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Z Wells




Location: Brisbane Australia
Joined: 15 Aug 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2020 11:28 pm    Post subject: Extreme savings - grind out vs buying a pole-arm         Reply with quote

So, as probably anyone here knows, I got a bug for a certain kind of thing: I'd love to have some pole weapons. I'm not massively, hugely fussed about where specifically to start with this, but I do like the idea of a double-edged partisan, and the pollaxe/bec de corbin has its own appeal. Very prepared to do one and then another one as time for projects permits, though.

I've been looking around for options to do a thing with pole weapons for about a week. I'm in Australia, so I'm absolutely looking at cheap weapon heads or local complete weapons, rather than internationally shopping a large pole. I've got a vague shortlist of heads from either :

http://www.armouronline.com/weapons_arms/staff_weapons/37.html

https://www.medieval-fightclub.com.au/medieval-weapons/pole-weapons/

http://www.reenactorswarehouse.com.au/index.php?cPath=31

also, these guys in NZ, where postage probably wouldn't be grossly excessive:

https://kingofswords.co.nz/gallery/?category=Pole_Arms

I'm not in made-of-money territory, but, I have a cheap corded angle-grinder, and one of these bench grinders/sanders.

So, I guess my question is: not being entirely made of thumbs, in my budget range of $100-300 for a head, am I better off buying something around the Deepeeka / GFDB price range, or, should I get my own pole, get out the angle grinder, and set to work on some metal from either a not-trash-but-still-cheap shovel, or, get something cheap but nice and thick from a selection of cutlery metal, and grind that down?

I'm assuming this isn't a completely novel predicament and I'd love to hear from anyone who's gone down a similar path. I'm totally prepared to put in actual work to make a thing work. I guess my worst case scenario would be : using this in some practical context of chopping up a watermelon/simulated carcass clad in metal, and having a bit of the pole weapon go flying off into some old lady's open window. That's really the only hard limit, other than what I'm prepared to spend in dollarydoos.

Many thanks for any suggestions or help.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
Likes: 5 pages

Posts: 807

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2020 2:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm more or less in the same predicament. I'd like a more or less simple spear, but don't want to spend a fortune on shipping. Also I think that about $100 would be more than enough for a simple spearhead. A partisan, halberd or something else that's more complex obviously also costs more.

Now the problem in Europe is that the "cheap end" of the market is covered by reenactment gear which have rounded points and edges, whereas I'm looking for a sharp. And I do want to get at least the shape (if not the steel and finishing) historically correct.

The problem with making one yourself, is that the socket needs to be forged. Unless you want to go with a stick tang (historically correct for some periods). Making it from a knife or shovel is not going to work, I think, unless you just want something that somewhat works but are not concerned with any form of historical accuracy. The cheapest solution that works would probably to order a Cold Steel Bushman, which is a kind of survival knife which is specifically designed to be able to be mounted as a spear as well.

But what was not completely clear from your post:
- Do you want a sharp or a blunt?
- How important is historical correctness for you?
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 1,061

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2020 2:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
I'm more or less in the same predicament. I'd like a more or less simple spear, but don't want to spend a fortune on shipping. Also I think that about $100 would be more than enough for a simple spearhead. A partisan, halberd or something else that's more complex obviously also costs more.

Now the problem in Europe is that the "cheap end" of the market is covered by reenactment gear which have rounded points and edges, whereas I'm looking for a sharp. And I do want to get at least the shape (if not the steel and finishing) historically correct.

FWIW, Windlass Steelcrafts spearheads are around 50 and perfectly functional once you sharpen them, which takes maybe half an afternoon with a good mill file and some sandpaper.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,410

PostPosted: Sun 16 Aug, 2020 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Windlass spearheads that I have experience with all had that ugly bulge or lump between blade and socket, which is a weld. You can try grinding it down, but that can leave a visible crack.

Kult of Athena can't be the only place that offers other nice spears, these being a couple of the options for something very good-looking and inexpensive:

http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...Spear+Head

http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...Spear+Head

I use the small one for a couple of my Greek spears, though I trim a little off the socket to reduce the diameter. These are forged, with a split socket, so not bad at all for accuracy. I do *not* know how strong they are in comparison to others.

