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I recently have taken up an interest in Swedish collared axes, and have some time now to take a crack at making one. After a lot of searching and a bit of luck/patience I was also able to find an original in my price range, which will be the rough inspiration for this project (though mine will end up being a little lighter).

 

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So far so good for my first wrapped axe I would say (though I still need to weld it :blink:). Not shown are the drift and bit I forged as well. I think I may not have as much meat as I want for the blade, though I'll deal with that when I get there. My plan is to weld the bit in at the same time as I close up the eye,  close up and weld the collar, then square up the pole and weld on a piece of 1075 there as well. I miscalculated the weight of my blank, so the piece of mild was only ~90g heavier than the original piece. Even though it will get a bit of mass from the bit and poll, I think grinding and scale will put it down bellow the 1060g of the original head.

 

Thanks for looking, I hope to work more on this soon!

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I'm glad to see you taking this on!  That's some complicated forging that will teach you a great deal.  B)

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On 8/24/2020 at 2:35 PM, Alan Longmire said:

I'm glad to see you taking this on!  That's some complicated forging that will teach you a great deal.  B)

It’s probably the most complicated thing I’ve forged. On that note, there were some problems...

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Things were going pretty well, until a small portion of the inside of the eye welded to itself. I hadn’t finished the drift yet, so the eye kept getting more and more squashed. I went to open it up with a chisel, and opened up the eye weld, then heard a *ping* which turned out to be a crack starting out at the weld line and veering off through the bit. I think my preform wasn’t quite the right shape which caused its own problems, so I’ll restart this and try and set myself up better on the next try. I also have my drift finished, so I hope to avoid that pitfall as well. 

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Aiden,good for you for taking this on.

 

I've only tried some elements of this here and there,so not much experience of my own.

(Jim Austin though has a great break-down of this on his blog).

 

I want to say that your transition poll to collar is Way too sharp(for any forging in general even...is that where it cracked? if so than probably why).

Your original doesn't have that-it's flush on the cheeks(was even in pre-form;once formed,such transition will never forge back in flush).

It(your original) does have the corners of poll left thick in pre-form,but only those,and they were probably forged to be so well-defined After welding,squared and refined out of the original shoulder.

 

Also,your pre-form is cut of uniform thickness to shape(vs forged out of rectilinear mother-stock on originals);that is bound to give you quite a bit more mass there(as well as overall).

 

But right on-venture forth,best of luck with it!!:) 

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Ah, looking at James Austin's method, and the original piece, I can see where the the over-definition of the collar got me. It wasn't what caused me to scrap the head, but it would have eventually. It looks like the only "sharp" lines on the preform should be surrounding the rectangle isolated for the pole, and in the front of the eye. Another mistake I realized was that the edge of the collar should actually extend a bit past the step for the front of the eye, on my preform they trailed it a little bit. Also, the material I isolated for the pole was a little too big, which made the eye wonky. I'm also going to whip up a mini-horn to go in my anvil's hardy hole to actually reach inside the collar for that weld. Hopefully tomorrow's attempt will go better!

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Aiden,i'm sure you've seen this,but just in case-here's C.F.Dahlgren forging one in on film,at Wira in 1923:

He doesn't isolate any extra mass at poll(he must add it late by welding,which unfortunately seems missing from footage).

Of things i noticed that are important is that his match of drift/volume inside eye must be pretty close.

He later also works on inside of eye quite a bit,using also another drift for top of eye.

I'm not entirely sure what type eye these came with;possibly it was very old style inverse cone(based on principle  much like that used in tools with Morse taper),but with that drifting from top he may be giving some counter-flare,for wedging.

Later the inside of eye he refines on that cool stake iron.

I hear you on needing one,my anvil's horn is too fat and blunt,so I've forged one a long time ago,a hardy tool that sticks out perpendicular the anvil face.

I still use it,it kinda sucks for welding...:((not the greatest support)...but i never worked up a better,so have to use it on tool sockets and sometimes axe eyes...

(i often admired those  psychedelic Medieval stake-anvils,where you can see the welds and how they were done;they don't seem complicated,but of course easier to dream of than actually knuckle down to something that ambitious...

I hope yours works out to be a good tool).

