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Iron Badger

spear and axe shafts/handles

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Ash was the one most spoken of in old documents. Archeological finds on the other hand show that spear shafts tended to be what ever was handy. One point to remember is that wood rarely survives in most finds due tothe fact that unless it is waterlogged it rots away.

Finnr

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Ash is traditional, but depending on where you live, Hickory, locust, yew, would be acceptable. Even osage orange can be used.
Ash was/is favored because it is usually relatively light, straight grained, strong and flexible. My grandfather preferred hickory or butter nut because it was available to him in Mississippi. He used those woods in his farm tools.

I belive that re-enactors go with ash when they can.

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Here in the greater Phoenix metro area we don't have a lot of choice for hard wood except for what is transplanted here from somewhere else, like most residents. One thing we used to have in abundance was male mulberry trees. It does make a passable handle for an axe or hammer. We also have two fairly widely available types of ash tree. One is native to Arizona and the other is from Mexico. The native variety is tough as nails because of it slow growth, the one from Mexico grows very fast and the wood is not as dense. I have used what is called water sprouts, sucker growth, as fuller handles as it is very springy.:cool:

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As has been mentioned, Ash is a good choice, and historically accurate. Hickory is also tough stuff, and - if you can find it - Black Locust is nigh-indestructible.

I'm partial to maple because I like how it works, but you really have to read the grain to avoid problems with brittleness.

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In my opinion the best would be a split Stave of Osage Orange. The stuff is impervious to the elements with great strength and flexibility.
Just my .02.
Hickory and Ash are great too and probably simpler to source in the proper dimensions.

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I'm a fan of ash, partly coz I've got a woodland full of it, but also thanks to it's own merits.

Whichever wood you use, make sure it is a cleft piece and not sawn. If it has been sawn the make sure that the growth rings haven't been crossed. That makes a HUGE difference in the streangth of a piece of wood

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Choke cherry is a relative of the wild black cherry. The heart wood of wild black is darker and used for furniture and veneer. Personally I would think of knife scales rather than ax handles. I'm not familiar with "Westren Mountain Ash" I don't find it in my reference book either.

Not all Ash tree relatives are created equal. Only the White Ash is really great as a tool handle. If you don't have white ash then some of the other choices would be better IMHO.
The remarks about using a split flitch for a handle are right on.
Even second rate wood can make a good handle when treated correctly. It is possible to use white oak as a handle if you use a clean split.

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Found out mountian ashe is not the same tree. So is it the fast growing wood that is better? Slow growing wood, like for a bow?
Charlotte, what excatly is "treated correctly?

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I believe that it's widely used on Chinese spears.

A friend of mine who trained in China a couple of times told that's because its straight
and grows all over the area he trained in so staffs (and presumably spear shafts)
were free for the cutting.

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Casting spears can be quite light, cf "Irish Nails" that look like large arrows, to quite heavy, cf "boar spears" t that are specially thick and strong to resit the weight and power of a charging wild boar.  This is combined with the fact that people would make them to fit the user's grip so there is quite a range of sizes---just at there is a wide range of sizes for pants...

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2 hours ago, Steve Sells said:

mine are 30mm across but I have held some closer to 25mm

HOLY MACKEREL Steve you have a small waist!

Frosty The Lucky.

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My waist just seems to keep getting bigger and bigger as I age  unfortunately.

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7 hours ago, Frosty said:

HOLY MACKEREL Steve you have a small waist!

Frosty The Lucky.

44 x 30 jeans if yer buying :)

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you'd fit right in down here.  I had a colleague come out to the factory once that hadn't realized that long pants were mandatory per the factory dress code.  Luckily I caught up to him on the US Side and so when he said he hadn't brought any, we got to trek over to wallyworld.  Unluckily he's a beanpole and the locals tend more toward short and broad and he couldn't find a pair of jeans that fit him and had to wear high water ones to the amusement of all but 1 person... 

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One material that is often overlooked is spruce roots. Unlike the wood of the tree, the roots generally have very straight grain with out knots, and my experience with spruce root has shown it to be extremely lightweight when cured. I've made a couple native american inspired clubs out of a couple pieces and have found them to be very strong and resilient. The challenge comes in finding pieces that are of a usable shape.

Viking

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