Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Aiden CC

First Hatchet WIP

Recommended Posts

I’ve wanted to make an axe or hatchet for a long time, but the tooling has stopped me until I decided to bite the bullet and make a punch and drift set. 
 

3BCC4118-F701-47F4-8B99-B8FBEA4EBDBB.jpeg

The drift is a little rough and the round stock wasn’t quite big enough so I had to build it up with MIG weld. Also pictured is the 1.5” 4140 I used for the head. I started with about 1.75 lb with a goal of ~1.25lb. 
 

A32E019D-EB89-4D38-9A50-43F3FD415441.jpeg

Here’s the head straight out of the forge. I had trouble controlling the profile. It was all done with a crosspein/8lb sledge. Maybe I should make some form tools? Definitely up to suggestions. 
 

FAD25DFD-EBBB-473D-BD24-676562053F8C.jpeg
Came  out a bit crooked, I fixed that when I went to heat treat it by putting in the drift and twisting it. Took a lot of force. 
 

F474C0AF-DF49-4B75-8236-BDFDBF4C7066.jpegA6669CAE-A334-4289-A8C3-0B121946620E.jpeg

Finished profile and eye/cheek shape. Is it a little thick in the cheeks? It came out 1.5oz heavy, and the cheeks are slightly hollow, but probably could be thinner. I also wish the ears and pole were wider, I think the stock was a little small for what I was trying to do. 

 

4F4E9B23-F411-4F88-90C1-6234720D8AD7.jpeg

All hardened up. Plan is to temper at 500f. 
 

I’m totally new to axes so any advice/critique is welcome! Like I mentioned, I think the cheeks are a little thick and I wish the ears and pole were a bit wider, but over all I’m pretty happy with it!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a first attempt, it is really nice, a heck of a lot better than my first (or 3rd <_<).  It seems very proportionate.  As for the cheeks being too thick, IMHO, it comes down to what is the main function of the ax, what type of timber you are going to use it on (hard or soft), and what is your personal preference.  I think the cheeks are fine, I have an old felling ax with cheeks very similar in thickness.  As for the ears, I have yet to make an ax or hatchet where I am happy with the ears, so I feel ya there.  Overall, well done!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing wrong with that!  The trick to get longer ears on a slit-and-drift head is to start pulling the ears down over the drift well before you're close to final size.  As in, when you have the drift solidly stuck at halfway in, then you use the cross pein to pull the ears down.  Alternate each heat pulling the ears down and forging the pein marks back flat, from one side to the other, and you'll be surprised how far you can stretch the ears down while expanding the eye fore-and-aft.

As for forming tools, the hammer and the horn are all you need.  It's a little bit harder to make a flat-top axe than it is a symmetrically spread one.  On wrapped axes I've been known to spread the ears in both directions and cut off the top ones...;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

As for forming tools, the hammer and the horn are all you need

Ditto from me.  I would also say to have several hammers of smaller weights and a rounding hammer goes a long way to shaping the throat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aiden! I was just wondering where you had gotten to.

That looks pretty darn good to me. Great for your first go.

I made my first one a little while ago after making a bunch of tooling. I've started my second.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, MikeDT said:

For a first attempt, it is really nice, a heck of a lot better than my first (or 3rd <_<).  It seems very proportionate.  As for the cheeks being too thick, IMHO, it comes down to what is the main function of the ax, what type of timber you are going to use it on (hard or soft), and what is your personal preference.  I think the cheeks are fine, I have an old felling ax with cheeks very similar in thickness.  As for the ears, I have yet to make an ax or hatchet where I am happy with the ears, so I feel ya there.  Overall, well done!

Thanks! It's mostly for the stuff my biggest knife (a 10" leuku) feels too light for; removing bark/punky wood from future handle material, splitting/roughing spoon blanks, hammering wooden wedges, supplementing a bow-saw, etc. My guess is 90% of what it cuts will be birch, pine, maple, and oak in that order. I'm worried it will feel a little sluggish for non-splitting stuff, but I guess I can always grind it thinner!

 

7 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Nothing wrong with that!  The trick to get longer ears on a slit-and-drift head is to start pulling the ears down over the drift well before you're close to final size.  As in, when you have the drift solidly stuck at halfway in, then you use the cross pein to pull the ears down.  Alternate each heat pulling the ears down and forging the pein marks back flat, from one side to the other, and you'll be surprised how far you can stretch the ears down while expanding the eye fore-and-aft.

That makes sense. I did start on the ears before the drift was all the way home, but earlier would have been better. Do you think its possible my punch could be part of the problem? I didn't want to make one that could just do axes, so it's really more of a hammer-eye punch, so the initial hole isn't really a slit and the drift stretchedthe eye long-wise which may have made it narrower too.

