Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

Experimental forging bearded viking age axe (Petersen type B)

axe viking archaleology

  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Raymond Sauvage

Raymond Sauvage

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • LocationTrondheim Norway

Posted 08 January 2012 - 03:29 PM

This week having some time to spare, i did some work at the shop making a smal bearded axe, trying out athentic viking age techniques.
The purpose of the forging was to try out some hypothesises i have made after examining and documenting several early vking age axes at the archeological museum where i work.

Picture 1:
The main body of the axe was made of two pieces 20x8 mm mild steel, the larger section (180 mm long) was folded to a U-shape. A smaler section was tapered to a chisel shape, folded onto iself and fagotwelded, making a wedge shaped piece.

Picture 2:
The wedge was placed into the U-shaped larger section and then everything was forgewelded, making up the main part of the body.

Picture 3:
The shaft hole was formed using a mandrel and the "cheeks" drawn out. Then i forged the front part into an axe shape. This first form actualy makes a small axe like the earlist viking age axes (Petersens type A). However, i was ging to make a bearded axe. To make the beard-part i took a piece of 20x3 mm mild steel and drew out a section of each side towards both ends.

Picture 4:
The beard-section was folded onto itself and placed into position and forged tight onto the main axe body. For the edge I also placed a section of high carbon steel (piece of an old file forged to a thin shape) into the beard part. Everything was forged tight together.

Picture 5:
The beard and carbon steel edge was forgewelded onto the main body. The profile was cleaned up usin files and a hot cut.

Picture 6:
Finished


Doing this forging enabled me to test the hypothesises i made when documenting and studying the original axes. The main thing I noticed in the original axec was the weldingseams runing lengthwise in the small sides, and perpendikular on the main sides. Forging this axe reproduced similar weld seams as the original. When forging an axe in this type of technique, It is posible to use a minimum of work. There is no need to slit and drift, and the material is built up where it is needed, thus minimising heavy forging. Looking at original viking age blacksmithing tools, the anvils was small, and the hammers lighter than today (300-700 gram). Making an axe using slithing and drifting technique, and heavy forging was simply not possible. Also you do not need to have larger sections of steel to make an axe, you simply build up enough material to make a large enough body.

I used metric measurements in this post - simply because it's what I know best. If i tried using the imperial system it wold simply be the wrong numbers. I hope those of you using imerial understand my measurements.

Raymond Sauvage
Trondheim
Norway

Attached Files


Raymond Sauvage
Trondheim
Norway

#2 bigfootnampa

bigfootnampa

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 1,951 posts
  • LocationMissouri

Posted 08 January 2012 - 05:01 PM

Your results look excellent to me Raymond! I would think that a method could be devised that would require only one welding step though. I would also be careful about declaring ANY method "simply not possible"! First thing you know you'll run across a thread where some crazy guy has done it! Check out this thread: http://www.iforgeiro...x/page__st__980
The anvil that Jake and Bryan are using weighs 25 pounds, BTW.

#3 pkrankow

pkrankow

    Member

  • Members
  • 5,373 posts
  • LocationOhio

Posted 08 January 2012 - 09:01 PM

Handsome ax. Thank you for sharing the process and experience.

I have metric measuring tools and American measuring tools, and I can convert as needed. Don't worry about too much about the units you use.

Phil
Your brain is the most powerful tool you own.

#4 chichi

chichi

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 209 posts

Posted 09 January 2012 - 01:49 AM

I like this technique. Starting with pieces of the correct dimension saves a lot of pounding and the slitting , which is tricky, is eliminated. The old guys knew what they were doing,but, does this style of axe have any advantage over the modern western style axe?

#5 Dave Budd

Dave Budd

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 485 posts
  • LocationDevon, England

Posted 09 January 2012 - 02:14 AM

I use a very small anvil at shows (about 15lbs/6kg ish) and though I try not to make anything big on it (simply because I don't like workingtoo hard at shows!) I have made 1kg axes on it, but only punched not welded so far.

ON recreating older methods of axe construction, here is a thread that you will like :) http://forums.dfoggk...3&hl=teeth&st=0
Specialist in Random Pressure Metal Formation

www.davebudd.com

#6 K. Bryan Morgan

K. Bryan Morgan

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 901 posts
  • LocationNorth Pole, Ak

Posted 09 January 2012 - 02:54 AM

Hello Raymond, its great to see your work. I'm the Bryan that Bigfootnampa was talking about. Jake Pogrebinsky and I made an axe with a slit drifted hole and a welded bit on a 25 pound wrought iron anvil that has a tool steel face. It was actually a very nice little anvil to work on. We did use a larger hammer. One I got from Knots here on the site. Its about 42 oz. and really moves metal well. We did the slitting with a cold chisel. I would change the chisel profile before I do it again. Definitely the wrong shape. But the main part of my post is to let you know that we did use a small anvil for the slitting, drifting and welding. It worked very very well and I would do it again.

I really like the shape of your axe. Its very well proportioned. Thank you for posting your process. That helps me understand more about making these tools.

