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jake pogrebinsky

Transitional axes(European patterns to American)

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For some weeks now i've rejoined the battle to try to re-establish the sequence,and the method(and if at all possible-the Logic) of this type of axes.

(except that i'm still not even sure i can  clearly segregate them into a single Type).

But at some point in late 1700-early 1800's the pattern of what eventually be known as "American" axe started developing.

The poll on axes of this pattern started growing heavier(and longer),and in order to facilitate this the pre-form went from a wrap-around one to a stacked laminate.

That thick stack also got a higher-C,often hardened butt-plate,for probably a combination of factors-driving wedges in cleaving or felling applications,also(i suspect)in helping to hold together that thick laminate stack.

 

Another attribute of many of surviving old examples is the edge steel insert that extends clear to the front of eye.

I started out wanting this to be a part of the schematic,and secretly hoping that it'll help me make those very challenging welds at the front of the eye,where the wedging pressure at drifting the eye is greatest(a number of earlier examples have an eye "free"-formed,without a benefit of any standardized drift).

 

And that last part been kicking my sorry @ss particularly hard.So far i've been batting about 50/50,as in i lost half of prospective patients(though not always due to the front of eye weld).

 

Anyway,i wish that i could make some definite assertions,or even had hope to ever do so;i'm now on #11 of the +/- 20 that i hoped to do to learn whatever i can about this style of axe.But so far no light at the end of any of my tunnels...So this is only to post some hot-work photos,to get some of this off my chest,to possibly entertain some of you...

 

 

So,here's one experimental pre-form.It's symmetrical,and is joined back to back yet,but not because i'm going to bend it double...

Well,i actually will,but only to help in keeping the halves aligned for welding.

2014.jpg

 

(the upper set of "lugs" will get trimmed of(because it's easiest,and Alan told me i can;actually there's possibly a bunch of important info hiding therein,but where Isn't it hiding,when you're reverse-engineering old work?!).

 

This time around,again,for convenience of welding,i weld the blade onto one half of pre-form(this trial teaches me to never go this route again,subsequent welding and forging will ruin these fresh welds).Here it is on edge:

 

2023.jpg

 

And here's the rough lay-out of the future axe head.Starting stock is 2" wide by 1/2" thick,blade steel around 1/4".

 

2026.jpg

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That same pre-form folded double,blade vweld completed with second half in position,than the bend(with whatever excess)cut off.

 

2016.jpg

 

Another piece 1/2" thick inserted between the poll halves,and welded(these 3 separate thicknesess of a 1/2" eventually give the poll thickness of 1 13/8"):

 

2027.jpg

 

Hard-plate is Frankensteined on with wire(my tombstone Lincoln is down:(...),and welded on:2037.jpg

 

2041.jpg

 

The protruding edges of that butt-plate get bent over and smeared down the sides of poll,creating an illusion of the steel being thicker than it really is.

A detail consistent with historic examples...2045.jpg

 

 

But the bummer is that by the time all these actions take place,all the many heats,and harmonics from forging on All these angles,even before i get a chance to use a drift my weld is already taking a dump....:2053.jpg

 

All i learn from this is to do the welding on the blade Last,as i'm finishing the head.

Just previous to this i lost two forgings entirely,and in pretty late stages...So i'll salvage this,to use for something(give it to one of my many hunter/traveller friends that loose a dozen axes every winter anyway(and use them like they'll be lost even before they Are:)

 

2095.jpg 

 

2094.jpg

 

Also,as much as i love that nice FAT poll,it's out of my time-period...Americans won't be making polls that heavy for another almost 100 years...But it was a satisfying part of an experience,of a process that can be brutally hard and coldly unrewarding in any material way...

 

2099.jpg

 

 

 

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Bravo, sir!  I should really do that too.

I will note that in the course of my 30 years as an archaeologist I have seen two pre-1860 axe heads that had lost their steel edge.  On both, the broken weld showed there was only an inch or less of steel inside the iron cheeks.

