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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Mon 11 Sep, 2017 7:50 pm    Post subject: Making a bad axe good         Reply with quote

Howdy folks,
Almost 4 years back I bought a Cold Steel viking axe. I remember being quite taken with it at the time, but... times change. It was needlessly overbuilt and just too unwieldy. I've been pecking away at this for some time, tweaking here and there, but decided this past weekend to just go at it and make it the best approximation of a historical piece that I could. And here it is:




The haft is ash, with the length taken from a find of a similar type of axe in Finland if I recall right. The top horn was shortened, the eye was thinned dramatically and also shortened while lengthening the langets a little. LOTS of angle grinder work. I didn't want to dedicate the time to hand polishing this, so I hit it with flap wheels, a scotch brite wheel, forced some corrosion and then went back to the scotch brite wheel.

All in all, I'm very pleased with how it came out and it is finally a weapon I enjoy again, though still not perfect.

The final weight for the head came in at 800g (~1lb 12oz) and total weight is 1390g (~3lb 1oz) - down from a whopping 4lb 10oz with hickory handle from Cold steel Eek! The haft length is 1.12m (44") with a cutting edge of 23cm (9").

I haven't quite decided what to do about the hole in the head - originally intended for a bolt, I used to rivet it but now would rather not do either. I would weld it if I had a welder, but for now I'm just leaving it.

Pete
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Carl W.




Location: usa
Joined: 07 Aug 2008

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Mon 11 Sep, 2017 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Huge improvement, its better than good, Very good at least! Thanks for sharing.

Might tag it as DIY Project?
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 909

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 12:35 am    Post subject: Re: Making a bad axe good         Reply with quote

Peter Messent wrote:
Howdy folks,
Almost 4 years back I bought a Cold Steel viking axe. I remember being quite taken with it at the time, but... times change. It was needlessly overbuilt and just too unwieldy. I've been pecking away at this for some time, tweaking here and there, but decided this past weekend to just go at it and make it the best approximation of a historical piece that I could. And here it is:




The haft is ash, with the length taken from a find of a similar type of axe in Finland if I recall right. The top horn was shortened, the eye was thinned dramatically and also shortened while lengthening the langets a little. LOTS of angle grinder work. I didn't want to dedicate the time to hand polishing this, so I hit it with flap wheels, a scotch brite wheel, forced some corrosion and then went back to the scotch brite wheel.

All in all, I'm very pleased with how it came out and it is finally a weapon I enjoy again, though still not perfect.

The final weight for the head came in at 800g (~1lb 12oz) and total weight is 1390g (~3lb 1oz) - down from a whopping 4lb 10oz with hickory handle from Cold steel Eek! The haft length is 1.12m (44") with a cutting edge of 23cm (9").

I haven't quite decided what to do about the hole in the head - originally intended for a bolt, I used to rivet it but now would rather not do either. I would weld it if I had a welder, but for now I'm just leaving it.

Pete


Appreciable idea, did you modify the distal taper as well?

Profile looks really interesting in term of authenticity.

you might also consider heat treating it, maybe trying some half historical recipe (a chemist friend told me urea is easily found from truck supplies companies, and it might substitute the mythical urine of ancient HT liquids) .

Or have it done at a HT professional facility (cheaper and easier).
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,966

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks great, Peter! On mine, I just drilled two shallow pilot holes into the haft--once the head was *firmly set*--and tapped in two short roofing nails. It looks like a solid rivet, but they can be removed. I didn't even attempt to use the CS hardware....will save those for another project. Wink I used the stock hickory haft, but I probably shaved off a half-pound of the factory applied varnish just to get down to bare wood! Laughing Out Loud A little stain, and a clear coat...done. I thought about doing a patina on the head, but wound up just giving it a rub-down with steel wool. May yet add some leather wrap, and maybe some runes. Happy ...McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 649

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've filled the holes in a couple of Cold Steel tomahawk heads with JB Weld and then put an artificial patina on the head and that has worked pretty well for me.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Carl! I totally forgot about the DIY tag, I'll add it if I can figure out how!

Bruno, thanks! The profile is definitely still iffy I think - it just looks a bit off, though I think shortening the top horn helped. The really long top horn on the original made it look more like a proto-sparth axe or something than an original dane axe. Regarding distal taper, I'm not too sure what that refers to on axes - thinner as you move from the eye to the edge? This one already has a very thin blade (2.5mm maybe?) so I didn't have much opportunity to taper it in that way. HT is actually one of the few things that they did well on this axe - though it is through-hardened rather than just the edge I believe. All my angle grinding was confined to the eye, so the temper at the edge should be intact though the eye definitely got to a brown color at times.


