Forging an Axe

An axe (British English) or ax (American English; see spelling differences) is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood; to harvest timber; as a weapon; and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. The axe has many forms and specialised uses but generally consists of an axe head with a handle, or helve.

Before the modern axe, the stone-age hand axe was used from 1.5 million years BP without a handle. It was later fastened to a wooden handle. The earliest examples of handled axes have heads of stone with some form of wooden handle attached (hafted) in a method to suit the available materials and use. Axes made of copper, bronze, iron and steel appeared as these technologies developed. Axes are usually composed of a head and a handle.

The axe is an example of a simple machine, as it is a type of wedge, or dual inclined plane. This reduces the effort needed by the wood chopper. It splits the wood into two parts by the pressure concentration at the blade. The handle of the axe also acts as a lever allowing the user to increase the force at the cutting edge—not using the full length of the handle is known as choking the axe. For fine chopping using a side axe this sometimes is a positive effect, but for felling with a double bitted axe it reduces efficiency.

Generally, cutting axes have a shallow wedge angle, whereas splitting axes have a deeper angle. Most axes are double bevelled, i.e. symmetrical about the axis of the blade, but some specialist broadaxes have a single bevel blade, and usually an offset handle that allows them to be used for finishing work without putting the user's knuckles at risk of injury. Less common today, they were once an integral part of a joiner and carpenter's tool kit, not just a tool for use in forestry. A tool of similar origin is the billhook. However, in France and Holland, the billhook often replaced the axe as a joiner's bench tool.

Most modern axes have steel heads and wooden handles, typically hickory in the US and ash in Europe and Asia, although plastic or fibreglass handles are also common. Modern axes are specialised by use, size and form. Hafted axes with short handles designed for use with one hand are often called hand axes but the term hand axe refers to axes without handles as well. Hatchets tend to be small hafted axes often with a hammer on the back side (the poll). As easy-to-make weapons, axes have frequently been used in combat.

Bearded Axe
bearded axe

A bearded axe, or Skeggöx, refers to various axes, used as a tool and weapon, as early as the 6th century AD. It is most commonly associated with Viking Age Scandinavians. The lower portion of an axe bit is called the "beard" and the cutting edge of the bearded axe extends below the width of the butt to provide a wide cutting surface while keeping the overall weight of the axe low. The hook, or "beard" of the axe would also have been useful in battle, for example to pull weapons out of the defender's grasp, or to pull down a shield to allow another attacker to strike at the unprotected defender.

Medieval axes found in Uppsala, Sweden.
These types of axes were further developed by Finnish blacksmiths.

Racing Axe???

So-called "racing axes" are also known as "competition axes". They are used primarily in woodsman/lumberjack competitions where speed in cutting through a log is the objective.

competition axes
On your mark, get set, GO!!!

Throwing Axe
throwing axe

A throwing axe is a weapon used during the Middle Ages by foot soldiers and knights occasionally. Usually, they are thrown in an overhand motion (much like throwing a baseball) in a manner that causes the axe to rotate as it travels through the air.

Axe throwing is a sport in which the competitor throws an axe at a target, attempting to hit the bullseye as near as possible like that of the archery. Axe throwing is an event held in most lumberjack competitions. A skilled axe thrower will rotate the throwing axe exactly once throughout the flight so that the sharpened edge of the head will penetrate the target. Throwing axes are becoming popular among outdoor enthusiasts as a throwing tool. Much like in Archery and Knife throwing, you throw axes in a similar way at a log target.

Brush Axe
Bush/Hook axe

Dane (Broad) Axe
also known as broad axe
Replica Danish axe head, Petersen Type L or Type M,
based on original from Tower of London.
Forged by Bronze Lion.

The Dane axe is an early type of battle axe, primarily used during the transition between the European Viking Age and early Middle Ages. Other names for the weapon include English long axe, Danish axe, and hafted axe.

Most axes, both in period illustrations and extant artifact, that fall under the description of Danish axe, possess type L or type M heads according to the Petersen axe typology.[1] Both types consist of a wide, thin blade, with pronounced "horns" at both the toe and heel of the bit. Cutting surfaces vary, but is generally between 20 cm and 30 cm (8 and 12 inches). Type L blades tend to be smaller, with the toe of the bit swept forward for superior shearing capability. Later type M blades are typically larger overall, with a more symmetrical toe and heel.

The blade itself was reasonably light and forged very thin, making it superb for cutting. The fatness of the body on top the edge is as thin as 2 mm. Many of these axes were constructed with a reinforced bit, typically of a higher carbon steel to facilitate a harder, sharper edge. Average weight of an axe this size is between 1 kg and 2 kg (2 and 4 pounds). Proportionally, the long axe has more in common with a modern meat cleaver than a wood axe. This complex construction results in a lively and quick weapon with devastating cutting ability.

Based on period depictions, the haft of a longaxe for combat was usually between approx. 0.9 m and 1.2 m (3 and 4 feet) long, although Dane axes used as status symbols might be as long as 1.5 to 1.7 m (5 to 5½ ft). Such axes might also feature inlaid silver and frequently do not have the flared steel edge of a weapon designed for war. Some surviving examples also feature a brass haft cap, often richly decorated, which presumably served to keep the head of the weapon secure on the haft, as well as protecting the end of the haft from the rigours of battle. Ash and oak are the most likely materials for the haft, as they have always been the primary materials used for polearms in Europe.

Broad Axe

goose wing broad axe
Bearded medieval broad axe, 17th century Goosewing Axe
goosewing hatchet
Antique German gooswing braod axe hatchet - woodworking tool
goosewing axe hatchet
18th century engraved wrought hewing goosewing bearded axe hatchet

    Gee Mom, look what else I've found!

"We all do better when we all do better."
       - Paul Wellstone, US Senator from Minnesota (1944-2002)

Hit counter