One of these was in Mammoth Cave, and the other had been carefully hidden under a rock, probably in an attempt to avoid parental wrath. ;)

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Thanks,Alan...I think i may exclude that full-length bit out of my algorithm....I don't see consistent enough data for it,and frankly it's killing the tendons in my right arm peining a san-mai blade of that area...:(

(too cold to use my PH,it's -32 again this morning...and i need to modify the dies anyway to do axe-blades...).

 

Some photos from the next attempt(# 11 i guess it'd be).

 

It's very convenient starting out with a parallel-sided strap,easy to do mensuration and layout.

I also think it's plenty consistent with history,as strap for the carriage trade Must've been the primary source of iron back when US were still only setting up their own production...(?).

 

2003.jpg

 

 

 

The thing that is Not so handy about this method though is that the poll will need that extra filler piece,and after cutting the pre-form in half it of course becomes a goat-rope to champagne-cork it together...An example of what i do:

 

2006.jpg

 

 

It's possible maybe to fuller the center of preform to a thin section,to where it'd bend over the insert to hold it for welding...May try it next time.

 

This time i insert only 3/8" vs 1/2",eventually that gives the poll thickness of just a touch over 1";that's a bit more historically-correct.

(i'm getting into the habit of using WI between the A36 halves,to avoid any mild-on-mild issues...works good so far,no problems welding these messes together).

 

Right after welding...That's a satisfying,chunky weld,that can be safely worked in all dimensions...(and was,judging by many an accurate,well-finished old ones).

The cheeks,the sides of eye,inevitably suffer...(they'll suffer and distort even more at butt-plating,for the blade has to rest on the anvil,forging being done all end-on,and the cheeks get very hot being near the weld,and ..),but the back of an eye with it's large radius is much kinder to weld-seams in drifting,and i usually have no problems there.

 

2016.jpg

 

 

At the eye-end of the future blade,where the remains of wire still cling,you'll notice Lots of mass still...

That is one of my conundrums.The type of axes i'm shooting for all have a Very ample section in front of eye.

My aim is to find just the right amount,so after much intense welding there it'll still be voluminous enough.

So far i mostly over-shoot that mark.

The resulting extra mass has nowhere to go but up and down,creating a hump in axe profile,and extending the blade length beyond what i like.... 

 

Again,getting back to the original process,i can see how an outline of an axe was easily corrected by use of butcher,but it's always a dilemma-do i chalk up things of this sort to such possible expedients,or admit my lack of basic forging skill and try to dial it in better?!

 

Anyway,a shot of butt-plate set up for welding...(i'm out of good fresh steel,but a chunk of old file seems to work good;i grind all teeth off...) :

 

2063.jpg

 

Here the welding on poll-end of the forging is about done...Now the payback for leaving the blade for last is all those welding heats not so far away...How much oxidation is there on the inside of those surfaces to be welded?...

 

2066.jpg

 

  

 

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Here's a trial fitting,the blade material is an old leaf-spring that i got lucky with weather and managed to use PH to pein out to the needed 1/4"-ish thickness.

Together with both sides of pre-form,and gaps,it's about 1" in thickness...Sickening thought,forging by hand...:(

(eventually this works out to be about the conventional(nowadays) 3 1/2 lb axe...I MUST scale down,it's killer handling this much steel...:(

 

2079.jpg 

 

Trimmed to contour and wired for welding:

 

2012.jpg

 

After a few welding heats that Bulge upward of the outline of course begins to develop...I'll trim it off(checking my welds in the process),but again,it's one of the junctures where i question the correctness of path chosen(history-wise):

 

2014.jpg

 

Cutting into it the welds all look good.BUT,there's still some forging to shape to be done,and of course the Dread-but-Inevitable  drifting of the eye...

(i was sneaky and straightened the poll-end as much as i could before welding in the bit...Also,used my old farrier rasp to scrub what scale i could from in between pre-form halves before welding).

 

2021.jpg 

 

In further forging the blade to shape/proper taper i run into a problem.Since i cut the forging to an outline,all those wild,sploodged out masses of steel no longer help restrict the edges of the laminate.

