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Eamon Bisbee




Location: Albuquerque, NM
Joined: 19 May 2015

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2015 1:40 am    Post subject: How were ax heads attached to their hafts?         Reply with quote

I'm looking at various reproduction axes, and wondering if it's more authentic for them to be attached "tomahawk style", with the axe head slipped over the end of the haft and held on by a widened or flared section at the opposite end, or were they slipped over the far end of the haft and held in place by a wedge or wood or metal or both, as we'd see in a modern woodcutting axe? Or more likely still, were both methods used, depending on where and when an axe was made? Keep in mind that i'm talking about fairly short battle-axes here, pollaxes and halberds and their kin are a whole other ballgame. Has anyone seen pictures or seen surviving battleaxes in museums, that can shed some light on this? Thanks.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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Posts: 1,493

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2015 4:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen both.

Some methods of attaching the head I've seen:

1. Slip eye over handle end of the haft; thicker head end of haft secures head.
2. Slip eye over head end of haft, stick something (wedge, spear point) to secure head.
3. Slip eye over end of haft, stick pin or nail through hole in back or side of eye into haft to secure head.
4. Similar to above, but a closed socket instead of an eye
5. Head butts against haft, nailed or bolted to haft.
6. Tang at back of head fits into socket in haft
7. Tang at back of head goes through hole in haft, end of tang bent over
8. Tang at base of head goes into end of haft.
9. Straps put around haft and riveted to head.
10. Head held to haft by nailed/riveted langets.

This isn't a complete list. I didn't consider metal hafts. A few more different methods were used for stone axes, and bronze age axes. Some of the methods in the list above are used together.

I think 2 is the most common European method (wedges, or equivalent effect from insertion of the tang of a thrusting point).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,493

PostPosted: Tue 02 Jun, 2015 2:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Saw an interesting variation on 2 in the list above: head over head end of haft, and then a large plate/washer is pinned to the end, this plate/washer being as wide as the head, and usually longer than it is wide. Some are flat, and some are domed. I don't know whether spreading of the haft by the pin securing the plate/washer, or the plate/washer itself is the main thing securing the head (with the other being extra security), or perhaps both are important.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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