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Gerald Boggs

Practicing the bearded axe

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A bit of play with forging the bearded axe. I let the curve get ahead of the beard, wanted about an ½ more in width and an inch in length.  But since I started with an axe gone bad, no loss.  Originally I started with a 10" length of 1 1/2 by 1/2.

Picture 2809 1500x1191.jpg

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I would be proud of that one!

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I like the way it came out, but still, it wasn't what I was trying for.

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Gerald!...Many moons...:)

Looking good there!

(there's Always some degree of loss of control,like J.Austin wrote,do whatever new to you design 20 times minimum,Then things start getting under control).

So,how did you induce that 1 1/2" to do such graceful curve for you?

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On the horn, I cycle between upsetting, drawing the beard out and shaping the curve on the horn. 

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Looks better than any of mine!

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Wow,Gerald,so you've upset this giant square corner,with extra-wide "filleting" on the inside?

That's admirable,good blacksmithing!

And Then you bladed it with some edge material?

(i believe that a number of similarly-looking originals were welded  axe-side of the curve,the edge steel shaped as the bearded part).

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Great work - even if you weren't shooting for that exact design, it looks amazing.

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That's a "practice piece"????? You are killing me man. How are you doing the eye?

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Wow,Gerald,so you've upset this giant square corner,with extra-wide "filleting" on the inside?

Not quite that, hard to explain, but will give it a try.  I'm doing something along the lines as Josh Weston with his RR spike axe, except this is a folded and welded eye so I'm doing that first.  Then start the curve and as soon as I have enough to hook on the horn, I start to upset the top corner, trying to move the metal in the direction of the beard, fuller the material to develop the beard and repeat.  When I say hook the horn: what I'm doing is holding by the eye under the horn and bracing the curve against the far side of the horn.  Then upset the top corner in and begin moving the metal along the curve of the horn 

9 hours ago, Joshua States said:

 How are you doing the eye?

Fold and weld, here's a photo of the setup of the original

 

Picture 676 Large Web view.jpg

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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I was doing a viking ax last week and let the beard get away from me, I wish it looked this good. 

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Yep,Gerald,i get you.

So that is what you're not quite happy with,that distance between the blade and eye growing excessively?

I b'lieve the originals of this type were forged by making the blade first,and all the hard upsetting/drawing done with there,and only then the eye was joined to construction.

I tried it out a time or two,and also had that "neck" grow overmuch,from making a weld there...

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3 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

So that is what you're not quite happy with,that distance between the blade and eye growing excessively?

Not so much, my goal was a larger beard, but once the curve got ahead of me, there wasn't enough material for the beard.  Sure I could have welded on a bit for the beard, but that was the point of the practice.  Best to think of this as "controlled forging" practice. 

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Posted (edited)

I see,yes,i know what you mean.

Controlled Hand-Forging is the Holy Grail for many of us,myself for sure.I'd definitely take a good lesson in that over a product,if having to choose.

All axes,design-wise have come from whatever cultural/technical/et c. circumstances where they originated historically.

Often it's not at all easy to reverse-interpret any given design from the way it looks back to it's actual construction technology/method.

There is a neat description here somewhere,in older "Show and Tell",by Bogdan Popov forging a similar deal(what we commonly refer to as "Baltic axe") purely from a solid.No welding,no grinding,Plastic Deformation pure and "simple"(...:)...we all know how simple That is).

I found it impressive for sure

(although i still believe that most such axes were of a composite nature).

But,yeah,Gerald,right on!

Edited by jake pogrebinsky
F for spelling...

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Chris Price has an original bearded axe from Lithuania or somewhere in the Viking-travelled Baltic regions.  In the interests of science we sandblasted it to see the grain and spark-tested the edge and the bottom of the eye.  The grain showed it was made with an asymmetric weld for the eye, much like Jim Austen's method, and the beard was formed via a 90 degree upset square corner, and the whole fullered and drawn down.  I have tried a few that way, but without the success you have there.  Mostly due to poor starting material size choice, and as I was pressed for time I used a different method for the production run.  Still lots of upsetting and fullering work, though.  And hooking the beard under and over the horn is a most satisfactory way to get things going.