I'm an old,one-armed smith,and simply cannot deliver the Penetrating blow to this mass.As a result i'm smearing the mild on top of much stiffer 5160,shearing the edges of the welds...You can kinda-sorta see it in this photo:

 

2023.jpg

 

And of course these poor tenderised welds still need to undergo drifting...and,of Course,i do open up one weld:

 

2036.jpg

 

Eventually,in further grinding,it only ends up to be 1/2" or less...But,i think i'll stop experimenting with this edge-steel going all the way to eye bizness....

I suppose i'll now test my ability to drift a mild to mild weld...

Some questions to history(that may of course never be answered):Is that why many old axes were not drifted?...Is that why a number of them show some strange,messy situation in front of eye(some look like one side lapped over the other in forging on edge)?

Or am i just a lousy student of the craft?!

 

2044.jpg

 

2054.jpg

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3 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

smearing the mild on top of much stiffer 5160,shearing the edges of the welds...

This is inevitable, which is why I don't ever run the steel all the way to the eye.  The other thing I run into is that the much harder steel, if the edges are left square like that, will cut into the iron rather than weld to it, leaving a really thin nick running the full width of the front of the eye.

 

3 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Some questions to history(that may of course never be answered):Is that why many old axes were not drifted?...Is that why a number of them show some strange,messy situation in front of eye(some look like one side lapped over the other in forging on edge)?

I think some of them were fullered, or at least stepped a little, at the front of the eye.  A right bugger to lay out, but it looks good when it works.  As I found with that poll-less 18th century thingy I did a couple of months ago.  

 

That three-piece poll you have looks like many I've seen, and is a great way to get a thick poll/thin eye.  And I like the wire. B)  I very rarely tack-weld stuff, it just feels wrong to me.  I have, however, used a rivet to hold parts together for welding.  The rivet then becomes part of the welded joint and disappears.  

 

And I feel your pain, literally!  That axe I mentioned above was forged from 1/2" x 2" and darned near killed me.  

 

Keep it up, sir!  What we need to do, although I can't bring myself to do it, is to cut a slice lengthwise off an old one from poll to edge, then polish and etch it to see all the weld lines and the flow of the iron grain that indicates fullering.  We sort of did something similar to a small 10th-century Viking bearded axe head from a river in Lithuania in the name of science a few years ago.  It was a ball of rust, but the owner agreed to sandblast it and spark the edge and the back of the eye.  Sandblasting revealed the beard was formed by pulling the bottom of a thick bar in one direction only, the eye weld was asymmetrical just as in James Austen's Dane Axe tutorial, and the whole thing was a medium-carbon natural steel similar to what a good smeltmaster can make in a short-shaft furnace if he's really paying attention.  

 

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13 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

I think some of them were fullered, or at least stepped a little, at the front of the eye.  A right bugger to lay out, but it looks good when it works.  As I found with that poll-less 18th century thingy I did a couple of months ago.  

 

Yessir,i hear you...It really needs to be a carefully,thoughtfully shaped Scarf,which it IS anyway.........And it is a Right thing to do.

 

What often stopped me in the past from doing this...Let me see if i can express it coherently...It would work especially corker with some other elements of Jim Austen-ish style of working,in particular a very carefully sized,proportioned,(and finished) drift...

As you know i worship and admire JA's work and methods,but not having his skill,education,tooling,but most importantly-his Mindset;i've always wanted to take a slightly different route.More sloppy,"organic",by the seat of my pants kinda cowboy way...

(maybe i thought wrong;maybe in order to get to more fluent/organic forging one must pass Through the technological excellency stage....).

28 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

What we need to do, although I can't bring myself to do it, is to cut a slice lengthwise off an old one from poll to edge, then polish and etch it to see all the weld lines and the flow of the iron grain that indicates fullering. 

 

Absolutely.Just what Terje Granas does,in his famous PDF to that old carpentry axe.I do see some old examples for sale on ebay,and the money they ask is not that much of a problem.

It's the emotional issue just as you say,but also my thinking is still so fudgy inasmuch as What traits would define the early 19th c. American axe?

(you can see it by my readiness to abandon the logarithm i stuck by for over 10 tries so easily...).

But yes,absolutely.

32 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

And I feel your pain, literally!  That axe I mentioned above was forged from 1/2" x 2" and darned near killed me. 

 

Och aye,Alan,we're not getting any younger,mon...I'll try to switch to 3/8" for the next attempt;thickness must be scaled down along with other measurements.

