Estwing Sportsman 14″ Hatchet Oiling

Recently I’ve been looking at a small lightweight hatchet to buy for my INCH bag and came across this little gem. It’s a 14 inch hatchet, weighing 1.86 pounds (0.84 Kg) made of decent 1055 steel and looks like it would do cut small branches pretty decently.

Estwing Axe Oiling

Fig1. – The unmodified axe.

I picked one up knowing the only real flaw was the coating on the handle with the intent to follow the guidelines of the user below, who recommended stripping the coating and applying your own.

It requires a bottle of neatsfoot oil and a couple of sheets of sandpaper to get the desired result of a weatherproof, better feeling handle which will cope well in damp conditions.

Estwing Axe Oiling

Fig2. – Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil and the Axe.

The whole comment from Amazon is quoted below:

This is the real deal!
December 31, 2012
A. Swenson

I don’t write many reviews but this little gem deserves one. Proudly made in the USA since 1923, this is the same fine tool your granddad bought, with the same high quality forging and rugged leather grip. Properly used and cared for it will stand up to several lifetimes of hard use. I recently bought a spare from Amazon and this review is based on that item.

A couple of observations/recommendations: I note one reviewer whose hatchet handle rotted. Well yeah. As these come from the factory the handle is given a glossy varnished finish and the stacked leather grip underneath is very dry. It looks nice when it’s new but the varnish will crack and chip with use, and then the grip will absorb water like a sponge, ruining the leather. Thus, knowledgable sportsmen have long looked fondly on that glossy factory finish and then taken a couple of sheets of 100-grit sandpaper and sanded it off. Mask off the metal part of the shaft of the handle, no point in scratching that up, but do round off the sharp edge of the metal washer at the base of the handle to make it more comfortable in use. Be sure to get all the varnish off, the leather underneath will look almost white when you’re done sanding. 100 grit is fine, there’s no need to finish with finer grades.

Then get a bottle of Fiebing’s Neatsfoot Oil (available at Amazon!) and rub it in. If you didn’t get all the varnish off you’ll immediately notice light spots where the oil isn’t soaking in, stop and sand those off. You’ll be amazed at how much oil that leather grip will absorb, my new one has taken at least an ounce of oil and it’s still sucking it up. It will take several applications over several days to do a thorough job — the idea is to completely saturate the leather grip — just slather it on with a fingertip at first and then rub it in after a couple of days’ applications. Put some on the sturdy leather sheath they provide while you’re at it. The neatsfoot will give the grip a nice antique brown finish and a slightly sticky, non-slip feel, and once the grip is thoroughly saturated it will be nearly impervious to the elements *forever*. I have hunting knives and another old Estwing hatchet that were given this treatment by my dad and grandfather before I was born — that was a long time ago — the grips have turned black over the years but they’re still as sound as the day they were made and they’ve seen a lot of weather over the years.

Then get a Lansky “puck” dual grit sharpener (also available at Amazon!) and sharpen the blade. They come dull, probably for product liability reasons it will only be as sharp as you’re capable of making it, but it will take a fine edge with a little effort. Then avoid chopping it into the ground, rocks, or what have you — it will take you several patient hours to put the initial edge on the blade and all that effort will be wasted if you whack it against a rock. The blade should never touch anything but the wood it’s made to cut.

Learn to split kindling safely by taking a 1-2′ piece of wood 2-3″ in diameter, holding it by one end pointed away from you and resting the other end parallel to the ground across a larger piece of wood. Split the far end by chopping through it sideways into the chopping block and then giving the hatchet and the wood a deft twist to split it lengthwise (a glove on your off-hand isn’t a bad idea). Repeat with each half until you have enough kindling. Whatever you do, don’t try to hold a piece of kindling on end and split it lengthwise lumberjack-style, that’s a good way to lose a finger or chop yourself in the knee.

Guys, this is a tool every manly man should treat himself to and learn to use! There’s darn few things in this world that are the same high quality they were 90 years ago but this is one of them.

Estwing Axe Oiling

Fig3. – The stripped coating.

Following his comments to the letter I went ahead and stripped the handle of the current coating with sandpaper which took a few days with about 30 minutes per day. I was sure to cover the metal with tape to prevent scratching it up.

Estwing Axe Oiling

Fig4. – Applying the oil.

When the handle was clear of coating I then used my fingers to apply and rub oil into the handle for about 20-25 coats, applying 3 or so per day. The oil was readily absorbed and looks great on the handle, giving it a deep, rich appeal. The following day I applied three more coats and left it to dry again.

Estwing Axe Oiling

Fig5. – The last coat applied but still wet.

After the last coat was applied and left to dry it has a lovely leather feel to it compared to the tough plastic feel previously.

Estwing Hatchet Amazon Link

Estwing Axe Oiling

Fig6. – The completed axe with the coatings.

PVC Pipe Cache

Lately I’ve been getting into DIY prepper projects such as making my own char cloth and modifying my gear to better serve me. But this week I’ve been buying and cutting PVC pipe to store valuables inside which I can then bury along roads or notable landmarks to preserve my assets if I need to leave. The locality and reasoning for burying caches won’t be covered today – only the process to create one of these pipe caches.

