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Praticing the wrapped axe (WIP)


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Here we go another attempt to fold up an axe body.

I've planned on this for a long time but my home forge has fallen pretty silent.  Today I finally had a little bit of time and a little bit of scrap that just looked like it could work to make the body of the a folded axe, about hatchet size. 

What I started off with was a cut off of 1 1/2 x 3/8 x . . . . . I didn't measure how long.  Yes it's a little bugger, yet the intent was just to practice the offsets of forging out the poll and cheeks.

From experience in failure, I know that if you do not make these set downs relatively square, the axe will fold up with the cheeks out of line.  Correcting it is a pain, so best to mark out where the first set downs go.  Note here there is a minor mistake.  When I marked out the poll, I did not add 1/2 of the cheek material final thickness.  This means that the poll will be thinner than the body of the axe.  I can probably address that, but it's a minor mistake always account for the stretch of the material around the drift.

20190928_124702.jpg

Next I laid out where the set down for the eye will be.  At fist I marked out the final dimension, but realized that the material will lengthen a bit, and it's better to have an eye a little undersized that one that is too big for my drift. 

20190928_124707.jpg

I got my set downs finished and began to spread the ears of the first side, dressing them back and forth until, I ran out of gas. For my set downs I was using a fuller-ed top tool, then the edge of the anvil.  A butcher may have given me a cleaner separation,  but still young and very rough. 20190928_140829.jpg

I think it's also good to note when pulling out these cheek pieces, work from the outside of the axe body so that the inside of the eye will be a nice and smooth finish. Last just a quick shot of the set downs.

20190928_140850.jpg

From experience in failure, I can say that when pulling out these cheeks, not to be too aggressive and work them down too thin.  I'm leaving these pretty thick.  I didn't realize the photo is a little angled which makes those set downs look pretty shallow.  I started off making these about 1/3 the material thickness in depth.  After the other two processes they are now worked down to about 1/2 the depth.

I do not expect to get back to this again for a while, my work life just does not allow me the time lately.  So far this little bit of practice looks better than the other 4 I've failed on. I'm going to keep at it next time I get my forge lit, and see if a little hatchet forges out.

Edited by Daniel W
Because I can't spell worth a crap.
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  • 4 weeks later...

Got to forge a little bit this past week, I had some moderate success, but in the end another fail to wrap an axe eye with a forged poll. So at this point, I believe this practice piece will take more time to fix than to attempt to forge another.

 

I was rather happy that I got both halves of the eye to forge out pretty close to each other in both length and shape.

 

20191021_163858.jpg

 

 

Then I came to the point where I found all the mistakes I had made. One of the cheeks of the eye is longer than the other, therefore when I wrapped it, the shoulders did not line up.  Trying to make the shoulders line up, I worked a cold shut right into the corner. Not to mention that I did not treat the poll for a right angle bend as well.  Bummer for not paying attention to details in the guide.

20191021_163915.jpg

 

On top of that, either the material itself is just too thin, or I attempted to wrap it too cold. Either way, The only fix I see is would be to weld the blade cheeks together, cut out this section of cheek near the poll and mig it back together.

20191021_163925.jpg

 

I got one more scrap piece of 3/8 x 1 1/2 to practice with.  And I've got a nice 1/2 x 2 1/2 piece that I would want to try.  20191021_164007.jpg

 

Forge, mess up, learn, try again.

 

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31 minutes ago, Daniel W said:

 

Forge, mess up, learn, try again.

 

That's how it works,  unfortunately.   Nice shape, though!  Are you laying it out cold with lines of punch marks?  I pretty much have to with these.  Oh, and using a narrow top fuller (1/4" round bar) to mark the transitions really helps. 

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32 minutes ago, Daniel W said:

Forge, mess up, learn, try again.

 

Been there, done that.  The process looks so simple and you think, "it shouldn't be that hard"..... and then you try to do it:wacko:.  I find that working with a longer piece initially is easier than trying to get a piece that is just barely big enough to work.  In that second photo (looking through the eye) if you had a longer piece the fix would be easier.  Make the left cheek (as seen in the photo) longer to match the right cheek because you would have enough steel for the body because of the extra length in the initial bar (make sense?).  

 

Your cheek shapes look great, nice and symmetrical.
 

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16 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

That's how it works,  unfortunately.   Nice shape, though!  Are you laying it out cold with lines of punch marks?  I pretty much have to with these.  Oh, and using a narrow top fuller (1/4" round bar) to mark the transitions really helps. 