 

 

 

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Forged another this morning, but failed in essentially the same way. 57E165C6-3D0C-452B-B4B2-1FE4F7E70754.jpegD788F406-7EE9-41C2-B3EA-84FB1EB3CB30.jpeg
made the preform more like the James Austin carpenter’s axe, was fairly happy with it. Folding took a good bit of force, probably due to the collar. 
 

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This is where I had the problem. The eye ended up pretty closed to closing and when I went to drift it open, the weld split in the front of the eye. Does anyone have advice on this? I may try splitting this all the way open, cleaning the inside with an angle grinder, then re-welding it. I have enough steel (and possibly time/patience) left for one more, but if I’m going to keep failing at this step, it seems like it might be better to do it with an axe that doesn’t have so much prep work before welding. 

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With mild steel, drifting to open an eye will almost always cause the weld to split.  What I do on axes that need the eye shaped a bit after folding is I go ahead and fold all the way, then drift the eye to shape before welding, then forge it back closed with the drift in place, THEN make the weld.   The most important thing to remember when drifting a welded eye made with this kind of weld is this: DO NOT try to stretch the eye after welding.  Post-weld drifting is only for cleaning up the shape.  If the eye is not right before welding, don't make the weld until it is.    

 

All the mating surfaces need to be in contact and well fluxed before trying to weld.  I have not done a collared axe like that, but I have done the older Norwegian version with a socket.  

Read the pinned thread in Hot Work:

 

There is a lot of good info in there on how to deal with the mild-to-mild welds for those of us who tend to do more high carbon welding and get spoiled by the ease of getting 1084 and 15N20 to stick.  I now tend to use a half-and-half mix of cast iron powder and anhydrous borax to lower the welding heat at the joint itself, Jim Austen sometimes tacks a bit of 1095 shim stock in the joint for the same reason.    Owen Bush swears by his Iron Mountain flux.  

 

I know you can do it.  B)
 

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Thanks @Alan Longmire! It’s good to know that even a good weld would split there with mild. I used the drift to open up the weld more, put some flux with iron dust in it in the opening, closed it with the drift in there, then took a few welding heats. I also welded up the collar, which appears to be good. I started opening up the edge for the bit, and of course that part is welded solid! Would it be cheating to use and angle grinder :P? Maybe it’s how hot my shop was, but it was feeling like a lot of work with a chisel!

 

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I’ll take better pictures later after I cool off a bit. 

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If you are going to try to drift the eye after the weld it helps to clamp the work piece in a vise, right in front of the eye. This will help support the weld. But like Alan said, you shouldn’t try to stretch it and should only be fine tuning things. 

I’ve never forged (or even held) a socketed axe. But one is high on my list of projects I want to try. 

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19 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

here's C.F.Dahlgren forging one in on film,at Wira in 1923:

I love watching that short film. I can watch that over and over and see something new every time. I love the way he uses his knee and hip to hold the tongs and the way he changes the length of choke on the hammer handle while he is swinging it.

 

I watched it again with this WIP in mind. It looks like he completely welds the collar just before he cuts the blade off the bar. (3:00 -3:50). He might weld the eye shut just prior, it's difficult to tell for sure. Anyway, it also looks like he creates the poll by moving the collar forward (?) 5:00-5:30 and later adds the creases at the base of the poll (6:20-6:40)

Edited by Joshua States
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Good for you,Joshua,you're wise to carefully study this unique historical record...(so rare,man...).

I too try to watch it as often as i can,as my (worthless)reception allows.

At this juncture i can barely manage this text,so can't follow up on your times and frames.

But yes,i seem to remember that just like you say-he bends in the back of collar,and catching some minute irregularity in the poll corners scrunches up material to ledge it over the anvil edge and work it...(the man is a freaking Paganini...he's over 80 in that video too,you know...).

Related to this,the entire eye,poll and cheeks,have a tapering section.That's how/why Dahlgren's preform has no visible transition between collar and higher up parts of eye,it all tapers down at an even slope...(forming that tapered section that i believe held the wood of the haft without wedging,by friction only).

 

But yes,thanks for pointing this out,good eye(and good taste in forgework!:))

 

Btw,that other old video of Scandinavian axe-making on Traditional Tools is also very much worth watching;the quality is poor,and it's just segments,however there's also tons of extremely valuable info,in the subtleties of process...

