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about 2 weeks ago I completed a class with Mark Yanko at touchstone center for crafts here in southwest Pa, forging and finishing a tomahawk. I would have to say that if anyone is out there and within driving distance of Fayette county Pa, look up Touchstone - its a wonderfully tucked away secrete. I've lived here 30 years and never knew the place existed and it has a very impressive blacksmith facility brining in many experienced smiths throughout the year.

 

this was my second class this year, my first was a general class with Glenn Horr to learn fire tending and basics of hot work. Mark's class, I had a feeling it was going to be intense. I didn't know exactly how we were going to build our axe heads, wrapped, punch & drift. I was surprised that we would learn a variety of techniques - and put them to practice.

 

Mark's process for the pipe hawks was pretty simple, we began with 1 inch tube steel (just mild steel) pinched one end to form the bowl of the pipe, crimped a section of the tube steel shut (which would eventually form the eye) then forge weld the remainder of the tube shut (which would be the blade.)

 

I built two because I first started out with the wrong size stock and was far enough along within the second day of class that I had the time to forge out a second one. first one turned out kind of small, but had a really cool boxy shape that I just allowed to form without planning. the second one, I did want to make broader, almost bearded but I couldn't get enough material to draw the shape. later it dawned on me to make a nice broad beard - upsetting the face before drawing out the blade would have helped a lot.

 

the third axe head, is what I'm most proud of, again I didn't realize I needed to upset the material as I was making it, so it turned out very long. almost 10 inches from end to end, but this one was made of a wrapped construction of mild steel and a tool steel hardened bit forge welded into it.

 

Mark's demonstrations and descriptions of decoration for the pipe hawks could have been a week long class in itself he touched on inlaying extensive explanations of file working - and yes a few guys worked on just one hawk the entire week which looked fabulous but I planned to do the decoration here at my shop and do as much forging as possible while I was in class as I don't have a forge. but that may not be the case for long. he did a brief demonstration on building a gas forge that was probably the simplest I've ever seen, but Mark also went over ideas such as using reclaimed material (he pointed out that everything we used in class was scrap and he got it for nothing and you could make something functional out of it) our hardened bits were actually "u" bolts used to hold truck leave springs. we also had a chunk or wrought iron available to us - but I passed on working with it for the mild steel.

 

the one pic I have shows the progression of the pipe hawk process. everything is just forged and profiled at this point - but in the future months - I hope to get them all a little closer to a finished project.

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Looking awesome! I actually took that class last year :)

 

And to anyone thinking about taking the class, I highly recommend it!

Edited by John F. Ellis
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Those look good! And you have discovered the limitations of using pipe for making hawks, the lack of material. Do they have a hardenable edge insert? One tip from long time no see member Brent Finnegan is to fill the blade end of the pipe with a hardenable steel rod, which both gives you more steel to work with and a hardenable edge when you're done. I've never done one entirely from pipe myself, I just wrap 'em and add the bowl afterwards. No upsetting needed if you start with thick/wide enough stock, especially if your edge steel is kind of thick.

 

Hawks are fun, aren't they?

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the bottom two do not have a hardened bit in them, but it looked really easy to apply one. adding an entire rod, I didn't think of. the big one on the top photo does have a good hardened steel bit in it, with all the welding involved with it, I felt pretty accomplished when it was done. these were fun to make and the responses I'm getting from people when seeing them is great.

 

so far I'm working on the smaller one off and on. I added flutes in the bowl using a die grinder, came out pretty good I should have spent a tad more time on laying them out, or using something to practice on first. the flutes come out pretty even and matched up accept for one spot. I then tried to make a second set of fluting on the rim of the bowl. again it's a little off, but with some more time on it, I think I can true it up and make it work.

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  • 2 weeks later...

little more work done on this this week too. filed out the scarf, refined other areas. next I'm planning a little bit of engraving on the blade.

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This ROCKS!

I had a guy ask me about making a couple hawks earlier this week. I gave him a ball park price for a more traditional method, his response: "I will have to give you a call when I have more $".

This method will cut that estimate in half. With Alan's addition of a hardenable core, it would still give him a functional product.

I will be giving it a try as soon as I can get out to the shop!

Thanks!!!

James

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this one is a functional "smoking pipe," and just how well you rate mild steel to be, you can make it sharp, but its not going to stay that way for long - actually Mark had a pretty good statement when I asked him why he didn't make a hardened bit for these. he said, "most of the guys that will buy these aren't going to use them - their going to hang them on the wall or smoke out of them. their not going to risk damaging something that they spend $$$ for." secondly he stated that both just like historical swords, you had very good examples made well with hardened steel, and you have others that were just poor quality and not hardened.

 

you can go he extra mile and do the hardened steel - as my shop builds up if I make another one, I will try to myself using this method, but that's because I may have a customer lined up for one like that. personally I see this one as practice, I intend to keep it and use it to show off what skills I've acquired. likewise I'm keeping the wrapped head I made with the hardened bit, but the second pipe hawk I may have someone line up for that one.

 

and yes, I think this method is simple and relatively quick. I was able to do the forgings in about 8 hours for each one. now that's me and this was something new to me to do, but some of you more experienced guys can probably knock these out really quick. its the decoration and file work that takes a lot of time (if you do it with a file) myself I'm trying to use power tools where I can, but sometimes having a little more control with hand tools makes a difference. additionally to this one I want to do some inlay work, I haven't done it for a while and all my examples of it were bought off years back.

