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jake pogrebinsky

bearded axe eye shape question

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Would anyone, by chance,have any info or thoughts on the eye shapes of the european axes in general,and the viking axes in particular?Most archeological data is woefully inadequate.The American axe,used primarily for felling very large dia.trees required as narrow of a profile as possible,so a compression handles were not the ticket.Also,the access to hickory had a lot to do with the design evolution-the freaking wood is indestructible,not many other species would hold up in a wedged configired eye.I'm a number degrees of lat.N of the nearest hickory grove,buying a replacement handle without being able to at least pick through a few is inceasingly more impractical,plus feel ludicrous forging a head only having to drift it to a conventional,storeboughten shape.Suspect that the local birch,tamarack or willow may hold up servicably in compression,but the proportion is tough to figure...

Thanks.

The head below is wrought,bladed with a hyd.ram seal from an old dumptruck.Drawn to bronze seemed about right.

2048.JPG

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I've had good luck using a teardrop-section tomahawk eye drift with a 1-degree taper, but that's not authentic. The few originals I've been able to study the eye on are fairly large round eyes, most likely held in the same way a hawk handle is. That is, dropped in from the top and driven on through until it can't go any further. Did you look at the Norse axe eyes Guy Thomas posted from Epcot?

 

Here's one of mine done that way.

 

gallery_510_11_45167.jpg

Edited by Alan Longmire

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I've had good luck using a teardrop-section tomahawk eye drift with a 1-degree taper, but that's not authentic. The few originals I've been able to study the eye on are fairly large round eyes, most likely held in the same way a hawk handle is. That is, dropped in from the top and driven on through until it can't go any further. Did you look at the Norse axe eyes Guy Thomas posted from Epcot?

 

Here's one of mine done that way.

 

gallery_510_11_45167.jpg

Thanks,Alan,for all that,it helps a bunch.Somehow missed that axe by Guy Thomas-will track it down forthwith.I like your hawk a lot,both the shape and the as-forged state.The eye seems to be very well proportioned grip dia.wise,the essence of my puzzlement in the compression dept.

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Jake and alan,

 

how do you go about putting that wicked beard on the axe?

i've tried on multiple accounts to do something similar but i never seem to get it right.

 

any suggestions?

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You just use a bigger piece of steel for the bit when you weld it in. Mine shown above has a body forged from 1" round wrought iron and an edge of 2" wide x 1/4" thick 5160 about 5" long.

 

If you're trying to make it out of one piece of steel rather than the traditional two-piece method, you'll have to upset the future edge area back into the body and do a lot more forging.

 

If you're trying it with a railroad spike, grind the sides off the head and use that as the edge end.

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WOW! :blink:

 

That's a lot of axes! I like those socketed ones especially.

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Norsk,thanks so much.The sheer quantity of pictures allowes one to notice many details that tell about how these beautiful things were put together.It answered many questions that i pondered a long time.Amasing how similar these are to the 7th cent. Frankish one below(regretfully,no eye shot).

P.S.Ok,i take it back-very little similarity after all.Most of the Norwegian ones have a piece welded in at the back of an eye,and this one has one at the front,a completely differet construction.I don't know how i missed that,all the hours of staring,,,and it has to come to me at the shop,in the middle of trying it out...

abcd.JPG

Edited by jake pogrebinsky

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wow, now that's alotta axes... very cool, thanks for posting those.

Amazing how the shape has changed so little over the past 1000 years.

 

Inspiring.

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On viking period axes you generally find two types of haft holes.

 

The one found on the famous broad axes as well as those of the smaller hand axes of norse type (the famous Mammen axe is a good example of the smaller type) have eyes that are heater shaped. Towards the neck they are flattened and towards the edge they have a rounded arch shape. The langets, or prongs are normally offset, so that the forward prong is above the median line of the handle, and the aft one is below the median line. This makes the prongs look lopsided, but they are shaped like that for a reason, I think. As the axe strikes home there will be a torc wanting to wrench the axe out of alignment. The offset prongs counteract this and grab on to the haft.

