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Hawk tutorials?

Eric Eubank

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I've been thinkin about taking on a spike tomahawk project. I was wondering if anyone knew of any tutorials or had any advice for someone about to try their first hawk? Do you guys think 5160 would be good to use because I just ordered some. Also I am assuming that making a hawk head would be similiar to making a hammer head, if you can do one you could do the other? Thanks a lot for any info you can pass my way.

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Anvilfire.com has a tutorial on doing a rail road spike hawk and another on a wrapped hatchet with a welded in bit. I would think forging a hawk from any round or square stock would be similar to working the RR spike. I've only done two hawks and I forged them from horseshoeing rasps.


I think 5160 would be fine.

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5160 will work fine for a punched or slit and drifted eye hawk. The railroad spike hawk tutorial at Anvilfire is pretty much a good way to do it, or you can grind the side flanges off the head and use that mass to make it a sort of bearded axe-spike hawk thing. A lot of folks use big ball-pein hammer heads as raw material for hawks.


I make almost all of my hawks and axes with the wrapped and welded or two-piece method, because my market is mostly re-enactors and they insist on the traditional construction. Both methods make good hawks, though.


I used to have a wrapped-hawk tutorial on my website, but I haven't had a website for three years. I can post the pics in a long post if anyone's interested.

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Thanks a lot Mike and Alan that info really helps. I'm probably going to try the punched eye version since my only welding experience was less than satisfactory :wacko:


Alan, I know I would be glad to see those pics if you have the time. Everybody likes a good picture tutorial B)

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I used to have a wrapped-hawk tutorial on my website, but I haven't had a website for three years.  I can post the pics in a long post if anyone's interested.




Do you use a wrapped or two piece method when you want a hammer head or spike on one end too?

Personally I'd love to see your tutorial...post it!

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I'll post 'em this afternoon, I don't have the pics on the computer at work. :(


Mike, I've seen some great little spike hawks done both ways. Usually the two-piece ones are wrought with a steel point on the spike and a steel edge.


For my pipe hawks I use the wrap method and forge the bowl separately. It then gets threaded or brazed on. If I had a power hammer I'd do the whole thing from one piece, but all three of those methods are historically accurate.

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This is a simple method I use to make both Spike and Hammer pole axes. I form both a right and left side then forge weld the 2 halves together. You can either use high carbon steel for the 2 sides or use low carbon steel or iron for the sides and add a cutting bit and center section to the spike or hammer. I also braze inside the eye to make it more of an oval so it is eaiser to fit the handle.


These pictures show the forms I use and Tomahawk parts for both a Spike Tomahawk and a welded Hammer pole axe.









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Okay, here we go: I don't have as nice a die and mandrel for hammer-poll axes as Daniel does, I just hammer the stock over a flat bar on the anvil and end up with something like this:



Actually, I try not the break it in two at the butt end, I make two grooves about two inches apart and half-cut and fold from there. This one looked so good I couldn't resist taking a picture.


The finished axe looks like this.




After reviewing my old "how-to" on hawks, it turns out it wasn't a tutorial so much as a series of four bad pictures showing sort of what I do. So, here goes a half-assed step-by-step:


1. Cut a strap of 1.25 x .25" mild steel or wrought iron about 10 inches long.


2. Using the cross pein of your hammer, flare the last three inches of each end into a one-sided fishtail. The end product will look like a flat-topped bowtie.




This pic shows steps 1 and half of two.


3. Using a swedge block or other handy curved or V-grooved surface, put a slight cup into the length of the unforged section of strap so that the edges are higher than the centerline by about 1/16". This keeps the eye from flaring out when you roll it.


Did I mention I use a coal forge? ;)


4. Bring the whole thing up to heat and bend it together using the horn of the anvil, a hawk drift, or whatever you have that will do the job. Do it fast, and you'll have enough heat to tweak the alignment and make sure the two sides of the blade are touching. Thow some flux in there before you close it completely, and make sure the eye portion is fairly level from side to side. Don't get too anal about the blade shape yet, that comes after the weld.




5. Insert hardenable steel bit for the edge. I have been using an old torsion spring off some kind of farm equipment for years that acts like 1095, but I also use a chunk of old file steel sometimes. The bit needs to be about 1/8" thick and as long as the edges of the head blank so far, and about 3/4" to an inch wide. Bevel it so it's very thin on the side that inserts into the head, lest ye get the dreaded cold shut! I put the head in a vise and tap the edge insert in flush with the edges of the head. This protects tool steel from burning if you're welding it to wrought iron, since wrought has to be hotter than hell itself. You'll grind the soft metal off later anyway for a sort of san-mai effect.