Thanks Mark! Not a bad idea on the nails - when I hafted it in axe last time (when the eye was longer) I pinned it with steel and riveted it, but the wedge was long enough that the pin secured the wedge as well. Since shortening the eye, the wedge terminates at about the hole - so a rivet is of questionable benefit anyway. In a way I wish I kept the hickory haft - it was over-heavy (I think a lot of the overall weight I shed was switching to ash) but I do like hickory on an axe of any kind. This one's actually finished with pine tar, which is a nice and possibly period correct finish for a tool?

Ken, that's not a bad idea - I was considering doing a little filework in the holes and filling with silver solder or mashing some copper into it and filing flush, but forgot to do it before mounting the head. JB weld might be a nice alternative!
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,966

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for the heat-treat....it may be differential. (?) When I was seating the head on my axe, I missed the mark once and put a pretty good ding in the eye. Should have used a dead-fall or a rubber mallet, instead of a ball-peen. Blush Nothing I couldn't fix though. The cutting edge is VERY hard, and will take a shaving edge with minimal stone work. I love this thing, even if it is a bit on the chubby side. Laughing Out Loud Big Grin I may yet remove the head and acid-etch a Nordic design onto it, -- different on both sides. Wink ...McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 909

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Messent wrote:
Thanks Carl! I totally forgot about the DIY tag, I'll add it if I can figure out how!

Bruno, thanks! The profile is definitely still iffy I think - it just looks a bit off, though I think shortening the top horn helped. The really long top horn on the original made it look more like a proto-sparth axe or something than an original dane axe. Regarding distal taper, I'm not too sure what that refers to on axes - thinner as you move from the eye to the edge? This one already has a very thin blade (2.5mm maybe?) so I didn't have much opportunity to taper it in that way. HT is actually one of the few things that they did well on this axe - though it is through-hardened rather than just the edge I believe. All my angle grinding was confined to the eye, so the temper at the edge should be intact though the eye definitely got to a brown color at times.


Thanks Mark! Not a bad idea on the nails - when I hafted it in axe last time (when the eye was longer) I pinned it with steel and riveted it, but the wedge was long enough that the pin secured the wedge as well. Since shortening the eye, the wedge terminates at about the hole - so a rivet is of questionable benefit anyway. In a way I wish I kept the hickory haft - it was over-heavy (I think a lot of the overall weight I shed was switching to ash) but I do like hickory on an axe of any kind. This one's actually finished with pine tar, which is a nice and possibly period correct finish for a tool?

Ken, that's not a bad idea - I was considering doing a little filework in the holes and filling with silver solder or mashing some copper into it and filing flush, but forgot to do it before mounting the head. JB weld might be a nice alternative!


I was imprecise. Axes have a special profile that is difficult to describe, anyway I think you have already made a very beautiful weapon, maybe you might check eventually pictures of original profiles to complete a rewarding job.

I think I have no images in my pc for what I recall they were quite thin in the body while the edge had a profile"swelling".

From my experience in knifemaking and swordmaking I recall that when you star approaching historically correct profiles the weapon starts to get live in your hands so much that you almost learn from her what to do and when to stop grinding.

If I'm not wrong there are nice swedish museums images of viking axes available on their web.
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Bruno Giordan





Joined: 28 Sep 2005

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 909

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok bottom of the page. However some exemplars were flat

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...ng_axe.htm

have fun ...
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Tue 12 Sep, 2017 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark, it could be - the edge is definitely very hard! I'd have expected to have seen a temper line with the corrosion I put on it, but it was rather extreme before cleaning it up so it maybe just didn't show up! Any time you worry about putting a ding in yours, just imagine taking an angle grinder to it for a few hours! Big Grin

Bruno, thanks for the clarification, I know what you mean now - unfortunately the bit doesn't have it, and it's really too thin to add it. I wish that it did - it looks like they did a fair bit of machining on it, so I don't see why they wouldn't include that. But then again, I don't see why they wouldn't shave a pound off it's overall weight also!

I have to admit, I was really surprised that I was able to get this axe head within historical limits as far as weight is concerned - and I'm amazed how different it feels!
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,966

PostPosted: Wed 13 Sep, 2017 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dammit, Peter! .....I had a good dinner of sausages from the grill, a couple of pints, and a NICE evening with the wife.....and all I can think about is grinding steel off of an axe head. WTF?! Laughing Out Loud (Yes, I'm old...but I ain't dead...yet!) For no more than I paid for my axe, I may just have to follow in your footsteps. To the shop!!! >>--------> ........McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Wed 13 Sep, 2017 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Laughing Out Loud sorry Mark! Be careful - the angle grinder still scares the bejesus out of me from time to time, especially when cutting through especially thick or thin steel. At the end of grinding this axe, I felt my hands reverberate like a bowl of jelly every time I tapped something - surely that can't be good?
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,966

PostPosted: Thu 14 Sep, 2017 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know the feeling well---too well. Running a chainsaw every day for seven years was enough to give me Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I was a professional high-line tree trimmer for my electric company. Doing things with numb hands is daily life for me. Worried .......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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