Bryan


Virtuite et Armis (Virtue at Arms)

http://kbryanforge.wordpress.com/


#7 Raymond Sauvage

Raymond Sauvage

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • LocationTrondheim Norway

Posted 09 January 2012 - 04:43 AM

Thanks for the comments and compliments.

I absolutly agrea that it's posible to use a smaler anvil to make an axe using sliting and drifting techniques. Hoever using a 450 gram (15-16 oz) hammer is quite dificult. Looking at the archaeological record, most iron and steel tools, weapons and objects fram the viking area was made using forgeweldin,g to build up larger dimensjons from smaler sections. The only weapons i know of, that was forged out of one piece is arowheads, which are quite small. Making axes by forgewelding the eye seems to be the most usual method up until the mechanization and larger equimpment that came with the industrial revolution. If you do not have a powerhammer or a striker, you used less energy and fuel using this method compared to starting with larger dimentions and drawing out, slitting and drifting.

The shape of the axe is not my design, it's an exact copy of an original axe. I guess the old siths has to be credited for the nice lines and propotions. The main difference between theese axes and modern ones is the shape of the shafthole, which in the viking axes are more of a rounded rectangled cross section (see attached figure). The shaft had to be more narrow than the shape that is usual today. I'mn not shure if the "beard" part has any advantages compared to modern axes. I gus you can fit a wider edge to lighter axe. Also it is said that the part was used to grab the enemies shields when used as a weapon.

Raymond Sauvage
Trondheim
Norway

Attached Files


Raymond Sauvage
Trondheim
Norway

#8 basher

basher

    Bladesmith and Blacksmith.

  • Members
  • 827 posts
  • Locationlondon UK

Posted 09 January 2012 - 06:02 AM

One of the main reasons to not punch wrought material is its tendancy to split along the grain, having said that it is very very easy to punch and I think would take less time and fuel that forge welding. I really doubt that smiths were using just little hammers.....
one thing that would really influence choice of construction method is available material section (or bloom size). we now have a buy it big and break it down mentality this was not always so.
good job on the axe.
Owen Bush bladesmith
Forging Soul into steel
bushfire forge school of smithing

#9 Raymond Sauvage

Raymond Sauvage

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts
  • LocationTrondheim Norway

Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:06 AM

Just a not about the smiths using smaller hammers. I have written my MA in archaeology about viking age forging equipment fram the midle part of Norway. I have examined over 30 grave finds with forging tools. The heaviest hammer was 450 gram. Some heavier hammers exist from south of Norway (Bygland) and from Mästermyr. Most hammers for forging range from 300 gram to about 500. The lightest hammer i documented was 45 gram, which i do not think was intended for forging. Also evidence points to the smith working in a sitting possition, making it dificult to use larger hammers efficiently. Most forges was at ground/floor level, and in some ocation we find sunken pits in front of the forges, interpreted as "sitting-pits". The well known carving from the Hyllestad portal, shows the smith in a sitting working position.

Earlier reserchers have questioned if the smalish hammers and anvils found in Scandinavian grave-finds could be used as blacksmithing tools, and most have belived theese tools was used to make smaler objects and for working non-ferous material. Observing welding seems in axes, show that the normal practise was to make the eye, and to bult up the body and edge using forgewelding. With this technique it is posible to use smaller hammers working in a sitting position to make larger objects like axes.
Raymond Sauvage
Trondheim
Norway

#10 beth

beth

    HammerHouseOfHorror

  • Members
  • 2,485 posts
  • Locationgloucestershire uk

Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:18 AM

thats all very interesting - i would love to make something like an axe, whatever method - its great to see photos. your MA sounds wonderful, keep talking! :)

#11 ThomasPowers

ThomasPowers

    Senior Moment Member; Master Curmudgeon

  • Members
  • 17,484 posts
  • LocationCentral NM/El Paso TX Area, USA

Posted 09 January 2012 - 11:44 AM

OK this is where my comment comes in: Real bloomery wrought iron is generally worked close to white heat where it's almost as soft as butter and you can do a *lot* of forging with a fairly small hammer compared to working modern mild steels at a considerably lower temp.

So I would say that the "authentic techniques" are not quite as authentic when using different materials than were originally used. The final product looks like a great usable axe and would be a great learning project to get ready to do it again with bloomery WI.

As real WI tends to forge weld beautifully as well build ups of even quite small "scrap" pieces is quite common.

My Y1K travel anvil is a simple tapered cube with a spike forged on the bottom and weighs about 25# and I often use it like it was 5 times heavier! (But you can really tell the difference in your temperatures working on it!)
Thomas Psychotic Psychobabblonian Powers

#12 K. Bryan Morgan

K. Bryan Morgan

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 901 posts
  • LocationNorth Pole, Ak

Posted 09 January 2012 - 05:52 PM

I will be the first to admit I know less than nothing about this subject. Its very intesting to me to learn though. Thank you for your input and knowledge. Do you have more examples of this style of axe Raymond? Its sort of the direction I'm heading in axe making for myself. And my next project will be wrought iron body.

Bryan


Virtuite et Armis (Virtue at Arms)

http://kbryanforge.wordpress.com/





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users