IMG_8036.JPGIMG_8037.JPG

 

 

4 hours ago, Joshua States said:

Aiden! I was just wondering where you had gotten to.

That looks pretty darn good to me. Great for your first go.

I made my first one a little while ago after making a bunch of tooling. I've started my second.

I've mostly been studying engineering, but I get a few breaks to bang on steel (my school actually has a forge, which is where I made the punch, drift, and started). I also have some Yakutian knives in the works. The tooling is what kept me from doing this sooner, but it's definitely fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That looks very good

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry about the eye punch.  Just start pulling the ears down as soon as you have the drift in place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to have to disagree with Alan on the punch.  To my eyes, the punch is too short.  To develop the lugs on the eye, the only metal you have to work with is the bit that is on the sides.  The shorter the punch, the less you have to work with, the longer, the more.  It's the same idea in architectural work when you want square blockings.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait a minute, Gerald and Alan have me confused. Do you work the cheeks/lugs on the punch or the drift?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the drift.  I punch first and then drift.  As I develop the eye, I will also draw out the lugs.  What I was talking about, is the longer, but not too long, the initial punched hole is, the more materiel you have to draw out the lugs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Gerald Boggs said:

On the drift.  I punch first and then drift.  As I develop the eye, I will also draw out the lugs.  What I was talking about, is the longer, but not too long, the initial punched hole is, the more materiel you have to draw out the lugs. 

OK. Thanks guys. Now that makes more sense to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMG_8047.jpgIMG_8046.JPG

Got the edge ground in, though I may remove a bit more material because I think it probably wouldn't get good depth in chopping with it now. What do you all think? If it just doesn't cut I can always grind the bit thinner. I also have  a pattern for the handle drawn up. I'll be making it from a piece of 5/4 hickory, which is way too thick, so I may have my work cut out for me with no power saws to speak of. Over all length is 15" since I think it will give it a bit more power than the 13" I was planning and will still fit in my pack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that eye shape is awesome!

Thinner blade for shaving bark, thicker for splitting wood, I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep!  A little thick, but don't grind it until you use it for a while, you may like it that way.

 

As for no power tools and hickory, you can always do it the old way and split it out.  That has the advantage of giving you a straight grain handle with the least chance of breaking, plus you only need a froe (or crappy mild steel knife for batonning) to do the splitting.  You can then clean it up with spokeshaves/scrapers/whatever else you have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Yep!  A little thick, but don't grind it until you use it for a while, you may like it that way.

 

As for no power tools and hickory, you can always do it the old way and split it out.  That has the advantage of giving you a straight grain handle with the least chance of breaking, plus you only need a froe (or crappy mild steel knife for batonning) to do the splitting.  You can then clean it up with spokeshaves/scrapers/whatever else you have.

Ah, that might have been a good plan. The board I got has pretty straight grain/decent orientation. I was able to get through it with a coping saw and some elbow grease:

IMG_8048.JPG

Because fitting the handle to the eye is the highest risk of messing up the handle, I just roughed out the blank before starting that.

 

IMG_8049.JPGIMG_8050.JPG

With1-2 hours of gradually removing material with a rasp/file/sandpaper, the handle finally fits the eye. They eye is a little wonky, making the fit not great on the top, picture below.

 

IMG_8053.JPGIMG_8052.JPG

Turns out that the top of the eye is a bit longer that the bottom, which means that the handle can't fit it perfectly. Could putting in a crosswise metal wedge fix the gap? My other plan is to drive in to thin pieces of hickory to fill the gap so the head doesn't come loose. Also, should I use hickory for the wedge too, or would birch/pine also work? I also forged a few steel wedges, but I'm not sure if they are necessary on a something relatively light like this. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a long response typed out and it disappeared with a missed keystroke, so let's try that again...

 

Don't worry about that gap until you have the wedge in place.  Cut a wedge from hickory or birch (if you must, not pine) that's as long from back to point as the head is tall, and tapering from around 1/4" at the thick end to not quite sharp at the other end, and as wide as the full width of the eye.  Using your coping saw, cut a slot down the center of your handle that stops just short of being exposed when the head is set.  Don't drive the wedge until you have the head set as tight as it will go.  Once you drive the wedge,the front half will probably split off.  This is fine.  Keep it vertical until it's in as far as it will go, since it will go further than the rest of the wedge due to that gap.  If you're lucky, the gap will be gone at this point.  If the gap is still there, a crosswise wedge will close it for sure, but if you don't want a steel wedge in there you can certainly fill up any gaps with small wedges.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the help @Alan Longmire! I just finished hanging the hatchet, and with a wedge made slightly wider than the eye is long, the gap is pretty much gone.