No I was following the punch marks hot with a top tool. I was using a much broader 3/8 fuller tool.  Cold probably would help so that that you can feel the set down and follow it nice and crisply.  However I probably would not suggest using a butcher for the set downs like I thought before.  Because the poll is the stretch I think a butcher tool would cause more tearing than bending during the wrap.

 

I also think that if you make the poll wider than what you think it may be better. As you can forge down the poll a little during the wrap or even forge it around the drift.

 

I think 3/8 is a little thin, but if I can't do this in 3/8 I worry about making it work in 1/2.  When I can get around to the next one, The cheeks of the eye, I'm going to shoot for a thickness of 1/4.  Then I might wind up with 3/16. 

 

16 hours ago, MikeDT said:

 

Been there, done that.  The process looks so simple and you think, "it shouldn't be that hard"..... and then you try to do it:wacko:.

Yes, I looked at all my failed ones yesterday a little discouraged and I also looked at all the other stuff I've made and think "I can forge things, why is this wrapped poll axe such a pain in the butt!" 

 

 

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Check your cheeks with a pair of dividers to make sure they match prior to wrapping the eye. That way if the don’t match you’ll have a chance to correct it. 

Those cracks at the bend look like you moved it too cold. I’ve had this happen when I’ve been sloppy with where my tong arm is while spreading the eye, causing it to bend while my attention is on the hot part I’m forging. Or it could have happened when you did the wrap if it was too cold. 

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What I meant was I lay out the lines with a centerpunch cold, making an almost solid line.  I find I can see them better when I drive the 1/4" bar into it hot under the treadle hammer.  Once I have the lines driven in about 3/16", it's easy to lock in the edge of the anvil to do the set-down.

I agree a butcher would leave too sharp a corner and would lead to tearing.

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Ahh, I see says the blind man. 

I have not done that before, however I have scored the surface with an angle grinder, or even a little cut off wheel to lay out before.  Funny it's one of those tips that I didn't think to use. Works great for when you're looking for a mark and the tool falls in rather than looking for it, making sure the tool is straight give it a smack and realize it's a touch wonky.

 

By the end of this weekend, I should have the next 3/8 piece at least laid out.  But aiming for nearly another month before I can get my home forge fired up again.

Edited by Daniel W
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  • 2 weeks later...

Got a little work done this week again.  I think my reach is getting a little closer to grasping something successful. 

 

#1 and #2 sitting there, I did not work the cheeks of #2 as well as the first, I just wanted to get that poll wrapped and nice.

20191104_130541.jpg

 

upsetting, but again I got the same problem, not as bad.  I wrapped the ends until they about touched this time, and hammered at an angle to the poll to try and round the corners in this time.  20191104_130557.jpg

 

As a suggestion, I was working this at my local forge, one of the other smithys said, weld it first, then try to drift it a bit and that cold shut may work out.  So today, because I don't think my forge can forge weld, I heavily beveled all the inner meeting faces of the cheeks, and I hot glued them together.  Ground the welds down to check for cracks in the parent material to filler, I did not see any. 

20191104_140624.jpg

 

Next try, I going to try and gently drift out the eye a little to see if that little spot can round out a bit.  If it blows apart, or rips, there will be a tapestry of obscenities hanging somewhere over the Mon river heading to Pittsburgh.

Edited by Daniel W
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"a tapestry of obscenities hanging somewhere over the Mon river heading to Pittsburgh"  :lol: I've sent a few that have headed out over the Fox River on its way to St. Louis.

 

One bit of advice: constantly check the thickness of the cheeks - keep them as identical as possible.  Also, it looks like you may have thinned one of the ends of the bar that will form the bevel - in the second pic those bevel ends do not look uniform in their thickness.  If this happens, thin out the thicker bevel end to match - all of this is to make sure each half gets stretched the same so you have symmetrical sides.  Easier said than done... my scrap pile can attest to that:unsure:.

 

 

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I'll try to keep that in mind when I get back to this. My first thought is to try and just drift out the eye a pinch, and also to work around the drift gently to see if that corner will work out. 

 

I rushed this one a bit, but I am over all surprised at how fast you can get these these together. If I could just get them together successfully during one forging secession and not make the same mistakes.

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  • 5 months later...

I've been putting something together with this last wrapped eye, that looks pretty good, but I'm wondering what have I been doing chasing a lost cause or making something to be a little proud of. Since this last post, worlds gone upside down and inside out.  A few weeks back I picked it back up.

 

I've been working around forge welding, not because I cannot do it, its more of an equipment issue with my forge. So I had an Idea to save this project.  To weld on the bit material. I have enough leaf spring around to attempt making something and I gave it a go.