I believe most earlier axes were smaller,a bit over 2 lbs or so....(it may've given the initial impetus to grow out the mass at poll...).

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Worked up a beginning of the next pre-form today.

I went from 1/2" thickness of stock to 3/8",but the dimensions are still ample,it's 2 5/8" wide this time....(i don't know how to force myself to go lighter...seems like to keep the proportions balanced i end up using way too much mat'l).

 

There are two things i'm keeping in mind this time. 

 

This here info,depicting two stages of a pre-form:

 

uc1.b4494310-seq_25 (1).jpg 

 

 

Resulting,presumably,in axes similar to these:

 

uc1.b4494310-seq_23.jpg

 

 

And the second some photos of existing originals,such as this:

 

h.h.stricker.jpg

 

 

(hoping the two are actually related,and their separation in space(the old printing are further South,i believe,and that H.H.Stricker is of course Philadelphia),or time,as much as a hundred years' spread here possibly.

 

1" of stock is left for the poll to each side,then i fuller off and pein the cheek.I try to be as Jim Austin-like as i can,and actually use a set-fuller,to remain in control.

 

2025.jpg

 

After peining i clean up with a set-hammer,and do some minimal clean-up with my usual working ball-pein face.The forging is short and compact enough,and it's no trouble to swap ends periodically making sure to keep both halves decently equal.

 

2034.jpg 

 

Below is the drift i plan on using.I forged it last spring for this very project,it's softened square aft/rounded forward(consistent with some eye shapes i see on some originals).My recesses will not match it exactly,i cannot hope to even approach JA's machinist-exactitude,and it's still only the experimental stage.But mainly i don't want it to be tight,the eye can be of a fairly organic shape,many old ones do not have even much of axial symmetry.

Actually,this drift was made to scale to fit a 2# or a 2 1/2# head or so,another reason to restrain my ridiculous tendency to overshoot the desired mass...

 

2031.jpg

 

 

This following photo(i'm about done with recesses,and happy with them,they're well withing 1/16" of each other in congruency)is indicative of things going right:The shape of lugs is similarly asymmetric.That is because in the poll side each is fullered off squarer,sharper,and more round/slopy at their blade-end.

I like leaving the lugs in their natural shape for duration of forging,for they tell of a mass displaced,and of the manner in which it was done.Some patterns of axes(most notably some of the British Kent-pattern)have characteristically asymmetric lugs;this here-the eye shape-is why,i believe.

 

2037.jpg

 

I realise i go on and On at nauseating length about these seemingly minute points...But each and every one of them,at some point in the past,have bitten me in the @ss,and i learned to be cautious,it All has a bearing on the final shape/balance/some obscure aspect of a forging.

 

Anyway,now it's time to taper the edges of future blade for weld-scarfs,easily enough done,but taking care to check things with dividers for similarity of parts.It does Not help a weld if the parts are misaligned,as you strike over an unsupported spot,or parallelogram the forging while busy paying attention to many other things needing watching.

 

2039.jpg

 

And finally strike a common straight line and cut the top langettes off.I use a cutting disk,to save fuel mostly,but could've easily cut them off with hot-cut(i don't mind using modern methods where i know i don't have to;but in general this is an historic inquiry and i try to stick to hand tools only,otherwise i can miss these "whys" it was done that way,or that shape vs the other et c).

As an aside,i belive that originally(centuries ago back in Europe),the single-lug configuration stemmed from the eye being tapered from top to bottom,the haft being held in by a Morse-taper type principle(like today still in Finnish Kirves).I even believe there're some early American axes with that tapered eye(it's very practical as i doesn't ruin the fibers of the handle tongue in event of extreme swelling,it simply slithers outta there,not being restricted by that more modern "hourglass" shape of inside of eye).

 

2047.jpg 

 

Anyway,i had to quit at this juncture,tomorrow i'll think through the sequence of welding it all up with other two components,the hard-plate on poll and the edge steel.....

 

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I think this one's a keeper. Fullering the eye did the trick. B)

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Hoping so,man...But the day started out unauspiciously,the halves of my pre-form were not as congruent as i thought...

