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Thread: Learning the ways of the Viking axe

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    Default Learning the ways of the Viking axe

    This thread will follow along as I attempt to learn the construction methods used by Viking age smiths to forge axe heads. These axes will primarily be wood working tools for both carving and for wood processing. Thankfully, Jim Austin and Jeff Pringle have accomplished some wonderful work researching and recreating these beautiful Viking era pieces. Mr. Austin has been kind enough to share his research and forgings with the blacksmith community. Jim gives seminars and instructional classes through out the country and has released a DVD covering the methods that he uses, and on several forums showing the processes in detail. Their research includes museum pieces as well as personal collections. There have been x-rays done and visual inspections through an experienced smiths and historians eyes to reveal exactly how these axe heads were produced. So, Thank you Jim Austin and Jeff Pringle for allowing folks like myself to be able to learn and experience the ways of the the Viking axe.

    This posting will be updated on a regular basis as I progress, moving from one piece of the axe to another - Practicing each detail - until finally I combine all of the different parts of the axe head into a working prototype. From there I will test several designs both in shop and in the field to determine what sizes and shapes would best suit our Bushcrafting and carving needs.

    I have been studying every piece of literature and posting that I can lay my eyes on, in order to learn every possible thing that I can about these axes -- A bit of an obsession you could say. As of yesterday, I produced my first successful asymmetrically wrapped eye with a poll. Next, I will attempt a Baltic eye with the reinforcing tines on the poll.

    I need to create some specific tooling to recreate these axes, and started on that last night. So far, my first successful asymmetrical wrapped eye. In this method the stock is reduced in size, and wrapped back onto itself, forge welded into place, and shaped to form the eye. This is similar to how wrapped eye tomahawks are produced, except the eye, ears, and poll, are forged to shape prior to the wrap. Also, the forge weld is at the transition from eye to bit. Compered to the wrapped eye hawk where the whole wrap forms the bit, eye, etc.

    The following posts will show updates.

    Thanks for following along!

    -Matthew Paul


    EDIT: Some friend I am. I forgot to mention that Alex (Adahy) has been helping me do research and will be involved in this project as well, both working as a striker and helping to design the bit geometry.








    Last edited by 556mp; 12-06-2013 at 11:47 AM.
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    Default Forging the Hardy Block

    The hardy block is useful when working the flats on the eye and bit, It seems. So I forged one from a tractor trailer leaf spring last night. Here are some photos.

    The starting steel


    Cut and ready to forge


    Forging the taper to fit the hardy hole.


    Finished. I was so involved in forging this down that I forgot to take pictures for a while.
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    Default First Practice Eye

    Here is the first practice eye. It was a useful trial run and I learned quite a bit about shaping the ears and poll, both prior to wrapping and forge welding, and after. Now, I know that this does not look like much, but here are some shots of it still hot on the anvil. The last two photos will give you an idea of how it would look on a completed head.







    This is a photo of the eye section laid on top of a drawing.


    And here is a cheep and quick photoshop rendering of what it may look like complete.
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    great thread..will be following intently

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    Awesome!

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    I am really excited to watch this project unfold. I have been a little bit obsessed with carving lately and through my research I have read quite a bit about the viking carving tools and such. I will be eagerly awaiting updates. Thank you for posting this Matt!

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    very nice of you to let us follow along. i have a bit of danish in me ...

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    You got this Danish Viking paying very close attention, Matt. Thank you for sharing your smithing ventures with us. Your presentation is very cogent and very informative.

    I gather that the assymetrical wrapping of the eye doesn't have any structural integrity issues with stress threshholds?

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    I am absolutely fascinated. Thanks for the post, I'll be following along.

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    Yep, this Dane will be watching also. Very cool!

    I assume you guys are watching the History Channel series...

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