20200406_163035.jpg

 

 

Both welding surfaces were heavily beveled and spaced so that once welded together, the seam should be all new material. 20200406_172149.jpg

 

I approached the welding as if the mig filler was the cleft that would usually hold the bit. I made several heavy passes making sure all the welds overlapped, and that the passes overlapped the original material.

 

20200406_181905.jpg

 

I ground the welds to blend them in, but left them pound of the parent material to blend them more with one or two light passes with the hammer at the highest heat I could get. Forging the bevel of the blade out I saw no issues with the mig welds. I got the blade to a reasonable shape, and allowed it to normalize (an attempt at annealing by placing in an ash bucket) before rough grinding.

 

20200503_144221.jpg

 

After the rough grind I found one of the mig welds cracked, I ground it out, filled it again allowed to air cool.  I got a little more into the profile grinding today, I find some minor flaws, one big one (other than I'm not doing this the normal way.)

20200508_133310.jpg

 

The dotted sharpie line is where I know the edges of the mig filler is, this side looks good. 20200508_142432.jpg

 

This side is a little worse. I got 4 minor voids can barely get a pin in them.  Later I'll grind them away and attempt to fill them although I'm not terribly concerned with these.

20200508_142415.jpg

 

 

The upper side of the eye has a seam that I did not see to get from the beginning that didn't see like a problem until I ground out the profile of the axe.

20200508_142454.jpg

 

I got 2 plans to attack this.  To dremel out that central void and see how far it goes, and fill it up. The underside of the axe has no visible flaws. Second thing is to try and get an oxy welding tip in the eye, and add some fill in there as this is the most likely point of failure. On top of that, possibly drilling through the eye material, and plug welding it.

 

All things you can avoid if you do this right the first time. So far, I've cracked the welded section with a hammer to see it would break or open up.  So far so good.  Secondly, I did put a handle on it, and lightly swung in into my HF anvil and so far has held. I do want to see if I can get this through to HT, but will have to be a wall hanger.  I don't know if its trust worthy to use in anyway, but now I'm down the rabbit hole with it.

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21 hours ago, Daniel W said:

After the rough grind I found one of the mig welds cracked

 

I've never tried it myself, but I have always heard that before arc welding on hardenable steel, you should pre heat to avoid cracks. IIRC, if you dont preheat, you can get cracks because the material hardens and shrinks and then cracks. I welded the edge on a bardiche I made, (no pre heat) and the cracks along the edge were completely invisible until I etched the blade to antique it. Not sure how hot it should be when you weld it, but probably above termpering heat. 

Edited by Einar
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I've never been 100% sure on that method myself. Heat it just before you do a welding pass, or attempt to normalize it before arc welding it.

 

I could do the same thing throw some acid on it to see how bad they are.

 

I ground out all the visible voids I could see yesterday, and nothing went as deep as I thought. Worst part is that section of the eye. 

 

Overall, I got in a big rush to try and making something out of this as I've been called back to permanent night shift and my hopes of making anything for the next year are gone. I may just leave it cleaned up and profile ground and dream about making one the right way one day.

Edited by Daniel W
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2 hours ago, Daniel W said:

I've never been 100% sure on that method myself. Heat it just before you do a welding pass, or attempt to normalize it before arc welding it.

 

I could do the same thing throw some acid on it to see how bad they are.

 

I ground out all the visible voids I could see yesterday, and nothing went as deep as I thought. Worst part is that section of the eye. 

 

Overall, I got in a big rush to try and making something out of this as I've been called back to permanent night shift and my hopes of making anything for the next year are gone. I may just leave it cleaned up and profile ground and dream about making one the right way one day.

 

The way I've been told is that it should already be hot when you start welding to keep the rest of the piece from acting like a heat sink. So, put  the whole thing in the forge, get it up to temp, then weld, and let the whole piece air cool. I should give it a go myuself on some scrap spring steel and see how it goes. 

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Regarding welding hardenable steel.  Bring the steel up to tempering temp.  400F or so, then weld and let cool.  A second heat and temper wouldn't hurt for safety.  The weld puddle will be over the quenching temp for hardening and without pre heating the surrounding steel in effect acts as a heat sink and quenches the puddle and surrounding steel and hardens it, but with large coarse grain and no temper.   A pre heat at least tempers the new martensite and reduces stress a bit.  Triple normalizing should relieve stress and reduce grain size even more, and if you can overweld and forge it down to size, then triple normalize, that to me would be the best for strength.

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I got this mostly finished up this week, this is a photo of the welding flaws I could see and grind out. These were either voids or visible seams and none of them went as deep as I had thought.

