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Larry Bohnham





Joined: 20 May 2010

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PostPosted: Fri 24 Sep, 2010 2:18 pm    Post subject: Hafting a Dane Axe         Reply with quote

I am thinking of making a Dane axe based on an axe head from Arms & Armor. I was looking for recommendations on what species of wood to use for the haft; I was considering either ash or hickory. Also, I could use some pointers on how to make sure the axe head stays securely attached to the haft and what considerations should be made for proper balance of the weapon.
"No athlete can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows; he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack under the fist of his adversary..."
Roger of Hoveden, d.1201

a furore Normannorum libera nos Domine

"Henry, get down off that horse with that sword, you'll put someone's eye out!" Mrs. Bolingbroke's advice to her son, Henry, on the eve of the battle of Agincourt
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Michael Ekelmann




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you are looking for the historical correct way to haft the axe, you have to go with ash. Hickory is strictly a North American wood. I'm not sure about how to keep the head on tight. Are wedges period?
“Men prefer to fight with swords, so they can see each other's eyes!" Sean Connery as Mulay Hamid El Raisuli in The Wind and the Lion
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Larry Bohnham





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PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not so concerned with period acuracy (ach du lieber!), rather I just don't want the sucker to go flying off into the next county under hard use. The bit of reseaech I've done yesterday indicates that hickory is probably the better wood in that it is one of the hardest and most durable woods available, but the ash would be a close second.

What I'm really looking for is pointers on the technique of actually attaching the head to the haft. I don;t think the A&A head has a tapered eye that will cam against the flared end of the shaft. The one I examined last month looked like it was un tapered and the haft unflared. Also, I'd like suggestions on where to obtain a suitable haft. The handles for post hole diggers are 48 inches long by about 1 3/8" dia, but so far I've only seen them made of ash. The A&A axe didn't have any wedges in it as I recall, so i wonder if they glued it with epoxy or if it was just a "we hope it holds, ship it" deal.

I'm also considering a fiberglass haft (angels and ministers of grace defend us!), but haven't found any sources for those yet. However the FG axe handles I've seen seem overly heavy, so I'm approaching that idea with caution.

"No athlete can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows; he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack under the fist of his adversary..."
Roger of Hoveden, d.1201

a furore Normannorum libera nos Domine

"Henry, get down off that horse with that sword, you'll put someone's eye out!" Mrs. Bolingbroke's advice to her son, Henry, on the eve of the battle of Agincourt
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Wayne Kroncke




Location: Glos. UK
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 12:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

paul binn reenactor's dane axe with his hand fitted ash haft. socket is reverse tapered, installed from the bottom and comes up snug on the flared top part.
axe has an inserted hard steel edge. this one is not flying off.






note the smaller viking axe and the lower hand forged american tomahawk (made by a smith in pennsylvania 40-odd yrs ago) also use the reverse tapered socket method.

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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 5:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Where would you source the wood for the haft?
Ash is not the kind of material one would pick up at Home Depot, at least not in the US.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know, a couple of weeks ago I was at the national museum in Dublin, and saw a couple of these axes with the complete hafts preserved. They were nothing like the common long hafted reproductions you always see. Now IIRC, the Bayeux tapestry does match the reproductions. But the ones I saw had very short hafts, about 40cm in length. Not only that, from the socket down they tapered into a pointed end. That means they could only have been held very close to the axehead, as the haft further down is very thin. I have no idea why the hafts were like that (throwing versions of Dane-axes?), but it makes it a completely different kind of weapon at least.
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 6:42 am    Post subject: Hafting a Dane Axe         Reply with quote

Jeroen
Did you happen to notice if the hafts were reverse tapered at the head? I'm assuming they would be but that process seems to be somewhat elusive in the info I can find. A short and shrpened haft like that could be used as a close combat (versus a spear or long hafted axe) to cut, thrust or chop as well as using the pointed end to stab with perhaps.

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most big-box hardware stores sell beautiful 60" x 2x2" pieces of ash. They're called "replacement wheelbarrow handles". It's easy to find a straight one, but if you want warped I've seen one of those, too. You might even be able to talk down the price of a warped one. You'll have to rip it to roughly the size you want and finish with plane or rasp.

I've made three pollaxe hafts out of these things and LOVE them. Should be just right for a Dane axe.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Dmitry Z~G





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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Most big-box hardware stores sell beautiful 60" x 2x2" pieces of ash. They're called "replacement wheelbarrow handles".


I had no idea. I thought all they carried was pine and poplar. Will check out my local Lowe's.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That IS all they have in the wood section, and not even poplar dowels anymore (not in central AL, anyway). Check the garden tools section--rakes, hoes, etc. There are separate shelves for replacement handles. Happy It's a recent discovery--only about $15! You do need access to a table saw, though, unless you have REALLY big hands. Tip: Use the saw to trim but get as close to the final haft size as possible while allowing for a couple of finishing passes of a hand plane on each face of the haft. I was too conservative with the saw and now I'm getting a workout with the plane!
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 2:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Hafting a Dane Axe         Reply with quote

R D Moore wrote:
Jeroen
Did you happen to notice if the hafts were reverse tapered at the head? I'm assuming they would be but that process seems to be somewhat elusive in the info I can find.
What do you mean by that, as in that they were fixed by sliding the axehead up the haft?

Quote:
A short and shrpened haft like that could be used as a close combat (versus a spear or long hafted axe) to cut, thrust or chop as well as using the pointed end to stab with perhaps.

I've tracked down a photo of them, see below. The top one is actually longer then I remember, about 60cm. The haft on the lower one is about 45cm. Note that on the lower one, the haft just below the axhead is wider then the socket, with some wood supporting the axehead in front of the socket on the lower side of the axehead.



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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
- Barbarian metalworking
- Museum photos
- Zip-file with information about saxes
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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Oct, 2010 5:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Hafting a Dane Axe         Reply with quote

Jeroen wrote : What do you mean by that, as in that they were fixed by sliding the axehead up the haft?

Yes, the axhead slid slid up the haft, then forced tight into place.


I see the smaller axehead sitting on a "shelf" in your picture. Is the head then wedged against the haft using shaped pieces of steel or wood driven between head and haft to lock it in place? Like a shim?

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation" ...Gen. Douglas Macarthur
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

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PostPosted: Wed 06 Oct, 2010 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Mr. Zuiderwijk,

On Tuesday 5 October 2010, you wrote:
You know, a couple of weeks ago I was at the national museum in Dublin, and saw a couple of these axes with the complete hafts preserved. . . .

Do you have a date for those axes? I looked on the museum's Web site but was unable to find item listings for them.

Best,

Mark Millman
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