Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Build Your Own Battle Ax

There are few things more useful in the EOTWAWKI than a good ax. But, just having a multi-purpose ax isn't any fun. What you really want is a battle ax. After all, in the zombie apocalypse, what finer weapon could you ask for? It's been the melee weapon of choice for thousands of years.

OK. So I don't' REALLY think we will have a zombie apocalypse. But I do recognize that the ax is a great multi-purpose weapon and tool. It's great for busting wood, breaking into things you can't open, using the head to start fires, as well as being a terrific silent and deadly weapon. It won't ever run out of ammo. It will never jam. And, it doesn't matter where you hit someone, they won't walk away from it. Additionally, there is something terribly frightening about ANYONE charging at you with one of these.

My wife's grandfather died almost 3 years ago and I inherited a lot of older tools. One such tool was this old ax. It was old and really worn. Additionally, I didn't quite trust it because the handle was split right below the head. These days, you can buy a composite handle ax for less than I could buy a new oak handle for, so I didn't really think that it had any use other than nostalgia. It sat around around in the garage until the government furlough. One day, I was pretty bored and I decided how cool it would be to design and build a battle ax. Of course, I would have to do a little work on the handle, but that wasn't a big deal. I have a lot of experience in composites manufacturing. Not only did I know that I could easily fix the handle, I could make it even better than it was. There are few things better than an old oak handle and new composite handles aren't exactly impact resistant. So, if I could reinforce the hand while fixing it, I could have a pretty reliable handle. After all, the weakest point of the ax is normally the area right under the head. It is the spot that takes the most abuse because of short hits. But, what if I took it further? Suddenly I had all kinds of interesting ideas to make an unique tool for the EOTWAWKI.

Here is what the handle looked like beforehand. Notice the cracks.

Here is the handle cleaned and prepped. I sanded it,, used compressed air to remove particles, and finally rubbed it down with alcohol. Then, I used masking tape to limit resin flow.

First, I applied a coating of resin, specifically into the existing cracks. This would help prevent further cracking of the handle. I used worm drive clamps to  then put the cracked handle into compression. This would assure that  I would achieve the maximum strength of the over composite stricture after the cure. After cutting strips that were 3 inches wide and about 12 inches long, I bathed them in resin and allowed them to become saturated, then wrapped the handle with the strips. I used both helical and hoop wraps and I also varied the angle of the plys during layup to ensure I had a good multi-directional strength.  I made a 3 ply weave on the handle and allowed it to cure, then sanded it first with 80 grit, then 200 grit, and finally 400 grit sandpaper to achieve a nice finish. Then I applied a very fine finishing epoxy coat to which I resanded in the same manner previously mentioned.. This assured that there were no dry surface fibers as well as the best possible finish.  I applied a rubberized over coating on the fiberglass reinforcement. This would give a good forward grip for carrying or for pre-swing.  Additionally, I bought a roll of camo tape for about $2 to wrap the entirety of the handle.

Now, I started to really think about the functionality of the ax. Namely, what were the potential problems that one might have in using the ax.

The first things I thought of were how hard it is just carry an ax around. You don't think about it because when you get done with your ax, you lay it in the shed. But what if you had to carry it on your person at all times? What if you had to climb a tree? Additionally, if you were using it in battle, what happens if you sling it by accident? So, I figured out a solution. I bought a set of rifle sling mounts and installed them with a combination wrist strap and single point break-away sling. While it isn't a rifle, I followed the steps listed on the mounts to prevent any cracking. I already had the sling and the mounts ran me $8. **Update** As pointed out by a reader, make sure you epoxy the sling mounts, if you go this route. You are threading the fastener into the grain as opposed to perpendicular to the grains, which is far easier to strip out. I did do this, just forgot to add that step. Thanks to our reader!

The next one was that, without gloves, one might get blisters with the current grip. I know I get them anytime I used a hard wooden grip. Additionally, handles can become slippery real easy. So, I bought some Lizard Skin grip wrap and some Adidas bat tape from Amazon. That cost an additional $15. It is a superb grip. Very comfortable and slip resistant.The last thing I did was to sharpen it up and treat it with Metalloid's Metcor to clean it and prevent surface rust. Metcor is the perfect cleaner and rust preventer I have used. Check out my review on it! 

So, the final product? Well, check it out!
I had many of the items needed sitting around. Most hunters and handy men will also have many of the items needed. Again, I don't expect to ever use this ax as a weapon, but it was awfully fun to apply some NASA engineering and ingenuity to build something unique. I am not a very creative person, so I am sure that there are a ton of things I could have done to make it better. If you can think of them, I would love to hear about it!

Don't forget to check out my other cool builds and EOTWAWKI posts! 

We will be finishing the Ruger 10/22 Build very soon and starting an AR15 build!