Danish Axe Inspired by Kirkkomäki Grave 37 Axe
Description and Stats: The edge is 8.5″ (21,6 cm) from tip-to-tip. The haft is 42.5″ (108 cm) from the bottom of the eye. The eye and body are 1018 low carbon steel, and the edge is 1080 high carbon steel. The haft is made of hickory and has a gentle taper from the top to the bottom. It has a rectangular cross-section with rounded corners. I forgot to weigh it before I shipped it, but the new owner said it is almost exactly 3 pounds (1360,8 grams)
Some background information:
I was contacted about making a Danish style axe inspired by the grave finds in Kirkkomäki – specifically grave 37. As can see from the photo, it is quite corroded, but general shape and dimensions can be drawn from the picture:
Based on the information provided by the researchers, the customer wanted the haft length to be 42.5″ (108 cm) long. I asked the customer if I could fill in details with some research that I did with Peter Johnsson in Sweden. He agreed.
I used this axe as additional inspiration:
I have been working hard to hone my skills and techniques for making these Danish Axes. The reinforced edge, even though there is a slight radius from the body to the edge, are very difficult to clean up and make smooth. In my frustration, I made a sen to actually scrape and plane away material to make the arc smooth and consistent. Like many of my recent projects, this axe was another step forward for me. There are always small flaws that turn up (which I think add character to the piece); but overall, I am very satisfied with this axe.
Before I did the final clean-up I took this axe out back and attacked some large piece of wood (8-12″ in diameter) on my wood pile. I do this as a matter of habit to expose any possible hidden flaws in the structure of the axe. This time, I was really trying to see if I could get the axe to fail because the customer who commissioned the axe is a serious practitioner. I had to make sure this axe would not fail when he received it. I cut about 10 large pieces of wood with it. Striking full force, the blade performed brilliantly. I consider this fairly abusive since this axe is not tapered and balanced for continual wood cutting; the shape and weight allow for speed and agility in delivery massive blows in battle followed by a quick recovery. I would not recommend cutting large pieces of wood with this axe; it is, however, nice to know that the axe will hold up to this level of use.
If you are interested in an axe similar to this one, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can discuss commissioning a piece.
Response from Michael Ruhala:
The axe arrived in fine shape and let me say this, it is a superb weapon! The weight, shape and proportion of the head is everything I hoped for. The handle is also noteworthy, its taper, cross section and smooth finish are as pleasing to the eye as they are comfortable in the hand. Taken as a whole the weapon is very well balanced, the weight of the blade combined with the rounded rectangular cross section of the handle make indexing and edge alignment practically automatic. According to my digital scale it weighs exactly 3lbs and the point of balance is about 8 inches below the eye, equidistant between the head and where I place my left hand in most guards. This makes for an agile weapon that can recover quickly even from a fully committed swing. Strikes with the handle are really fun because the head acts as a counterweight adding speed and force to blunt attacks. I’m mostly known as a swordsman but the axe has always had a special place in my heart, this one is the new centerpiece of my collection and I look forward to really putting it through its paces over the coming months.