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I'm making a hatchet and the only material criteria is that it has to be damascus, and have some kind of antler theme to the handle.

I've never made a hatchet or ax, so this is all new for me.  This is the design I will be using.20211212_151835.jpg

 

Is it possible to do a wrap and still have a square head on the back? Or is this something that just has to be drifted?

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So I happened to pull out the design drawing and see how much of a curve the edge needed and I noticed that my latest sucess fell drasticly short of the required demensions... Yay for me, I made anoth

So my very first hatchet attempt got seriously reprofiled after I ground down to solid welds. It's pretty but not very correct. I'm not sure if its a mutant hybrid, or if there is a technical name for

Well we gave it a whirl. Not sure if it is salvagable. One side looks like it didn't weld all the way to the corners, the other side looks like it did. The bit was oversized all the way around and I d

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57 minutes ago, Faye said:

Is it possible to do a wrap and still have a square head on the back?

If you're talking about the poll, then yes it is possible.

Something like this, perhaps?

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I'll also be curious to see what our axe guru Alan has to say...

 

Edited by billyO
RIP Bear....be free!

 

as always

peace and love

billyO

 

 

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Billy has the gist of it, but his drawing is missing the pieces that form the cheeks. Somewhere around here there is a post and video by Jim Austin.

There is also one by Gerald Boggs. I'll take a look for them.

 

Gerald's tutorial: Axe_article.pdf (geraldboggs.com)

Also, this thread by Jake Pogrebinsky is full of information on different ways to forge axes: boring axe-stuff... - Pinned Show and Tell - Bladesmith's Forum Board (bladesmithsforum.com)

 

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

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3 hours ago, billyO said:

Something like this, perhaps?

That's what I kinda had in mind, yeah. It seemed fairly doable.

Thank you @Joshua States those were the kind of threads I was looking for. That saved me a couple hours of sifting through search results.

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If you like watching videos, here's one of my favorite axe making videos:

 

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RIP Bear....be free!

 

as always

peace and love

billyO

 

 

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Beware the wrap at the poll end. I lost 2 axe bodies just by not paying attention to that part of the wrap. 1 I wrapped a cold shut right into it and split it, #2 was about the same. 

 

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That will happen more often than not.  I think it was more usual to have the poll as a separate piece that was welded to the body.  That abrupt change in section just begs for a crack, even if forged at welding heat.   

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Ok, so here is my rough draft of a plan.

I went through my steel pile today and the most size appropriate piece was a leaf spring. I figure that's acceptable melaterial for the body of the hatchet. It's not the thickness I need for the poll, though, so I plan on welding an extra peice on.20211214_162122_HDR.jpg20211214_194649.jpg

Then very carefully I hope to bend it into something resembling an eye and add a chunk of damascus for the cutting edge. Then if I manage to pull off the forge welding, it will hopefully turn into something beautiful.20211214_194620.jpg

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Leaf spring is notoriously difficult to forge weld, especially to itself. You can try to help it along by adding a thin shim of HC steel at the weld joint, or adding a poll piece of HC steel (maybe a Damascus poll?)  I'll let those who have more experience with axe making address the process details.

Do you have a eye drift?

 

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

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I'll second Joshua here.  It's not that it's impossible to weld leaf spring to itself, it's just difficult, and making a hatchet is hard enough as it is.  If you do choose to go with an added poll with whatever steel you use, do it after you shape the eye. Trying to bend an eye with a lump welded on will shear the weld.  Leaf spring is also harder to forge than mild.  It's not so bad in knife blade sized bars, but it gets annoying fast as you go thicker.

 

Also, if you want the square-backed-on-the-inside eye, you'll have to forge an upset corner.  This is just making the U-shape, then forging it into itself before you weld the cheeks to the bit.  You'll need to work from all three sides, and use your drift in the last stages.  For most people, the hardest part of axe making is finding a big enough chunk of steel to make the drift.  

 

To help you weld on a poll, you can make an L-shaped hardy tool that fits inside the eye.  That's a Jim Austen trick.

 

Finally, you can always make the axe out of four pieces:  a big rectangular chunk for the poll, two identical thin sides, and the bit.  You see this on wrought iron axeheads sometimes.  

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Hmmm, ok. Well there is one other peice of steel I found, but I have no idea what kind it is. A spark test makes it look like mild steel. 

So I'm an amateur at forge welding, and have only done damascus a couple times. Something I'm not sure about is surface prep. When you go to weld the bit in or weld the sides together, would you grind it all shiny like with stacking damascus? Or just keep it brushed very clean and use plenty of flux?

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Disclaimer: This post is less than helpful.......

It depends on who you are. @Maciek Tomaszczyk is an axe-making madman and he fluxes the snot out of them.

Check out the videos he posts: wrought iron early medieval axes - Show and Tell - Bladesmith's Forum Board (bladesmithsforum.com)

 

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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2 hours ago, Faye said:

When you go to weld the bit in or weld the sides together, would you grind it all shiny like with stacking damascus? Or just keep it brushed very clean and use plenty of flux?

I'll defer to others, but IMO. if you can prep cold, then grind like damascus.  The cleaner the steel, the easier it will be to weld. 

However, if you're working hot, that's hard to do, so then I'd use flux.

