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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject: 15th century English Bill         Reply with quote

Greetings everyone,

I'm putting together a Billman Kit roughly dated to the Wars of the Roses, Second half of the 15th century.
Obviously that needs a bill, wouldn't be much of a billman otherwise, right?

However there seem to be very few makers who supply English bills. I've seen loads of Italian ones, some French ones and the occasional Bill-Halberd-Hybrid, but the only makers I have managed to find which offer English Bills of the rack so to speak are Arms&Armor and Coldsteel.

Now the A&A one is - judging by the pictures, I've handled neither - better looking, got the better shape and is (I'm assuming) of far better quality. It is however also three times as expensive.

The Coldsteel version would need some work, first of all getting rid of that blasted black paint and most likely reworking the attachment of the socket to the shaft, having it held on the shaft with a screw is likely to be the standard and not acceptable.
The overall shape seems to be pretty good for the price. But given that it is a Coldsteel 2014 product, it may be 2020 before anyone actually get's their hand on one of these.

Has anyone managed to get hold of one of these CS bills - I think the man-at-arms Line might be a re-release of some old stuff? I'm not familiar enough with CS to know their old backlog - and are they any good?
Or do you know of any other makers that produce the classic English bill - I could go custom but at the moment I'd rather safe myself the hassle - at a reasonable price either sharp or blunt?

This isn't really a pressing issue right now - the kit is far from complete or at least not where I want it to be, so I have enough other opportunities to spend money before the bill is added - but I'm a bit stumped for other makers to look out for right now.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course cost is a factor, but the A&A English Bill is very impressive. I had one customized with hardened edges and mounted it myself.

Having the head made and shipped by itself and mounting it myself saved a bit on the shipping costs, although the customizing of the head increased the price a little bit compared to the standard product.

You might find this Topic thread interesting, even if you still decide to find another source for an English Bill: There are some interesting posts by Craig and others worth reading.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...highlight=


With the cold steel one removing the finish and refinishing it like mine should make it look a lot more period.
The screw assembly is not historical by any means, but the hole in the socket could still be used with a simulated period nail or iron/steel pin.

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Stuart Quayle




Location: Isle of Man, Great Britain
Joined: 13 May 2005

Posts: 125

PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 11:19 am    Post subject: English Billhook.         Reply with quote

Hi Marik

I have sent you a PM which might help you.

Regards
Stuart
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Weapons of Warre contains detailed stats and photos of original English bills and shows a step-by-step process for recreating the type. You could make a pattern in cardboard and probably any competent smith could then make it for you. See the information and images I posted here:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0

-Sean

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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for your responses, I'll look into those threads once more.

I actually thought about trying my hand at making one - at least one that looks the part, as a costume piece for the kit - but with absolutely zero experience in any form of metalworking and no idea how to properly attach the socket I gave up on that idea fairly quickly.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Weapons of Warre contains detailed stats and photos of original English bills and shows a step-by-step process for recreating the type. You could make a pattern in cardboard and probably any competent smith could then make it for you.


Just note that the Weapons of Warre replica is very heavy, weighing 9-10lbs in all. An extant late-15th-century English bill only weighs a little over 5lbs.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jun, 2014 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marik C.S. wrote:
Thanks for your responses, I'll look into those threads once more.

I actually thought about trying my hand at making one - at least one that looks the part, as a costume piece for the kit - but with absolutely zero experience in any form of metalworking and no idea how to properly attach the socket I gave up on that idea fairly quickly.


If you have an angle grinder and use cutting wheels you should be able to first cut out a strait line outline of the profile of the Bill you want to make. You would them add curves with a regular grinding wheel also using the angle grinder or a bench grinder after the waste has been removed by grinding out the sharp angles.

If you use a heat treatable steel plate you could have it heat treated after you have also ground in bevels.

The socket you might need a machinist to cut a groove into a steel tube of the same steel, and add a slot for the blade to partially fit into the socket, after this it might take some forging and arc welding to blend the top of the socket into the blade and to weld it along the groove. ( The A&A one seems to be built this way ).

So you could do part of the work but it would take a blacksmith and/or machinist to do the final assembly for you !? If you prepare the work as outlined above it should be less costly than giving the whole thing to someone else to make.

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Michael Anderson




Location: Nottingham, England
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 06 Jun, 2014 3:43 am    Post subject: English Bill         Reply with quote

I'd recommend finding a blacksmith to make you one rather than buying a mass produced one. It should still work out cheaper then A&A when you take shopping and duty into account and you will be able to choose exactly how you want it to look.

