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Question on east wing hatchet repair

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I had a gentleman come to me with 8 east wing hatchets with the leather ring handles(like the one in the picture). He runs an axe throwing business and the backplates had shaken loose, from bad throws etc. I ground down the pressed rivet style pieces that held. The backplate on and welded them in place back tight against the leather rings. I took them back to him and he said they didn't last an hour before the backplates broke completely off. As I welded them up I kept quenching the bottom of the plate in water to keep from burning the leather rings. Could this be the reason that they are breaking right at the weld? How can I fix them now with the 2 studs on the back almost completely gone? Can they be fixed at all? Thanks in advance guys.


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I dont have the axes in my possession anymore for a picture of what is left. I considered riveting back with the material that was there. My fear was too much heat still. By the time I got the legs red hot it would be too hot to keep the leather from burning. The plates are intact but welded solid, and all that's left from the original two little legs past the leather is maybe an 1/8 of an inch then it's to the handle portion where its solid.

After they broke I figured the quenching is what caused it to break. How could something like that be fixed without burning the handle?

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Welcome aboard.  Read "Read This First" in the blue banner at the top of the page and if you post your location it can help us with relevant answers.

I suspect that the original, factory rivets were headed cold after the leather was put on the handle and the plate put on behind the leather.  If the rivets had worn down too far to re head them I would look at filing or grinding down the base of the handle to make the rivet legs long enough.  You might have to remove one leather washer from the stack.

You could submerge the axes in water with only the rivets above water, heat them with a torch, the water keeping the leather cool.

Did you use a rivet header or did you just hammer them flat?  If the latter, you might have reduced the amount of metal at the junction of the shaft of the rivet and the head to a point where the hardening from quenching was made a worse problem.  But, as others  have suggested, I think the main problem was hardening and making the rivets brittle.  

I might also mention to the owner that these are not intended for throwing, they are for chopping.

BTW, the brand name is "Estwing," not East Wing.  A minor quibble but in loyalty to my similar Estwing rock hammer that I have had and used for about 55 years I feel compelled to point it out.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."  

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If you want to keep all the original leather pieces in, and the tang is now to short, take the leather off, preheat the tang and weld on a mild steel extension with full penetration. Don’t forget to post heat and cool slowly. The reassembled and cold rivet it.


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