Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > What are Pike hafts made of Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,066

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 11:21 am    Post subject: What are Pike hafts made of         Reply with quote

We did some interesting test-cutting last week against some 8 foot dowels I got from a local lumber yard. They were very light dowels (used for curtain rods) and cutting them doesn't prove anything about anything, but I was interested in taking the experiment a bit further. I don't know what pike shafts were made of, or those of spears or polearms other than Ash. What other woods were used historically? Also, does anyone know where you can get wooden poles made of such woods, preferably without having to mail order, something you could find in a typical big city, and ideally under say ,$20 or $30.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic


Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Mon 11 Jun, 2007 12:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Joined: 21 Aug 2003
Likes: 10 pages
Reading list: 13 books

Spotlight topics: 7
Posts: 5,900

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to Waldman, ash was the first choice for polearms, followed by oak. Anything would serve in an emergency, and pine seems to have been common for morgensterns, etc. Valid modern testing would be very difficult. Historically, polearm hafts were fully seasoned and boiled in enormous vats of linseed oil. Even if you had the means to prepare hafts like this for testing, you'd still have to account for langets and the weight of the head. Essentially, you'd have to make an Albion/A&A-quality pike and then test it to destruction with a sword of equal quality (possibly testing the sword to destruction as well).
It could be done, but....

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Chad Arnow
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Cincinnati, OH
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Likes: 21 pages
Reading list: 231 books

Spotlight topics: 15
Posts: 9,135

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen a number of polearm hafts covered with velvet, leather, or other fabrics, too. Will that be part of your tests? Happy Happy
Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,066

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
According to Waldman, ash was the first choice for polearms, followed by oak. Anything would serve in an emergency, and pine seems to have been common for morgensterns, etc. Valid modern testing would be very difficult. Historically, polearm hafts were fully seasoned and boiled in enormous vats of linseed oil. Even if you had the means to prepare hafts like this for testing, you'd still have to account for langets and the weight of the head. Essentially, you'd have to make an Albion/A&A-quality pike and then test it to destruction with a sword of equal quality (possibly testing the sword to destruction as well).
It could be done, but....


I'm not interested in proving anything scientifically, just in satisfying my own curiosity, and perhaps contributing a small amount to the collective understanding. So far, the swords seem to cut sticks pretty well. We cut a few on a very casual cutting day as you can see here,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Z8IUX_TZA

...using absolutely awful form, just fooling around. I'd like to do a more serious test. I know it won't convince anyone of anything (there are quite a few people in some of these kinds of debates, who would not be convinced of anything either way even if you put them in a Time machine and brought them back, they wouild insist they were in an alternate reality with different physics Happy )

But I don't have any axe to grind, so to speak, I'm interested in how it turns out. Delighted by whatever I learn.

As for leather, felt etc., I don't see why not.

Did they put langets on pikes? I know they did on many pole arms but not all of them, I have seen some antique weapons in Europe with what I believe are the original hafts, and they didn't have langets.

Boiling an entire pike in linseed oil may well turn out to be beyond my abilities. How about things like modern tool-handles? They seem to be treated in some similar way... no?

I have a little Albion Constable which I'm willing to test-cut with, within reason. I'll try it on my cheaper swords first and see how they bear up. So far the Albion has held up very well to some fairly hard targets. Including a turkey, several chickens, and a two-by four. There is somebody in my area who sells all kinds of game animals (for meat) and I was thinking of trying out a racoon, alligator or a nutrea. (I don't mean a live one!!!)

I found a guy on Ebay who sells unfinished ash poles for walking sticks. I ordered one.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,066

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speaking of cutting pikes....

This is has piqued my curiosity some.

http://www.umass.edu/renaissance/lord/pdfs/Morozzo_1536.pdf

I had seen the illustration on page 90 many times, there is a copy of it above my desk at work. Often wondered if the spears on the floor had been cut by the guy with the sword. But I thought "nah...."

Then I found the above complete scan of the 1536 Opera nova.

Check page 62

What do you make of that? I wish i could read the text but my pal Lenny is working on that, hopefully we'll have something soon.

As far as I can make out, the caption says: Elquale traeta del contrasto della Spada e targe, o vero rotella o brochier largo contra arme in alfa, da (solo? folo?), e cofi lancate come manefcaniente.