 

IMG_8054.JPGIMG_8056.JPG

I gave it a few practice swings and it splits and carves/hews pretty well, but it seems like it's not too good at cutting across the grain (though I also have little experience doing that with an hatchet). I'll have to use it more and see if that really bothers me, since honestly I would use a saw for that 90% of the time anyways.

 

IMG_8057.JPGIMG_8058.JPG

The gaps in the front of the eye pretty much filled in with the wedge. I have a plain steel wedge I'm considering driving in. Not sure if it really needs it or if I want to potentially split the handle in the eye by hammering more stuff in there, I feel like this is right on the border of weight/handle length where you start seeing metal wedges.

 

I need a break from this now, but I'll probably start on at least the design for a sheath tomorrow.

Thanks again everyone for the advice/encouragement! 

Edited by Aiden CC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This sheath ended up being a pretty significant project! Five different pieces of leather, two rivets, and the buckle from a very worn out shoe.

IMG_8063.JPG

I just have one hole in the belt so far, theoretically I could make more and have this sheath work of larger/smaller axes and hatchets. Buckles are a little weird, but I don't have my snaps/snap setting tools with me.

 

IMG_8064.JPGIMG_8065.JPG

IMG_8066.JPG

All done, thanks for reading!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aiden,i think you've done Great,man,right on!

 

You've already gotten some high quality feedback,so i'll limit the verbiage to (hopefully)only helpful.

 

In regards to Proportioning...You never said how Thick your starting piece of plate was.Typical for the simpler of slit&drifted axes the dimensions of the back of the poll are/were the starting stock.That normally results in somewhat of a "boat-tail" effect,such as yours.(this is a short version and only since you asked;there's actually quite a bit more about the relative mass distribution between poll and body but no point in complicating things).

 

I agree that your punch can use being longer in section...(a cheap,US-made cold-chisel off the shelf will do;it'll probably crap out on you as a slitter,so will be easy to reshape as punch).

I may be wrong,but is that "brashness" inside your eye,on the poll-side of it?If so,it'd happen probably from needing to expand the eye so radically length-wise(but also from maybe working too cold or too fast).Forgive me if i'm wrong about that,hard to see in photos.

 

The thickness of your blade is probably excessive,at least at the Toe.The (very)general rule of thumb for  angle of the blade itself(not bevels or edge)is a ratio of 5:1(so 1/2" thick 2 1/2" from edge),or Less.Remember,an axe is pencil-like in that it'll wear back over time,and so it's best to give it a bit more potential life.

(all that goes for Chopping(as in parting a chip when cutting Across the grain,Hewing axes are Way different(much thinner yet).

 

On 12/24/2019 at 12:42 PM, Aiden CC said:

I had trouble controlling the profile.

 

"Trouble" is a matter of perception,is it not?:)...You obviously had a preconcieved notion of where you'd like to see that shape end up,but the forging had it's own idea,which was based on physics.

In actuality,the shape of your axe as forged was more consistent with the average "axe-shape".The toe would rise,from peining(most axes have a toe that is higher than that straight line you've cut yours to;only a rare specialised ones are straight,lathing hatchets and few other types).

That upward curvature of the top is also determined by your wanting the langettes to be only on one side,the bottom...(that's why Alan wisely notes about drawing them both ways and so on).

Possibly,in straightening the top by forging,is how you stretched the top of eye longer...

But again,most axes allowed these "naytural":) forging dynamics to take their course,that is what gave us majority of predominant "types" of axes.

 

Finally,the angle of your edge in profile is(has been made to be)parallel to the line of poll.Think of a longish tool-heads like dog-headed hammer,say-they commonly have a slight curve,right?It corresponds to the arc of your swing,as you use the tool.

Axes too,usually,have somewhat of an angle to their blade.Your rough forging was again,naturally,tending towards that...

 

But please feel free to disregard,i'm a peevish old fart that likes to overthink a lot of this.

You're obviously a careful,consistent,methodical craftsman,and will come into all this minutiae if/when you'd really need it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

In regards to Proportioning...You never said how Thick your starting piece of plate was.Typical for the simpler of slit&drifted axes the dimensions of the back of the poll are/were the starting stock.That normally results in somewhat of a "boat-tail" effect,such as yours.(this is a short version and only since you asked;there's actually quite a bit more about the relative mass distribution between poll and body but no point in complicating things).

The starting stock was 1.5" round (mostly for cost reasons), which I realize now wasn't ideal. It wasn't quite enough to get he shape I wanted out of, but also took a lot of work to flatten out by hand. I found a place locally that I think may have better options for rectangular stock. I may have enough time to try another one before my classes start back up, so I may give it a go with rectangular stock (~1x2").

 

1 hour ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

I agree that your punch can use being longer in section...(a cheap,US-made cold-chisel off the shelf will do;it'll probably crap out on you as a slitter,so will be easy to reshape as punch).

I may be wrong,but is that "brashness" inside your eye,on the poll-side of it?If so,it'd happen probably from needing to expand the eye so radically length-wise(but also from maybe working too cold or too fast).Forgive me if i'm wrong about that,hard to see in photos.

I'll have to give a chisel a go, that seems a lot easier than forging a new punch! There is marring on the very back of the poll side of the eye is mostly from a burr that got raised on my drift when I accidentally hammered it into the hardy hole, which could be what you're seeing. I used a round file to try and get most of the marks out so it hopefully wouldn't affect the hang.

 

1 hour ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

The thickness of your blade is probably excessive,at least at the Toe.The (very)general rule of thumb for  angle of the blade itself(not bevels or edge)is a ratio of 5:1(so 1/2" thick 2 1/2" from edge),or Less.Remember,an axe is pencil-like in that it'll wear back over time,and so it's best to give it a bit more potential life.

(all that goes for Chopping(as in parting a chip when cutting Across the grain,Hewing axes are Way different(much thinner yet).

I'll probably end up hollowing out the cheeks and thinning the bit, but I figured I would see how it does for a "season" (most of the wood I process gets knocked down by snow in January-March, which is part of why I wanted to get this done now). I don't have much of a need for chopping (would probably just use a saw), so the extra weight and wedge shape might end up being alright if it's mostly just splitting. I just measured, and it is 1/2" thick 2 3/8" from the edge, which is actually somewhat close to 5:1.

 

1 hour ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Possibly,in straightening the top by forging,is how you stretched the top of eye longer...

But again,most axes allowed these "naytural":) forging dynamics to take their course,that is what gave us majority of predominant "types" of axes.

 

Finally,the angle of your edge in profile is(has been made to be)parallel to the line of poll.Think of a longish tool-heads like dog-headed hammer,say-they commonly have a slight curve,right?It corresponds to the arc of your swing,as you use the tool.

Axes too,usually,have somewhat of an angle to their blade.Your rough forging was again,naturally,tending towards that...

I guess it does make sense to have the toe a little bit higher than the top of the eye, I'll probably 

 

1 hour ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Finally,the angle of your edge in profile is(has been made to be)parallel to the line of poll.Think of a longish tool-heads like dog-headed hammer,say-they commonly have a slight curve,right?It corresponds to the arc of your swing,as you use the tool.

Axes too,usually,have somewhat of an angle to their blade.Your rough forging was again,naturally,tending towards that...

 

But please feel free to disregard,i'm a peevish old fart that likes to overthink a lot of this.

You're obviously a careful,consistent,methodical craftsman,and will come into all this minutiae if/when you'd really need it.

That makes sense too, my original drawing had a little bit of that, but I ended up losing it in the execution. Thanks for all the design points! Most of the stuff I've been able to find about axes is geared more towards people re-grinding old heads, so its helpful to get advice that applies to forging one from scratch.

Edited by Aiden CC
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Always listen to what Jake has to say about axes.  B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

Always listen to what Jake has to say about axes. 

...Yes!And you're guaranteed to become thoroughly confused!:)

 

My thesis is simple-axes are darn hard to forge,we must accrue data in as many other ways as we can,or we'll simply kill ourselves forging before we get far...

 

History is a good place to start,thankfully here in USA it's fairly recent and ambient.

 

One of the most educational patterns of American axes is the Rockaway.Here's a photo of a good example:

 

 

 

plumb rockaway.jpg

The reason i think that is that it's a descendant,a derivative of this "type"(a much less formally distinguished pattern),which was brought/developed by Germanic immigrants.Here's a decent random example:

 

strickerebay4.jpg

 

I'm not sure if that commercial Plumb Rockaway was slit&drifted or welded up like the older axe,but that is what happened eventually-the pattern was "translated" into more modern method.

 

But what we were discussing above can be "read" in these shapes,the slight curvature of the top line,the rise of toe,et c.

 

That is because those shapes came From forging...Obviously,those old guys were interested in removing as little as possible,and forging as close to the final shape.

 

So yes,those American patterns derived from earlier axes are most educational...Rockaway,Jersey,Kentucky...I'd certainly observe and study up on where that metal moved for those guys....

 

 

 

Speaking of that curvature,Swedes did use a dedicated tool,a bolster for the anvil-face,but it's mighty anal-retentive for most of us one-horse forges...

And,this same design was quite often rather flat,as well:

 

pennsylvania,1905.jpg.2.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Always listen to what Jake has to say about axes.  B)

 

15 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

...Yes!And you're guaranteed to become thoroughly confused!:)

Both of these are true (at least for me :D), but I have found that simply reading the post over again will dismiss the confusion.

 

Between the two of these guys, the info on axes is invaluable.

Edited by Joshua States

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...