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Eric McHugh
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Location: Crown Point, IN
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PostPosted: Sat 12 Mar, 2016 8:26 am    Post subject: Danish Axe Commission Finished         Reply with quote

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Danish Axe Inspired by Kirkkomäki Grave 37 Axe

The edge is 8.5″ (21,6 cm) from tip-to-tip. The haft is 42.5″ (108 cm) from the bottom of the eye. The eye and body are 1018 low carbon steel, and the edge is 1080 high carbon steel. The haft is made of hickory and has a gentle taper from the top to the bottom. It has a rectangular cross-section with rounded corners. I forgot to weigh it before I shipped it, but the new owner said it is almost exactly 3 pounds (1360,8 grams)

Some background information:

I was contacted about making a Danish style axe inspired by the grave finds in Kirkkomäki - specifically grave 37. As you can see from the photo, it is quite corroded, but general shape and dimensions can be drawn from the picture:



Based on the information provided by the researchers, the customer wanted the haft length to be 42.5" (108 cm) long. I asked the customer if I could fill in details with some research that I did with Peter Johnsson in Sweden. He agreed.

I used this axe from Uppsala, Sweden as additional inspiration:



I have been working hard to hone my skills and techniques for making these Danish Axes. The reinforced edge, even though there is a slight radius from the body to the edge, are very difficult to clean up and make smooth. In my frustration, I made a sen to actually scrape and plane away material to make the arc smooth and consistent. Like many of my recent projects, this axe was another step forward for me. There are always small flaws that turn up (which I think add character to the piece); but overall, I am very satisfied with this axe.

Before I did the final clean-up I took this axe out back and attacked some large piece of wood (8-12" in diameter) on my wood pile. I do this as a matter of habit to expose any possible hidden flaws in the structure of the axe. This time, I was really trying to see if I could get the axe to fail because the customer who commissioned the axe is a serious practitioner. I had to make sure this axe would not fail when he received it. I cut about 10 large pieces of wood with it. Striking full force, the blade performed brilliantly. I consider this fairly abusive since this axe is not tapered and balanced for continual wood cutting; the shape and weight allow for speed and agility in delivery massive blows in battle followed by a quick recovery. I would not recommend cutting large pieces of wood with this axe; it is, however, nice to know that the axe will hold up to this level of use.

If you are interested in an axe similar to this one, contact me at ericmycue374@comcast.net, and we can discuss commissioning a piece.














Find me on Facebook, or check out my blog. Contact me at eric@crownforge.net or ericmycue374@comcast.net if you want to talk about a commission or discuss an available piece.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2016 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great work buddy. You're really nailing the shape and proportion of these axes.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2016 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I envy the owners of pretty much any of the Eric's axes. They are all awesome. But this one really does it for me. Beautiful.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2016 3:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am the owner of this axe and it is indeed an excellent piece! Cool

For a couple years now I've been looking for a good Dane Axe to use as a platform for exploring the origins of KDF. One of the fundamental questions I had was "what were the hafts like?" In my readings I ran across a reference to the grave find Eric mentioned, possibly the only complete preservation of a Dane Axe haft from such an early date. The icing on the cake was that it's a Finnish site, my family name originates about 100 miles from where this axe was found!

The irony of the grave 37 axe is that it's at once remarkably well preserved and yet it's also degraded to the point that an exacting replica really isn't possible. Eric posted a pic of the axe in the grave but based on another pic I've seen in an archaeological publication I don't think the haft survived removal as it shows an axe head from Kirkkomaki by itself that has corrosion patterns that seem to match up with the in-ground pic. It reveals slightly stronger arcs than the grave pic, langets and an upper horn that's more pronounced than seen in the Uppsala axe.

I think Eric did an outstanding job capturing those attributes in the blade he made for me but this piece is as much about the haft as it is about the head and I appreciate the woodwork every bit as much as the metalwork. Because of the rounded rectangular cross section of the haft and asymmetric weight distribution of the head the edge basically auto-indexes in your hands in a way that's beyond what you experience with swords. The smooth, tapered shaft allows for ease in shifting grips which is good because this axe has a fast sharp end and an even faster blunt end. The relatively short length of the haft means you've always got pretty good leverage on the head so the handling is halfway between a sword and a polearm. I've worked out an approach based primarily on the staff teachings found in 3227.a, Paurnfeyndt and Meyer but incorporating aspects of longsword fencing too and I'm quite confident an axe like this could match a sword in one-on-one combat.

Eric himself was a joy to work with and I look forward to tackling future projects with him. He was very communicative throughout the process and demonstrated the kind of enthusiasm and attention to detail that inspires confidence. There are not many people in the world who can make an axe like this, I regard mine as a treasure and piece of working art.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2016 11:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What is KDF?
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Tim Lison




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2016 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is just gorgeous Eric! The shape of the haft is so subtle but adds so much. Really top notch stuff. Congrats to Mike on commissioning a terrific axe!
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2016 7:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
What is KDF?


Kunst Des Fechtens, the Germanic weapons-based martial art. The halberd was a popular weapon in the panoply of later practitioners but it seems to have developed from the Dane Axe, there are even examples of historical art that show a Dane Axe with a portion of its haft projecting through the eye and fitted with a spear head. Of course the Dane Axe in its original form didn't completely disappear either, they were popular in Norway and Ireland into the early modern era and if we did enough digging we'd probably find they persisted to some degree or another in other cultures as well. Lots of artwork from before the fechtbuch era shows warriors using common KDF stances across multiple weapons, the Bayeux Tapestry in particular caught my attention and I think it's very likely the Saxons were using some early variant of the system.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Mar, 2016 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Mike. The over use of acronyms on the internet drives me crazy.

Eric's made three axes for me and I think he's really found a niche for himself.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Apr, 2016 2:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Figured I'd link to some of those early spear/axe hybrids I believe are ancestral to the halberd. The Dane Axe in its classic form is also shown in 14th c. artwork across several cultures and there are hybrid proto-halberds that have hooks, backspikes, etc. What really gets me about these early hybrids is that they're a lot closer in form to the fully developed 16th c. halberds than the common 15th c. types are.

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4962/18653/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4465/10720/
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