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Zach Gordon




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2010 8:56 pm    Post subject: Langets on warhammers         Reply with quote

Hi,
I became curious about the langets on warhammers after reading this topic. Does anyone know the point of langets, and how they were attached?
Firstly the point. I have heard that not all warhammers had them (correct?). I don't really get the point, I don't see how a sword could actually cut through a thickish piece of hard wood like the kind that would be used as the shaft.

Did the langets go over the head, in a U shape, sorta to hold it on like this or this?
Or did they just but up against the head like this?
Or did they go underneath the head somehow? Or riveted to the head?

I heard from a guy once that it was the U shape method and they held the head onto the shaft, but I dunno if he was right.

Thnx
Z
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Luke Zechman




Location: Lock Haven Pennsylvania
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2010 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On Langets... It seems to me that the langets were a means for attachment to a haft. Realistically you could cut the haft in two somewhere under the area that the langets attach, and the weapon would still function. I almost feel like the wooden portion of the weapon is a way that the weapon could be lengthened without making the weapon too heavy. Which brings me to the weight distribution of a hammer. A weapon like that will inflict greater damage if the business end is heavy.
I am not so sure if I believe that a wooden haft wouldn't suffer from great damage when taking a solid blow from any sharp object. This could be even worse if the blade comes in at an obtuse angle.
I had started a DIY project a while back that involved an MRL "English Warhammer". (I don't know how to link the thread) I basically scrapped everything but the head. I was not sure about my construction with that piece either. Now that I have an angle grinder, I will be able to get back to that project more efficiently. Still need to shape the one langet.
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Stephen Wheatley




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Dec, 2010 1:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The idea of langets in hafted weapons was twofold; to prevent the haft from being cut by swords or axes, and to help secure the head of the weapon. After making a few halberds I've found the langets are very useful as a means of aligning a non-socketed head with the shaft and in this case will run them four or five inches up the head and blade.

With a hammer there is less likelihood of a counter stroke cutting the helve, so I should think that the langets serve just to reinforce the attachment of the head to the haft.

Stephen Wheatley
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Dec, 2010 2:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

without directly answering the question I will add the following snippet of info.

Last year I had to make a some pieces of display for an 'armourers repair workshop' and as part of this I had a lance that I wanted to snap the head off as if it was in for reshafting. The shaft was 1 1/4" diameter (30mm) ash and I thought I would just snap the head off. In the end I placed the shaft between two logs and after many many targeted hits with a sledge hammer I snapped the shaft. I strongly doubt that a decent ash haft on a war hammer would rapidly suffer terminal damage from cuts so I would say it is either for long term life extension or for attachment of the head, but in the short term of a few skimishes I would say a shaft would not break even if struck a few times.

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Eric Hejdström




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Dec, 2010 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have an axe that have been used for reenactment for five years and it have taken a lot of abuse to the shaft over the years. Not from sharp weapons but the 1½" shaft from ash is dented, scraped and cut but still shows no sign och breaking. If you use a straight grained peice of ash for a polearm (ora anything really) it will be really hard to break. Me and a friend managed to snap two octagon quarterstaffs of 1" during practice but we wresteled with them between us and finally I fell ofer one and broke it. A frind actually cut the haft of my axe once with a semisharp sword and the cut is still there. With no signs of reaking.

So as Tod says I doubt it's only to prevent the shaft from being cut. But on the other hand it looks kinda nifty too don't you think? I will definately have langets on my warhammer when it's ready to be mounted.
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Stephen Wheatley




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Dec, 2010 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fair comment about cuts, I'm only repeating what contemporary writers said about poke langets halting cuts, can't recall exact quotation. From a maker's point of view they look good and stabilise any wobbles in the head.
Stephen Wheatley
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Luke Zechman




