This is the second axe in a series of three hand forged, single-hand war axes I’ve been finishing. Like the single-hand, wrought iron axe, this axe is patterned after the many examples of late 10th to early 11th century single-hand war axes. This type of axe was an agile yet brutal weapon that would have been a common choice for a soldier fighting in close quarters or in a shield wall.
This axe features a 1018 low-carbon steel body and eye socket and a 1080 high-carbon steel bit. The body and eye were drawn out like a “bow tie.” The two sides were forge welded together to form the body. The eye was further refined by forging over a steel mandrel to arrive at the desired socket shape.
The hardwood haft is made from hand hewn oak. Careful attention is given to the grain direction. Having the grain run parallel with the head (edge to poll) helps to prevent cracking when a powerful cut is made. I use rasps and scrapers to shape the top of the haft to a tight fit with the eye socket. This helps to prevent the axe head from twisting or moving during use.
Once the top of the haft is correctly shaped for the socket, I carefully saw a slot for the wedge. The wedge is cut from the same section of wood as the haft so the grain direction and size will be similar to the haft. The wedge is then pre-fitted to the slot. This creates a mushrooming of the haft above the top of the axe head that secures the head in place.
I then give the haft its final sanding followed by multiple applications of Danish oil to seal and harden the wood. Once the Danish oil is dry, I buff the haft with ultra-fine steel wool to give it a smooth, semi-gloss finish.
click thumbnails to enlarge:
- Body and Eye: 1018 low carbon steel
- Edge Bit: 1080 high carbon steel
- Haft wood: Oak
- Blade Length (toe to heel of bit): 4″ (10,16 cm)
- Axe Head Length (edge bit to poll): 5.25″ (13,34 cm)
- Haft Length: 27.25″ (69,22 cm)
- Overall Length: 27.75″ (74,0 cm)
- Axe Head Weight: 0.86 pounds (392,0 grams)
- Weight: 1.46 pounds (663,8 grams)