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Daniel W

symetrical axe wrap

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I'm moving away from my ball peen axe to finally attempt an axe shape I've been chasing for a while. My starting material that I've selected is 2 x 9 1/2 x 1/2 mild steel.

 

As I worked out an idea of steps to make a symmetrical axe, as asymmetrical is pushing the material too thin, I'm wondering, where to start from.  Work from the center out or make the cheeks and blade first?  Secondly, since I'm going to forge a poll in this eye, make a 'D' shaped drift, or oval? 

 

 

I worked out the steps to make the cheeks and blade today - and this might give the idea of the design and concept I've got rolling around.  I've settled on a bearded axe design, with intended use behind it as a medium camp axe.  I'm not trying to stick strictly to a historical shape or perimeters,  but the shape is rooted in history. 

I'm borrowing from my artistic side of smithing for this, using a tool that should be in all out tool boxes, modeling clay.  I'm thinking a lot about forging the per-form of the material - to get the final result. 

 

This is my starting material, and I'm working with 1/2 of it for the blade and cheek since I'll have to make it twice anyway. 

20180910_130855.jpg

 

This are my first passes to get the preform of the blade and cheek.  The material is upset with the cross pein but trued back to 1/2 an inch flat.  Took several passes to make this happen, I should have kept track and it might give me a reasonable number of heats needed. 

20180910_131716~2.jpg

 

The next step was to make a healthy fullering job to isolate the mass for the blade. After this trial I realized I could have fuller-ed down a little further back, and it would give me more material for the blade. Again keeping everything true to 1/2 and inch. Here I feel like the preform is complete.

20180910_132111.jpg

 

My cross pein marks did not show up very well here, but I've got the attempt to draw that blade down.  Trying to stretch down to almost 4inches.

20180910_132310.jpg

For every cross pein path, I seemed to need to do another upsetting pass on the face of the blade just to seem to keep material where I wanted it.

20180910_133408.jpg

The material is probably just about 5/16 at the edge here, and I choose to attempt to put in that little Baltic spur.

20180910_133558.jpg

 

Just a little refining to the blade as the spur is forged in. 

20180910_133759.jpg

I drew back the cheek a little and I felt like I didn't need to.  Its just to give me an idea of how far I can stretch out the cheeks.

20180910_135427.jpg

The cross section I was left with, tapered nicely from 1/2in to about a 1/8 at the blade edge.  More than enough material for a decent weld, and two together will give me quite a stout little axe. 

Now to try it in steel.

 

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Having seen the process with punched axe eyes.
You might want to make your first operation the half round dent just in front of the eye and then pull the beard down.

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I'd have to check my notes, but it looks like you are starting with plenty of mild steel.  I assume that you plan on forge welding in a high carbon bit?

Barring following James Austins asymmetrical wrap design for bearded axes (which works very well, if you follow his steps carefully.  I don't know where youa regetting the "too thin" comment)...

As regards forging sequence, the one that I have learned from a variety of sources that has worked for me is as follows:

  1. fuller back side of stock in two places to about a 1/2 thickness for a 3/4" to 1" poll
  2. Fuller the front side of the stock in two places for the front of the eye (recognizing that as you thin the cheeks the sides of the eye will grow, a good use for your clay model)
  3. Some folks spread the bit side of the axe preform a bit before wrapping, which can help if you don't have  a power hammer, press or striker, but I think this over-complicates things.  However for a long beard, like in your design, it may have you fighting with upsetting the billet less if you can keep the sides symmetrical and upset the front a bit before welding.
  4. Clean surfaces to be welded, wrap and forge weld the sides of the "butterfly" together, paying close attention to the joint at the front of the eye (you can either put the HC bit in prior to welding the bit side or leave it unwelded and open it up for a final weld for the bit.  My preference is to scarf the two front edges after the front of the eye is welded so you can do that simultaneously, then split open if necessary for the bit with a chisel with the blank held carefully in a post vise to avoid having the split run further, but I've done it both ways).
  5. Forge to spread and upset the beard as required

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15 hours ago, JJ Simon said:

Having seen the process with punched axe eyes.
You might want to make your first operation the half round dent just in front of the eye and then pull the beard down.

I did think that maybe my order of steps might be backward for this step.  Normally isolating mass before doing something to it seems to work better. 

I am thinking that maybe by picture #5 to attempt to fold and weld. I am a little worried about breaking my weld in the final steps of forging.  If I can get it to successfully stick after the carbon steel bit is in, I might just leave it be and cut the Baltic spur out or just leave it alone.  If the weld does break, at heat, it breaks from some reason of my process not being correct.  My last folded axe broke at heat several times I just could not get a good solid mass of material.  Although it is stuck together, if I used that axe, I'm pretty sure it would split apart.

I can forge weld, I don't do it very often but give it a go every once in while.  Some of my last welds in mild steel held together pretty solidly, but they where a nick fold and weld without continual forging.  The axe here will be a pretty large surface area to stick together on top of that will need some light forging to get the final shape.