Which babelfish translates as:

"Elquale traeta of the contrast of the Sword and targe, or true wide small wheel or brochier contra arms in alpha, from (only? folo), and cofi lancate like manefcaniente" wihch means ah, nada to me Happy

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
Stephen Hand




Location: Hobart, Australia
Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 6:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As other people have said, ash followed by oak. Pikes were supposed to have langets, some ordinances state two feet and others state four. The re-enactment group I was a member of for many years made tapered pike shafts copied from surviving originals and used them quite a bit. I can say that it's pretty hard to hold a 16-18 foot pike steady enough to allow a cut to bite. Cuts tend to just knock pikes aside. I have read references to the heads of pikes without langets snapping off when they impacted armour, which in my experience is a much more valid reason to have langets than to protect against sword cuts. Pikes hit with a hell of an impact. I've seen langets bent and the wood snapped clean through.

Cheers
Stephen

Stephen Hand
Editor, Spada, Spada II
Author of English Swordsmanship, Medieval Sword and Shield

Stoccata School of Defence
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Mon 11 Jun, 2007 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is this from the impact of pikes wielded in a charge or from a pike striking in a "fencing" movement? I can see how it happens in the first case, but the second is rather hard to imagine.

(Just wondering in case you've unearthed evidence that "fencing" with the pike isn't as silly as the historical commanders say it is.)
View user's profile Send private message
Alberto Dainese




Location: Padova - Italy
Joined: 25 Nov 2004
Reading list: 14 books

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 12:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:

As far as I can make out, the caption says: Elquale traeta del contrasto della Spada e targe, o vero rotella o brochier largo contra arme in alfa, da (solo? folo?), e cofi lancate come manefcaniente.


Orig: Cap 157. El quale tratta del contrasto della spada e targa, o vero rotella, o brochier largo contra arme in asta, da solo a solo, e così lancate come manescamente

Trad:Chapter 157. That speak about contrast between sword and targe[t], or rotella, or large buckler, and shaft weapon, one man against one man, thrown or held in hand

Hoping this 'll be useful, I apologize for my english... Razz
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 3:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many of the pikes that were in the collections I have worked with or have been able to examine have pikes with no langetts at all but a collar to place the shaft inside. These at times can be quite long. Usually they are triangular pieces that are made into a cone. Of the ones that do most were between 10-18 inches in length. I have only seen one that had a 26 inch long ones. I have a feeling that even if the langetts were 4 feet long down the shaft men would still find there way in close enough to cut them off so the length would not seem to me to be the reason they were used on them. A benefit, possibly but I think the additional support to the head a probable reason.

As to the cutting through of the shafts I have found some accounts that have mention but they could be shows of exceptional occurances perhaps depending on how one reads them.

I had never heard of the shafts being boiled before. I would be interested in the source if you would. That would be an interesting treatment for them.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,066

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 4:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alberto Dainese wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:

As far as I can make out, the caption says: Elquale traeta del contrasto della Spada e targe, o vero rotella o brochier largo contra arme in alfa, da (solo? folo?), e cofi lancate come manefcaniente.


Orig: Cap 157. El quale tratta del contrasto della spada e targa, o vero rotella, o brochier largo contra arme in asta, da solo a solo, e così lancate come manescamente

Trad:Chapter 157. That speak about contrast between sword and targe[t], or rotella, or large buckler, and shaft weapon, one man against one man, thrown or held in hand

Hoping this 'll be useful, I apologize for my english... Razz


Thanks, thats very good! Better than what we had been able to come up with. molto grazie

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
Alberto Dainese




Location: Padova - Italy
Joined: 25 Nov 2004
Reading list: 14 books

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:

Thanks, thats very good! Better than what we had been able to come up with. molto grazie

J


Non c'è di che!

I've gone little further with reading (chapters 157, 158 and 159) but I found no reference to beheading pole-weapon. I'm sorry.
View user's profile Send private message
Travis Canaday




Location: Overland Park, Kansas
Joined: 24 Oct 2005

Posts: 144

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Hand wrote:
I can say that it's pretty hard to hold a 16-18 foot pike steady enough to allow a cut to bite. Cuts tend to just knock pikes aside. I have read references to the heads of pikes without langets snapping off when they impacted armour, which in my experience is a much more valid reason to have langets than to protect against sword cuts.


This is what I figured would be the case.



Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is how was the shaft made. Does anyone know if pike shafts were cut from a single coppiced tree trunk? As opposed to being cut from part of larger tree trunk (what you buy nowadays at a lumber yard). This seems like it would make a difference, because a shaft from a single trunk would have complete wood grain, making it less likely to split.

If one wants a truly traditional pike shaft, I would think you would have to find a source for coppiced tree trunks of ash or oak.