KOA's page on polearms and spears:

http://www.kultofathena.com/spears.asp

I've modified or converted a bunch of things in my time! And made swords by grinding from scratch, using nothing more than scrap steel and angle grinder. So it certainly can be done! As has been said, though, the problem with a spear or polearm is the socket. And often the transition from socket to blade, which a modern shovel really won't match. BUT there are modern tools with more potential, such as the heavy-duty scraper I rescued from the trash:



Less than an hour with the angle grinder, and I had this:



So I'm thinking that if you find a cheap repro polearm that is at least reasonably constructed (not just flat stock bolted to a piece of pipe, for example), you and your angle grinder could very well make it into something quite nice.

Have fun!

Matthew
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Z Wells




Location: Brisbane Australia
Joined: 15 Aug 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2020 3:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just posting the results of some more research!

On looking at the Deepeeka pages for their pole weapons, he only two that say Carbon rather than Mild steel construction are their Bec de Faucon and their Lochaber axe.

The lochaber axe seems like a nice bit of gear I'd be happy to own, and I'll see if I can get the head by itself.

I've been looking for videos of speficially how pole weapons fail. I've found two on Skallagrim's channel -

First the Knightly pole axe by Arms & Armor

https://youtu.be/l47Idc7anG4?t=189

and the Deepeeka bardiche

https://youtu.be/dQRUEyBOJQo?t=89

The general impression I get is that regardless of it being 'lower' grade steel, even a long, deep mild steel blade is probably up for as many sustained high velocity whacks into metal as you'd like, but your problem is going to be in the forces bringing it to a stop. The Deepeeka failure just seems to have been using the wrong depth and type of screw, which is embarrassing but maybe doesn't point to any major failure in the head itself.

The A&A failure I can't help but think might have been avoided by reinforcing with the langets along the axis of the hammer and axe heads, rather than opposite them - the way it's designed looks like it's the wood that bears the brunt of this deceleration, then the metal only prevents it twisting to dissipate that energy, which just makes the wood work even harder.

I've watched a lot of videos from Cold Steel on their pole weapons, and they seem to use a fairly basic tubular attachment to their heads, and it .. doesn't seem to do too bad a job? I've read / seen that their quality control and assembly can leave a little to be desired, but I'm wondering if the basic polearm is just such a simple tool that once it's in fundamentally the right shape and fitment, it'll do the job. Might be getting to the nut of why the billhook/halberd ended up being a hugely effective peasant weapon..

https://youtu.be/Sj0KW5vJ-hM?t=262 (obviously their own promotional video isn't going to make this look like a piece of trash, but still)

Does anyone have any other videos to share of what can go wrong with constructing one of these? I feel like I could learn a lot more from watching one break than videos where nothing goes wrong, haha.

In terms of what's the least amount of work to modify, the scraper is a great suggestion, there are some others it made me think of like joint and taping knives that could potentially work too. The other thing I'm thinking might be a good candidate is a chopping / cutter style mattock, where you could grind one end down to a hook or pick spike and the other to a shorter axe head, and have a circular path from the eye into the staff for a spike on top. The cheaper ones of these are drop-forged but having done an awful lot of digging with lowest-price ones for nature site rehabilitation and pond digging before, they certainly don't blink at being swung into rocks all day.

Some answers to clear up -

Paul Hansen wrote:

But what was not completely clear from your post:
- Do you want a sharp or a blunt?
- How important is historical correctness for you?


Sharpen-able would be the aim, I think. It would be good if it could be In terms of historical accuracy - I'd draw the line at say, fitting it onto a fibreglass shaft or making something that looks like it's from a zombie movie, but I'm perfectly happy for it to be a general pole-arm-shaped device, rather than a perfect copy of a specific museum piece. Absolutely seems like the kind of item where there would be regional variation and no particular need to fit a mass produced scabbard or other bits of a supply chain.