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Got the poll and bit welded in, and I think the forging is done! There was a tense moment when I dropped the whole head in my water bucket, but it seems like it's ok :blink:. The edge bit and poll are 1075, and the whole thing is pretty heavy, so that may have saved it.

 

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I'm going to grind the profile a little bit to check the welds, I thing that line coming from the eye is just there because I didn't blend the weld there as well as on the bottom/bit area. The polls on these seem to have lines chiseled around them, though I may do that with a grinder and file. The plan is to do a birch handle, not sure how long. The head will likely land at 2.25 lbs after grinding, an American axe that weight might have a 24-30" handle, though I'm less sure about Swedish ones. 

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I think you're doing an EXCELLENT job of it so far.

 

You May consider doing just a bit more forging on the very edge,to bring it out further and keener.

(many an older example we see are fairly worn down).

Forging will get you "there" quicker and less painfully than grinding.But also that's just me,i think both your skill and the facilities for removal are way superior.

 

2+lb head on these is just about perfect;maybe more perfect for the woods kind of axe than a bench kind,but Well within Hoyle.

 

Birch would be the right material for haft(this eye shape/size is designed around birch in particular;also being softer it absorbs effort better and feels much kinder and plain finer on your hand).

 

For a bench use you may consider a shorter,straight haft.Skandinavian carpenter's axes often have that almost iconic to them austere straight haft with no swell.

 

For the woods(joggling,or whatever Swedes liked to do with an axe out in the woods,they had a liking for the narrower-bladed axes and had a number of tricks they performed with them***,felling in a strange pattern for one),a longer haft would be appropriate,also slightly curved,and with a bit of a palm-swell. 

 

 

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Told you you could do it!  I doff my hat at you, sir!

And I agree with Jake, a little more forging on the edge wouldn't hurt, but whatever you want to do.  And I agree with you,  that seam on the bottom is probably just a surface artifact. 

Well done!

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This is what i meant by the straight hafts of a number of Scandinavian carpenter's axes:

Second one from bottom;and "straight" is only approx. idea,it can actually sway back depending on how much is it of a hewing implement:

(shown is actually a type of a Norwegian axe,bootlegged by this very skilled Mordorese smith but you get the idea:))

 

norsk carpenter's.jpg

 

 

That little bit of a longer collar on yours,Aiden,puts it a little closer (yet,the two are close as it is) to Finnish kirves.

 

Here's a photo of a Swedish Wetterlings-produced for the Finnish market.The owner handled it in a traditional manner,as Finns prefer to work with curved haft even at shorter-length bench axes:

 

SAW kirves.jpg 

 

Just in case here's some data on the Finnish-pattern  hafts.Also always kirves.png of birch,but slightly differently shaped eye(similar in action,self-wedging inverted cone).

Swedish ones for the most part were,if curved,maybe a bit less flamboyantly so,maybe closer to American ones...

 

 

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19 hours ago, jake pogrebinsky said:

Related to this,the entire eye,poll and cheeks,have a tapering section.That's how/why Dahlgren's preform has no visible transition between collar and higher up parts of eye,it all tapers down at an even slope...(forming that tapered section that i believe held the wood of the haft without wedging,by friction only).

I noticed that, and I think I see how he does it.

When he is doing the initial forging out of the collar, he leaves the anvil side flat and creates the ledge on the bottom of the eye/collar junction below the poll. This irregular side becomes the inside of the eye.  That leaves the outside of the eye and collar flat. When he "pushes" the back of the collar to create the poll, it moves just enough to match the inside of the eye. The smooth taper is created when he forms the eye/collar with the drift.

 

Spectacular work Aiden. A most impressive effort.

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As per Jake's suggestion, I forged the bit down a little more. Looking at my example, it does look like the edge has been sharpened back a ways from where it started out, especially in the toe (which seems a common point of damage for all axes, including the one I usually take to the woods). In the process the pole popped off, which set me back a bit. I had a hard time getting it to stay tacked on for the first welding heat (I'm certainly no welder, but the poor penetration from my $70 flux core machine is probably also part of it), so the remnants of the bead I ran around it before forge welding show up here.

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The blade and pole are heat treated, and after the last minute forging and grinding the profile, comes in at 2 lbs 1 oz. I plan to work on the handle tomorrow. 