I got a job lined up so I may be able to start on this pretty soon.

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There are a few issues here and the first I can comment on is unless you know this steel is 1008 or 1018 as opposed to A36 you can have all sorts of weld failures.
A36 is a variable steel made to only make spec in its toughness.
That means steel companies can put anything in it to get there.
Lots of manganese? Possibly.
Which will cause welding issues.
Great for hooks and bottle openers and absolute garbage for making blades with tool steel cores.

Next if you're getting weld shear when forging that inset preparing for the beard then you may be forging too cold.
Or doing too much.
Welds shear under stress.
If I'm working welded material I work it at welding heat until I'm at the end.
Its also easier to see when there are problems.

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If you're going symmetrical, I find it helps to make a bowtie shape before wrapping the eye.  That way you've got a start on the blade already.  As for the eye shape, that's up to you.  I like a D-shape for bearded axes.  Forge the flat when you wrap, before you weld the cheeks.  Forging on the eye after welding, and especially trying to use the drift to stretch the eye after welding, is an excellent way to break the weld.  In other words, go ahead and fold it with the drift in place, forge to fit the drift exactly, going a little bigger than you want the eye to be, then weld.  The eye will shrink a bit after welding and is dangerous to stretch afterwards.

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If you're interested in a short tutorial, here's one I and Mark Aspery did a few years ago:  http://www.geraldboggs.com/Axe_article.pdf

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1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

If you're interested in a short tutorial, here's one I and Mark Aspery did a few years ago:  http://www.geraldboggs.com/Axe_article.pdf

Wow what an in depth piece on a axe!! That has to be one of the best tutorials I think I have ever seen!!

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On 9/11/2018 at 4:28 PM, Alan Longmire said:

 I like a D-shape for bearded axes.  Forge the flat when you wrap, before you weld the cheeks.  Forging on the eye after welding, and especially trying to use the drift to stretch the eye after welding, is an excellent way to break the weld.  In other words, go ahead and fold it with the drift in place, forge to fit the drift exactly, going a little bigger than you want the eye to be, then weld.  The eye will shrink a bit after welding and is dangerous to stretch afterwards.

I noticed when I tried my last axe wrap that with the poll forged in, the eye wants to almost naturally make a 'D-shaped' eye.  Looks like I'm going to be needing to make a 'D' patterned drift, just for truing up the eye.  My only successful wrapped axe, once it was forged the final drifting pass was done while the cheeks where held in the vise to minimize splitting the weld.

And I did think about wrapping the axe just to forge out the shape before welding it up.  As long as I work both parts of the stock equally, it should work. 

On 9/12/2018 at 8:26 AM, Gerald Boggs said:

If you're interested in a short tutorial, here's one I and Mark Aspery did a few years ago:  http://www.geraldboggs.com/Axe_article.pdf 

Thanks for the article!  I've seen the video of this but having it all down on paper always helps!  I got through reading Mark's third book this past winter and kick myself at not taking a class with him last year when he came through the craft school I usually attend.  This was the first summer that I did not see him having a class at the facility, as I've been working my way up to have a class with him and Tom Latena one day. 

 

On 9/11/2018 at 4:22 PM, JJ Simon said:

There are a few issues here and the first I can comment on is unless you know this steel is 1008 or 1018 as opposed to A36 you can have all sorts of weld failures.
A36 is a variable steel made to only make spec in its toughness.
That means steel companies can put anything in it to get there.
Lots of manganese? Possibly.
Which will cause welding issues.
Great for hooks and bottle openers and absolute garbage for making blades with tool steel cores.
 

No unfortunately, I do not know the exact steel this is.  This was a fresh cut off from my smithy friend and supplier it just happened to sit in the bed of my truck for a few days to get that nice weathering look to it.   As most of my work is, the making of hooks flowers and other general stuff, I have not looked into that and did not think it would be a factor.  The other material I've gotten from the guy has forged welded for me before, but I have not attempted something this size. 

In the next few weeks I've got a small job lined up so I'll be meeting with him and ask him what steel he's been getting.

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23 hours ago, Daniel W said:

Thanks for the article!  I've seen the video of this but having it all down on paper always helps!  I got through reading Mark's third book this past winter and kick myself at not taking a class with him last year when he came through the craft school I usually attend.  This was the first summer that I did not see him having a class at the facility, as I've been working my way up to have a class with him and Tom Latena one day.  

You just missed him in Adirondack Folk School, upper NY.  It was a basics class, unless he's changed it, it would have been tool making for the Wizard bottle opener, forge welding and making of a rose with leaves.  Not sure when next he'll be at Touchstone, but he'll be at Adirondack next year around late August, early Sept.  I'm tentatively scheduled to teach the week after. 

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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While some of it can be pretty crappy, not all A36 is garbage nor hard to weld.  I learned to weld using A36 and all the pieces in the axe article were A36.  

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