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jake pogrebinsky

Transitional axes(European patterns to American)

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It so happened that i Will be trying to complete and hang that latest experimental version.

So onward to HT.

A quick grind to see where things are at tell me that i also need to do considerable straightening,an issue with axes in general-they need to end up being pretty darn symmetrical...So it's a couple hours of hot-work,the last ones before the actual finishing and hanging can take place.

 

The side,top,and bottom views before these last forge stages:

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Some axes are easier to eye-ball straight than others...My drifts are all too short for this,so this time i experiment with an old handle...It smokes and stinks but gives me Some idea how to orient the blade correctly....

2014.jpg

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Then the usual triple-normalising process...

I appreciate this part more and more,it's a relaxing,philosophical part.But also what a necessary practice run for the final heating to crit.,for us solid-fuel folk it's pretty important...

 

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Here's a shot of bringing it to heat the final time for quenching.By now i know exactly how it's all working,and can run a steady even heat right up to the blade,and hold it there for my minute and a half...(this axe also has a hardenable butt-plate,it's also at heat and will be quenched at the same time of course...

 

2023.jpg

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The usual filthy waste-oil quench...I'm smarter nowadays,and use this nifty hanger to suspend the forging in the quench(instead of standing there sucking up the fumes...).

 

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Then a couple cycles in a toaster oven...

I'm puzzled by it this time around:It's turned up almost all the way,a touch over 425F,but visually all i see is ever-so-light Straw color...

In the same time it feels kinda ok with my files,only very slightly on the harder side...

 

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I'll think about it while i go through the next ordeal,filing the inside of the eye into Some semblance of order and acceptability...

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3 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

,a touch over 425F,but visually all i see is ever-so-light Straw color...

 

Ovens do that, especially if you left any oil on the head.  Sort of the opposite of tempering over the fire where oil will show you a full blue, but a file will still skate.  As long as it files, it's good!  And, BTW, I'm really diggin' this.  B)

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This is why temper colors are not to be trusted.  Too many variables.  But you all know that, and also know that I had to say it.  ;) 

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Thank you,both of you guys.Couldn't think of any other two people who's advice i'd find more reassuring.

 

Yes,even after all these years, interpreting them oxide film thicknesses is tricky,and deceiving...Honestly dinn't know about oils interfering,thought they'd all burn off...

 

Thanks!:)  

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48 minutes ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

thought they'd all burn off...

They do (assuming you get hot enough), and that causes a change.  And that depends on the type of oil, quantity of it, and atmospheric conditions (e.g. heating with an oxidizing flame vs in an electric oven, etc.).  

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I see,yes,of course...It'd all affect energy interchange at the surface...As well as the formation of the film of oxide on surface itself...

 

Thanks again,Jerrod,this stuff is all very pertinent and important...I love learning.

 

I love filing inside an eye filled with scale and burned oil Significantly less.On the bright side,i own a nasty set of cheap Chinese files that are stupid-hard.I use them till i see the actual metal,and it saves on my poor aging herd of regular files... 

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Have you considered chisels?  I find a nice half-round die-sinker's chisel to be the very ticket. Just take a rod of something cheap and hardenable, grind to shape, harden, and go to town.  When it chips, grind it back and continue.  Coil spring is great for this.  Once it's roughed in, then go to files.

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Thanks,Alan,and no-it never occurred to me to chisel the crap out...Must try it...(really,i ought to finish some of the stuff i've been forging and pitching under the bench...).

 

I'm kinda getting it...slowly...(what a tough part to photograph...:( ).

I think i'm about 60-70% of the area metallic there...May have to call it soon anyhoo,as the gauge of my cheeks have long plunged below 1/4"...i'll have to quit at about 3/16" anyway...

 

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I'm generally following my friend's hafting job above...Historically these axes were hafted straight,and by their owner,using whatever species that grew around.

Naturally the handle blank was cleft,riven out of what suitable log was available.Closest i can get to that is a section of an air-dried hickory that i got that originally was a blank for self-bow,so very consistently continuous grain.

(i could probably split it,it may add that tiny bit of organic feel to it,but i won't bother.I'll just use the drawknife on the whole thing and that slight irregularity will be there...).

The section,tapering both ways, i cut out has not the ideally-vertical grain,but it's plenty good enough:

 

2008.jpg

 

Next order of business is to shape the tongue,i.e. to nail down the orientation of the head on the future haft.

It's going ok till the very late stages when it starts misbehaving,and steering off to the right on me...