 

20200509_155106.jpg

 

I got those few spots welded up, and this time done with a preheat to make sure I didn't work in anymore flaws. Cycled it 3 times (attempting normalizing) before a quench in preheated heated canola oil.  I always used motor oil before, and I do like the canola much better.  The smell is a little more pleasing. Only the edge is hardened to avoid stressing the welded area.

 

20200513_165653.jpg

 

Stuck it in the oven for 1 hour at 460, but I think the oven overshot a bit. didn't matter I'd like a more durable edge anyway.

 

20200513_180619.jpg

 

Afterward it survived a few accidentally and one intentional edge drop on concrete. I put a slight edge on it that is not where it needs to be yet, but I felt like putting it through a test.  If it's going to break I'm going to break it, but so far I cannot break it. I put a 24in handle on it, and it may get shorter. 

 

This was just a test of a few swings, and I'm not getting the handle to wedge too well. I think its because with the peaks on the eye like this, wedging from side to side isn't the best idea. Those peaks fight the wedging action.  Had I pre cut to put a second wedge in and made it wedge from front to back it might do better. I tried putting a step wedge in it and the handle started to split, I took it out and put in another wooden wedge in its place.

 

20200516_141727.jpg

 

Right now it's soaking in antifreeze to see if I can get it to tighten up more. There is one other trick I know of that may help if that doesn't work. However, I have not seen it done on "modern" axe eyes.  It would involve tapping in a copper sleeve at the front of the eye or rear by the poll.

 

Overall, I do not care for modern axe eyes.  Had I made the cheeks of the eyes a different way, I should have just made it oval. It would look a little more correct for the style, and the front of the eye would not crush the peak of the handle where the least amount of wood is. 

 

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On 5/18/2020 at 2:00 AM, Martin Brandt said:

Regarding welding hardenable steel.  Bring the steel up to tempering temp.  400F or so, then weld and let cool.  A second heat and temper wouldn't hurt for safety.  The weld puddle will be over the quenching temp for hardening and without pre heating the surrounding steel in effect acts as a heat sink and quenches the puddle and surrounding steel and hardens it, but with large coarse grain and no temper.   A pre heat at least tempers the new martensite and reduces stress a bit.  Triple normalizing should relieve stress and reduce grain size even more, and if you can overweld and forge it down to size, then triple normalize, that to me would be the best for strength.

 

Thanks, I'll remember to do this the next time I weld hardenable steel. 

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I have some new pictures of the finished project after a little more abuse. I weighed the axe at 2lbs total the head was like 1lb and just a few ounces. With that, I decided that I could attack one of the oak tress or our dreaded locust trees in the area and risk a total of breaking the thing in 3 pieces.  Or, get it's edge nice and honed to do much lighter work. I decided it is for light work only.

Edited by Daniel W
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I consider the axe completed this weekend. There was a little more work to do on the edge to get it where I felt like it should be.

 

For comparison I got it next to a pretty standard felling axe. The blade is of course a mystery steel from old leaf spring. I've used it in a few other projects and it does harden up. And for as many times as I dropped it while sharpening it, its tough. I expected to lose the tips a few times, but they are still there. The handle is hickory, with a few coats of tung oil, and around 4 of linseed wax. This is so the grip is a little sticky. I may in time just round the butt of the handle a little but still leave a flat spot.

 

20200524_192014.jpg

 

It looks nice, for being stuck together. But as I put in the last post, this is not to be used like a felling axe or a splitting maul. At 2lbs it does give you the feeling of launching it 80 yards away and claiming your acre of land. I did get the head to tighten up with anti-freeze, but I did not slam it into a tree to test it out. Using it to rough out some harvested lumber I'm confided it can do that and still be attached.

 

20200524_192208.jpg

 

The taper of it is pretty close to a felling axe.  The one spot where I noticed a difference right away, is having that curved blade bites.  It may be that my felling axe just doesn't have a good enough edge on it, but I've always noticed it had more of a crushing cut. 

 

I struggled for quite a while to get the edge sharp. Or what sharp is in my opinion for this axe. After a few hours of doing it by hand, I finally got an apple seed edge that is in my opinion god awful sharp. In fact once I had a play at doing this little jug slice, I now need to make a mask for this thing.

 

20200523_193535.jpg

 

This is a keen edge, I felt like I needed practice to get that "shaving sharp" edge and now its quite scary.

 

Overall the project is complete. I'm glad it's finished before my night shift starts and all the tools go away for the next few years. I have a few other more exciting projects that if I get the to HT before the shift starts I'll have something to work on. I'm considering it a success although not the way to make a wrapped axe. This became more of try and save something with the tools I have on hand. And I've come out with something rather successful.

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