Try Andy Kirkham. andrew.akirkham@googlemail.com or Paul Binns. http://www.paul-binns-swords.co.uk for a high end reproduction that looks and feels like the real thing, if you're looking for cheaper contact Wieland forge. http://www.wielandforge.co.uk

Hope that helps
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Fri 06 Jun, 2014 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys, that's exactly what I wanted, more options to check out and chose from. I really appreciate it.
You can never have too many bookmarked blacksmiths websites, can you?

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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
Joined: 31 May 2014
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jun, 2014 9:44 am    Post subject: Re: 15th century English Bill         Reply with quote

Marik C.S. wrote:
Greetings everyone,

I'm putting together a Billman Kit roughly dated to the Wars of the Roses, Second half of the 15th century.
Obviously that needs a bill, wouldn't be much of a billman otherwise, right?

However there seem to be very few makers who supply English bills. I've seen loads of Italian ones, some French ones and the occasional Bill-Halberd-Hybrid, but the only makers I have managed to find which offer English Bills of the rack so to speak are Arms&Armor and Coldsteel.

Now the A&A one is - judging by the pictures, I've handled neither - better looking, got the better shape and is (I'm assuming) of far better quality. It is however also three times as expensive.

The Coldsteel version would need some work, first of all getting rid of that blasted black paint and most likely reworking the attachment of the socket to the shaft, having it held on the shaft with a screw is likely to be the standard and not acceptable.
The overall shape seems to be pretty good for the price. But given that it is a Coldsteel 2014 product, it may be 2020 before anyone actually get's their hand on one of these.

Has anyone managed to get hold of one of these CS bills - I think the man-at-arms Line might be a re-release of some old stuff? I'm not familiar enough with CS to know their old backlog - and are they any good?


Or do you know of any other makers that produce the classic English bill - I could go custom but at the moment I'd rather safe myself the hassle - at a reasonable price either sharp or blunt?

This isn't really a pressing issue right now - the kit is far from complete or at least not where I want it to be, so I have enough other opportunities to spend money before the bill is added - but I'm a bit stumped for other makers to look out for right now.


A number of the Cold Steel Man At Arms line are showing up at North American dealers now, as well as on eBay. All of the swords are out, and at least three of the new polearms - the European Boar Spear, the Swiss Halberd and the English Bill. I would assume those ones at least will also probably hit the European dealers shelves fairly soon if they haven't already.

I haven't talked to anybody who has handled one of the new polearms or seen one personally, but from the photos and videos closeups, the finish on theml looks more like the blued finish on their new MAA swords rather than the black painted finish used on their various axes. The paint on the axes strips off with any paint stripper. The blued finish is actually even easier - a member on the Cold Steel forum who bought the MAA Grosse Messer stripped the blued finish off it in about an hour using something like vinegar.

As I said, I haven't talked to anyone who has handled the new polearms yet, but a Canadian member on the CS forum does own the earlier version of Cold Steel's Swiss Halberd that the company produced in the 1990s and felt that it was quite solid and authentic, although as he commented, there's no guarantee that the new ones are built the same way.

If it helps any, the Cold Steel MAA English Bill is 7 1/2 feet long overall and weighs just a smidgen over 5 pounds, so it's right in line with historical examples.

I plan to get both the English Bill and the Swiss Halberd, but I'm waiting for my favourite Canadian dealer both to get the Halberd back in stock and to get in the Winged Spear as well, so I can save on shipping by having them all bundled together... (I'm guessing that since the Bill and Halberd and new European Boar Spear are already out, the other spears should be following shortly).

I'll be happy to post a detailed review of them all once I get my greasy mitts on them.
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Wed 25 Jun, 2014 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd be delighted to see a review of those polearms.
For now I'm going mad staring at the parcel tracking for a Bill I've bought off a fellow Forum Member, but I'd be curious how - if at all - accurate the CS version is.

I've got their boar spear - the black painted one, I think there is a new version of that out now - and it's sort of meh. Not a bad meh, but meh none the less.

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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jun, 2014 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marik C.S. wrote:
I'd be delighted to see a review of those polearms.
For now I'm going mad staring at the parcel tracking for a Bill I've bought off a fellow Forum Member, but I'd be curious how - if at all - accurate the CS version is.

I've got their boar spear - the black painted one, I think there is a new version of that out now - and it's sort of meh. Not a bad meh, but meh none the less.


