe to the elements because they can get too dry, wet, or freeze – thereby causing the handle to warp, shrink, or swell.

You want to store your axe in a dry place, but not too warm or dry, as this might cause the handle to shrink. The best environment to store them in is a climate-controlled building. When transporting them, keep them inside a box, safe from the elements or inside a vehicle, as the element might have negative effects on them. 

4.Replace Warped Handles

The best option for a warped handle is a replacement, but this depends on the severity. It can sometimes be fixed by wetting or steaming the handle before bending it back into shape with the use of weights and clamps. While this might fix some warped handles, it is time-demanding.

5.Avoid Using Your Axe as a Hammer

Using your axe as a splitting wedge or a hammer can mushroom the back of the head. Mushroomig of an axe or tools in general is when the back of the head deforms, causing the steel to push out and hang over the sides of the head. When this happens, the poll must be inspected for further damage.


Vintage axes are exciting treasures to own – either for use or collection. However, it is vital to know the things to consider when evaluating them before buying. You do not want to invest your money on something that would cause you to spend more money when trying to fix.

This article has highlighted some points to keep in mind when buying vintage axes. Several online and offline stores will be delighted to show you some vintage axes. Go ahead and check them out.