On 8/27/2020 at 3:38 PM, jake pogrebinsky said:

Birch would be the right material for haft(this eye shape/size is designed around birch in particular;also being softer it absorbs effort better and feels much kinder and plain finer on your hand).

 

For a bench use you may consider a shorter,straight haft.Skandinavian carpenter's axes often have that almost iconic to them austere straight haft with no swell.

 

For the woods(joggling,or whatever Swedes liked to do with an axe out in the woods,they had a liking for the narrower-bladed axes and had a number of tricks they performed with them***,felling in a strange pattern for one),a longer haft would be appropriate,also slightly curved,and with a bit of a palm-swell. 

Thanks for the info Jake, I hadn't seen those straight handles before!  Austere is definitely a good descriptor, and I like the style. The Finnish axes seem to be more common, which may be why I had only seen the curved handles with significant palm swells before. I'm also looking forward to using a wood somewhat easier to work than hickory, as roughing out blanks with a coping saw was a lot of effort. As for the use, I'm not 100% sure. There have been times when I wished I had a heavier axe/one with a hardened pole/that could be used a bit like a froe, but for the foreseeable future I will be a ways away from the place where I usually bust up stumps/downed limbs for handle material, so this one may not see the woods for a long time. I think I'll put a long handle that's straight until the palm swell on it, leaving the freedom to cut it down if I end up not using the extra length.

 

Thanks everyone for the good advice and kind words!

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I’ve been going a little slow on this recently, but I’m still working on it. The axe is actually ground, but I don’t have a picture of it and it’s all packed up now.

 

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I’ll be away from my shop for a while, but I made a draw knife and will be hanging and finishing this one out by hand, which I’ve actually wanted to try for a while. 

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A small update:

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Handle fitting is progressing pretty well. I’m now at the point where a “normal” axe this size would be done, but there’s still a bit to go. The “waist” of the hourglass in the eye might me a bit too low, but the eye is far from perfect generally, and it should be serviceable. So far I’m enjoying the draw knife experience, though we’ll see if that’s true after shaping and slimming down the handle. 

Edited by Aiden CC
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Aiden,thanks for the update,sounds like you're on it,man.Good job.

My connection sucks so bad today i can't see your photos,but bet you're getting it.

 

Some thoughts,in a very general sense:

 

* I always have a tough time cleaning up the inside of the eye,especially in the more complexly-welded axes(kinda wished for a set of conical or whatever boring bits for the drill,or something like that,for a while now).

It normally turns into a few hours with files,and because of all that scale and molten flux et c. they can't really be your favorite,nicer kind of files either.

 

* I'll be a bore and reiterate that originally(NO idea of historic time scale,also strictly IMHO) these were not an hourglass section eyes.

Nor were the Kirves,either.

However,at some point people ran into a necessity to secure the heads firmer,or something else was changing,i dunno,but for whatever reason they started wedging these in principle unwedged eyes.

(and concurrently,it's a possibility anyway,Swedes started working for American market,and the real hourglass waist shape crept in there solidly).

 

But even before that they wedged these eyes,and sometimes in a funky manner too.As an example i always think of that "snake head" wedge Finns liked(forgot the name in Suomi but it sounds cool,and the whole deal has that old/pagan cool-factor:)

 

Anyway,just in case you or anyone reading this hasn't seen one here's a video about it(haven't watched it myself,but just as an example).

 

Don't ask me how pressurizing the un-waisted eye is supposed to work.,and kinda suspect that it relies heavily on leaving an n-th length protruding,which of course swells up and will hold like the head of a bolt(indeed sometimes one does that with American axes as well).

But anyhoo,that's one of the cool old aboriginal methods:)   

 

 

Edited by jake pogrebinsky
spacing out...
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P.S.

 

Oh hey,managed to see your photos-Great job!

 

Very cool drawknife,right on.

 

I'm also an adept of using a drawknife on hafts,and then leaving them as is.Firmly believe in the rightness of a blade-finished wood in such cases(better sealed surface).

I have just put some time in using a friend's axe that i hafted for him with a drawknife-finished octagonal hickory,and those facets kinda sucked on bare hands;but that's hickory.

Birch is much softer,and there ain't no law against breaking the sharp facets with a bit of sandpaper either i suppose...

But yeah,you're doing a lovely job on that,it'll be a sweet tool for you.

 

 

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