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Jim Austin
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Location: Oakland CA
Joined: 06 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Wed 15 May, 2013 6:50 pm    Post subject: Authentically forged Viking Axes         Reply with quote

In order to provide collectors with authentically forged axes Ive been studying the historical techniques used to make Viking axes for about the last 2-1/2 years. I thought this work might be of some interest to the myArmoury community. I have long had a great interest in both axes and forge welding and decided to develop a procedure to make Viking style axes using the asymmetric wrap method. I dont know how far back this method dates (Roman era?) but its use in the Viking era and after is much in evidence based of artifacts from those times. Although the method may seem a bit round-about, it is actually well suited to the simple tools and materials (bloomery iron) available to early blacksmiths.

Here are a few axes which I have forged by the asymmetric wrap method over the last 2 years:




Among the different techniques used for forging axes the Asymmetric Wrap method refers to drawing a shank on a bar of iron or steel, forging the features of the eye into the shank, and then folding it to close the eye. The resulting joint is forge-welded shut.

Here is the starting block with its shank forged and marked:
(Note: where it appears, the white card is marked with a 1" grid)



The shank is then shaped and folded into an eye as shown in these pictures:







This is followed by forge welding and finishing the eye:



This Youtube link shows the eye-welding process in near-real time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaPR-us9kSU&feature=share

A finished eye:



After the eye is done I shape the blade and forge weld in a bit of 1075 steel.




This is followed by finish forging to get the final profile and thickness of the axe.




If the axe is intended for household use I forge the axe a bit thick and compact and leave the forge finish. If Im making a fighting axe I forge the blade out wide and thin and usually grind and polish it to help reduce the weight.

So far most of the axes I have forged are in the style of Type G or Type M axes (Peterson typology), but the same techniques can be used to produce a wide variety of axes (Type A Type M, the Wheeler designations, etc.) that might be of interest to collectors. Part of the challenge and satisfaction of this work is exploring such possibilities.

I hope that this has been of interest to you.
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Reece Nelson




Location: Overland Park KS
Joined: 18 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Wed 15 May, 2013 7:14 pm    Post subject: viking axes         Reply with quote

Wow, that's incredible! Really interesting read Big Grin

I especially like how you did the the eye bit. Thanks for posting!

-Reece
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 26 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Wed 15 May, 2013 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These look really good! Love the visual tutorial, it really pulls it all together. Are these for sale?
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Wed 15 May, 2013 9:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own two of Jims axes.
They are outstanding for several reasons.

They are very fine axes, as axes go.

They express a unique beauty of form and proportion: an axe ay seem like a basic tool, but it is not. The axe of the old norse is a finely made and thought out object, developed by a people who lived and died by the axe. These axes are the result of a deep understanding of the object and their design is both ingenious and graceful.

Jims axes are the finest example I know to capture the subtleties of form and proportion in existence today.
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Christopher B Lellis




Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: 01 Dec 2012

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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 1:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you selling any of those axes?

How much for a fighting one?
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Robert Mc
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Location: Zvolen Slovakia
Joined: 15 Mar 2013

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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 3:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really,really nice work.
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 4:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:
These look really good! Love the visual tutorial, it really pulls it all
together. Are these for sale?


I'll echo Kai's sentiments, specially about the visual turorial ... I think its really cool when
the craftsmen posting here make the time, and take the trouble to show the evolution of
their project from a red-hot chunk of steel to the final outcome ...
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Robin Smith




PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 6:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So awesome... Very nice!

How do you handle sales? Is it by commission, or do you make what you want and offer for sale on your site? I am quite interested.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We are fortunate to have Jim Austin doing this important work. Soon the collector may be able to obtain a fighting axe capturing the spirit and form of the originals.

Swords have rightly captured the attention of some fine, fine craftsman who have, over the past few years, brought us a level of authenticity unmatched and Jim is bringing these high standards to the axe.

As an aficionado of the late Viking, and High Medieval periods, I need a truly fine axe, or axes, to consider my collection representative.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 12:49 pm    Post subject: axe         Reply with quote

I would echo everyone's words here Jim. Well done and thank you for sharing.

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A fighting axe with the correct profile would be great. I'd love to have one.
'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Bruno Giordan




PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 9:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Laughing Out Loud Great approach to the problem, Jim.

I would like to understand better how to form the first stage of the blank, it appears quite complicated to me, with regard to the method you show in your interesting youtube video.
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Fri 17 May, 2013 3:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very good looking elegant axes and very interesting seeing the process of making them. Big Grin Cool
You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Michael K Wislon




Location: Santa Rosa CA
Joined: 03 Apr 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 17 May, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jim,
I believe I've seen a couple axes of yours from one of your apprentices, Ryan B. If they are the same ones, I msut say they are quite awesome. The Dane axe he showed me a few weeks ago was light and fast. great work.
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D. Bell




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 01 May 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 18 May, 2013 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I brought a couple of axes from Jim in 2011 which I am very pleased with (there are some pictures here), and I hope to expand my collection later this year. If you want a high quality, authentically constructed viking age axe then I would recommend talking to Jim Austin.
An armed society is a polite society.
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Sat 18 May, 2013 3:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jim, I've been thinking a lot in the last few years about how these were forged back in viking times and I think a lot of us on this forum have a special place in their hearts for the Viking style axe.

The method you present makes perfect sense looking at what the shape of the eye and the rest look in the museums today.
Thanks so much for sharing this!

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Jim Austin
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Location: Oakland CA
Joined: 06 Dec 2010
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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like to thank everyone who looked in on this topic - especially those who had comments to share. If anyone still has questions I will be glad to try and answer them. I should mention that a more technically in-depth version of the tutorial (with about 50 photos) is posted here: http://forums.dfoggknives.com/index.php?showt...mp;page=10

To answer one particular, recurring question: I do sell these axes, though I have never advertised them before. Asymmetrically welded fighting-style axes in the Type G style have so far gone from between $400 and $450 (head only) depending on the size (edge lengths are usually between 6.5" and 7.5") and some aesthetic considerations. Larger Type M axes have gone for considerably more. I am also willing to consider commissions for other styles of axes, albeit at a slower pace, to try to help satisfy some of the wider demand from the arms-collecting community. This arrangement will work best if the interested person has some good pictorial and dimensional information to provide since my main role will be to provide traditional, high-quality blacksmithing solutions to the project. That said, these projects will have learning curves for me, and I will only tackle axes (and other items with time) which I can carry out by authentic techniques to my personal standards.

Again - Thanks! Jim.
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Scott Roush
Industry Professional



Location: Washburn, WI
Joined: 27 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Tue 21 May, 2013 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great post!!!

Nobody has had a larger influence on my own feeble work in axes. I just wish someday that mine can attain Jim's level of purity and grace of lines.

http://www.bigrockforge.com
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