6. WELD THAT PUPPY! Start at the edge and work your way back to the eye along the centerline. This allows flux to shoot out the sides and the back. If you weld the sides before you do the center, you'll have a big nasty wad of flux trapped forever in the center of the blade. Not good.


This next pic is of everything I use to do this just after the welding series was carried out.



7: Now (and during the welding, too) you can forge it to shape. Tuck in the top of the blade to make a straight-ish line, use the horn to establish the curved underside of the blade, and generally thin it down, draw it out, and so on. The better you are at forging to shape the less time it takes to clean up, plus you get a longer edge and overall head length. Do this forging a little hotter than normal, you don't want that weld to shear.


8: Drift the eye. If you were careful while forging, the eye is pretty much good to go. The drifting stage just sets the shape and establishes the slight top-down taper that holds the head on the handle. No wedges in hawk handles, please!


If you have to do a lot of shaping and stretching, drift at as close to welding heat as you're comfortable with. if you try to hard or too cold you'll split the weld, and that's not an easy thing to fix.


9: File/grind/sand however you want, if you want, and heat treat for the edge steel.


You can end up with this:




Seen from the top, the eye will look like this:




That what I do, you're free to do it some other way. I reserve the right to think less of you for it, though! ;):lol:

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My eye drift for the axe is a chunk of 3/8 x 1 bar, tapered in the forge, but the hawk eye drift is from a now-defunct place caled Norm Wendell's Iron Mountain. Kayne and Son sell it now. It's made from ductile iron, not steel, and has the letters TD-1 cast into it on the fat end. I think Kayne has become blacksmithsdepot.com, but I'm not sure... The advantage of using this particular drift is that the rough-turned handle blanks from Dunlap Woodcrafts (www.dunlapwoodcrafts.com, handles are NOT mentioned on the website, call and ask for 'em) fit with a minimum of tinkering. They also sell pre-drilled handles for pipe hawks, which are worth it after you ruin three or four regular handles trying to drill 'em out. :blink: I didn't have any trouble drillig my handles until about #25, and since then I haven't got one drilled right that I did myself. :( It's worth the extra $10 to me to get the predrilled.

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ok, so the drift is something that is very potentially a DIY tool to make. It makes sense that you can get away with a mild steel since you're not drifting the eye very much.


When we call (email?) dunlap, do we ask for tomahawk handles specifically?



Kristopher Skelton, M.A.

"There was never a good knife made from bad steel"

A quiet person will perish ~ Basotho Proverb

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See, that's why Daniel is a full-time professional and I'm a part-timer hack! :D


Kristopher, yes, ask specifically for hawk handles. You can get 'em in any North American hardwood, pretty much, but the predrilled ones are usually curly maple, darn the luck. ;)


You can make your own drift, sure enough. Just be sure you get the tapers right!


When you get good at doing heads, you can start doing silly stuff like inlaying silver and brass into the steel... B)




The pipe bowls on mine are made from 1" black iron pipe, forged to a slight taper, then necked down with a guillotine tool or spring fuller like the one seen to the right of the anvil in that pic above where all that crap is on the anvil. If you forge pipe, remember to block up the end you're not working on, and don't turn it up and look into the forged end without letting the jet of superheated air inside escape first! :ph34r:

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Thanks Alan and Dan, you were very helpful!

Mourir pour des idées, c'est bien beau mais lesquelles?

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When I do pewter on the handles, it's poured in place. The silver and brass on the blades and handles is done cold. It's not hard, just tedious. :)


First cut out your inlay from sheet stock, put it where you want it to be, and carefully scribe around it. Then, use hand chasing gravers (or whatever other engraving tool you like to use) and cut out the steel to just inside the scribed line. Remove excess metal from the middle of the inlay area, being careful to cut 3/4 as deep as the inlay is thick. Undercut the edges of the mortise, and add some crosshatching in the middle to hold the inlay metal later. When it all fits, the inlay should stick up about the surface of the steel just a hair. Anneal it if you haven't done so already, and carefully hammer it into place with a domed hammer or a ball-pein. This will spread the metal and lock it into the undercuts like a dovetail. File flush. There. Easy, huh? ;)

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