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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 12:46 pm    Post subject: Viking age axe construction         Reply with quote

Howdy folks,

Being sick as a dog over the last few days has led me to ponder this question and the possibilities available. I'm not sure which is the most likely/best backed by archaeological evidence so I would appreciate feedback on how axe heads were attached to hafts in the viking age.

1) "Tomahawk style" - haft is generally straight, tapering in thickness away from the head. The head is slid on to the handle and tapped into place, perhaps with a hole drilled through head and haft once in place and riveted to secure, or perhaps a rawhide wrap could have been applied under the head to prevent it from sliding off. This is one of my favorites, as it is easy to construct the head (the head can either be wrapped around a slightly tapered mandrel or the eye could be drifted out with a tapered drift - either way, only a one-way taper is required) and handles are easy and quick to replace. If the haft is constructed with a bit of excess wood at the top, green wood can be used while keeping a great enough thickness that the head will not fly off as it dries, even if a rivet is not used.

2) Wedged as with most modern axes. In this instance, the eye of the axe, when viewed from the front or side, should have an hourglass section (ie, narrower in the middle of the head than at either opening). This prevents the head from budging up or down after the wedge(s) is/are fitted. Rivets can be fitted to this construction as well, which is IMO absolutely necessary if you are using green wood as the shrinkage will result in a very unstable head - so, it is not quite as field-expedient I think. The head construction is still relatively simple, though slightly complex in that an hourglass section to the eye is preferred.

Were either of these more/less common or even non existent in the viking age? It should be relatively easy to tell by the internal shape of the eye whether or not a head is ideally suited to being fitted one way or another, though it is not terribly uncommon (unfortunately) even today to have an improperly shaped eye (no taper, one-way taper when it should be two-way) so I daresay that it was not perfect back in the viking age, either.

Thoughts/knowledge/evidence would be appreciated, if I have been unclear in my descriptions I will provide drawings as needed.
Pete
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Scott Woodruff





Joined: 30 Nov 2005
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 601

PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Check out this thread: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?p...ht=#234033
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much kind sir, that is exactly what I needed and should have been able to find it myself! Particularly love some of the geometry on those axes, the one on the second to last picture looks like it must have been a joy to use.
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Scott Woodruff





Joined: 30 Nov 2005
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 601

PostPosted: Wed 26 Sep, 2012 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I use an axe based on that one as my work axe on a daily basis and it is indeed a joy to use.
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