 

But I cringe a little at your use of the word 'plenty'...:o    If you mean plenty as in, 'enough', then good.  If you mean plenty as in 'extra', then not so good.  Remember, flux isn't glue and you only need enough so that when it melts, it covers the weld surfaces to prevent oxidation.  Too much and you can trap some in the weld and have inclusions.  

RIP Bear....be free!

 

as always

peace and love

billyO

 

 

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I clean and grind my Damascus either cold or hot, depending mostly on what pattern I am working or just on how I feel at the time. Prepping cold and grinding clean is great for situations when you have nice rectangular pieces that you can surface grind clean and then stack cold to weld back together. It is a little less practical when you are doing a fold over like in an axe. In order to grind it really clean and remove any chance of oxidation, you would need to have it shaped into a pretty tight U already. Then it's difficult to get in between the cheeks to grind clean.

 

I used to do all my Damascus folding hot and grind at the anvil using a cup grinding wheel and weld using flux. The important part to remember was to crown the mating surfaces so the pressure or hammer would force the hot flux out of the weld zone. This is not a radical curvature. It is only slightly curved just enough to push the flux out.

For your axe, you might want to forge out the preform shape right up to the point where you would start the bend. Then let the piece cool and clean the weld surfaces. Now go back to the forge and do the fold, fit the bit and weld. You can also forge the preform, grind those surfaces hot, and continue with the fold and weld.

 

The whole idea is to have fairly clean surfaces for the weld zone. How you get there will largely depend on how well you can forge and flatten.

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Don't throw away that leaf spring - my American patterned eye drift is a leave spring. It's a little thin but with just a little bit of work on the grinder it can work for something hatchet size.  You can forge it to a drift, but its a bit much to forge on.  Cut it and shave the sides down, also weld on a little mild steel piece to the struck end, then normalize that end. For a wrapped axe, you'll work the steel around the eye more than trying to smash the drift through it.  One moderate tap for the final shape is enough.

 

I tried to wrap a leaf spring years back, but I also had a big blu to help in the forging of it.  It was ugly - had some potential, but I could not weld it to itself.  Since then, time and experience later, just make the axe body out of mild, and add the bit. Still a little of a pain in the butt, but its much more forgiving.

Edited by Daniel W
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19 hours ago, Faye said:

When you go to weld the bit in or weld the sides together, would you grind it all shiny like with stacking damascus? Or just keep it brushed very clean and use plenty of flux?

 

I often grind the bit clean, but leave the body as-forged.  I brush it if possible, and add just enough anhydrous borax to coat the entire area to be welded.  It will take the scale off.  On wrapped axes I forge the sides of the blade to be a little bit convex, just like Joshua did with his damascus stacks.  Gotta leave a bit of room for the flux to squirt out.  Also be careful not to leave deep hammermarks on what will be the inside, they trap flux and can blow the weld, or reappear later in the form of a white crust of borax seeping out of the weld seam.  

 

For the bit, make sure the edge that will be inside the body is almost sharp. This ensures no gap behind the bit.  Likewise, make sure the ends of the body that will lap over the bit are almost sharp. This ensures (or helps with, anyway) blending the weld without a step.  If you're worried about burning the bit, put it fully inside the cheeks. Leave the edge a little thick after final forging to shape, and the bit will be revealed when you grind the edge.

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20 hours ago, billyO said:

I cringe a little at your use of the word 'plenty

I did too. I don't particularly like flux because it makes a mess in the forge, and I happened to just reline my forge.

I'm not great at forging, so I will see how things are going after the preform and decide from there how much help the welding surfaces need.  

Today I got a drift forged out, that needs a little grindersmithing... I also got the 480 layer damascus billet finished. Tomorrow is supossed to have a windchill of -5 degrees, so I am going to do as much forging as possible. :D

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3 minutes ago, Faye said:

grindersmithing..

Gotta love that.

Nice shop cat

 

Edited by Joshua States

“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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Well we gave it a whirl. Not sure if it is salvagable. One side looks like it didn't weld all the way to the corners, the other side looks like it did. The bit was oversized all the way around and I don't think that help anything.

The preform went a lot better than I thought it would though. Gotta look on the bright side. 

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6 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

Pretty darned good for a first attempt

Thank you Alan.

I attacked it ruthlessly with the grinder, and though I had to dig pretty deep, there is a servicable hatchet. Its not the one I need but it will make a cool kindling chopper. I'm gonna throw it back in the forge and rework the profile as practice for the next one.

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Looking very good Faye. It's  a lot better than the first one I made, that is for sure.

Jim Austin made a cool little chisel from some 5/8" round bar to shape the front of the eye. He cuts it at a sharp angle and chisel cuts the eye while it's hot.

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“So I'm lightin' out for the territory, ahead of the scared and the weak and the mean spirited, because Aunt Sally is fixin’ to adopt me and civilize me, and I can't stand it. I've been there before.”

The only bad experience is the one from which you learn nothing.  

 

Josh

http://www.dosgatosdesignsllc.com/#!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdJMFMqnbLYqv965xd64vYg

J.States Bladesmith | Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/dos.gatos.71

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JStatesBladesmith

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So I came up with a couple questions.

First, if the poll is mild steel does it need a high carbon addition to it to keep it from completly mushrooming?

Second, is red oak or black walnut sutible substitutes for hickory?

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