PVC Cache

Fig1. – The pipe cache using 100mm pvc.

You can select any sized pipe you wish, I’ve tried with 10cm and 4cm piping and it turned out well in both cases. I would recommend 10cm piping if you are storing a lot, or 4cm if you are storing specific items such as silver and gold coins. The completed cache should be waterproof and store underground indefinitely without degradation.

PVC Cache

Fig2. – What you will need.
PVC Cache

Fig3. – The priming and bonding agents.

• PVC pipe of any size and length you want, but it has to have a stopper end and a screw end with a screw stopper (unless you want to break it to access it)
• PVC Pipe Stopper
• PVC Pipe Screw End
• PVC Pipe Threaded Stopper
• A PVC pipe cutting tool such as hacksaw or specialized PVC cutter
• A file and sandpaper or disc sander (or cement) if you used a hacksaw
• PVC bonding primer
• PVC bonding glue (Either normal or pressure rated)
• Small Paintbrush for applying primer or two if the glue doesn’t include one
• A permanent marker which can write on plastic
• Ruler or Tape Measure
• Heavy object to hit the glued pieces together

1. Firstly cut the pipe to the size you want ensuring it will fit everything you want inside. Generally there will be slightly more room than the volume of the pipe (without the ends on) to play with.

PVC Cache

Fig4. – Cutting the pipe.

2. If you cut with a hacksaw or other blade ensure the surface is flat and free of burrs. Use sandpaper, disc sander, a file or cement to square it off and clean up the edge. Cement acts as an unlikely disc sander if you rub it backwards and forwards along it and flattens it slowly if you keep it at 90 degrees. You only get minor damage to the cement. Once the ends are square and clean from any debris, burrs and dirt continue to step 3.

PVC Cache

Fig5. – The burrs on the cut pipe.
PVC Cache

Fig6. – The smoothed cut edge.

3. Apply the primer to the surface of both joining surfaces. Paint the inside and out of the join ensuring you don’t over-paint the section other than what will overlap. You don’t need to be swift with this step.

PVC Cache

Fig7. – Applying the primer.

4. (MAKE SURE ONLY THE END YOU ARE CONNECTING IS ON THE PIPE – Otherwise you will hammer them together and then realize it’s impossible to pull the un-glued section off) Prepare the pieces and have your heavy hammering item nearby. Apply the glue to both surfaces quickly being careful not to apply too much or too little glue, then quickly push them together and then hammer them together with your heavy item so they are snug.

PVC Cache

Fig8. – Applying the glue.

5. Repeat steps 3-4 to the other end but ignore the comment in step 4 about only having one end connected.

PVC Cache

Fig9. – The fairly clean bond on the inside.
PVC Cache

Fig10. – The very clean bond at the bottom.

6. Let the glue dry for 24 hours and you will have a completed PVC cache!

PVC Cache

Fig11. – Testing the fit of a silver coin in a 40mm pipe.
PVC Cache

Fig12. – An unglued 40mm cache.

Char Cloth Attempt 1

So recently I tried to make some char cloth for use in fire lighting with flint, however things didn’t go exactly as planned when the entire can started to melt in front of me…

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Fig1. – The melted tin can.

At first I thought, how hard could this be? Put some cotton into a can, drill a hole and burn it a little but apparently there’s a few more complications than this, but hopefully it’ll teach you a little more about doing it successfully if you run into the same problems.

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Fig2. – Smoke coming from the tin prior to it burning through.

The first mistake was the use of an aluminium can which prior to this I didn’t know that aluminium has a low melting point of about 660.3°C (1220.54°F). Even then I’m pretty sure those cheap metal tins off eBay that often come with tinder in them isn’t even aluminium but some sort of aluminium alloy. I’m not even sure if this cheap gas burner can reach those temperatures as the highest I’ve recorded mind getting to using isobutane is about 450°C. It is quite thin walled which makes it easier for the heat to just burn straight through it, at least I will fix this on my second attempt by using a proper steel container.

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Fig3. – The orange-hot base of the tin prior to melting.

Looking at figure 3, it gave me an idea to do a photo shoot of just the smoke sometime as the patterns it creates could create some wonderful and intricate artwork if blown the right way. I’mm add this to my to do list of photographic experiments and find a way to make smoke a little more interesting to look at as an artform.

Anyway back to the topic at hand, I’m certain that the char cloth was destroyed during the melting of the tin, however I tried to light it anyway and got a glowing orange ember which randomly seemed to wander around the char cloth a little before extinguishing after a few seconds. I’m not sure if this is normal or whether char cloth is supposed to have a flame once lit instead of whatever you call that orange ember thing. (Pic below)

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Fig4. – Three glowing parts after using a flint rod on the cloth.
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Fig5. – The ruined char cloth.

I only realized after salvaging the char cloth that they shrink to about half their size, which means I have to double the cutout size to get a decent tool for firelighting which will also fit nicely in a survival kit. The cloth also crumbles more readily than a lantern mantle which is a nuisance, but that could be a sign I “overcooked” it to the point it’s useless. Overall it was a valuable learning experience and I’ve got a few more things to buy before attempting creating char cloth again such as a better can, cotton which I’m sure is cotton instead of a questionable t-shirt which “claimed” to be 100% cotton.