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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2012 11:03 am    Post subject: Staff weapons haft         Reply with quote

Hello

I would be interested in the haft of 16-17th century staff weapons.
What kind of wood were the originals hafted mostly?
Did they use only hardwood? And if yes what kind of hardwoods were the most popular?
In the area near to me the European Hornbeam(Carpinus betulus) is the easiest available for me(specially because this is the most common hardwood in my fathers forest).

I would be happy if you could post some articles too about it.

Waiting for your replay.
Thanks,
David
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Feb, 2012 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ash is the historically correct wood for hafting polearms.
-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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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 12:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't say that there is no ash by us but it's not so common. From oak there is more.
And I guess if I would like to achieve a more historical and strong thing I need to cut it and not to saw it( taken into consideration that sawing might cut through the filament direction of the tree which makes it easier to break)

Thanks for helping,
David
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb, 2012 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you need to haft a shorter weapon (pollaxe, fussstreithammer) you can look for an ash replacement handle for a wheelbarrow. Those are 60" by 2x2".
-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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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 10:16 am    Post subject: Re: Staff weapons haft         Reply with quote

David GaŠl told us,"In the area near to me the European Hornbeam(Carpinus betulus) is the easiest available for me(specially because this is the most common hardwood in my fathers forest)."

Well, I think a hornbeam spear shaft or halberd shaft would probably never break but you might feel that the pole arm was fighting you instead of your adversary.

Sean's advice that ash is one of the most desirable woods for a pole arm shaft is quite correct. The flexibility of ash and springiness makes it very tough and resilient and easier on the man wielding the weapon too. Another source might be a bo from a martial arts supplier if its long enough. Japanese white oak is also a very good material for such things. Another wood suitable for such purposes would be hickory but I have no idea if that wood or any relative of it grows in your area. I don't know enough about European wood species to give you better advice.

Find out what local wood is used for pitchfork handles, hoe handles and such implements and the like and try it as a pole arm shaft.
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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 12:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Staff weapons haft         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:

Well, I think a hornbeam spear shaft or halberd shaft would probably never break but you might feel that the pole arm was fighting you instead of your adversary.

Find out what local wood is used for pitchfork handles, hoe handles and such implements and the like and try it as a pole arm shaft.


By us mostly what you can buy for handle is European Beech but this is worse as hell because it gets really easy bad by us we say it gets like marble which means that it breaks like you would hammer marble with a pickax. And the most worst about buying in the store is that those woods are sawed out from the tree and not cut which means that they destroy its hardness by sawing through the filaments direction and where its sawed through there will it break.

So I try to make most of my handles myself by cutting them out from a tree mostly oak and robinia(good tree you can cut it easy and its filament direction is really straight and its hard, but sadly only got in Europe in 1601) sometimes hornbeam is used too as you said because it is really hard if dried well. Poplar is used too because its hardness grains from its flexibility but it hits back by every hitting as you said by hornbeam.

As I can see the old tools from my grandfather they were from different woods after their purposes for example:
oak is used more for hafting axe, pitchfork, scythe
poplar for a rake haft but the teeth are made of hazel
fir branch for saw handle
hornbeam for axe and long hafted things which need to be strong...

Ash is rarely used as statistic says from 97 it is only 2,4% of wood in the country.

Are there any articles, essays, books about analysing hafted weapons, and statistics not only about it's metal but about their wood?

Thanks,
David
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A. Spanjer




Location: USA
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does anyone know how suitable (and historical) pine is for hafting polearms?
Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Spanjer inquired, "]Does anyone know how suitable (and historical) pine is for hafting polearms?"

Well, look at it this way; all the fighting men who used pine as a haft for polearms are dead and none of them died of old age!

Sorry, I couldn't resist! I'd opine that using pine as a haft for a spear or halberd would be tantamount to committing suicide. Pine is far to brittle and too soft for weaponry. Now perhaps when jousts take place in which jousters want lances that will break rather than knock their opponent into the next county then they might use pine.
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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dsvid,


i haven't any idea what "robinia" is but of the other woods you mentioned I'd say oak would be the best choice. I agree beech wouldn't be my choice. I used an old claw hammer with a hornbeam handle and remember it felt like the whole tool was iron; not a hint of any flex whatsoever. One common name for hornbeam in the Eastern U.S. is ironwood. I'd say that tells you something right there. A very high end tool company in New England makes chisel handles from hornbeam.
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Tjarand Matre