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Dec, 2010 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Tod as far as the strength of hafts. I do not have much experience with ash, but hickory is super strong. The handle for the hammer I am working on is 25 inches (63.5cm)long, and it can hold my full weight of 210lbs as it spans a gap. I still think that any haft would take considerable damage from a well placed cut from a sharp object. I would think that these hammers would have been easily repaired for new battles, as they took damage. Perhaps this is why the haft simply butts up against the head in historical designs and isn't wedged like the head of a modern axe. It would make for easy repair... just a thought.
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Eric Hejdström




Location: Visby, Sweden
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Dec, 2010 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Or maybe a reinforced hammer could be used to deflect blows from an opponents weapon? I'd rather do that with langets on since the risk of getting my hammer thrashed would be minimal.

Regarding ash, if you're looking to recreate a medieval polearm, that's the wood to use. J. Waldmann mentions in his book that an estimate of 90% of all shafts was made from ash. Since hickory is a north american tupe of wood it's not an option for european weapons. Hickory is just a little big stronger than ash but has better strength against breaking. This difference is however so small that it doesn't matter. I always use ash (or oak which is very similar but with shorter grain and a bit heavier) for my weapons. Ironically I always use canadian ash even if I live in Sweden. The ash here is very good but you can almost never find it for sale...

Another thing. I rehafted a halberd once and it took me about five minutes with a sharp chisel to remove 8 rivets through the shaft. I then punched the rivet out from the shaft from the other side. This experience in hand I'd say that it's not that difficult to refurnish a damaged hammer.

Now this really got me in the mood to finish my own one...
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Daniel Sullivan




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PostPosted: Tue 21 Dec, 2010 2:46 pm    Post subject: Langets         Reply with quote

Have no doubt that langets provided for sturdier weapon. Tend to believe that a more important purpose was to protect the shaft. Due to its grain wood is highly resistant to forces/blows that are perpendicular or 90 degrees to that grain. Am assuming in mounted combat the majority of the blows would be in a downward cleaving fashion at a relatively high angle, maybe 70 to 80 degrees. Langets would more than likely cause tsuch a blow to glance off, while an unprotected handle would be splintered or even cut through. A really hefty glancing blow would probably take off an appendage or two here and there...but "War is Hell"!

Wishing you and yours, a very Happy Holiday Season, Merry Christmas, Happy and Prosperous New Year, and whatever other greeting is appropriate for this time of year.

Regards,
Dan
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 1:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What they would do is significantly stiffen the haft and so energy delivery to point of impact would be improved over a shaft without langets as the work goes into the point, not bending the haft.

This has just ocurred to me so I have no empirical evidence, but I am certain that this would show in proper trials.

Regards
Tod

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W. Schütz
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 5:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say the greatest reason for langets besides making the haft stronger is to solidify the transition between head and haft. If they where only there to protect the haft from cuts they would not extend over or into the head as they almost always do. The langets provide added support for the wood in the hammer hole or around the head that would otherwise be the weakest link in the chain when force is applied.
Gentes scitote,
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

W. Schütz wrote:
I would say the greatest reason for langets besides making the haft stronger is to solidify the transition between head and haft. If they where only there to protect the haft from cuts they would not extend over or into the head as they almost always do. The langets provide added support for the wood in the hammer hole or around the head that would otherwise be the weakest link in the chain when force is applied.


I believe this is a valid theory. My personal experience is from a purely modern, practical point of view having worked construction for a few years after high school. I noticed that our wooden handled claw hammers always broke just below the head when exerting a great force on the handle, such as removing stubborn 16 penny nails from old wood. They never broke mid-handle, always just under the head. Langets would reinforce this area of stress greatly. (I still refuse to use synthetic handles on my modern hammers! Wink )

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Robert Hinds




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 7:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leo Todeschini wrote:
What they would do is significantly stiffen the haft and so energy delivery to point of impact would be improved over a shaft without langets as the work goes into the point, not bending the haft.

This has just ocurred to me so I have no empirical evidence, but I am certain that this would show in proper trials.



