Jimmy DiResta refurbishes an old hatchet

Once every two weeks artist and craftsman Jimmy DiResta produces a new video for MAKE that shows his process of creating, fixing, or modifying something in his workshop. Instead of using music, Jimmy lets the sound of his power tools provide the soundtrack to his videos. Also, he rarely says anything in the videos. The effect is mesmerizing. These aren't how-to videos, but you can still learn quite a bit about tools and workshop practices by watching them.

In this video, Jimmy refurbishes an old hatchet.

DiResta: Hatchet



  1. As the saying goes  “This here ax is over 100 years old ! It’s had the head replaced twice and the handle five times.”

  2. Nice. Around 3:25, I’m thinking that in one slick movement I could remove a number of fingers and still manage to wreck the sawblade on the tang…

    1. I used to put a lot of effort into sharpening the cheapest knives so my sharpening  learning curve would not include screwing up a good blade.

  3. I really like that anything someone might be curious about is in there, but the editing keeps the thing moving along at a quick enough pace  so that it doesn’t drag or dwell on mundane intermediate steps. This is as much a great tutorial on making a how-to video as it is on the project itself.

  4. Very nice, quite skilled. Just out of personal aesthetic choice I DESPISE the new handle he gave it, but that’s utterly aside.

  5. Jonbly Herbert, this was my thought, and not only at that point.  Holding a hatchet in my left hand and running a grinder on it with my right: in my workshop the *least* I could expect would be a hatchet flung into my skull.
    His hatchet (and the video) is a thing of beauty, and I envy his skills, but I think I paid around $10 for my last hatchet.  If it got rusty or the handle was damaged I’d probably chuck it into my dead tools archival box and spend another $10.

  6. That was a very cool video, but a lot of effort put into what is, at best, a crappy hatchet. Those Estwings look cool with the KABAR style leather handle, but by being all metal they fail. This is because the properties required of a handle and a blade are totally different. So they never take a good edge and lose it quickly. But it was nice to see some nice craftsmanship by Jimmy.

    1. I don’t agree… it is probably true that the one-piece design limits what they were able to achieve as far as the metallurgy of the edge, but the ergonomics of the hatchet are really, really nice. I expect that if you either A) needed to shave with your hatchet or B) used it for hundreds of hours per year, you would want something with with a hardened carbon steel edge. But as a general purpose hatchet these are still very good – light and balanced with a good taper to the head. I have one that once belonged to my father-in-law and it’s my favorite of the various axes and hatchets I own. I’d rate it at least 8 out of 10.
      (edit): On further research it looks like the whole thing (possibly not this one, but the ones they make now, at least) is made of drop forged 1055 carbon steel. There may be specialty steels that would give you a slightly better edge but I don’t think this qualifies as ‘crappy’. You can read other opinions at http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/563096-How-is-the-steel-on-Estwing-Hatchets-and-Axes but I don’t think you’ll find much support for your POV.

  7. To complete the whole lifecycle, here’s how these are made http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmTY6-uL58Y

  8. Personally, I always remove any finish on my hatchets (and axes, hammers, rakes, shovels, etc.) but that’s because I use mine hard. A smooth, slick finish like this one is hard to grip when sweaty and tends to raise blisters. 

    And, yes, I realize that’s not the point.

  9. Only way it could have been nicer is to have brass handle rivets through the tang and flush with the wood.

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