Written by Jame Price

Back in 1973 I got to know an old man named Stan Dobnikar who lived on a small Ozark Border Farm about four miles from where I live. In conversation I found out that Stan was the grandson of an immigrant who had come to America in the year 1900 from the region that is now Slovenia. He said that his family was Slavic and that they spent a few months in Austria before they came to the United States. I asked Stan if he had any tools that his ancestors brought to America and he fished an axe head out of a corncrib and handed it to me. I told him that if he ever wanted to part with it that I would like to have it. He said that he wouldn’t sell it to me but would simply give it to me because I would take care of it. I was very grateful and brought my new treasure home where I wired a tag to it with the information Stan had told me. Over the next few years Stan gave me two more axes and some other artifacts, including a turnip kraut cutter, his grandfather had made after coming to Ripley County, Missouri. I told Stan that I would put handles in the axes sometime and this week, years after Stan’s passing, I made a handle for the first axe he gave me. It is appears to be an axe more affiliated with a Bulgarian origin since it is decorated with simple lines stamped into the blade. I had a moment when I stopped working on the handle and simply held the axe with a story behind it. I could imagine that axe in the possession of the Dobnikars when they came across The Atlantic and were processed through Ellis Island to become citizens of The United States Of America. So, Stan, your old axe now has a new handle.

The Dobnikar axe weighs a little over four pounds. It is decorated with four simple lines on either side of the blade.
I gave the axe a gentle cleaning but, unlike most of my axes, I am not going to sharpen and use it.
This photo shows the shape of the eye. It has a large, heavy poll.
This is the axe sporting it’s new handle. I made the handle out of a new hickory pick handle since it was the only modern handle that had enough wood at the end to accommodate the big eye.
This photo shows the axe after I had applied brown water-based dye to the handle.
Tomorrow after the dye is dry I will apply oil to the handle. The Dobnikar will be ready to show.