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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 152

PostPosted: Wed 24 Nov, 2021 8:50 am    Post subject: Old Billhook         Reply with quote

First of all, I understand this is a tool rather than a weapon, but agricultural tools turned weapons have been discussed on this forum before (for example http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=32368&highlight=) so I decided to post here.

I picked up this old blade at an antique shop in upstate NY. In general I wouldn't consider something like this "my thing" but it just spoke to me: "hilt me, sharpen me, use me!".
The surface has obvious forging marks, and is covered in small rust pits with black patina on top of them. Overall impression between this and the shape is of some kind of fantasy bad guy weapon, like say an Uruk-hai from Lord of the Rings could carry as a sidearm/backup. That hook point looks like it would work pretty well as a back spike on a medieval weapon.

The 8.5" long x 6.5" wide blade has nice distal taper (over 5mm at base to under 3mm) and 6" tang tapers even more radically, almost flat ribbon at the end. Based on all that, I would consider it pretty old (like 19th century) and not factory made. But it is stamped with DB2456 in standard modern looking script (see attachment). So it must have come from a factory and not too old, I guess first half of 20th century?
I looked around online and found similar blade shape only at one modern Italian billhook model (doesn't look obviously forged though) and a French 19th century antique.
If anybody has any ideas as to age/origin of the blade, please let me know!

Anyway, I am in the process of mounting it with a nicer sort of handle than a tool would normally get. Using walnut with copper ferrules, and probably will add some brass accents as well.
Will leave the blade flats in the current state, just reestablish the edges. Going for that "fantasy bad guy weapon" look (which I had never been the least bit attracted to before).

I am curious how the tang angle it is set up with going to work for me. I would place it more inline with centerline of the blade, but it was made with this distinct angle for some reason. When done, will try to cut different sorts of things with both edges and hopefully will find that there was a good reason for this shape...

Alex.



 Attachment: 247.83 KB
stamp [ Download ]

 Attachment: 264.99 KB
blade [ Download ]
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 69

PostPosted: Sun 28 Nov, 2021 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very cool! I can't really help you but would love to see progress/the finished product.
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Sa'ar Nudel




Location: Haifa, Israel
Joined: 02 Dec 2005
Likes: 16 pages

Posts: 361

PostPosted: Wed 01 Dec, 2021 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

AFAIK this form is English, hedging/thatching tool. Very similar one with its original handle can be seen here:
https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-axe-and-billhook-tools-used-in-hedge-laying-76405515.html

Curator of Beit Ussishkin, regional nature & history museum, Upper Galilee.
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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 152

PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2021 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, this English type is similar, but not quite the same shape (the straight "hatchet" edge is much shorter, and the top of the blade isn't straight). As I said, I have seen modern Italian and antique French billhooks of almost exactly same shape as mine.

My handle will be a bit more complicated in shape and finish. I got it roughly shaped by now, will post when finished.

Alex.
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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 152

PostPosted: Fri 17 Dec, 2021 1:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As promised, picture of completed billhook project.

Handle is walnut wood treated with tung oil.
Copper ferrules. The front one has an extension to be used as belt hook. The one at the butt is decorated with brass tacks.
Brass peen plate.

I haven't had a chance to test cut with it yet, but due to the handle to blade angle it feels like the straight edge is set up to be the main one for serious chopping work. The hook could probably be used for cutting very thin flexible branches, or as a sickle to cut soft vegetation (the edge is noticeably thinner on the hook side).

Alex.



 Attachment: 90.47 KB
billhook [ Download ]
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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 152

PostPosted: Fri 17 Dec, 2021 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few more pictures of the handle.


 Attachment: 93.65 KB
[ Download ]

 Attachment: 45.44 KB
[ Download ]

 Attachment: 62.97 KB
[ Download ]
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Dan D'Silva





Joined: 28 Apr 2007

Posts: 281

PostPosted: Sat 18 Dec, 2021 3:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice work. Can't help but get a fantasy Medieval vibe from it even if it is a modern agricultural tool. I expect it'll look even better once the copper and brass have aged to match the blade.
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Frank Baker




Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
Joined: 20 Apr 2007

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sat 18 Dec, 2021 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

maybe this website could be of interest.

https://www.billhooks.co.uk/
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Alex Indman




Location: NYC
Joined: 13 Sep 2012

Posts: 152

PostPosted: Sun 19 Dec, 2021 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan, that "fantasy Medieval vibe" is exactly why I bought the blade. I just had to see what I could make out of it...

Frank, yes I have seen this British site when I started researching billhooks. Got a lot of interesting info out of it, but alas no indication as to when and by whom my blade could have been made.

Alex.
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