Cold Steel Trail Hawk Mod Project

Discussion in 'Blades' started by Falcon15, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    A little background:
    I am not a blade smith. I am not even nominally an axe nut. I learned a very long time ago how to care for an axe by my Grandfather (rest his soul) and have always had a good quality hatchet or camp axe when I ventured out of doors.

    Recently I was turned on to the quality of the Cold Steel tomahawks by a friend of mine, and decided to look into them. After much deliberation and research, I purchased a Cold Steel Trail Hawk. This is what I got:
    One "Made in Taiwan" stamped steel tomahawk. Black epoxy coating on the head, and a plain, sealed hickory handle.
    Another view. Note the set screw. Obviously, this will need a lot of work.
    So. I take the set screw out and toss it. A good axe needs only friction to hold the head on, and a well designed handle will accommodate that. Once the head is off I note the scarring that the shoddy stamp job on the eye of the head (which left a nasty burr all the way around, both top and bottom) left. Ten minutes work with a round file, and the burr is gone. Sanding of the handle commences. It takes quite a bit of work to round the handle, remove the scarring, and smooth the handle to the profile I want.
    Once the nasty epoxy has been stripped from the head, and the head scrubbed down with mineral spirits and steel wool, it is time to put the steel into an acid bath and give it a protective patina. Into boiling vinegar the head goes...
    Some work on the edge improving the profile and sharpening it properly (not a razor blade by and far, you do not really want a working axe to be that sharp); 2 coats of Onyx stain followed by 2 coats of boiled linseed oil on the handle later, and the project is nearly finished.
    So, I am left with a very slick and smooth haft. How to fix that? Well, you wrap it. I chose 20' of fully cored 550 for my wrap. It has utility and function. I chose black and olive drab because I like the colors together.
    So I have now a completed tomahawk. I am happy with the results.
    Another view...
    Last, but not in the hand is better than one in the head...

    Thanks for your patience.
  2. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Very nice job!!!
  3. dlquinn71

    dlquinn71 Monkey

    Should be a trail hawk delivered to my house tomorrow...have been looking at different things owners have done. Thanks posting what you did.
    Falcon15 likes this.
  4. Byte

    Byte Monkey+++

    Very nice work. A much improved tool! Their site claims it's made from a drop forged 1055 carbon steel so it should be a decent head. That shiny coating is a travesty and CS should be taken to task for daring to blemish their steel with it. The only CS knife I've ever spent money on is the Recon Tanto and so far I have no complaints about it. The AUS 8A Stainless steel blade has a coating on it is called Tuff-Ex Finish that appears to be Teflon based. Not positive but 10 min of interweb research seems to bear that out. Not very durable though. Scratched pretty easily. Nothing even remotely close to the durability of the black powder coating on my ESEE-5. Filing the coating off the spine of my ESEE-5 to expose a section of the blade for firesteel striking was quite the task! Too bad they didn't at least use their Tuff-Ex Finish on the trail hawk.

    Anyway, enough of my blather...

    Again, great work!

  5. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Good job Falcon. I'm surprised at the shoddy workmanship from Cold Steel, they usually have good products.
  6. AmericanRedoubt1776

    AmericanRedoubt1776 American Redoubt: Idaho-Montana-Wyoming Site Supporter+

  7. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    I have a Cold Steel Trail Boss, it's a fantastic axe. I also have an older CS Trail Hawk somewhere and I became quite good at throwing with it. Mine didn't come with a set screw, nor was it painted from what I recall. This was many years ago, though.

    Great job on your tomahawk! It looks amazing!
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