Cold Steel Trail Hawk Stripping and Blueing

Blued hawk headAfter introducing some improvements to my hawk, I felt there was still something missing. The paint on the hawk’s head didn’t match the overall looks, so I decided to strip it and force a patina using a gun blue called Perma Blue. This stuff contains two nasty acids which make it smell rather unpleasantly for a long time after the application. Therefore, I recommend that you
a) Use gloves when applying Perma Blue
b) Use goggles
c) Don’t use whatever you’ve blued for food preparation at least until it stops stinking.
You may also want to use a face mask, especially if you’re coating a large surface, because the liquid smells strong before and after reacting with steel.

Trail Hawk blueing stuffThis stuff eats into the 1055 high carbon steel very quickly and you can actually observe the effect as you’re applying it (check the video below to see it happen). In fact it is so effective that it’s recommended that you dip it in cold water to stop the reaction after achieving the desired colour on one side of  the blade.

Some people repeat the process several times and I’ve done that on some of my knives as well. But here it wasn’t necessary. After laborious stripping with a dremel (I didn’t use any chemicals to help removing the paint) and degreasing with denatured alcohol, the hawk’s head quickly turned black with a hint of  nice greenish hue (picture above).

As usually, I smoothed it with a piece of fine steel wool and it turned out pretty nice after just one coating.

Before after

Blued hawk whole


I also changed some of the leatherwork I’d done earlier. I drilled a lanyard hole and added a leather lanyard, purpose of which I explain in the video. Also, the black leather sleeve lashing didn’t seem right and I re-did it to make it look like in the picture below.

Trail Hawk Lashing

Cold Steel Trail Hawk and Axe Leatherwork

Cold Steel Trail Hawk LeatherworkI have quite a few inexpensive axes and hatchets such as a stainless Silverline axe, a Draper hatchet and a Cold Steel Tomahawk (Trail Hawk). None of these came with a protective sheath or a mask, which meant I had to either make, or buy them separately if I was going to put them in a back pack and transport them safely and securely.

Trail Hawk in the Log

Sheaths or masks are really useful things and it’s a shame most inexpensive axes or hatchets don’t come with them. It’s understandable though. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be inexpensive anymore.

CS Trail Hawk mask on 13.51.07

I noticed that it is possible to learn how to do the leatherwork yourself without spending any extra money. Especially if you have some of the materials needed at home. If you do not, it still won’t be very expensive since all you need is a hammer, a few rivets, press studs with their punches, bolts and those little anvils, and scrap leather from an old bag, boots etc.

Of course, you most likely won’t be pleased with your first attempt. Possibly even your second. I know I wasn’t. But you still have to keep trying to get the experience and learn all those things you won’t learn by watching videos or reading books and blog posts. Hands-on experience my friend. Good luck and have fun 🙂

CS Trail Hawk mask  CS Mask Reverse