 

2001.jpg

 

The top matched a bit better...

 

2002.jpg

 

It was that setting down of the blade portion that skewed my works...So now i had to decide,do i fix it,and make things match and mate nice,or do i just hit it?

I'm pretty half-@ss by nature,but also what i'm doing here is trying to re-establish a pretty old sequence...So asking myself-Would they stop and correct something like this in some rural Pennsylvania forge in the early 1800's?-i decide to just roll with it...

(If you've read "Zen and the Art of Archery" you know what i mean...).

 

Btw,the stock for this is all WI...I forgot to mention that i shamelessly went back on my resolve to stick to mild...(dinnt have any around in 3/8" gauge).

So the idea here as it appeared to me this morning(in a Vision:) is to use the convenient fact that the halves are still connected,and weld up only the front of the blade,and then use That to limit the goat-rope factor in keeping the parts aligned for the poll.

And that's what happened,in the end.

 

I inserted some SS heat-treating foil between the ends that i didn't want welded yet(excess is wrapped around and wired,to keep it in place).

And then went to weld the front of the eye.

 

2005.jpg

 

After a couple welding heats it felt pretty good and solid,so i decided to forge it on edge,to start getting rid of some of my misalignment.

My weld immediately fell clear apart...I couldn't believe how easily.

That was a crapulous feeling.To start doubting,at this point...your steel,your temp.,your Atm....your very skill at all that...it sucked.

But there was no turning back,and so i tried it again,and this time it worked better,seemingly,but that stinking doubt remains...coiled there,coldly,totally screwing you for enjoying the process...

 

In any case,all i wanted was for the pre-form to stay together for welding the poll.And i think i have it.(Except i also hoped to straighten out the eye some,but now my confidence is gone,and i don't dare mucking about there at the root of the weld too much).

But here she be:

 

2009.jpg

 

The thickness of a piece i decide to add is 1/2"(also WI,steelier than the body somewhat tho').So 3/8" x 2,+ 1/2,gives plenty of margin for welding,and weld refinement,and should still leave me with just under 1" of poll thickness(the size/shape of me drift has something to do with this also):

 

2014.jpg

 

And here it is all wired:

 

2018.jpg

 

And welded....This weld Really feels good,and i've zero compunction of forging it in any and all directions...

 

# 5.1 024.JPG

 

I only skew things a little bit(today is the day for Crooked welds...i make every one just a bit off,displaced by a small,but annoying,fraction...:(....But nothing that can't be forged out.

 

A piece of Nicholson file wired up for welding:

 

2028.jpg 

 

 

Thankfully no problems welding that,other than slight crookedness,but i'm resigned by now:)

 

2034.jpg

 

And now i'm up to that awful Inevitability,i must test the welds by drifting....

 

At first,i pry the outsides of opening by any means possible...chisels and tongs et c...To ease the passage of the drift.The front seam stays put,i actually like how the parts move without tearing it...Yes,i'm liking it very much at this point:

 

2035.jpg 

 

And finally i do just jam the drift through there...with no harm to weld...man,is that a good feeling...

Thanks,Alan,for your suggestion and encouragement in regards to that front fuller...I feel like maybe it was actually a part of an old algorithm.

 

2037.jpg

 

Now to see if those lips up front will still open....and they Do,by gum...Plenty deep enough for any amount of bit steel...I open them up wide as i'll ream them with my peanut grinder tomorrow,just to be superstitious...

 

2043.jpg

 

 

In spite of that double welding attempt at the front there's still reasonable mass left,i shouldn't be dealing with any negative space...So i stopped there,it was time to make more charcoal,and live what other life is left us after forging...

 

Looking at that side-view below,a curious thing occurs to me.See how the forging is saddled in,has a dip right above the eye?Well,those old photos of a pre-form they got from a smith above-they show the top lug cut off not quite flush,but with some mass left sticking out...I wonder if that may be a devise to fill that low spot to complete straight line over the top...(as all old axes have,or seem to):

 

2049.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Congratulations on your perseverance!  I have used a couple of methods to align the front of the eye, one being to forge the short side wall on the drift (which rarely works well for me) and the other what Jim Austin does, which is go ahead and make the weld, then use a curved chisel to remove the excess. Or just file it out later.