It's still within bounds of "acceptable"(those being that the blade must point Somewhere within the swell,the end of haft),but i hope to correct it yet a bit more at final fitting and wedging(the very last tool one has in that dept. is the grind of the bevels+edge themselves;the combination of all these Should give one an acceptable tool,given you got it in the ballpark back at the forge):

 

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The side will look somewhat like this,as i'm not willing to reduce it narrower than the length of eye itself.It'll equal to under 1 1/2" or so and should be fine:

 

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The thickness i can control better,and will have to make a sound decision on.Next to it there's a standard,store-boughten Link handle,it's a 28" ,2 1/4# "boy's axe" job.It's a comfortable grip,but i don't think i want to go that thin.

The guy i'm handling this for is a serious dude,and likely to use it for felling,or some heavy trail clearing;plus,in winter one often works with gloves or even mittens on.

So it'll be thicker somewhat,but one must be careful with thickness,it can really hurt one's hand,overtime,if the gripping of it is in any way wrong...

 

2009.jpg 

 

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I like a thinner handle on my axes. Some of the old handles I’ve found make the ones available in stores now feel like clubs by comparison. 

Have you tried cleaning up the inside of the eye with sand paper before filing? Cut a slot in a piece of round rod lengthwise and insert a piece of old grinder belt or sand paper and then chuck it up in a drill so it spins. 

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Sand paper,mechanised,is yet another good idea,thank you,Jonathan.

(i think i have before,tried so many things over the years...).

Probably of importance is the scale,capable of ruining files(and paper),and the gunk from HT that simply plugs it immediately.

Much of this can be taken care of by soaking in vinegar,i suppose.

 

WI is in so many ways a creature all of it's own.When used for the eye,especially after having undergone multiple welding heats,the Silica And that particular sort of scale can be an issue...But,yes.

 

This is how clean i got it before proceeding:

2003.jpg

 

 

As far as the slenderness of a haft goes-Yes,absolutely.Haft must be sized for gripping it correctly,too thick of one causes that nasty "death grip" effect and causes fatigue and eventually tendon injuries.

 

Much of the modern commercial handle products i drawknife right out of the box.They were meant for no human use.And,that varnish must be made to go away,and haft oiled.

But i must say that Link handles(that are apparently disappearing across US)often come in sufficient,if not excessive slenderness.

For this i need to aim just a bit thicker...

But then again,i'll see how it feels as i go;the grain in this handle is entirely continuous and so i could take it as thin as i want to.

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Plugging along...All squared off to the very outside dimensions...The swell flared slightly in both dimensions:

 

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Then struck two lines on each side,and drawknifed everything to an octagon:

 

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The back at this point-

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And couple closeups of right by the head.The lugs are just free of the wood,no point in having them bear...

 

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Not sure at this point if i'll refine the facets and leave it an octagon,or knock them back to oval...The size seems about right,feels ok in the hand...

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Man,i take The lousiest photos!:)

 

It's not the point though,i'll put an edge on it in a bit here,and take it out for a test drive...

 

Then there may be something to take photos of-chips,of a decent size and shape-or there won't...

 

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Some more crappy photos(it's the darn focal length on this camera...at any slightest angle things begin looking very different...:(...)

 

All sharpened up.Used a fairly coarse stone at the end,then a piece of leather to strop off the burr.

Burr was visible in sunlight,i could see that if i bent it back and forth 5-6 times that it broke off then...Is that good,or bad,in terms of HT?

It shaved arm-hair easily as result(after chopping through about an 8"- 10" dry spruce log it did Not,not no longer).

 

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Next is pretty important photo(as crappy as it is).It shows a degree to which the blade is convex.

Convex section of an axe-blade is a natural product of forging(material moves easier closer to the edges),but for some reason was employed rarely in European history.With coming to US smiths started really exploiting this,it's action as a de-facto chip-breaker,and American axes grew to be increasingly more convex as the years went by,and by the end of 1800's it got pretty radically so. 

It is also the natural by-product of grinding,the slight rocker action when pressing the head against abrasive.

In this case i did not put any extra effort in increasing Or decreasing it,just let it fly...

 

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Chopping test.The log is very dry White spruce,not at all a good test material(axes are really designed around use in green wood).

I hesitate to say anything definite at this point,am still thinking about what conclusions,if any, i may draw...

 

2011.jpg

 

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If those dry chips are anything to go by, I suspect green ones will be large and thick just as they should be. 

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