As a work around, the blacksmiths at the museum reprofile modern axes to better impersonate these actual historical artifacts. My new hatchet started its life as a Wetterlings broad axe (that's right, us badass pilgrims use broad axes as hatchets, but I digress).
The pattern that my new hatchet is based on is from Martin's Hundred and dated to around 1621. It was found in the ground along with various other tools, most likely buried there to prevent the native populations from repurposing the metal into tools and weapons.
The Wetterlings head is hack sawn away to the same profile as the Martin's hatchet, removing a lot of the weight from behind the eye and reducing the bit length by several inches.
Next I reground the bit into a nice fair curve, filed it for a convex bevel, sharpened it with whetstones, and stroped with a piece of leather charged with rouge polish. Finally I helved the hatchet with a white oak handle (remember these are English settlers in 1627, they probably don't know the wonderful qualities of Hickory as handle stock).
Overall this is a beefy hatchet with one hell of a bite. You can see how thin the historic hatchet is right in front of the eye, but the Wetterlings is quite thick, giving it much more mass. After four hours of trimming lath, I appropriately nicknamed this hatchet "Wrist Breaker."
In order to protect the edge, and lessen the amount of sharpening I need to do, I made a nice wooden blade guard (note that this is not historically based on anything).