Any thoughts on this?

Travis
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Joined: 21 Aug 2003
Likes: 10 pages
Reading list: 13 books

Spotlight topics: 7
Posts: 5,900

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Travis Canaday wrote:

Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is how was the shaft made. Does anyone know if pike shafts were cut from a single coppiced tree trunk? As opposed to being cut from part of larger tree trunk (what you buy nowadays at a lumber yard). This seems like it would make a difference, because a shaft from a single trunk would have complete wood grain, making it less likely to split.

If one wants a truly traditional pike shaft, I would think you would have to find a source for coppiced tree trunks of ash or oak.

Any thoughts on this?


Either method is appropriate. I would guess that the finest polearm heads (poleaxes, guards' weapons) were matched to the finest quality wood. Hafting was a specialized trade by the 16th c., and its practicioners must have known everything there is to know about the relative strengths and weaknesses of various materials and hafting methods. By the way, Waldman shows a woodcut of a man running a haft through a simple form intended to either straighten it or reduce its diameter to a standard size. When you look closely at polearm hafts you start seeing the same kinds of small details we normally associate with swords--intentional variations of cross section, etc.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
Joined: 01 Mar 2004
Likes: 7 pages
Reading list: 28 books

Posts: 1,809

PostPosted: Tue 12 Jun, 2007 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a link to a picture of some pikes attributed to the Luzern, Switzerland arsenal, and now being offered for sale by an antiques dealer. Note the langets on each of these examples.
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
View user's profile Send private message
David Evans




Location: Rotherham, West Riding
Joined: 09 Sep 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 2:27 am    Post subject: Pike hafts         Reply with quote

Sean, Travis

From English sources there is not one single reference, yet, to say coppiced wood or trunk. The only suggestion I can make is based on the value of ash. Ash is pretty much coppiced when ever it is found throughout the 16th and early 17th Century, to be honest, a lot of wood is being coppiced because it's too useful a source to leave wild!
View user's profile Send private message
David Evans




Location: Rotherham, West Riding
Joined: 09 Sep 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 229

PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2007 2:48 pm    Post subject: Interesting source         Reply with quote

Found this

"To a carpenter for the fallingof ten ashes to make pikes 0 -6 -0
Item to the joiners for their work in finding out ash to make pikes and cleaving it 1 -6 -8
..... and hewing timber for pikes and bills 1 -0 -0"

Accounts of Jeffery Glasier, Treasurer to the Lichfield garrison Oct-Dec 1645

Doesn't make it very clear. It could be argued that the first line is for felling whole trees, thro I do suspect coppiced wood.
View user's profile Send private message
Arwid Jonsson





Joined: 13 Jul 2007

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello

During a visit to the "Östgöta Länsmuseum" in Sweden i came across some old pikes, apparently they had been cut down and used by the landmanagement office during earthreforms in the 18th century and forgotten there after. The ones we found were made of pine and some of another wood we couldlent identify, possibly ash.

We have made some replicas of Swedish pikes that were used during the 30 year war. Bear in mind that Swedisnh pikes were a bit longer than the continentaly used ones during the 17 th century.

Here are 2 pictures:

http://www.uppbadet.se/bilder/Axtorna-promotion/P5310061.JPG Halfpike (note that the points are blunt for our fighting)
http://www.uppbadet.se/bilder/Axtorna-promotion/P5310039.JPG

Cheers

Arwid
View user's profile Send private message
Greg Coffman




Location: Lubbock, TX
Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Reading list: 4 books

Posts: 254

PostPosted: Fri 13 Jul, 2007 4:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eastern Martial Arts supply stores sell staffs which have been treated with something or other. The one I got in Dallas was red oak and one inch think. That's one medium you might try.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Sat 14 Jul, 2007 9:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I could swear I've heard of pike shafts made of cornel wood, though it was almost certainly referring to ancient Macedonia (Alexander the Great, e.g.). Presumably that sort of tree just grows nice straight long pieces?... That might be just in that area of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, too. Sorry, I couldn't begin to give you a citation for that!

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mike West




Location: North Carolina
Joined: 06 Dec 2003
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 84

PostPosted: Sat 14 Jul, 2007 6:32 pm    Post subject: Check this out!         Reply with quote

Hi lads,

Go to this webpage:

http://www.goantiques.com/category,arms-and-armor-1.html

Do a search for "pike" and you'll find two sets of interesting weapons, all at an affordable price.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > What are Pike hafts made of
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum