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Viking age axe tutorial


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I just tried out an alternate method for forming an axe eye and thought that I'd share the result. This is a very undeveloped trial in which I made no attempt to shape the profile of the eye or form a poll. It is simply an effort to explore the geometry of the weldment and its change in cross section due to hammer-work and wastage in the coke fire. The pieces were simply MIG-tacked to keep them in place in the fire.

 

The outer wrap was made from 6" of 1/4" x 1-3/4" hot rolled mild steel and the inner core was made from 3/8" x 1-3/4" flat stock of the same material. The outer wrap was scarfed on the ends to blend its thickness into the inner material. The inner core was hot split with a chisel and opened to form a Y which was scarfed on the ends. The split was finished by opening it up and rounding the cleft with a fuller. These pieces were assembled as shown:

 

New eye weld top sized.jpg

 

New eye weld side sized.jpg

 

The assembly was fluxed and welded first through the packet of three layers on the face of the anvil. When this was sufficiently stuck I welded each arm of the Y to the inside of the circular wrap on a vertical mandrel. When all appeared to be reasonably well welded I reshaped the eye from round to the D cross section on my usual D mandrel. This was the result:

 

New eye weld finished sized.jpg

 

Splitting the core material and laminating it to both of the inner sides of the eye allows the eye to be finish-sized and shaped without much chance of splitting any welds open. This method also makes the eye-forging relatively independent of the blade-forging. This should give more flexibility in the use of materials for both pieces. The main drawback is that the heavier, inner core material heats up relatively slowly compared to the outer eye-wrap and can increase the wastage of the outer material somewhat. This needs to be accounted for in the planning of the weld. Use a bit more material to start with and do the first heats slowly until the packet is thermally bonded.

 

Enjoy!

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I've spent the last month or so with Jeff Pringle doing some trials on Viking age axe forging. The first of these I posted on the New Work forum about a week ago. In my second and later tries I reco

After success on a few bearded axes with plain round eye-holes and langets I decided to tackle the complete Baltic axe-eye with a reinforcing back strap over the poll ("Helmdach" in German) which I ha

Great work! Beautiful tutorial!   Thank you for taking time doing this.

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Jim,

Good idea.

 

Throw two pattern-welded rivets in there to hold the outer wrap on...it would be an interesting effect.

maybe a couple to hold in the bit as well..as with your other axe.

 

Ric

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Whoa! :blink: That actually explains a mystery I saw last year...

 

Believe it or not, I saw that same weld seam arrangement on an early 18th century French trade axe excavated in western Pennsylvania. I was trying to see how it was made given that it had a VERY thick body ahead of the eye and a poll-less D-shaped eye with very thin walls. This method makes a lot of sense.

 

Thanks again for being a genius, Jim! :lol:

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Very interesting work Jim!

 

A friend and I built 2 Type L axes a couple years ago using a "similar" idea that was posted by an Aussie at the time. The split main body idea was not used, just the piece that wrapped around to form the eye that was over welded to the "body" of the axe. No carbon edge or anything, just forge welded 1018 to 1018 and then some MIG clean up welds with lots of grinding, prior to chase work and braze fill to create the raven!

 

See axe face 1

 

Cheers, Ted

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A week or two ago I was leafing through one of Jeff's historical sources on historical metalwork and noticed an old technique for affixing the steel bit into an axe or other cutting tool which looked beautifully simple and effective. I had just been revisiting a variation of the same technique used for putting steel faces on hammers (before they were forged from one block of steel - tutorial coming) so when I saw it applied to inserted steel bits I had to try it out. This technique is used at the point in axe construction where the bit has been carefully and tightly fitted into the cleft of the axe body. It is necessary that the thin, long edge of the bit which sits deepest within the cleft be fairly sharp. Using a sharp chisel with a cutting angle of about 60 degrees, small teeth are cut into the sharp edge of the HOT bit (use a red heat) which project to each side of the bit in alternating fashion. Here are two views showing the chisel and the bit at this stage:

 

Side shot teeth sized 1.jpg

 

teeth and chisel sized.jpg

 

It is very important not to push your luck and try to get "just one more" tooth cut when the material gets too cool as the tooth will easily break off. Just bring the bit back to a red heat and work methodically. The teeth should not be too large or they will hinder the subsequent insertion of the bit back into the cleft. Ideally the direction of the tooth-points should be perpendicular to the long axis of the bit.

 

Now comes the tricky part which should be choreographed in advance. Bring the cleft of the axe-body to a nice orange heat while the steel bit cools off. Grab the back of the eye axe-eye with tongs and hold it in front of you with the cleft straight up (in the same position as shown in the next picture). Grab the bit by the middle of the thick edge and drop it into the cleft at exactly the correct position. Immediately drop the bit tongs, grab a medium weight hammer and "press" the bit into the cleft with a few gentle blows. Without missing a beat lay the assembled axe blade flat on the face of the anvil and tighten the bit into the cleft with firm, pressing blows. The idea is to let the "cold" teeth of the bit bite into the hot material deep in the cleft. If the process takes too long the teeth will get too hot to bite and instead be smashed flat. In this case the bit will probably fall out of the body and the process will have to be repeated. If performed properly the bit will be firmly anchored in place and will not fall out of the cleft when getting shoved around in a coal or coke fire. Here is a picture of the axe assembly suspended by the bit:

 

Hung axe sized.jpg

 

Try it, you'll like it.

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Wow :o Thats a cool video. His work is so clean. Its interesting how he uses a striker for the majority of his work. I really plan on doing this.

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Jim that video is just pure blacksmithing heaven! beautiful!

 

 

totaly agree, that is the finest, best thought out video i have ever seen on youtube. top marks!

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yup a beauty to behold...every bit the pace the tools the axe ...the.... the....the ...lost for words!!

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Jim has computer issues now, but I am sure he thanks you all and would point out that the video, which is for sale soon, has more information than the youtube teaser.

 

 

Ric

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Here's another axe for your perusal.

 

Oland axe top oblique no cap.jpg

 

It was inspired by a form-decorated axe from Öland which was represented as a line drawing in one of Jeff's books on axes which I have cropped out here:

 

Oland axe sized.jpg

 

What really got me to "thinking" (I use the term loosely) about this axe was its given provenance. In a gratuitous yet playful assault on the Swedish language (apologies to Peter Johnsson) my sputtering mind translated this to "Ale Land" or "Beer Country". Really, it was just kind of a reflex. After that (possibly inappropriate) intellectual leap it was but one short step to proportion the palmetto decoration so that it could serve a noble function. I think you know what I am talking about.

 

Oland axe left side with cap sized 2.jpg

 

Think of it as a kind of "after-the-battle" axe for when you really need that cold one.

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OMG I want.... must be strong...... It's killing me that someone else will own this Jim, I hope she goes to a good home. One in which the noblest of uses is she put. ;0)

 

Is this a single or double handed axe?

 

Cheers!

Ted

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