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Still I struggle to chase after the illusive bearded axe.  My home forge is not strong enough to make a forge weld.  It's not the burner, I believe it's the KOA wool I selected.  Just not reflecting enough heat, or I've got to upgrade to a duel burner which, I don't currently see the need for as most my work is decorative stuff.  I also don't look forward to slitting and drifting a block of tool steel, so I happened across an old worn out 2lb mushroomed ball peen hammer.  I looked at it and wondered if there was an axe in there, or should I reforge it into a top tool?  Since I have a tomahawk drift - axe it was.  

Spark test was not exciting, but also was not terrible.  So I went ahead with the plan and drifted the eye to a tear drop (this way I can true everything up once all the forging is done.) I've currently got the beard drawn out with a 'spur'. I don't know what it's for, but I like the design of it.

I had hoped to get the forging a little closer to finished profile, but it was getting pretty late in the evening. I had to shift the beard down once I had spread the material, then after I forged in the spur I wound up with a 3 1/4 length on the blade.  I was shooting for 4in but I'll take it on a piece of scrap.

I was shooting for what I think is a Patterson type 'E' profiled blade, the peen side of the hammer is eventually going to be upset and necked down a little to make a nice "what I hope to be" tool hatchet.


Hammer head is normalized before forged.



My local forge has a small power hammer where I fuller ed out the blade.  I got a nice spread with still a lot of meat to move around to make a light axe. 



Very rough and very ugly and please excuse my forge scale as my little gasser makes literal bullet proof forge scale on tool steels! Last evening I shifted the blade down, rounded out the beard end, and set down for the spur.



I don't know what would look better to cut the blade of the axe back a little more toward the bottom or not. In the end though, I would recommend that if you see an old ball peen, maybe remake it into a hammer unless you really want to try to do this.  I'm doing this more or less to learn the process of how to draw the beard out.  I would like to try my hand as making an 'a' symmetrical wrapped eye axe with NEW steel, but so far this has taught me how to shape a blade with only hammer and anvil.  Where to strike to move the material where you want it to go, and where you should strike on your anvil to move it that way.


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Well, I don't know a lot about forging axes, but if I were to have tried this, I would have started developing the beard much earlier, like at the stage where the second photo shows.

I'm interested in seeing the progress on this one. keep us posted.

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As Ben is asking, you'll never get to welding without at least something like i-100 or whatever the IR reflective coating is called. Ideally a good half inch of castable refractory or soft firebrick on top of the wool would make attaining and maintaining a welding heat much easier.

Looking good though!

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Progress is a little slow on blade projects, I had a few inquiries about some decorative work in the past few weeks, but I am moving this project along a little. 

If I was paying more attention to forcing that beard down while I was spreading material I probably wouldn't have that set back of trying to force it down after spreading. I began the fullering from the center.  Maybe I had started a third above center, and worked in an arch I could have been able to pull a little more material down. 

Since these photos, I've cut away a chunk of the blade, I got a long cold shut while working it.  While forging down the blade, I squared it, knocked off the corners of the end, and began to work it down on the diamond. Unfortunately I didn't ease the corners off enough, but there was enough material to cut way the cold shut with losing that profile.



As for how my forge is built, I used some materials that just happened to be available at the time to get me working.  My KOA wool is rated for 2300 and for refractory, I used hard firebrick repair mix, rated for I believe 2400.  It has proved to be very - very durable material as I've only got about a 1/8th inch coating on my walls. I have also tried to used a compound known as Magnesita that I got from the steel mills, rated for much much higher temps. Although that material has failed due to it needs to be compressed by some tons of pressure to become a solid mass.  I only found that out after I got the product, so until I can find some kind of binder for it, its pretty useless.

Some kind of reflective coating may help, I just haven't invested in it yet.  It would surprise me if it could improve efficiency so much.  Currently I'm getting to good orange forging heat, but regardless of pressure and orifice size on my burner, it is only getting hotter faster - its not retaining heat.  This tells me there is an insulation problem, also my outside walls are screaming hot. 

For now, Its getting me to forge temps at 5 psi and maybe a 2-3 min wait on material to come up to temp.  Welding was not my priority as the time I built it, just getting to work. I would much rather invest in getting a coal set up - but that's far into the future.  I have enough wool to rebuild the forge - but right now I don't see a major reason for it.  I'll probably talk with some of my smithy friends and see if I can get a little reflective off them as I won't need too much. 

Of all the guys I personally know using gas, only one of them is hitting welding temps.  All the other guys I work with put a sealer on the wool and just get to forging temps with them.  Coming from the decorative world, propane is such a pain in the butt! its nice to have instant heat and a way to shut if off and on without much worry. Even heat for twist and working very long sections of work.  working 5 things at once or more.  It has it's benefits, I just prefer coal/coke as I don't know of a way to mig weld a nice wrapped axe together yet.



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This is not too exciting, I still haven't made much progress on this other than cutting the blade down a bit.  I had the a cutoff wheel on the grinder so I just chopped off a hair while it was out. 20180704_120940.jpg

I will probably take another little chunk off the bottom edge of the blade so that it has a little more downward sweep to it.  I just made sure that I cut out all of the cold shut first to see how much meat I still have.

Also, you build and you learn.  I should have worked the other end of the axe first by necking down the peen section first - then upsetting the peen to make a nice hammer face.  With the blade already drawn out, I'm now looking at how awkward its going to be to neck in that transition point.  I could grind it to where I want it - but I'd rather forge it and push more material to the hammer face before I grind away.

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