Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sharps: Estwing carpenter's hatchet

Each and every time I've wandered the maze of aisles at an indoor antiques mall recently, a certain old-school tool has caught my eye. Yesterday I shelled out a few bucks and brought it home.

It's an Estwing carpenter's hatchet, 13 inches long with a straight, stacked-leather handle. Its condition testifies to hard use. The letters "THH" are scratched into the shank.

Estwing has been around since 1923 and this hatchet is typical of the company's one-piece forged designs. I have no idea how old it is, but I can say with near-certainty that it has no value whatsoever as a collectible -- it looks like the blade was shortened by a half-inch or more and re-profiled at some point, perhaps because the edge broke or chipped.

It came to me crudely ground, with a handle so grimy that it looked like it was wrapped in electrician's tape. I spent five minutes scrubbing the gucked-up leather and ten more knocking the shoulders off of the bevel.

It feels like a keeper and a user -- not much of a woods tool, really, but it could be an ideal backyard companion. Kindling, anyone?