Seems to be a different story when you get to the bec de corbin / faucon / fancy pollaxes, which seem to be really specific build order - and likely for some good reasons based on people observing them them fail, too.

This restoration project:

https://youtu.be/m7t0MgwrfXk

has some nice insights into actually mounting the thing onto a handle, socketing a screw running the length seems like it would be pretty damn robust.

Many many thanks for the suggestions and other links, I've been busily looking at them this evening!
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2020 7:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not the DIY type but it strikes me that the tool known as a long handled slasher or brush axe might be a place to start looking for something to modify. They come in a variety of head forms. The type known as a Yorkshire billhook has a broad blade which you might modify (I don't know if they are called that in Oz, but a google search will show what they look like).
Anthony Clipsom
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Z Wells




Location: Brisbane Australia
Joined: 15 Aug 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Mon 17 Aug, 2020 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
I'm not the DIY type but it strikes me that the tool known as a long handled slasher or brush axe might be a place to start looking for something to modify. They come in a variety of head forms. The type known as a Yorkshire billhook has a broad blade which you might modify (I don't know if they are called that in Oz, but a google search will show what they look like).


That's a good idea! In the long handled variety, around here, I found this guy with a couple of hand made ones at pretty reasonable looking build and shipping. Those are also presumably built for serious work safely rather than for mild chopping / showing off also, which has its own appeal.






Also came across this chinese hand variety on ebay -

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1-Pc-Reaping-Hook-Sharp-Sturdy-Wooden-Handle-Hatchet-for-Garden-Outdoor-Camping/283956306133



and at that price it's worth taking a chance to see how it goes. I'll let you guys know how that one works out.
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Z Wells




Location: Brisbane Australia
Joined: 15 Aug 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2020 10:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Z Wells wrote:


That's a good idea! In the long handled variety, around here, I found this guy with a couple of hand made ones at pretty reasonable looking build and shipping. Those are also presumably built for serious work safely rather than for mild chopping / showing off also, which has its own appeal.



So, this as an off the shelf item is a bit unwieldy - if you're going to go for one of these I'd suggest talking through the project with Michael about what you specifically want it to do. He's a gentleman and responds to questions pretty promptly!

The handle is 90cm long, 45-47mm thick at the head (slightly thinner at the middle than the ends), and the head and socket is quite thick metal - the head is about 6-7mm thick at the middle and has an axe/kukri style grind on it, so it gets thick pretty fast. It's a bit short for how heavy it is, and quite a lot of the weight is the head and socket. The balance is at about 78cm out of 117cm total length. I'm going to replace the shaft with something longer, I think - as a practical tool for me to use, as a tall person, it's a bit of a worry to use in any task that could conceivably result in any edge coming back anywhere near you.

I also went for the deepeeka head here :


http://www.reenactorswarehouse.com.au/product...p;cPath=31

which again arrived quite fast and the people at reenactors warehouse got back to me as soon as they could with my questions.

This is completely blunt at the edges, to the point where it's about 3mm at the edge! But, everywhere you see an angular edge is very pointy indeed - the hook tip, all the corners, and the point at the top are sharp enough to go through several layers of cardboard effortlessly. You immediately start to see why these are such problematic weapons to train with safely - you'd basically need to make it out of pool noodle foam, even getting slapped on the side of your head with the flat would hospitalise someone. I'm going off to look at suitable poles for it this weekend.

It's quite heavy but quite solid with it - from some admittedly unmounted and not-extreme-angular-momentum kinds of test thrusts I'm not at the moment worried about it being mild steel in terms of solidity. The weight would go down with some holes drilled and the edges sharpened, but I'm going to wait to test just how that weight interacts with the length of the handle I can before I start looking at that as a project.

Also, on my quest for bargain polearms, I found this :



https://medievalshoppe.com.au/italian-corseque-c-1500-polearm-head/

which is on its way. Price includes free shipping which was a nice surprise.

So, 3 socketing projects coming up, looks like. My chinese hand-bill/scythe is still in transit but I'll post about how that turns out whenever it arrives.
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