THE MAN WHO CREATES AWESOME SWORDS AND DAGGERs AND VARIOUS COOL LEATHER THINGS HAS SPOKEN, DO NOT QUESTION HIM!

What Tod said makes sense, aswell as what the other 2 gentlemen who posted above me said.

It just makes sense to have a reinforced haft on your hammer, what if something goes wrong and you didn't see that crack in the handle before you went into battle...

Also aren't there a lot of references of zweihanders hacking through the hafts of pikes? Actually isn't that their job? if a zweihander can do it to a pike, a few good longsword hits might do it to a hammer. That is of course if pike hafts were made of ash?

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Hinds wrote:

Also aren't there a lot of references of zweihanders hacking through the hafts of pikes? Actually isn't that their job? if a zweihander can do it to a pike, a few good longsword hits might do it to a hammer. That is of course if pike hafts were made of ash?


I would take the chopping off of heads with a grain of salt and in other Topics this was discussed a great deal, although I can't say we arrived at a unanimous conclusions, but in short the zweiihanders don't need to actually cut the heads of the pike to be effective: It's a great deal like hitting the weak of a sword with your strong and displacing the pike heads.

Another way I can compare it to is that pikemen are a bit like rowers in a galley if a few of their oarsmen get out of time with the other oarsmen the entire side of rowers can get tangled up in a mess and it will take some time to get everyone rowing together in unison: If the zweilhander(s) push aside a good number of pikes these will disrupt many of the pikemen next to them and even if the disruption last only a few seconds it opens up the pike square to the pikesmen opposing them or rotella & swordsmen or halberd armed to mix it up at close range.

The disrupted pikemen would no longer be effective with their pikes and their only option would be to drop their pikes and draw their swords or daggers.

Oh, to make a relevant on Topic comment the languettes I agree do help in securing the head and if the nails or bolts holding the languettes are of small diameter the wood won't be weakened. Increasing the working life of the hafts before they need to be replaced would be a plus and the theory that being more rigid more energy would be transmitted to the target does sound plausible as it would make for harder hitting weapons

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Wed 22 Dec, 2010 2:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 12:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Hinds wrote
Quote:
THE MAN WHO CREATES AWESOME SWORDS AND DAGGERs AND VARIOUS COOL LEATHER THINGS HAS SPOKEN, DO NOT QUESTION HIM!


Thanks Robert, I like the sentiment and am touched, but truly, any who reads this thread ignore that. I happen to make stuff for a living, but in all reality we are all scrabbling around as to why things were done as they were and that is half the purpose of this forum, so just as I question others, please question me.

That said; the point about hammers snapping just below the head is correct as this is the highest point of stress in a (reasonably) parrallel shafted weapon/tool, so perhaps teh langets are a weight efficient way of making the shaft much stronger at the high stress area. In all likelihood it is a combination of a number of things and looking snappy is probably part of that too.

Regards

Tod

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Robert Hinds




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Dec, 2010 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod, that was just a 'li'l joke. Don't get me wrong, I think a good motto would be "Question everything.". Because if you question something and it turns out it's wrong you have gained the correct knowledge, and if it's right then you have more information in that area, and are less likely to be swayed by someone who might have the wrong information who tries to convince you of something later on, using that wrong information.

That was just my way telling you I like the work you do and having a little fun at the same time. Razz

It seems my jokes are taken too seriously here aswell...happens to me all the time IRL...

"We should have a fight, sharpened katana vs. sharpened longsword, to decide which is best."

"But...thats dangerous...someone could get hurt..."

"Thats the fun part."

" Eek! Eek! "

Actually I can see why that joke could be taken the wrong way....

Anyways sorry for that completely off-topic comment. I really think people on here have some good and sensible ideas as to the purpose of langets, you guys have made me appreciate langets more and have increased my knowledge, incase one of my friends ever asks what langets are for. Happy

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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