The (very gentle) spark test showed the whole head was a medium-carbon steel.  Sparked like 1045, yet had the distinctive grain of well-refined wrought.  This suggests it was made from natural bloom steel rather than hearth steel or carburized iron.  The beard showed traces of quenching as well.  Pity we didn't have access to a metallurgical microscope (much less the skill to use one or interpret the results).  I suggested sectioning it, then polishing and etching, to which Chris wisely replied "Get your own, this one is staying in one piece." B)

My solution ended up to be starting with seven inches of 1" square, upsetting it to 6 inches by 3/4"  by 2 inches to start the beard (leaving the eye area at 1" square), then slitting and drifting the eye, forging the langets down over a mandrel, further refining of the beard, then using Jim Austen's method of steeling the edge.  I was still never thrilled with the overall proportions, but the customer was happy. 16 of the buggers...

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Thanks for that fantastic post,Alan,most informative,All kinds of info...

Hear you on degree of refinement of material,i remember years ago Bogdan has warned me against using anything But very refined stuff...

However,in the old J.A. "Viking Axe" topic,at the very end,remember those photos of scrubbed/etched Baltic job?

It's probable that the methods changed depending on ore,skill-level,fuel availability,likely...Also the ethnic factor,geographically,design itself probably Germanic,then practiced by vikings who took it further north and East,completely different circumstances There...

(is it more economical to make a weld,or go through a Number of upsetting heats?Upsetting takes nearly a welding heat...(but i struggle with upsetting more than any other process,welding included,but it's just me..)

Fantastic forensics though,thanks a bunch to you and Chris... 

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1 hour ago, Gerald Boggs said:

Are those the ones you have a post showing the process?

Yes indeed.

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1 hour ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Thanks for that fantastic post,Alan,most informative,All kinds of info...

Hear you on degree of refinement of material,i remember years ago Bogdan has warned me against using anything But very refined stuff...

However,in the old J.A. "Viking Axe" topic,at the very end,remember those photos of scrubbed/etched Baltic job?

It's probable that the methods changed depending on ore,skill-level,fuel availability,likely...Also the ethnic factor,geographically,design itself probably Germanic,then practiced by vikings who took it further north and East,completely different circumstances There...

(is it more economical to make a weld,or go through a Number of upsetting heats?Upsetting takes nearly a welding heat...(but i struggle with upsetting more than any other process,welding included,but it's just me..)

Fantastic forensics though,thanks a bunch to you and Chris... 

I suspect welding is easier, at least it is for me.  The economics of upsetting, especially on a stone anvil or tiny iron anvil, do seem as though it would be more involved.  But, if you don't have the extra steel lying around, you do what you must.

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1 minute ago, Alan Longmire said:

The economics of upsetting, especially on a stone anvil or tiny iron anvil, do seem as though it would be more involved. 

Just to be clear, no way was I trying to do historical methods, I just liked the challenge :-)

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Posted (edited)

Yet another variant,(Possibly),would be a corner Skew-weld.

Here's a link to where Peter Ross uses it to accumulate a huge mass at the corner.

https://www.popularwoodworking.com/woodworking-blogs/that’s-not-a-holdfast/

(to an object itself,though i've seen a video of him actually Doing it but can no longer find it).

This is an interesting deal as the orientation of the grain around-about the weld area is quite different from other types of welds.

Edited by jake pogrebinsky

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Was going through my shorts rack and saw a 1 1/8 round bar I had punched and drifted as a test piece. Got me thinking about the idea of bending and upsetting a bearded ax. Here's the result and yes, it's a lot more work then it's worth.

 

 

Picture 2810 1500x1205.jpg

Picture 2811 1500x1477.jpg

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I have been thinking about trying an axe now for a while (like a few years) and have been rereading Jim Austin's posts, Gerald's Wood axe tutorial in the Hammer's Blow, Alan's Bearded Axe WIP,  and watching a couple videos (mostly by Jim). This latest post here, got me thinking (always dangerous) and I have an idea I'd like to bandy about.

What if you started the split first and located it along the thin side (top) of the bar at one end. Then started to draw that out while simultaneously beveling it down toward the split. This should start to curve the bar downward and produce the beard area (at least in theory). Has anyone ever tried this or think it would work?

 

Bearded axe idea.jpg

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I didn't do the split first, but the bend and square the corner is what I just did.  It works, but round was not the best choice to start with, not much on top to get the square corner.  Starting with square bar would work better, so how good is your forging a corner skills?

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