 

I'm actually surprised on how popular traditional hawks are, I think it really appeals to the hunting community (especially here in western pa). I've gotten more comments on these than I have with my other 5th century historical designs.

 

James if you have any questions about the process that I haven't state well enough just ask I'll see how I can help.

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Actually, your description and the progressive picture in the first post are close to a complete tutorial already.

One question, what length of unwelded pipe do you leave for the eye?

Thanks again,

James

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if I remember correctly, its only about 4 inches. it's a little better to do that crimp more than what you need to. being this isn't wrapped, you'll never see the area that's not welded together its nicely hidden by the walls of the pipe if your crimp is longer than what's needed.

 

something Mark did a little different too, was that when we set our forge weld for the blade, we started at the end and worked our way back to the crimp so it would push the flux back into the tube while being worked instead of the majority of it spitting out the end if done the opposite way. it still happened, but it wasn't a cannon of molten flux.

 

I didn't have any problems with accidently welding the crimp either, I just stayed away from it while at welding temp. and to make things a little easier on the slit and drift I squared up with the crimp before my weld so I could drift into a nice flat surface. I think that helped me a lot a few guys had a tuff time with the slit. Mark also had us made a tear drop like slitting tool that was used to open the front and back of the slit before doing the whole thing. he said that after many many years of continuing to tear the front and back he came up with using this tool first before just jamming in a slitting chisel.

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some more work done this week on the traditional hawk. sorry my pics don't come out too well for detail parts of my work. I don't have the right camera for close ups I guess. I did a little bit of engraving and de burring I may go over the engraving again and make it a bit deeper. I could have measured out every part of the engraving, but a lot of the other parts of this hawk are all done by eye, so it's not perfect.

 

I had planned on doing arrow heads for the file work, they turned out pretty good, the first two I measured out, and they look a bit squashed, but the others looked better once I again went by eye.

 

next I plan on a little copper inlay work, and then maybe some cold bluing.

 

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Those look good! And you have discovered the limitations of using pipe for making hawks, the lack of material. Do they have a hardenable edge insert? One tip from long time no see member Brent Finnegan is to fill the blade end of the pipe with a hardenable steel rod, which both gives you more steel to work with and a hardenable edge when you're done. I've never done one entirely from pipe myself, I just wrap 'em and add the bowl afterwards. No upsetting needed if you start with thick/wide enough stock, especially if your edge steel is kind of thick.

 

Hawks are fun, aren't they?

That's a great tip on using a high carbon piece of steel forged welded inside the pipe! Can't wait to try it .
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did a little bit of inlay in the past few days, I got moved to night shift on my job and I can't find anything better to do other than tap away of some metal in the middle of the night (good thing I live alone)

 

I'll go over my inlay process for you guys, as when I started to do inlay I had a lot of trouble. I used Ben Potter's tutorial process when I first did inlay he was also kind enough to help me out through e mail on a project I did years ago with inlay. since then I did see Mathew Parkinson from dragon's breath forge has a little youtube video of inlay.

 

anyhow, my process for inlay is much the same as what you see in the video. one thing I that I tend to do differently is that I cut the wire to the length or just under the length of the channel. when I used to use one complete wire and walk it around the channel while setting the material, I would notice voids begin. sometimes they would close up, other times they would never fill. I seemed to have better results when the wire was cut to length.

 

this little bit of inlay was done in 2 pieces, results are pretty fair. I did a matching chevron on the other side, I'm planning on some more simple stuff down the scarf.

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  • 4 months later...

I've been working on this project for some time now, haven't been keeping up with the post. here's some recent developments on this traditional hawk. I had more progress pics of the engraving process, but why bore you with all that. the engraving is not fantastic by any means. I was using the same tool I do to make inlay which is far too beefy for nice engraving work, but it cuts deep. I'm satisfied with it, only because I realize that not all historical engraving is spot on perfect, in-fact a good bit of it looks crud like this anyway.

 

this is kind of on the side until I get my hands on some bluing agent, not the paint, an oxidizer, I just haven't gone to my gun shop to look for anything yet.

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Not bad. I prefer Kleenbore Black Magic cold bluing compound. It works faster and better than anything else I've tried, and leaves a deep blue-black in the cuts after only 10-15 seconds. Be sure to neutralize the heck out of it with ammonia (Windex) after applying, it will cause residual rusting afterwards otherwise.

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I am liking these, the inlays are intriguing to me. I would like to learn more about how the inlay is done. Two thumbs up!

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inlay's not too hard to do unless you start doing the curls and swirls. I'm no master at it (by far) doesn't take many tools to get started though. for this the chevron inlay was pretty well thought out, the second inlay was just a way to balance out piece. just have to be sure you can under cut your channels and it will work.

 

my first inlay tools I made from an old pair of nail sets. I ground one to a 0 degree graver and the second at an 1/8 inch, then hardened them. unfortunately, they were never quite hard enough to shave the steel, they pushed their way through the metal instead of cutting it. when I took my blacksmithing class this year, these were the first tools I remade out of an old car coil spring, tempered very slightly into the straw. I didn't do any reading up on the angles of these tools, and now notice that the belly of the tools should be made in a very steeper angle than what I have them. mine are at 45 degree belly bevels, they should be more like 100 degrees, this helps in controlling the tool, as when mine dig in, they're really hard to cut a line because they want to continue to dig in. there's a whole set of angles on inlay and hand gravers that contribute to their cutting - if I can ever get a forge up, I may remake another set of finer tools.

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