Location: NÝtterÝy, Norway
Joined: 19 Sep 2010

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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wood density is very dependant on local growth variations. Ash growing rapidly in a warm environment don't nessescarily make great hafting material. And historical variations in climate could make certain wood more dense in the 15th century. And pine growing at high altitudes often develop extremely dense and solid heartwood (the medieval Norwegian stave churches were built from such pine).
I have tried hafting tools and reenactment weapons with beech, ash, elm and rowan, all grown in Norway with short growth periods and long winters. Beech (and even alder) works fine if heat treated. Ash, elm and rowan are all very solid, yet flexible enough to absorb the energy of a parry or a misplaced spear thrust (or a hammer to an anvil).
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Feb, 2012 7:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If trying to use a historically correct wood that would have been used in your region you are probably on the right track using the woods used locally in your area today for long handled tools, assuming that in period the exact same woods would have been available.

I guess one could have imported Ash in period in regions where Ash was hard or impossible to find if the cost versus usefulness would have made the extra costs of importing Ash worth it, at least for high quality weapons?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Feb, 2012 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's ironic that Europe once cultivated vast plantings of ash for just this purpose, and now it's a rare wood there.
-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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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Feb, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A 2 or 3 weeks ago we have cut out a few Cupressaceae type of tree I don't know if it could be: Thuja occidentalis or Platycladus but I thought to make a flagstaff from it in ottoman style: something like a crescent moon on it with some linen decoration hanging on it. I think it might have an oriental look it's a flexible wood which could withstand the blowing of wind and medium cuts, its really light so easy to carry. And its like cypress which why not might be used as a flagstaff in a battle, it's not a weapon only a symbolic thing? What do you guys think?

But that was not the main question in this topic only a by-pass I think worth for mentioning.
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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about irregular troops, rebels, partisans?
I guess they not even have sometimes the time and most important the source to make it uniformly from one kind and the best quality.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 10:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David GaŠl wrote:
What about irregular troops, rebels, partisans?
I guess they not even have sometimes the time and most important the source to make it uniformly from one kind and the best quality.


According to Waldman, pine was used for some of the crudest weapons (morgenstern and similar reinforced clubs, etc.).

-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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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote
Quote:
It's ironic that Europe once cultivated vast plantings of ash for just this purpose, and now it's a rare wood there


Well not quite true - its a damn weed in these parts!

Seriously though Ash was for sure a fantastic hafting wood and was commonly used. I had to make up a lance and then break the shaft as if it had fractured in real life - done for a museum exhibit. The shaft was 30mm/ 1.25" and I put it between two rocks and laid away with a sledge hammer for a long long time before it went. Incredibly strong.

Saying that I think that Jean Thibodeau is on the right track in that if it is good enough for a long axe it would be good enough for a pole arm and especially so if it is local. Weight is also an issue though and so weight verses resilience verses availabilty are all going to come into the craftsmans equation; not just resilience.

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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IIRC, European ash has a more wandering grain, whereas American ash is straighter grained. Availability in dried and true lumber and poles I'm sure differs as well.

Cheers

GC
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a 1617 Royal instruction from Sweden in which the inhabitants of the province of Helsingland are ordered to yearly deliver 3 pike staffs to the Crown. Those were to be of ash if ash was growing in the local forrests but else of pine. Those staffs were then to be smoothed and shaped by artisans supervised by the Crowns representatives before being turned into proper pikes by adding the pikehead and langets. Clearly the ash were more highly valued as the pay was 50% higher for the ash.
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by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 2:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:
I have a 1617 Royal instruction from Sweden in which the inhabitants of the province of Helsingland are ordered to yearly deliver 3 pike staffs to the Crown. Those were to be of ash if ash was growing in the local forrests but else of pine. Those staffs were then to be smoothed and shaped by artisans supervised by the Crowns representatives before being turned into proper pikes by adding the pikehead and langets. Clearly the ash were more highly valued as the pay was 50% higher for the ash.


But very interesting that pine was allowed for pikes. I would guess that many hunting and basic infantry spears were something less than ash.

-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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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Feb, 2012 10:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Waldmann Hafted Weapons in Medieval and Renaissance Europe (Brill, 2005) p. 93 says that ash was normal but oak, beech/birch, pine, and fir are sometimes found on original hafts and shafts. A 16th century Swiss text describes splitting ash trees into quarters, planing the quarters into shape with metal dies, and boiling the shaped shafts in linseed oil.
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