I get that little dip ahead of the eye too, and fix it by setting the top on the anvil and hitting just ahead of the eye. Of course, then adding the edge steel raises it again...

Inspiring work, sir!  

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Thanks,Alan,your advice has been a tremendous help and inspiration for many years now...

 

Great info,all takes thinking about,then trying out...Good Lawd,why Is it such a challenge,to forge Such a dumbed-down(you'd think)tool?!!!

 

I really like this particular WI.But of course only have a very limited supply of it,(maybe enough for 2 more heads),so Will be forced to use mild eventually.

 

Also my forging time will come to an end here soon,with spring right around the corner...It's only just warm enough for my poor LG to start coming into play,but i only have flat dies for it,and stock prep is about all it's good for.

But i doubt i can smash out WI into this thin,wide config.,it's mostly too temperamental for such radical distortion.

 

Anyway,i'll update with the blading on this one,and hope to keep going for a bit yet.

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Allright.It was brief.

Proposed edge,leaf-spring section,possibly 5160 or similar.

 

2003.jpg

 

After a few welding heats,it looked like this:

 

2005.jpg

 

2012.jpg

 

and that's all i can do.There's precious little mass at front of eye,i cannot manipulate the forging without loosing a crit.amount,making this a different type of tool than intended,and so will just trim the outline and look into the welds.

 

Proposed trim:

 

2016.jpg

 

 

Welds are all good(not surprised,i Felt that).

 

2024.jpg2025.jpg

 

2027.jpg

 

Outline can no longer be changed.The seams by the edge will take care of themselves through sharpening...

I guess that's that,for this one.

Some truing things up,the eye et c.,aligning the blade axis,then HT.....

 

 

 

 

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We have to see it hafted, you know...  B)

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I just found this thread today and spent my after-breakfast time with a cat on my lap, eyes glued to the screen. What a fantastic journey, thanks for sharing it with us.

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3 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

We have to see it hafted, you know...  B)

 

Alan,i'm sunk so far into minutiae of forging;hafting seems so far away...:(...

 

But,last spring after embarking on this,i sent the most promising to date head to a good friend down in the PNW.He's an expert axeman,and in every way is a perfect testing lab,doing all the important things that are a part of this process.

 

He hafted it(and in a very historically-correct manner too),and took it out for a spin.The main report apparently is still forthcoming,but he did say these few  things:

 

"... It has a very high center line and exhibits not even a hint of sticking. It's a pleasure to buck with."

(that was his shaping of the blade,according to his tastes/instincts and a Great big pile of experience)

"...If this is what those axes were like than they were missing nothing in function from a modern axe."

 

That last,of course,was just So great to hear...It is what's keeping me going in this (somewhat insane) quest....

 

These were some of his photos,that lovely haft is Black locust(Pseudoacacia? i've never even seen one!:)...

 

Straight bit.jpg

 

Finished axe 1.jpg

 

Test run.jpg

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Nicely done.

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Thanks,Chris.

 

I want to belabor this one point(i often feel like Such a bore and a nag...but just don't have that gift of a good narrative,and it's tough to bring across some points that seem important).

 

Those of you that actually read these mad rambling accounts would have noticed how much i sweat the blade sectional shape...

Close to the edge,and further from it,it makes or breaks the axe as a tool....

But it's qualities as a tool is what gives an axe it's shape,to begin with!

Maybe i can draw a parallel here with electrical current-it needs to Flow,from the source,through some device,and complete the loop back to the source,without this flow the current cannot exist,it'd be termed a "short",right?

So the functioning of an axe as a tool is a vital part of that loop.

The current must flow from the smith to the user of the tool and back to the smith,perpetually moving,gradually mutating but Never seizing to be flowing...

That is what Defines the "lines" of an axe,what gives it it's visual appeal(a function of our brain(i believe)to interpret the visual imagery in terms of dynamic forces.That interpretation can be more or less correct,as intuited,and  that's where delving into the parts of the Living,Circulating process corrects it back to reality.

 

So to reiterate:It's the sectional shape of a blade that matters(much more than the view of an axe-blade on a flat,which really only(,mostly), speaks of the size of a tool)).