Yeah, I have their old boar spear and short assegai. They are very functional as spears and will fulfill their intended purpose perfectly as modern hunting and throwing practice weapons. However, they were designed and built strictly for utility on a budget. They are both completely and totally ahistorical in construction and, from an aesthetic viewpoint, the absolute best thing that can be said about them is "Meh".

Having said that, if one of the local home invasion crews ever comes to visit at 3am, there is an excellent chance that the Short Assegai is what would meet them in the front hall...
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul, 2014 1:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've hit a bit of a brick wall.

I have the head and I'm really happy with it, but I have the hardest time finding Ash for a proper haft.

The timber dealer who promised me to get a piece apparently completely forgot about that - or wasn't planning on keeping that end of the deal in the first place which leaves me quite miffed as I've been waiting for almost 2 weeks for that promised wood - and none of the local carpenters use Ash for anything and thus have nothing in stock that I could cut myself a piece from.

Basically the only thing I could get are complete planks but those are 6m long and 2" thick, which is quite a bit more than I need and understandably the dealers themselves are unwilling to cut into their merchandise for me because that would leave them with a marred board to sell.

Premade handles - for example for a shovel - from the hardware store either don't have the right dimensions, are ergonomically curved or simply aren't ash to begin with.

I know there are a couple of threads about this already and the problem is not uncommon, but maybe someone has come up with a nice solution for this in the meantime - most of the Threads are on the older side of things.

Alternatively, any woods that might be (almost) equally suited and easier to obtain?

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Philip Melhop




Location: Wokingham, Berkshire, UK
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul, 2014 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi there
I'm not sure about Germany but when I wanted some ash spear shafts in the UK I attended the nearest reenactors fair or market. There were plenty to choose from both perfect round lathe turned and much rougher pieces from the branch.
When I lived in New Zealand it was necessary to purchase an ash plank and have it ripped into square poles then "dowelled" to make them round.
I am sure there are other woods that will do for polearm hafts, but ash is the prefered one. Oak is way to heavy and brittle, the various pine species just too weak.
Are you going to actually take the field in this persona???
Phil
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul, 2014 6:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like the piece to be field-ready even if I'm not going to use it as such.

I haven't seen any shafts on the faires I've been to recently but I'll keep an eye out for some - thank god it's high season for those, lots to choose from - until then I'm going to do some more calling and try to find a carpenter that might be less local but has the wood I'm after.

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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul, 2014 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An added worry is that ash trees seem to be dying, I think there's a critter called the emerald ash borer that is systematically wiping them out. If you ever think you might want to haft some pole arms you might ought to look into getting the appropriate wood now. I've got about a dozen poles from a tree a friend cut down a year ago.. and two A&A spears and a A&A halberd I still have yet to haft. Not enough hours in the day...
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Jul, 2014 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's really no reason to go to heat treating or hardened edges. See Williams, Dr. Alan R. & J. G. O'hara, The Technology of a 16th Century Staff Weapon. They broke up an Italian bill into 8 pieces and analyzed it: The metallurgy is complete junk. Remember bills were mass produced for common infantrymen.
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Thu 10 Jul, 2014 3:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And as so often in life, persistence pays off.

Or to put it in a non-optional joke, I've got wood! Wink

Took a fair bit of phoning around and wasn't quite local but I got a nice piece of Ash.
A bit thinner than I would have liked - thick enough for the shaft but thin enough so I don't get much leeway in making it - and a bit broader than I need it to be, but I only paid 5 for it so I'm absolutely not complaining.

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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Jul, 2014 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I'm done for now.

I might rework the profile of the shaft a bit on some future rainy day, but for now I'm very, very pleased with how it came out especially since this is the first handle of this kind I made.

Overall length of the piece is ~90" or 2.25m and while it does sort of look round on photo the handle is actually a rounded rectangle. I noticed the wood as a very slight bend to it but not enough to be a problem I think.



The long handle makes the head look quite small, which is deceiving - it certainly had me surprised when it first arrived. The Head alone from socket to point is actually longer than the distance from my fingertips to the elbow.



Out of all the replicas I've handled - be they sharps or blunts of any sort - this one is the first piece that has me intimidated. I feels fantastically vicious.

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Stuart Quayle




Location: Isle of Man, Great Britain
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Jul, 2014 8:06 am    Post subject: English Bill.         Reply with quote

Marik, you have done a superb job on that haft, it's looking really good Cool

Just need to stain the haft now with a nice handful of soil and linseed oil, liberally rubbed in.
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