The haft seems to have been fastened with the slit and wedge method. In some cases there are remains of iron wedges that were struck into the protruding haft to expand it and lock it down. For this method to work it is of paramount importance that there is a good fit between the haft and the eye of the axe. The eye can have a slight widening towards both openings ( like a slight waist in the middle).- This allows for the haft to be firmly wedged into place from both ends. The haft is slightly tapered down (just by a millimeter or a few fractions there of) and sawed for the slit that will take the wedges.

 

The other type of eye is circular or *very* slightly oval. The axes that have this kind of eye are of eastern type: small and tomahawk like hatchets. They are all war axes with light and slim heads. They are found all over the eastern baltic and into the steppes. But a number found their way into eastern Scandinavia.

Some of these also work with long prongs grabbing down onto the haft. I get the impression they were hafted in basically the same way as the norse types: by wedging a slit in the protruding end. I do not think they were hafted like a tomahawk, with the haft introduced from the front end of the head.

 

Invariably, the dimension of axe hafts are rather slim. A typical diameter for a small eastern hatchet type war axe is about 26 millimeter in diameter.

 

For the single hand hatchets of norse type you will find heater shaped cross section of about 28-30 millimeter by 22-26 millimeter.

I have the impression that specially selected and prepared wood was used to allow for such slim hafts.

 

Hope this is of any help. looking forward to see the results!

 

Best

Peter

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Peter,thanks for going into such detail.I seem to be utterly worthless at the internet research(have not seen the Mamet axe yet,nor really many with langets at all),but a number of people,like yourself,have been very generous with providing the information.I think i'm beginning to form some part of the picture,and i think i know what you mean about the more slender,eastern hawk-like variety,with the almost round eye.Someone has steered me to this picture from the Novgorod dig yesterday,and i think of that as one of the exemples(I've a request pending at the library system for some of the books on that extensive dig).I'm trying out several different things,none of them very successfully.Finding it very challenging to reverse-engineer the way many of these axes were forged,and the actual forging taxes my meager skill immensely.

The second picture is yesterday's experiment.As usual,i've lost control of the process very early on.It's not drifted yet,will try to build (yet another)drift tomorrow,keeping in mind what you've written.Thanks again,Jake.

1222.JPG

18.03.JPG

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Thank you for adding your knowledge, Peter! You are in the perfect position for this stuff, and I thank you very much indeed for sharing what you know. Guess I need to make a new drift too. ;)

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Oddly,the compression(drop in from top)handle configuration existed in parralel to the wedged one.Here's a link to the 1st cent.adze.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highl...dze-hammer.aspx

 

Could the difference lay in the motion of an adze,as relates to that of an axe?The socket on this particular one is very close to the way the adze sockets are today...

And how in the world does one forge a socket that deep,substantial,and well formed?

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Oddly,the compression(drop in from top)handle configuration existed in parralel to the wedged one.Here's a link to the 1st cent.adze.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highl...dze-hammer.aspx

 

Could the difference lay in the motion of an adze,as relates to that of an axe?The socket on this particular one is very close to the way the adze sockets are today...

And how in the world does one forge a socket that deep,substantial,and well formed?

 

Like this, only start with a bigger billet of iron... BobO's adze-making tutorial

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That's a really neat tutorial,clean,and under control,one couldn't ask for much more.If that was the case,and that Thames socket was slitted and drifted,what considerable force must've been used-amazing.But now that you say that,not at all inconcievable.Having only myself for a striker i'm really attracted to the composite socket construction.Couldn't resist and played around with some of the ideas from that wonderful Norwegian bunch of pictures that Norsk posted.Naturally,lost control in every concievable way,learning to crawl sort of a deal for sure,but what an incredible bunch of potential technique!I'm absolutely hooked...

