Introducing Neckbiter

Finished polishing and hafting the Type G/H.  I want to name this axe Neckbiter.  Not sure how you would say that in Old Norse.  Anyway, that is the feeling of this light and agile axe when you swing it.  I see a warrior with a shield in one hand and Neckbiter in the other finding a hole in an opponent’s guard and then plunging it into his neck.  I apologize for the poor pictures.  I am in the process of acquiring better photo equipment.


In many ways, this axe was a leap forward for me.  I was able to use more authentic techniques and tools to create this axe.  Being able to forge-weld eye socket, body, and bit together, and have it turn out virtually invisible, has been a goal of mine for years.  This opens the door to many new options for making Viking axes.  I have quite a few projects planned for the near future using these new methods.

Back to Neckbiter: The blade is 4.5″ (11,4 cm) wide. Overall length is 7.5″ (19,5 cm). Socket and body are 1018 low carbon steel and the bit is 1080 high carbon steel.  I used my Rockwell files to test the edge post-heat treat and it comes out between 50 and 55 Rockwell.


I purposely left some of the files marks in the finish.  These files marks are often seen on period originals; and I have to admit, I was not brave enough in years past to leave them on a piece.  Now a days, I decided I’m going to make something that pleases and inspires me.  Hopefully, others will find it inspiring too.  Interestingly enough, it is actually harder to do this finished than just putting a high grit belt on the grinder and removing all the marks.  I also left some of the forge pits in the piece.  After all, this axe was forged to shape.  So once I filed it to the dimension I wanted, I stopped.  If there was a pit, well the pit stayed.  I hand polished the body to a high grit then drew it back with a scotch-brite pad.  The edge was buffed to a near mirror finish to create a pleasing contrast.  The edge is hair shaving shape.

When I do a haft, I fit it through the bottom of the socket.  I know that some makers make a haft that is wider at the top and slip it through the top of the axe head and slide the head up till it wedges at the top of the haft.  I’m not saying this is wrong.  No one knows for sure how the Viking smiths did it, but there is evidence that the axe was driven onto the haft then wedged at the top.  I personally documented multiple axe heads with Peter Johnsson in Sweden that had the iron wedge with the axe head.  Here is a picture of one such wedge:


I find that using a wooden wedge to spread the haft sideways in the socket and a metal wedge to spread it the opposite direction, creates a wider section at the top of the head that makes it nearly impossible for the axe to come off the haft.  On Neckbiter, I inserted a wooden wedge and made an iron wedge similar to the one I documented in Sweden to secure the head on the haft.


The haft is 30.5″ long.  It is made of burnt hickory which has been sanded and polished to a smooth finish.  It has been treated with linseed oil to preserve it.  It has a subtle octagonal cross-section, and an elegant taper from the bottom to where it enters the socket.

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Eric McHugh

Crown Forge Custom Blade Art by Eric McHugh

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