When maintaining an axe, you’re really caring for two different materials – the metal axe head and the wooden axe handle. Your main chores with the axe head are rust removal and prevention, and sharpening the edge of the axe. A little rust is inevitable, and this can be easily removed by scouring the axe head with steel wool. Once cleaned, apply a thin coating of gun oil to prevent future rust. Other oils will work, in fact the pioneers used pig fat or bees wax to protect their tools, but gun oil is your best bet. It will dry somewhat once it’s applied and it’s long lasting. Your axe handle can be cleaned with a quick scouring of steel wool or fine grit sand paper. The handles useful life can be extended with an occasional wipe of boiled linseed oil. Make sure you choose boiled linseed oil, not the raw version. Raw linseed oil leaves a sticky residue that will not dry. A final handle chore involves the hafting. If an axe head becomes loose, you can try adjusting the wedges that hold it in place, but your best choice is to remove the wedge and rework the hafting. Or you could replace the handle.