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I Forge Iron

Bill Hook (Hand tool)

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Hey folks - I haven't been on here in a while, but I've still been forging. Mostly made a bunch of knives for friends and family, but Thought I'd post my most recent project: a Bill Hook requested by the guy that is the live-in barn help at the barn where my lady boards her horse. I didn't know anybody used these anymore, and I am far more familiar with the adapted-to-a-medieval-weapon version of the Bill Hook. 

I found an old hand-forged example of one a friend had and used that as a pattern. 

Mine is made from 15N20, hidden tang, mild steel bolster plate/guard and handle is recycled oak household railing left over from a new one I installed a few months ago. I left it brut-de-forge for the most part, for looks and to help prevent rust because I know this tool will get used a lot (as intended). Handle treated with Dark Half from Real Milk Paint (part tung oil, part citrus solvent). 

Anyway, I am pretty proud of it and being that they are an uncommon tool, I thought I'd post it here for your enjoyment. 




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It looks pretty good but like Thomas says it's not a common tool this side of the pond. However from my inexperienced point of view I'd like to see more finger knob thingy on the end like my machetes and cycle have. I have one cycle with a small swelling on a round handle and it's only good for really light cutting, like flower stems, grass wants to drag it our of my hand even when freshly SHARP.

Have you tried it out? I have stuff I'd like to whack off that's too large for single machete whacks, dangerous silly for the ax and a chain saw is heavy, loud. 

If I forge one of these it doesn't really count as a step into the dark side does it?:unsure:

Frosty The Lucky.

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This thread piqued my interest. So much so that I did some research into the matter.

The tool most closely resembles a 'Hampshire  hurdling" bill hook. But the hook is more pronounced in C v- p 's instrument.

Bill hooks come in a great number of shapes, sizes,  and the type of steel can be different in various knife types. (but medium carbon is most commonly used)

Check out this reference gleaned from Wikipedia,


The tool is used like a machete,  parang,  or a kukri.

It is used for cutting through  brush, tree saplings etc.

For more information check out  Wikipedia 




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Here is the (old?) one I used as a model. It is clearly hand-forged, but its age and origin is unknown. 

I also referenced that image SLAG posted to get an idea of the range of shapes. 

It works very much like a sickle, but for tougher material than a sickle can handle. 



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I believe the pommel is anything that extends past the hand, good for hitting people with, hammer fist style. Literally pummel them. 

Ah, you're just saying that because we're buds, Chris. I'll take it, thank  you. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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  • 11 months later...

The last image looks to be of an Italian 'roncola' with a round wooden handle - the 'knob' on a British billhook is known as a caulk, or more properly the handle is said to be caulked... A round handle is common on double edged billhooks, and one or two regional patterns of single edge billhooks have a round handle (Kent and Devon).... 

More information can be found at Billhook Junkies on Facebook, or my website www.billhooks.co.uk

1st image UK caulked handles

2nd image Italian 'roncole' (pl) with integral hand guard

3rd image Dutch 'hiepen' (pl)  - one of the few countries where a variation of the caulked handle is common




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Great info - thanks!

You are right that the one I modeled from looks like the Italians, but clearly without the pommel hook they all seem to have (I'm curious what its function is). 

Who would have thought there would have been a Billhook Junkies group...

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  • 4 months later...

What would something with a blade similar to #314 above attached to something shaped a lot like an oar be called?  My great granddad had one. We used to play with it when I was a kid. He was a blacksmith near Graham, Oklahoma, but like everyone at that time was also a farmer. I have no idea what he would have used it for. 

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It is hard to say. I was pretty little then. It was almost as long as I was tall, so probably a little longer than a baseball bat. Your guess is the most likely. He had a machete as well, so it was likely something he used for clearing brush. 

Now I am thinking something like it might prove to be handy in the almost inevitable, future zombie apocalypse.

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DHarris, is this what your talking about? 76BF6C3E-7970-4C77-991F-397E0BEB4E74.thumb.jpeg.0603dfb495058f024f22f9adbdc7722f.jpegWe call them a brush knife or brush axe, 

here are two different hand held ones that were gifted me by customers who brought them here from their home countries, the short big one came from Mexico and the longer skinny one came from LaosF0DE5CCA-20C4-4743-BE60-F40B4C67A07D.thumb.jpeg.d2103744e35540ab43d4cb001c62d30d.jpeg

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