For us smiths it poses a tricky challenge:We need to have enough beef in the blade initially to 1. "improve" the welding itself sufficiiently,and 2,to eventually flatten out into that Just the correct shape and thickness.

Older axes are especially tricky,as with the older versions of abrasives they didn't practice the removal so much as they would later.

So the challenge threshhold is raised very significantly.

  

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Most excellent!  And of course you are correct, and are not belabouring the point about the form and section of the head being the most important thing about it.   I have started doing my best to forge axes and hawks completely to shape with as little stock removal as possible myself.  It's a game-changer if you're used to stopping when it's almost there and relying on the grinders to finish the job.  That said, I've had to walk away from a half-finished head more than once, it's a big job for even the little ones.

 

The black locust haft ought to last forever.  That's one tough wood!  Rot-resistant as well.  Down here in the land of damp and acidic clay, a black locust fencepost will last 50 years or more, particularly if you char the butt before planting it.  I've excavated more than one 200-year-old sample where the aboveground part is long gone, but the charred butt is still intact below the plowzone.  It makes a good bow wood too, if you can find one big enough and straight enough.  It's a small tree, 8 to 12 inches in diameter and 30 to 40 feet tall (in my area, anyway), and it produces thorns you wouldn't believe.  Four to six inches long, hard, and perfectly straight, growing in easily detachable bundles right on the trunk.  The last 1/16" is very thin and will snap off in a wound with the least effort, where it will cause a nasty infection.  They can easily flatten heavy equipment tires.  But, the wood is great stuff for handles.  All the qualities of hickory, plus split-resistance, and not as heavy as Osage orange.

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Aw man,thanks for that description...Sounds Uber cool,kinda makes one think of Blackthorn or something...

(not that i've seen Any of those either!:)...Too many decades,too far north...).

 

 

A tragic story about this:My sweetheart was trying to bring in a piece of blackthorn,and a piece of yew for me,from the Severn valley where she lives...At the customs in Seattle this idiot announced to her that it cannot be,for these woods "would propagate"(!!!).

She was exhausted after an endless flight and no matter howshe phrased it just could not convince this moron that the cells of any living organism,once they're dead,cannot "propagate...:( ...(a logical sequence of a piece of some Chinese furniture propagating All over the place he just ignored...). 

So my piece of Blackthorn,and a piece of a 1000+year-old yew(one of those National treasure kind of trees in England, which piece the Keeper himself has kindly given her permission to take and even helped pick out),all of that went to the trash to be incinerated....:(

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On 3/14/2020 at 6:54 AM, jake pogrebinsky said:

my poor LG to start coming into play,but i only have flat dies for it,and stock prep is about all it's good for.

Do you have a 25# LG?

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I do,Joshua,a new style kind...let me see if i've a photo about.....Yes,here she be(with the guard off;i love to see that mechanism,but use it normally with the tin guard built by previous owner,for the owner before him has ended up minus one eye and large part of his head...that spring is pretty dangerous,and i already did have one explode on me).

I've looked up the number before,and it seems like it was built in 1942...

 

But i have a hard time finding a niche for it in axe-making...Right now especially,as i used to have a top drawing die,with the bottom nearly flat.It wasn't healthy for welds,so i had a friend build the drawing one out to as flat as the bottom.And now only have those,the flat set of dies.

I should look into a set of symmetrical drawing dies for it(i think 25 is too small for the combination dies).

 

Drawing out the axe blade takes a specific die set,with certain angle of convergence,and a slight radius on both.

Larger hammers give you that almost automatically,by sheer size of their dies.

 

 

 

 

 

2019.jpg

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Jake, I have been trying to send you a PM, but your account is not set up to receive messages.

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Posted (edited)

Oh,i'm sorry,man...i Used to get PM mssgs,once in a while,was not aware of any problems...

 

I don't think it'd be against our rules here to just post my e-mail?...

 

jpogg6 at gmail.com

Edited by jake pogrebinsky
computer illiteracy

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4 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

post my e-mail?...

You might want to replace the @-sign with the word ‘at’ to prevent the spam-bots getting your address.

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