16.09.JPG

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Here’s some axe construction concepts based on artifacts from the European La Tene and early middleages, from “Staré Evropské Kovářství” by Radomír Pleiner ;)

PLEINERs.jpg

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This is (almost) anticlimactic,Jeff- i was beating my head against a wall,(almost) getting used to it,and now here it all is,in black and white...hard to believe.Thank you ever so much.

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Wow, Jake, that's amazing! :blink: I think you've got it! B)

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Alan,thanks-it means a great deal to me,coming from a craftsman of your stature.It's the design itself-both the woodwork and the ironwork are such intuitive crafts,and here's the combination of the two honed and refined by how many countless craftsmen that 've gone before?Can't explain,but i swear i can feel it somehow forging,like striking a clean note playing an instrument or something...Just ordered a link of that wrought chain from Darren,and can't wait to keep going,trying to implement all the information that you,and all the others, have so generously provided.

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Here's a shot of my yet another try at one of those sweet Nordhordland type hewing axes.The gentleman who commissioned this wanted a real tool,single-bevel,offset handle,and all.Hope that it suits.

Having gone back to the extensive past archives on this forum,i noticed a mention of the possibility that the eye on many old axes may've been one-off,the wrapped head not lending itself readily to drifting.Such is my own experience so far.For drifting,the planning and the timing of the welds is very important,so i'm finding it more expedient to just finish the inside of the eye with files,cold.And,it isn't exactly easy to find a standard handle anyway,at least of a good quality,and the proper grain orientation.

Peter is probably correct when he surmises that the eye size/shape related to a certain density wood.I've been coming across references to rowan,whitebeam,service tree(Sorbus sp),and other hard,tough,and flexible types of hardwoods.So i quit screwing around and ordered some air-dried hickory from the supplier,and now live happily ever after.The stuff is an absolute pleasure to work with,and i can keep trying out other shapes of eye,knowing that i can make any shape handle...

abcd.JPG

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Nice! You can't go wrong with good old hickory, and that's a nifty shaving horse too.

 

I make my own handles for the bearded axes and the small belt axes, often out of larger hickory handles I shave down. The only "store-bought" handles I use are for the tomahawks, mostly because it's so much easier for the fancy maple ones to do it that way.

 

I now declare you to be the king of axes on this forum, though. ;) At least until I can forge a nice goosewing broadaxe with a closed socket... :lol:

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Good God,Alan!I'm already mentally unstable,and here you're bringing up that most irresistable,the ultimate in axes,bar none-the GOOSWING!So the socket is closed?I thought it might be...Did you see that sexually explicit one in that same database that Norsk posted?Those pictures are good enough to see some of the welds,have you noticed how the goosewing is welded the opposite of some of the poleaxes?Blade split and lapping the socket?

See,i'm lost now...

That adze in the British Museum:I bow before your more informed opinion,but can't help harboring a deep suspicion that it was folded,somehow,afterall,vs.slit.The w.i. doesn't lend itself easily to slitting,and that socket is awfully tall...Could that have a relation to the poleaxe/goosewing sockets,though not closed at the top?

This forum is seriously contributing to my delinquency-there's just so much here.I used to think,simplistically,that all socketed edge tools were simply combined out of w.i.+steel edge,but that thread about crucible and the forge-carburised steel is making me rethink all that.What relation has the ability to come up with the right quality bloom,and/or to carburise the whole or part of the tool,to the shaping of axes?Edge and eye both.

That Davistown Museum data that Chris posted is probably indicative of that very thing,among others-many axes there lack any trace of welding...

Thanks for your kind feedback,wish i could travel and pick many of you folks' brains in person,then i could really be a nuisance...

Edited by jake pogrebinsky

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that`s one beautiful axe ,Jake.

Edited by norsk

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Norsk-again i thank you most sincerely for prividing that amazing info on that regional design,you're a prince.

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